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Clark, George Merrill

MILITARY SERVICE

Age: 28, credited to Reading, VT
Unit(s): 16th VT INF
Service: enl 9/1/62, m/i 10/23/62, SGT, Co. E, 16th VT INF, comn 2LT, Co. D, 12/31/62 (1/7/63), tr to Co. E, 4/2/63, m/o 8/10/63

See Legend for expansion of abbreviations

VITALS

Birth: 09/10/1833, Clarendon, VT
Death: 06/05/1885

Burial: Felchville Cemetery, Reading, VT
Marker/Plot: Not recorded
Gravestone photographer: Carolyn Adams
Findagrave Memorial #: 112222434

MORE INFORMATION

Alias?: None noted
Pension?: Yes, 2/7/1880, VT; widow Lucinda A., 6/30/1885, VT
Portrait?: VHS Collections
College?: Not Found
Veterans Home?: Not Found
(If there are state digraphs above, this soldier spent some time in a state or national soldiers' home in that state after the war)

Remarks: None

DESCENDANTS

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BURIAL:

Copyright notice

Tombstone

Tombstone

Felchville Cemetery, Reading, VT

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Photo

VHS - Reunion Society Collection

George M. Clark

From notes of Linda M. Welch, for a further edition of Families of Cavendish on the FELCH family:
Lucinda A. Felch (8) {Hosea (7), Caleb (6), Samuel (5), Samuel (4), John (3), Henry (2), Henry (1)}, was born in Felchville 30 March, 1840. She m. (as his 2nd wife), 14 Feb., 1858, George Merrill Clark (b. Clarendon, Vt. 10 Sept., 1833, son of N. Goodnow & Ann (Round) Clark).
At the time of the 1870 census, George and Lucinda were living next door in Felchville to Katherine & Azro White. George Clark was a minstrel and star in a minstrel show with Azro White. His musical talent was early developed and at the age of nine years he was a skilled player of the violin. In the Spring of 1870, George commenced building a new house in Felchville. It was completed in January of 1871, and was reported as ".. a beautiful and tasty residence --one of the neatest in the village."
In 1850, George came to reside in Weathersfield and there spent the next four years of his life. He moved to Felchville in 1854 where he opened a stone cutter's shop.
George married 1st in Weathersfield August, 1855, Cornelia Paige (b. 1836, dau. of Albert & Phoebe Paige of Weathersfield). After giving Mr. Clark a son, Delia d. in Felchville, Oct., 1856 (age 22).
The marble working business was not the right occupation for a gifted young musician so he abandoned it and devoted his time to his music and became a popular teacher and conductor. After his 2nd marriage to Lucinda, he took up farming in Felchville and continued in that pursuit until the Fall of 1859, when he moved for a time to Jacksonville, Florida and engaged in business there. He practiced his music in Florida, and was a great success as a teacher. He gave concerts and led the Presbyterian choir in Jacksonville. His many friends in that town presented him with a gold-lined silver cup for his fine service to their community. While in Florida, George wrote several songs, among which was a serenade entitled 'Moonlight is Beaming,' which attained great popularity. In 1860, he commenced his more public life as a showman. He joined up with other musicians and actors and put a show on the road called the "Broadway Minstrels." For two years Mr. Clark traveled with this group entertaining people throughout the south. The years 1864-5, George spent his time traveling about the country with Whitmore & Thompson's Minstrels. In the Spring of 1866, he organized with E. P. Hardy and O. A. Whitmore, a minstrel company that became widely known in Vermont as "Whitmore & Clark's Minstrels." This company traveled throughout the New England states, New York and the Provinces, and for twenty-six consecutive years, George stood before the public in this company, his troupe gaining new friends and increasing popularity each season.
George Clark had a instinctive wit, excellent imitative powers and was universally recognized for is musical ability. He did much to elevate and purify his 'class' of entertainment and the company with which he traveled was everywhere greeted with enthusiastic audiences. Their performances were high-toned and chaste, and free from everything low and vulgar. In 1867, Mr. Clark made his first appearance before the public as a clown in a circus and this gave him added attention. Throughout his career, he wrote some twenty-five songs-- both the words and the music --many of which were published, copyrighted, and became well known and popular in their day. Among the most widely known are "Annie's Grave," "Meet me Josie at the Gate," "Drifting with the Tide," "Give me the Man who is True to his Neighbor," etc. All of his songs had the theme of high morals and sentimentality. He also wrote church music, some of which he published, and all of which were used in the Union Choir at Reading, one time or another. George also sung in this Union Choir, and led the group for many years.
George Clark also was a lecturer. He lectured on subjects of the day which were often times controversial, always taken the high moral ground on each issue. He also gave historical lectures and mesmerized the audience with talks on "The West," "The Mammoth Cave of Kentucky," or "Upon Temperance." He helped found the Reading library and contributed hundreds of volumes of choice literature to it. Felchville, 10 Oct., 1879: "Our very own George M. Clark, gave an excellent lecture on Mammoth Cave in the Baptist church Tuesday evening, Sept. 30th. Mr. Clark has visited the cave and gives evidence of having taken accurage observations of things in detail. The information was abundant, the selections, which Aaron Burr regarded so difficult, were good, the description fine, the delivery easy and all pertaining was well calcualted to make a good impression. The audience was large and attentive. Mr. Clark seems to be an exception to the rule that a prophet is without honor in his own country, for he never fails at home."
In August, 1862, George enlisted as a fifer in Co. "C" of the 16th Reg't Vt. Vols. and served enthusiastically, encouraging other friends to enlist. His genial nature and interesting social qualities soon made him a favorite in camp. He was soon made Sergeant, then Drum Major, Second Lieutenant and detailed as Provost Marshal on the staff of Stannard. He was in the Battle of Gettysburg and honorably mentioned in George Stannard's report of that engagement. Like so many soldiers of his day, however, the grueling exposre of camp life, undermined his constitution and sowed the seeds of disease from which he continued to be an intense sufferer after the war. The U. S. government regonized these facts and granted him a generous pension. After the war, George joined the Masons, and the William C. Tracy post of the G.A.R.
