Previous Page  9 / 16 Next Page
Show Menu
Previous Page 9 / 16 Next Page
Page Background


Emily Clark from LeRoy - -Where Are You?

While doing research for

next years exhibit “Remem-

ber the Ladies*” I mentioned

the project to Dr. Judy Jensen,

who is a retired professor from

SUNY Brockport. Judy now

volunteers at the Susan B. An-

thony House in Rochester. She

asked what I knew about Emily

Clark of LeRoy, who is men-

tioned in Susan B. Anthony’s

diary. I had forgotten about

Emily Clark. She was an activ-

ist during the early 1850s and

was primarily involved with the

temperance movement that was

supported by many suffragists.

But I have decided that she is an


Susan B. Anthony mentions

that she was in the company of

Emily Clark of LeRoy in May

1852 while she was in Batavia

lecturing on temperance:

“Miss Clark addressed the

people of Batavia last evening,

in a most earnest and truthful

manner; and was listened to

with marked attention. After the

address the Secretary of the So-

ciety stated its objects and the

means by which it is proposed

to effect them, and called upon

the friends present to co-oper-

ate with the Women's New York

State Temperance Society”

There is another account

that mentions that during the

summer of 1852, Emily Clark,

Mrs. Vaughn and Mrs. Attilia

Albro traveled throughout the

state collecting 28,000 signa-

tures on a temperance petition.

They canvassed thirty counties,

organizing temperance societ-

ies and urging New Yorkers to

adopt a liquor law similar to the

temperance law passed in 1851

in Maine, known as the “Maine

Law.” In January 1853, the la-

dies attended the Albany Tem-

perance meeting. This group in-

cluded Amelia Bloomer. They

presented the petition, with the

28,000 signatures and asked the

New York State Legislature to

proceed with a prohibitory law.

“In a brief and dignified speech,

Emily Clark presented the peti-

tion – after which they returned

to the convention and reported

the success of the mission.”

In 1853, Emily addressed

the Whole World Temperance

Convention on the topic of

electoral change: “Neolithic,

the fearful wreck of manhood,

now the destruction of all that

is noble, generous and manly in

youth, nor all the suffering of

womanhood, nor all the miser-

ies of childhood we so great but

they can be remembered by the

temperance ballot box.”

From the New York Tribune,

which printed her address: “The

arguments advanced to silence

women’s voice on this subject

are, perhaps, quite as strongly

supported by the Holy Scrip-

tures as those drawn from the

same sources to sustain the or-

thodox of that climax of abom-

inations, American slavery, the

Devine right of kings. (followed

by great applause).”

So who was Emily Clark

of LeRoy? It certainly seems

that she was working with some

very important women, but

where did she come from and

what happened to her?

I checked the Ingham Uni-

versity database and it appears

that Emily Clark graduated

from Ingham in 1849. The cat-

alogue for that year, mentions

that Emily was from LeRoy.

But was she living in LeRoy

with her family? Or was she liv-

ing in LeRoy on her own? And

was she born in LeRoy? So far,

I haven’t been able to find an

Emily Clark living with any of

the Clark families in LeRoy. I

emailed Wilfred Vasile to see if

he could find anything on Emi-

ly Clark in his genealogy files.

He said that she doesn’t appear

on the 1850 census but he did

find a notice in the January 2,

1856 LeRoy Gazette that men-

tions that Emily Clark married

J.R. Jackson of Potsdam on De-

cember 26, 1855. According to

the 1890 Ingham Alumnae cat-

alogue, Emily Clark taught two

years in Painsville, Ohio and

a year in Warren, Ohio and 2

years in Mt. Morris, NY. It also

mentions that she married John

R. Jackson in 1855 and had two

children. She was a Lecturer in

1859-60 on the Constitution of

U.S. with reference to slavery;

Lecturer on Temperance. She

lived in Malone, NY; Minne-

apolis; Valley Springs, Dakota;

Halifax Court House, Va. and

in 1890 was living in Bon Air,


What I suspect, is that when

she graduated from Ingham,

she became involved with the

temperance movement and for

a couple of years she traveled

around, speaking and organiz-

ing temperance groups. Appar-

ently, even after her marriage

in 1855 she was still lecturing

on slavery and temperance. She

believed that to make changes

it would be necessary to secure

electoral advantages, and that

would include securing suffrage

for women.

There are so many unan-

swered questions about Emily

Clark. Who were her parents?

When was she born and where?

Who was her husband? Why

did she move around so much?

Was that because of her hus-

band’s job? When did she die?

Where is she buried? A lot of

questions, and right now, not

many answers.

*This is a reference to a

comment made in a letter writ-

ten by Abigail Adams to her

husband, John Adams on March

31, 1776. Part of her comment:

“I long to hear that you have

declared an independency. And,

by the way, in the new code of

laws which I suppose it will

be necessary for you to make,

I desire you would remember

the ladies and be more gener-

ous and favorable to them than

your ancestors. Do not put such

unlimited power into the hands

of the husbands. Remember, all

men would be tyrants if they

could. If particular care and at-

tention is not paid to the ladies,

we are determined to foment

a rebellion, and will not hold

ourselves bound by any laws in

which we have no voice or rep-