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Finally a break through on Willie Clark who was hanged!

The Back Ground:

My grandfather Harry Addison Clark was born August 4, 1915 in Evadale, Arkansas to Harry Clark Sr. and Novella Burns.

According to family folklore, Harry H. Clark Senior was orphaned after his father Willie Clark was hanged for killing a white man. The circumstance surrounding this death was a well guarded secret. No one knew why the white man was killed or where. The only information that was shared was that Harry H. Clark Senior and his siblings were separated in a rush and neighbors took the children to keep them safe. The last names may have been changed several times to prevent the children from being killed too. Harry H. Clark Senior was said to have been raised by Reverend John Harris and his wife Roxie. The only natural family that Harry Addison Clark remembered were his first cousins, Hattie Davis of Memphis and Ethyl Robinson of Chicago. Hattie's parents were Bertie Davis and Juan Davis. No one could remember the parents or maiden name for Ethel but they knew her husband's name was Andrew Robinson.

This was all the information passed down to me and I began my search.

The Search:

I found my grandfather when he was 14 in the 1930 census living with his father Harry Clark Senior and his step mother, Gracie. Georgia Goliday was her mother and my grandfather called her Big Momma. She was the only grandmother he ever knew. Vera was not related to Harry but she came to live with them to go to school per my grandmother. Harry Clark worked in a bank as a janitor and that is how he was able to buy his first home. A white man at the bank helped him secure his first home in Jonesboro. According to my mother, her grandfather Harry Senior knew who his siblings were but he wanted nothing to do with them because they were not noice people. At age 15/16, Harry Clark Jr. went to live with Ethel and Andrew Robinson so he could go to school.

Name: Harry Clarke
Home in 1930: Jonesboro, Craighead, Arkansas
Age: 34
Estimated Birth Year: abt 1896
Birthplace: Louisiana
Relation to Head of House: Head
Spouse's name: Gracie
Race: Negro
Occupation: Janitor at a bank

Household Members: Name Age
Harry Clarke 34 born in Louisiana ??? perhaps he lived there at one time...maybe with John and Roxie Harris??? 20 at first marriage
Gracie Clarke 30 born in miss miss miss 15 at first marriage
Harry Clarke 14 born in Arkansas la ark
Vera Edward 24 born in arkansas miss ark divorced
Georgia Goldy 48 born in Mississippi miss miss divorced

I first found my grandfather when he was 5 in the 1920 census living with his parents Harry Clark Senior and Novela.

Name: Harry Clark
Home in 1920: Jonesboro, Craighead, Arkansas
Age: 24 years
Estimated Birth Year: abt 1896
Birthplace: Illinois
Relation to Head of House: Head
Spouse's name: Novela
Father's Birth Place: Illinois
Mother's Birth Place: Illinois
Marital Status: Married
Race: Black
Sex: Male

Household Members:

Name Age
Harry Clark 24 born in Illinois
Novela Clark 22 born in Arkansas Ark Ark
Harry Clark 5 born in Arkansas IL Ark

From this point, I started to track his father Harry Clark Senior and his first cousins Hattie and Ethel.

I found Hattie Davis living with her mother Bertie in the 1920 census. Note: Hattie was rumoured to have passed as white lady when she was younger. She was to marry a white man but he found out she was truly coloured and he called off the wedding. She never married and never had children. She taught school and her legs were amputated from a severe case of frostbite. She was called the "Snake Lady" because she slithered on the floor to get around. Supposedly, there is a story of her in Jet magazine in the 1960's or 70's. I remember seeing a copy of this when I was a child.

Name: Berttie Davis
[Brittie Davis]
Home in 1920: Civil District 7, Shelby, Tennessee
Age: 48 years
Estimated Birth Year: abt 1872
Birthplace: Tennessee
Relation to Head of House: Head
Father's Birth Place: United States of America
Mother's Birth Place: United States of America
Marital Status: Widow (Juan maybe Warren or John if I put a southern twang on his name. my grandmother assumed he was Mexican)
Race: Black
Sex: Female

Household Members:

Name Age
Berttie Davis 48
Hattie Davis 21

I haven't found a definite match for Hattie in any other census years. But, I know she lived and died in Memphis Tennessee. I still had no lead on Bertie's maiden name at this point. So, I checked on Ethel and Andrew Robinson. I found them in Chicago in 1920.

