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  • Late 1790s -- Mary Bateman was born a slave in Kentucky. She was purchased by Benjamin I. Harrison, who became a public official in Vincennes, where he also married.
  • 1814 -- Samuel Clark came to town on the Wabash, “and being well pleased with the county, he went back and brought his wife (Mary, also called May) the next year (1815) one year before Indiana was admitted as a state,’’ according to the history of the Bethel AME Church published in 1890. Separate documentation, court filings in the Clark case, state Mary Clark, a woman of color, came to Vincennes with Benjamin Harrison in 1815. Additional documentation states that Samuel Clark was a hostler for William Henry Harrison, handling his horses. The couple likely met because of the relationship of the Harrisons who were cousins and part of the Virginia aristocracy.

    A history of Indiana states that Harrison had a servant with him during the Battle of Tippecanoe in 1811 and that servant’s job was to handle his white horse. It was widely known that Harrison rode a white horse. When the battle started, the servant couldn’t remember where he had hitched the animal, so another soldier, Major Taylor, loaned General Harrison his horse. Early in the battle one of Harrison’s aides who rode a white horse was shot. No name is given for this servant, but it may have been Samuel Clark, and this chain of events may have saved Harrison’s life.

    Like businessmen doing horse swapping, Harrison, a slave owner, may have sold or given Samuel Clark to Decker. Clark’s obituary, printed in an 1869 article in the Vincennes Commercial, states that Clark was believed to have been a slave of Lt. Col. Luke Decker, who fought with William Henry Harrison and General Washington Johnston in the Battle of Tippecanoe. And was a member of the General Assembly in 1809 and a judge in 1813.

    While Johnston is associated with the anti-slavery element because he chaired an Indiana General Assembly committee that reported against Indiana being a slave state, Johnston held the indenture of Mary Clark.

