Lt. William Clark

The past month was an example of how this community came together toshow its support once again for its veterans. It made us wonder whatefforts were made for those who lost their lives for the cause inearlier times.

When Lt. William Clark lost his life at age 33in 1779, we were still in the midst of the American Revolution. He left awidow and two young children under the age of six. His wife Phebe had afarm, but no visible means of support. With some documented evidencethat we have found it possible to speculate how this community createdits long tradition of reaching out to its veterans.

Born in 1746William was raised on the family farm on Middle Country Road in Coram.He was married on March 27th, 1774 to Phebe Davis by the Reverend NoahHammond of Coram.

When trouble broke out between England and hercolonies he was a member of the Committee of Safety, which met at theCoram home of Ebenezer Dayton.

In 1775, he was made a Lieutenantin the Brookhaven Company of Minutemen, and was later sent to Brooklynwhere he participated in the disastrous battle of Long Island. Hefollowed Washington’s retreating army until he was discharged after thebattle of White Plains.

Like many other Islanders he fled to thePatriot forces in Connecticut. Clark then rejoined his old friend fromCoram, Ebenezer Dayton and Caleb Brewster. Together they engaged inprivateering, capturing Loyalist ships that were providing Englishtroops with supplies.

In the spring of 1779 while visiting hishome, Clark was captured by the British, and taken to the prison shipsin NY harbor. Over 12,000 men died in these ships of, diseases such asdysentery, typhoid fever, smallpox, yellow fever, tuberculosis, andother contagious diseases. Clark was not to be one of the lucky ones.Stricken with small pox, he died, and his burial site remains unknown.

After the war fellow veteran and friend, Captain William Phillips (thePhillips family owned the house and property opposite the entrance tothe Middle Island golf course for over 200 years) made sure that Clark’swidow and two children would get whatever help they needed. Thatspecial bond that exists between veterans, compelled him to provideassistance.

Phillips was the overseer at the William Floyd estateand found ways to help Phebe Clark. Her farm land was rented out, with ashare of the crops given to her family and work was created so shewould be able to receive money.

From a ledger maintained byPhillips you can follow how he provided help. It also appears that Phebewas a proud woman, who refused outright charity and provided goods andservices in return for payment.

The money below is recorded as pounds, shillings and pence 7 -2 -3

" Dec. 10, 1790
To Pheby Clark
for weaving the summer 3 - 1 - 9
by making 28 barrels sider
at her mill 0 - 12 - 0 "

In April of 1792 another entry in the ledger reads;
" April 1, 1792
Rented out the farm belonging to William Clark Junr.
One part to Stephen Reeves 7 - 0 - 0
The remainder part to myself 9 - 0 - 0 "

Phebe remarried in 1794, and the entries in the diary relating to Phebe ceased.

Captain William Phillip’s was a man of great integrity and wellrespected. He was elected as a Trustee for Brookhaven Town for manyyears.

In 2006, 227 years after his death Longwood JHS studentsacquired a memorial stone in William Clark’s honor, and it was placed inthe Old Burial area of the Union cemetery. The stone is among the other20 veterans of the Revolutionary War, and fittingly, not far from hisfriend, Captain William Phillips

From our earliest conflicts, that spirit that has often been referredto as “The Band of Brothers” appeared in our community. There was, andstill remains a special bond between veterans and their communities. TheLongwood community is second to none in that regard.


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