From English Mainland to Vast ‘Wilderland’: Who Am I?

This is the second in a series titled Who Am I by Ty Pilarczyk. The first can be found HERE.

My eyes were opened by the piercing rays of a rising sun. I jumped out of bed, threw on some old clothes and darted out the door en route to the barn. I had to get a move on. This was Easter Sunday and if I wanted to get anything accomplished I had to do it before church. Great Grandpa’s tractor purred as we crawled out of the barn, down the drive, and across the road. Entering the east fields, the smell of the saturated spring soil brought forth in me a yearning, an urge, a drive from deep within my genetic fabric. Though my family is a few generations removed from it, I felt the farming in my blood.

Fueling that feeling was the fact that I was looking out over the land worked for almost two hundred years of my ancestors. The Clarkes were a long-time agricultural family, and this installment of ‘Who Am I’ focuses on their American story and eventual arrival in Huntsburg, Ohio.

It all started with my eighth-great grandfather, a Puritan gent named William Clarke. Due to sketchy records and several William Clarkes inhabiting the colonies and the Old Country, it is hard to authenticate the true arrival date. But sometime between 1630 and 1635, my original Clark* ancestor sailed from the English mainland to the western colonies on a ship named the Mary and John. William was among the second wave of emigrants to the colonies from Europe. He settled in the town of Dorchester, Massachusetts, got married, raised a family, and became a prominent member of his community.

*The name, as you can see, was originally spelled with an 'e' on the end. Somewhere in the first couple of generations it was dropped, then brought back by my great grandpa and his brother for genealogical accuracy.
*The name, as you can see, was originally spelled with an ‘e’ on the end. Somewhere in the first couple of generations it was dropped, then brought back by my great grandpa and his brother for genealogical accuracy.

I often think about what the times were like when William stepped off the boat. The United States as an independent nation was still nearly a century and a half away. Ohio was a vast wilderness known only to the natives and a few explorers. What enormous changes the next 380 years would bring!

Sometime around 1658, William moved his family to a newly-emerging town named Northampton.He helped to establish the church there and held some positions of importance, including lieutenant in the infantry. His move was also key to his descendants, as generations following were placed on their course of destiny that would bring them to the West.

Four generations after William carried on in Northampton until the urge to move struck my direct lineage once again. This time, it was Ebenezer Clark III who decided to make a new way with his family. In 1794, they settled in the small town of Lunenburg, Vermont with a couple of brothers. Their reasoning for the relocation is lost in antiquity, but likely the beautiful 600 acres on a bow in the Connecticut River had something to do with it. Dubbed the Bow Farm, the large house was built from bricks made from clay in the area.

Back in Northampton, there was quite a buzz around town. Connecticut was selling off its lands in the Ohio territory, called the Western Reserve, to help fund its school system. Two local professionals pooled their funds to enter a lottery drawing for parcels of the Connecticut properties. Ebenezer Hunt and Robert Breck then offered these lots for sale to the public. Ebenezer Clark’s brother Abner, who had recently moved back to Northampton from Vermont, thought the prospect of inexpensive, quality farm land sounded good and made the charge westward in 1811.

In 1816, one of Ebenezer’s sons, Joseph, took a walk from Vermont to visit his Uncle Abner (and I gripe about walking through Walmart!). He was pleased with the land he found in this new town of Huntsburg and hurried back to tell his family. The traveling bug had struck again.

On a cold spring morning in 1818, a large party of Clarks gathered outside the Bow Farm. The group included Joseph along with his half brother Ebenezer IV, my fourth-great-grandad. Horse-drawn bobsleds were loaded down with chattel and children, including my great-great-great grandpa Truman, then only two and a half years old. Once again in their American history, the Clarks were on the move.

Ty Pilarczyk
Author: Ty Pilarczyk

Ty is the president of the Huntsburg Historical Society, and has lived in Huntsburg most of his life. When he is not designing, installing, and maintaining landscapes for the family construction business, Ty enjoys vegetable gardening, restoring and collecting old pressure lanterns, and spending time with his family.