Name: Ethel Robinson
Home in 1920: Chicago Ward 2, Cook, Illinois
Age: 20 years
Estimated Birth Year: abt 1900
Birthplace: Illinois
Relation to Head of House: Wife
Spouse's name: Andrew
Father's Birth Place: Pennsylvania
Mother's Birth Place: Tennessee
Marital Status: Married
Race: Black
Sex: Female

Household Members: Name Age
Andrew Robinson 26 born IL
Ethel Robinson 20
Futches May 26 born IL PN TN

Now, this record helped me a great deal in making a breakthrough. Futches May is listed as Andrew Robinson's brother-in-law. This meant that Futches May was Ethel's brother and so her maiden name had to be MAY!!!! I called my grandmother and she suddenly remembered Ethel referring to a brother named Futches (pronounced Few-shiss).

So, Ethel May and Futches May were both born in Illinois and their mother was born in Tennessee and father born in Pennsylvania. Who were their parents? Which parent made them first cousins to Harry A Clark? My gut said it had to be a connection to Bertie Davis in Tennessee. Perhaps Bertie and Ethel/Futches' mother were sisters. Futches is such an uncommon name for a male, so I traced him first.

After playing around with keyword searches and name spellings, I found a Fuethes May in 1900 which was close enough! What were the odds?

HOT DOG! This was a major breakthrough!

Name: Fuethes May
Home in 1900: Cairo Ward 4, Alexander, Illinois
Age: 7
Estimated Birth Year: abt 1893
Birthplace: Illinois
Relationship to head-of-house: Son
Parent's Name: Catherine
Race: Black

Household Members: Name Age
Catherine May 35 born KY
Masseless May 10 born IL
Ethel May 8 born IL
Fuethes May 7 born IL
Indiana Smith 67 born TN Va VA

From this one record, I now knew he and Ethel's mother's name CATHERINE!!! There was another sibling Masseless(another weird name) and who is this INDIANA SMITH??? I just knew it was going to be a male lodger or boarder who was unrelated. HOW WRONG WAS I !!!!! Indiana Smith was Catherine's MOTHER!!!!! Indiana Smith was born around 1833!!! WOW!

Hold on! Wait a minute! If Indiana Smith is Catherine's mother then Catherine may have been Catherine Smith. I continued to search on this new lead, Indiana Smith. As of now, Indiana Smith is the eldest ancestor I have found in this line! I should be able to find her in many many census records!

I found Indiana Smith in 1910 living with her daughter Catherine again. She is now 76 years old and widowed!

1910 Year: 1910; Census Place: Cairo Ward 4, Alexander, Illinois; Roll: T624_230; Page: 1B; Enumeration District: 9; Image: 835.
Name: Indiana Smith
Age in 1910: 76
Estimated Birth Year: abt 1834
Birthplace: Tennessee
Relation to Head of House: Mother
Father's Birth Place: Maryland
Mother's Birth Place: Virginia
Home in 1910: Cairo Ward 4, Alexander, Illinois
Marital Status: Widowed
Race: Black
Gender: Female

Catharine May 44 daughter
Morris E May 23 grand son (is this masseless??)
Marshall May 19 grand son (is this Fuethes??)
Indiana Smith 76 self
Daisey Dodson 24 lodger (no relation??)

I could not find Indiana Smith in 1920 so I assume she passed on before this census BUT I did find her in the 1880 census!

1880 Fulton, Lauderdale, Tennessee
Indiana SMITH Self M Female B 42 TN Washer & Ironer VA VA
Cathirne SMITH Other S Female B 16 KY Farm Laborer --- TN (I think it says stepdaughter)
Wm. Clark SMITH Son S Male B 13 TN Laborer --- TN
Ella SMITH Dau S Female B 10 TN At School --- TN
Berta SMITH Dau S Female B 5 TN CHEROKEE T. TN

Whoaaaaaaa! (jumping up and down....tears were streaming down my face at this point!!!)