Proctorsville 3 March, 1876: "Geo. M. Clark and his company gave an entertainment at Eagle Hall Tuesday evening last, consisting of vocal and instrumental music of a great variety. Hank and George were both there. If anyone wants to enjoy an evening entertainment, go and see and hear them, and if you are not satisfied that your 25 cents were well expended, we are of the opinion that to please you is a very difficult task. As usual when George comes here, the hall is full, and everyone, young and old, had a good time, 'laughed and grew fat.'" Felchville, 29 Aug., 1879: "George Clark is still at home getting up his muscle, nerve, and voice, for next winter's campaign. If he had a quarter for every time he has made people laugh, he would be a Vermont Rothchild. Everytime a person laughs he takes a kink out of the chain of life. Ah yes, and how many kinks George has taken out of folks." Proctorsville, 12 March, 1880: "Whitmore and Clark's minstrels are to give an entertainment at Schoolhouse Hall on Saturday evening next. Of course all will go and hear them for they are always greeted by a full house whenever they give an entertainment here." The Minstrels were also scheduled to be in Ludlow on the 15th on Monday evening following. They played in Burlington at the Howard Opera House Jan. 15th of 1880 and it was reported that: "Hank White's rich and rolicky humor is sufficient, of itself, to float any minstrel company, and George M. Clark was seen at his best,-- then which nothing more need be said. The Hennessee brothers are as good performers in their line as have ever visited Burlington, and they well deserve the numerous encores they received. Petts and Davy are good actors and singers, and the remaining members of the company ably assisted in the mirth and music. The whole entertainment gave unqualified pleasure to the large and excellent audience."
We learn from the newspaper dated 13 May, 1881: "The numerous friends of George M. Clark who has traveled fro twenty years in the New England States and the Canadas as a public singer and lecturer, will be pained at the accident that has befallen him in breaking his right left. Mr. Clark has suffered intensely from neuralgia in his lwoer limbs for some years. he now lies quite comfortable, his neuralgia having abated since the accident."
On June 16, 1884, George enrolled himself as a Good Templar in Rocky Rill Lodge, and arm in arm with his talented and honored son, he pledged the solemn obligations of Faith, Hope and Charity. Since that time, whether by voice or pen, in public and in private, he testified of the faith that was so much a part of his daily walk in life.
George d. of consumption at his home in Felchville, 5 June, 1885 (age 47).
From his obituary: "The news of the death of George M. Clark, the well-known and popular showman, was announced on Friday afternoon of last week, and took many of our citizens by surprise as it was not known by many that he was not in his usual health until informed of his demise. His funeral was attended on Sunday at the Baptist church which was used because of its superior seating capacity, by Rev. F. S. Rice of Springfield, assisted by Revs. Luther Rice of Watertown, NY, A. Heald and W. E. Douglas of Felchville, Masonic Lodges from Cavendish, Springfield, Woodstock, Windsor, and Claremont, to the number of 160 members, were present, together with the G.A.R. posts from Windsor and Ludlow and the Good Templars Lodge of Felchville. The church was draped with mourning and decorated with a profusion of potted plants, cut flowers in bouquets and designs, and with flags. It is estimated hat upward of seven hundred attended the funeral, there being over two hundred who were unable to gain an entrance to the church. At the close of the sermon, Gilbert A. Davis of Windsor read a biographical sketch of Mr. Clark's life. As a neighbor and friend he was superior. Generous, genial, sociable, his neighbors in Felchville will often recall him and keep tenderly his memory. The last time Mr. Clark was away from home was on Decoration Day. He was then feeble, but went with his neighbors to the cemetery where his mortal remains are soon to be deposited, and participated in the decoration of the soldiers' graves, reciting with touching pathos that song we have often heard him sing-- "the Blue and the Gray." The works and deeds of George M. Clark will be his lasting eulogy."
Ludlow, 30 Oct., 1885: "The famous Whitmore & Clark Minstrels are billed for next Monday evening at Hammond Hall. The death of George M. Clark the past summer, has necessitated a re-organization of the company. Mr. Hardy (Clark's partner) having taken into the proprietorship the Hennessey Brothers, old-time favorites connected with this company, but who have for the past three years been traveling extensively with other combinations, including a tour in Europe with celebrated Haverly troupe. Whitmore & Clark's company are too well known here to need 'puffing,' that everybody will go, regardless of age or sex, is a forgone conclusion, more especially when it is known that the inimitable Hank "White" will be in his old place."
Felchville, 7 April, 1893: "About thirty of the friends of Mrs. Lucinda Clark assembled at her residence March 30th to wish her many happy returns of the day, it being her birthday." Lucinda suffered greatly from rheumatoid arthritis in her later years and in 1910 she was obliged to take to her bed. She celebrated her 72d birthday in 1912 on Saturday 30 March, and received over 100 postal cards from friends and neighbors in Claremont, NH, Springfield, Mass., and all over the County, as well as a basket of oranges, candy and many lovely bouquets of flowers.
Lucinda d. at her home in Felchville on Thursday, 9 May, 1912 (age 72).
From her obituary: "Hers was such a sweet, patient character that no one ever heard her complain and she was beloved by all who knew her. She had been an invalid from rheumatism for 27 years and a great sufferer. The funeral service was held at the Universalist church on Saturday, Rev. J. B. Reardon of Barre officiating. She leaves two sons: Frank of Windsor and Claude of Massachusetts. She leaves also four grandchildren and her devoted sister, Mrs. Kate White, who has cared for her many years. Claude Clark of Massachusetts, Mr. & Mrs. Frank Clark and two daughters of Windsor, Miss Gertrude Clark of Massachusetts, Mr. & Mrs. O. S. Holden of Perkinsville, Miss Maude Kendall of Claremont, all attended the funeral."
Clark Children:

1. Edward H. Clark, b. 1856 (son of 1st wife, Cornelia). He was a printer by profession. 19 June, 1885: "E. H. Clark arrived here (Felchville) from NY city on Monday the 8th, one day too late to attend the funeral of his father, George M. Clark. He returned the following Thursday."
2. Frank Herbert Clark, b. 13 Aug., 1860. Frank was a schoolteacher in Reading. His first term at teaching was in District #6, winter school, 1880-1. The superintendent said of him: "Mr. Clark labored faithfully to do his duty, and I was much pleased with the management of the school. This was his first experience as a teacher." For the school year 1886-7, Frank was Superintendent of the Reading Schools. His annual report to the town was comprehensive and thorough. Felchville, 13 May, 1887: "Frank H. Clark started for Dakota Territory on Tuesday where he will join the colony at New England City, which has just started." He came home often to visit in his old Felchville home. He wrote a poem for the 'literary society' of Felchville on 29 March, 1889, while he was a resident of "New England City, North Dakota." The poem follows:

Among the hills, so far away; A lovely village lies Nestling 'neath the verdant heights, That stretch athwart the skies.
How long 'twill be remembered!-- The quiet shady streets, The sober little school-house, Where the sound of merry feet So often has resounded, In the golden days of yore, And the hum of merry voices, Conning lessons o'er and o'er.

'Tis here that first we knew, of the beauty found in books; Transporting us to distant lands, Across seas, and to nooks In some country near or far. That even now before our eyes Gleam in our imagination; Like a meteor in the skies.

We're but children of a larger growth," As in some book we read; And, therefore, it becomes us, That our lessons we shall heed-- Lessons for every day of life, For the future we cannot see, That vale beyond or vision, Which in life must veiled be.