There they are...the children: Catherine, Bertie, and WILLIAM CLARK!!!!! That is my Willie who was hung! Notice: his name is William Clark SMITH! I see another sibling Ella that no one mentioned or knew about. Perhaps she died young or married. Notice: Bertie's father was born in Cherokee Territory but the other children's father's birthplace is left blank. I guess the youngest daughter Bertie had a different father than the others. (shrug)

I also found Indiana Smith and her children in the 1870 census living with another family with the Surname Marshall.

Year: 1870; Census Place: District 4, Lauderdale, Tennessee; Roll: M593_1542; Page: 573; Image: 204.
William Marshall 30 1833
Mary 32 1831
Margaret 9 1861
Henry 6 1865
Prince 2 1868
Indiana 30 1833 or 1838
Catherine 6 1865
William 3 1867
Ella 5/12 born in Feb 1870
Marton 13 1857

Unfortunatly, the 1870 census does not list the relationships. This forces me to make guesses. Who is William Marshall who is listed as the HOH to Indiana? Note: All household members are listed as Marshalls. I think William Marshall is either Indiana's brother or brother-in-law. He has a wife, Mary. Perhaps Indiana and Mary are related? Though, I doubt it because everyone is listed with the same surname. Indiana and William Marshall are either the same age or 5 years apart. Indiana named her child William perhaps after her brother. William Clark Smith Marshall. My family did say the surnames may have changed....mmmm hmmmm.

Who is Marton Marshall? He is listed after Ella the baby of Indiana. I think he may be William and Indiana's younger brother or nephew.

I resarched a bit further and found two marriage references.

Name: WILLIAM S. MARSHALL (I wonder what the S initial stands for)
Spouse: MARY E. MARSHALL (perhaps her name was Mary Elizabeth)
Marriage Date: 16 Sep 1855
County: Williamson
State: TN

Name: JOSEPH SMITH (maybe he is the man born in cherokee territory and is Bertie's birth father)
Marriage Date: 21 Jul 1874
County: Lauderdale
State: TN

I traced another weird name from the list Prince Marshall the son of William and Mary Marshall and I found the family had moved from Cairo, Illinois to Ripley, Ohio. According to my atlas, just east down the Ohio river just past Cincinatti.

1880 Ripley, Brown, Ohio (indiana's brother and family??)
Wm. MARSHALL Self M Male B 53 KY Laborer KY VA (born in KY just like Catherine Indiana's mom was born in VA))
Elizabeth MARSHALL Wife M Female B 49 KY Keeping House KY KY
Charles MARSHALL Son S Male B 23 OH Huckster KY KY (seller of wares, goods, trinkets)
Benjamine MARSHALL Son S Male B 24 OH Waiter In Hotel KY KY
Henry S. MARSHALL Son S Male B 16 OH At School KY KY
Prince E. MARSHALL Son S Male B 11 OH At School KY KY

It appears they moved after their two eldest sons found work. Charles and Benjamin were not in the 1870 census. (Missouri, KY, Tn, and Ohio are all convene around the Mississipi, Missouri and Ohio Rivers...they are not far apart in miles.)

I guess my next move is to order the marriage records to see if I can find more information on Indiana and William Marshall. I know I am at the wall of 1860 and things will be much more difficult to go any further to find their parents if they were in servitude. However, these some states were free and others were not.

I still do not know who William Clark married before he was hung. So, I do not know the birth mother of Harry Clark Senior. I have a lead or two I am checking on. I see a marriage reference for a William C Smith who married a lady in Alexander County, Illinois. This could be Willie the man who was hanged.


Another possibility is a record I found in the Missouri Birth Database.
child father mother
Clark, Harold City Hospital St. Louis Nov 20 1896 Wm. Jones, Hattie

I also found a lady who was a young widow with a son named Harry Clark.