Thus in the meetings of your club, You learn old lessons o'er, With a meaning and a beauty, You had never known before.
Dear Friends, I like to greet you; Though many miles lie between; I seem to hear the old sounds-- Old scenes again are seen.
Be it so with every wanderer, Away from the dear hearthstone; I can only wish you Goodspeed, In the work you have begun.
Frank removed to Windsor, Vermont and had two daughters when his mother died in 1912.

3. Claude Hugh Clark, b. 5 Feb., 1863. He m. in Gardner, Mass., 3 July, 1884 Rosamond Harrington of Salisbury, Vt. They lived in West Gardner, Mass.

Vt. Journal, 21 May, 1881: "George M. Clark, by some accountable circumstances slipped while getting down the stone steps of the Union Church on Monday and broke his leg above the knee, the steps are of rough stone. He stood on the platform talking with someone when it occured to him that it was time to attend the funeal of Mrs. Deborah Cady, where he was engaged to assist in singing."
Contributed by Linda M. Welch, Dartmouth College, Windsor County researcher.

Obituary

George M. Clark Dead.

The announcement contained in the heading of this article will carry sorrow to thousands of people all through New England, for the name of the famous minstrel and genial gentleman, from his many appearances on the boards and in the ring, has become as familiar as a household word

George M. Clark, the well known minstrel, composer and lecturer, died at his home in Felchville, last Friday, at 1:30 o'clock P. M., his disease being black erysipelas. His illness lasted about a week. He was taken suddenly worse last Thursday morning, and died as stated. The funeral services were held at the Baptist house last Sunday, at 2 o'clock P. M., Rev. F. S. Rice, Universalist, officiating. It is estimated that upwards of 700 people were in attendance, it being the largest gathering on a like occasion ever witnessed in town. Among those present of the profession were E. Prescott Hardy of Keene, N. H., for 22 years Manager and Treasurer of the Whitmore & Clark Minstrels; Theodore J. Allen, Keene, cornet soloist; O. S. Holden, Charles Conant, "Hank" White, and the veteran humorist, Eleazer Dexter. The funeral was conducted under Masonic rites, the members of which numbered 162, representing Lodges from Woodstock, Windsor, Ludlow and Cavendish; also members of G. A. R. Posts from Windsor and Ludlow, numbering 50, under Commander Henry Humphrey, of William C. Tracy Post of Windsor and Rocky Hill Lodge of Good Templars, of Felchville, also formed in the procession. The deceased was a member of all the above organizations, members of which wore the regalia and uniforms of the several orders. At the appointed time the members of the G. A. R. Posts formed in two ranks, marching to the house of worship, and passed in with uncovered heads, when, after a prayer was made at the house, which was but a few steps away, the near relatives of the deceased passed through the line in the meeting house, followed by the Masonic Lodges and that of the Good Templars. Because of the nature of the dread disease, the remains had undergone decomposition to the extent that they could be seen but a few hours after death. The interior of the edifice was heavily draped in mourning, extending entirely around the walls. And a life size and very natural picture of the immortal and much lamented hero stood in front of the pulpit, which was profusely decorated with bouquets and potted plants on either side, some of them being donated by the ladies of the Relief Post, of Windsor. The interior was so crowded that over 200 people were compelled to remain outside. After services, which lasted an hour and a half, the various lodges formed outside for the procession to the village cemetery, and on reaching there ceremonies fitting the occasion were performed, after which the solemn procession marched away in their order as before. The pall bearers were Dr. H. M. Gould, Don C. Pollard, Fred Spaulding, Alfred Streeter, Col. Sperry and M. Hebard. The deceased was 54 years of age, and leaves a widow and three sons

The following sketch of his life was read at the funeral by Hon. Gilbert A. Davis, of Windsor, as a supplement to the funeral discourse by Rev. Mr. Rice

George M. Clark was born in Clarendon, September 10, 1833. His musical talent was developed at an early age, and at the age of nine years he was a skilled player on the violin. In 1850 he came to reside at Weathersfield, and there spent the next four years of his life. His advent at Felchville is dated December, 1854, when he opened a stone cutter's shop, and the following August married Cornelia E. Paige, of Weathersfield. She died in October, 1856, leaving one son, Ed. N. Clark, a printer, who learned his trade in the ARGUS AND PATRIOT Office

The marble working business not proving congenial to the taste of Mr. Clark, he abandoned that, and devoted his time to music, becoming a popular and successful teacher and conductor. In February, 1858, he married Lucinda A. Felch and became a farmer in Felchville, continuing in that pursuit until the fall of 1859, when business engagements took him to Jacksonville, Fla. His musical talents were soon learned and cordially appreciated by the citizens of that genial clime, and he taught music, gave concerts and led the Presbyterian choir in Jacksonville, and in appreciation of his labor, Mr. Clark was there presented with a gold lined silver cup. While in Florida he wrote several songs, among which was a serenade entitled "Moonlight is beaming" that attained great popularity

In 1860 Mr. Clark commenced his more public life as a showman, having then in connection with other parties organized and put upon the road a company known as the Broadway Minstrels, and with that company he was principally occupied up to 1862

The years 1864-5 were spent in traveling the country with the Whitmore and Thompson minstrels. In the spring of 1866 he organized with E. P. Hardy and O. A. Whitmore a minstrel company that became widely known as Whitmore & Clark's minstrels. This company traveled the New England states, New York and the Provinces, and for 20 consecutive years he has been before the public in this company, which gained new friends and increased popularity each season. His ready wit, excellent imitative powers, and universally recognized musical abilities won him hosts of friends. He did much to purify and elevate this class of entertainments, and the company with which he traveled was everywhere greeted with enthusiastic audiences. Their performances were high toned, chaste and free from everything low and vulgar

In 1867 Mr. Clark made his first appearance before the public as a clown in a circus, and thereby gained a national reputation. Mr. Clark has written some 25 songs, both words and music, many of which have been published, copyrighted and become well known and popular. Among those perhaps the most widely known are "Annie's Grave," "Meet Me Josie at the Gate," "Drifting With the Tide," "Don't Run in Debt," "Give Me the man that is True to his neighbor," "Flora Belle," etc. Nearly all of his songs have been of a moral or sentimental character. Mr. Clark has written much church music, some of which has been published, and nearly all at times rendered by the Union Choir at Felchville, of which Mr. Clark was for many years the leader, giving much valuable time and his great abilities to this branch of the public worship of Almighty God

Stepping upon the lecture platform, Mr. Clark has won popularity and done much good. He has given public lectures in the most prominent places in the State upon "The West," "The Mammoth Cave of Kentucky," and later upon "Temperances." These have drawn large and intelligent audiences, and been highly commended by individuals of culture and by the press. His liberality has added hundreds of volumes of choice literature to the Reading library, of which he was an active founder

In August, 1862, Mr. Clark enlisted as a fifer in Company R of the 16th Vermont Volunteers, and the enthusiasm displayed by him in encouraging enlistments and getting ready for the active duties of camp life are well soon made him a favorite in camp. He was soon made a sergeant, then drum major, 2d Lieutenant, and detailed as Provost Marshall on the staff of Gen. George J. Stannard. He was in the battle of Gettysburg, and honorably mentioned in Gen. Stannard's official report of that engagement. The exposures of camp life undermined his constitution, and sowed the seeds of disease from which he has been an intense sufferer, and the United States government recognized these facts by granting him a generous pension

Mr. Clark had been for many years a consistent Mason, and the brethren at his request, according to the ancient usage of the order, paid their last tribute of respect to their departed brother

Still later he became a member of the William C. Tracy Post of the G. A. R., a fitting act for a brave soldier, and it was eminently proper that his brothers of the camp and field should gather around his grave

June 16, 1884, Mr. Clark performed an act that he after in public and private life referred to as a pleasure and a duty. He enrolled himself as a Good Templar, and in the Good Templars' hail in Felchville, arm in arm with a talented and honored son, took the solemn obligation of Faith, Hope and Charity. Since then by voice and pen, in public and private, he has testified of the faith that was in him. Until a short time ago Mr. Clark went to Bellows Falls, and at a gathering of the Band of Hope of that place sang, with his youthful power temperance songs to the children and others gathered there. The stand that Mr. Clark took upon the temperance question seemed to give him the greatest gratification, and his example and influence in this respect will long be remembered and felt

By his second marriage he had two children, Frank H. Clark, of Felchville, and Claude H. Clark, of West Gardner, Mass. The last time Mr. Clark was away from home was on Memorial Day. He was then feeble, but went with his neighbors to the cemetery where his mortal remains were soon to be deposited, and participated in the decoration of the soldiers' graves, reciting with touching pathos that song he has so often sung, "The Blue and the Gray." The works and deeds of George M. Clark will be his lasting memory.

Source: Argus and Patriot, June 10, 1885.
Courtesy of Tom Boudreau.