Name: Lucy Colston
Age in 1910: 38
Estimated Birth Year: abt 1872
Birthplace: Missouri
Relation to Head of House: Daughter
Father's Birth Place: Kentucky
Mother's name: Nancy
Mother's Birth Place: Kentucky
Home in 1910: St Louis Ward 5, Saint Louis, Missouri
Marital Status: Single
Race: Black
Gender: Female
Neighbors: View others on page
Household Members: Name Age
Nancy Colston 59
Lucy Colston 38
Robert Casey 23
Harry Clark 13

I went further back following this Lucy Clark and found her living with her sister and her husband. Now, what made this record peek my interest was the age of Harry Clark, the fact that I can't find Harry Clark in 1900 or 1910, and who is living right next door. A John Harris who is married to a Florence.

Name: Lucy Clark
Home in 1900: St Louis Ward 16, Saint Louis, Missouri
Age: 23
Estimated Birth Year: abt 1877
Birthplace: Missouri
Relationship to head-of-house: Sister-in-law
Race: Black
Occupation: View Image
Neighbors: View others on page
Household Members: Name Age
Isaac Anderson 30
Jane Anderson 26
Robt Casey 12
Harry Clark 2
Lucy Clark 23
James Colston 22

Name: John Harris (living next door to Lucy and Harry Clark.)
Age in 1910: 45
Estimated Birth Year: abt 1865
Birthplace: Missouri
Relation to Head of House: Head
Father's Birth Place: Missouri
Mother's Birth Place: Maryland
Spouse's name: Florence
Home in 1910: St Louis Ward 5, Saint Louis, Missouri
Marital Status: Married
Race: Black
Gender: Male
Neighbors: View others on page
Household Members: Name Age
John Harris 45
Florence Harris 34
Florance Harris 8
Gertrude Harris 5
William Lester Harris 3
George Harris 0

I went back even further and found Lucy Colston Clark living with her parents.

Name: Lucy Colston
Home in 1880: Saint Louis, Saint Louis, Missouri
Age: 7
Estimated Birth Year: abt 1873
Birthplace: Missouri
Relation to head-of-household: Daughter
Father's name: James
Father's birthplace: KY
Mother's name: Nancy
Mother's birthplace: KY
Neighbors: View others on page
Marital Status: Single
Race: Black
Gender: Female

Household Members: Name Age
James Colston 40
Nancy Colston 37
Fanny Colston 16
Louisa Colston 14
Jennie Colston 12
James Colston 6
Lucy Colston 7
Charles Colston 6M

Harry Clark was raised by John and Roxie Harris after his father Willie was hanged. Maybe Roxie is a nickname for Florence or...John Harris was married more than once.

I found another Roxie Harris and John Harris living in New Orleans but I don't think they are old enough to have raised Harry Clark Sr. However, they are in Lousiana which may explain why Harry said he was born in Louisiana in 1930.

Name: Rosy Harris
[Rosa Harris]
Home in 1920: New Orleans Ward 15, Orleans, Louisiana
Age: 31 years
Estimated Birth Year: abt 1889
Birthplace: Texas
Relation to Head of House: Boarder
Father's Birth Place: Texas
Mother's Birth Place: Texas
Marital Status: Married
Race: Black
Sex: Female
Able to read: Yes
Able to Write: Yes
Image: 112
Neighbors: View others on page
Household Members: Name Age
Lula Mckinney 37
Edwina Mckinney 14
Mary Tatamy 65
John Harris 40
Rosy Harris 31

In Conclusion:

This is where the hot trail runs a bit cold.

I have no definite record of death or hanging for Willie Clark. The finding of the new names William ClarkSmith Marshall makes the match up more difficult to pinpoint.
I have no definite matches on the mother of Harry Clark Sr. but Lucy Colston Clark and Miranda Clark are possibilities.
I do not know anything about the birth mother of Harry A Clark Jr., Novella Burns because she was an orphan too. She was said to have run off with a guy in the circus or service and left her child with her husband. She wanted to live in the big city not the country. (southern twang translation differences)
I do not know the father of William, Catherine, or Ella Marshall Smith. I assume Joseph Smith is only Bertie's father.
I haven't found a John or Roxie Harris living together with a Harry in 1900 or 1910.
Harry H. Clark we think the H. stands for Harris. Harry Harris Clark a name he used when living with the Harris'.

So, the search continues.


18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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