  • July 1816 --- A Decker leaves Vincennes by boat with a group of slaves to sale South. They escaped in Mississippi and sued for their freedom. The Mississippi Supreme Court ruled in their favor in 1818, citing Article VI.
  • July 12, 1817 -- Samuel Clark marries Mary Bateman in Vincennes. Marriage recorded in Knox County records.
  • January 13, 1818, Vincennes Lodge was designated No. 1, and General Washington Johnston is appointed to install Eilhu Stout, brought from Kentucky to Vincennes by Benjamin Harrison to run the city’s first newspaper, as the first Worshipful Master of Vincennes Lodge No. 1 F & AM.
  • 1819 --- Born at Bethel, Washington County Vermont, Amory Kinney, the son of a Congregational clergyman, moves to Vincennes after studying law under Samuel Nelson, who became a judge of the U.S. Supreme Court. The most pressing issue of the time was slavery and whether Missouri would be a free or slave state.
  • 1821 --- The Clarks have a son. George, who marries Elizabeth Morris on Dec. 22, 1842. He was a witness to the cruelty against a black man who was lynched because townspeople thought he was an abolitionist. Owen Davis was chased down and whipped so cruelly that he later died. George Clark moved to Lawrenceville, Ill, where he reared his kids, Laura, John, Clifton and Annie.
  • 1824 --- Mary and Samuel Clark have a daughter, named Mary Eliza, who later marries Jessy Brewer and has at least four children, including the great grandfather of the author of this work.
  • March 1825 – Luke Decker dies in Knox County; buried in Decker Cemetery, Gibson County.
  • July 16, 1825 – Blacks celebrate 4th of July in Vincennes. A newspaper article mocks the celebration.
  • 1830 --- Population in Vincennes was 763 white males; 639 white females; free black males, 63; free black females, 63; slave males 12, slave females, 20. Total population: 1,560. Free blacks included Prince Allen, Buck Annow, Milly Baldwin, John Basodon, Daniel Brown, George Burtch; Joseph Butler, Jessie Chinn, Mark Coonrod, Peter Cote, Jessie Cox, Patsey Daniel, Ceasar Embri, Charles Embri, John Embri, Miles Embri, Mark Florence, Francis Hill, David Howard, Joseph Huffman, Absalom Hughes, Francis Jackson, Phillip Johns, James Johnston, Patsy Jones, Phillip Jones, Thomas Junkin, William Knight and William Knight; George Laymount, Simon Mahon, Louis McClean, Peter McNeely; Jessie Newton, Nathaniel Newton; Touissant Page, James Parker, Charles Posey, Francis Powers, Touisant Powers, Aaron Ritchey, Edmund Ritchey; Pompey Rose, Robert Rose, Willus Silas; James Smith; Henry Springs, Henry Springs, Willis Springs, Edward Symmes, Jonathan Taylor, Louis Twinnett; Abm Walker, John Waller and Black Weeson. Numerous other blacks were in households with whites.
  • 1833 --- The Clarks have a daughter, Francis.
  • 1834 --- The Clarks have John S., who marries Mary Cole and later Evaline Beard. Their children are Mary, George S., John W., Jane, William J., Charles, Frank.
  • 1836 --- The Clarks have Maria Clark, who marries Samuel Reynolds. Their seven children include Frances Reynolds, Sadie, and Flora A. Clark.
  • 1836-- Bethel AME established. Samuel Clark is among the founders. Mary Clark, as the wife of Samuel Clark, would have likely helped her husband and others form Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Vincennes, which would meet at her home and the home of others before the church was built in 1839, according to the Vincennes Commercial newspaper.
  • March 12, 1839 --- Brethren receive deed for lot to build Bethel AME church at 10th and Buntin. Lot 469 was purchased from Martin Roberson. Arthur McGill, Aaron Knight, Joseph Butler and Thomas Walker are trustees; Samuel Clark, A. Knight and Cornelias Simes are the building committee. “They all went to work like beavers, almost as one man and one aim and through the protecting hand of God they succeeded, though like Allen and Quinn they had opposition all the way, on the account of the great question of that --- day the abolitionists – which was the cause of our persecution. But those brave sons moved on in the fear of God, and trying to keep his commandment: “Fear not, I am with you in your sixth trial and will not forsake you in the seventh,’’ according to the written history of the church to which Daniel Winslow was sent to preach.
  • 1839 – The Clark’s first grandchild?? is born. Sam Brewer is born to Mary Eliza Clark and Jessy Brewer.
  • Aug 24, 1840 --- Mary Clark dies.
  • 1840 --- Census records show Jessy as head of household with 3 in home. Next door is Samuel Clark with 11 in the household.
  • Dec. 23, 1840 – The Clark’s second grandson is born. George W. Brewer, son of Mary Eliza and Jessy Brewer, great grandfather of the author of this work. George W. marries Galena Carter, who had Native American heritage and became the mother of at least 12 children, including Charles H. Brewer, the grandfather of the author of this work.
  • 1841 – A third grandson is born. Edward Brewer. He marries Mary Posey and has several children, including Hubbard Brewer. Hubbard marries and fathers several children who became ministers and political leaders, including Gurley Brewer, a Wilberforce University graduate, lawyer, school principal, delegate to the GOP convention which nominated McKinley and Roosevelt in the early 1900s and owner and publisher of The Indianapolis World newspaper.
  • Aug. 10, 1853 – As required by law for all blacks and mulattoes, Samuel Clark, 67, registers in Knox County. He is described as Negro, 5’9, heavy built, somewhat grey, born in Kentucky. Other Clarks who register include Mary Eliza Clark (Brewer), 29, 5’3, 230 pounds, dark, scar on left arm; Samuel Brewer, 13, 100 pounds, heavy fleshy stout built, light; George, 12, 70 lbs, slender dark, lame toe on right foot; Edward, 11, tolerably heavy built, light; Mary Ann Brewer, 9, 70 lbs, heavy built, dark, scar on hip; Margaret Day, 9, 3’6, slender, dark, scar on left leg; Wm W. G. W. Clark, 27, 5’6, stout, heavy, rather dark; Frances or Mary Clark; heavy, rather fleshy, supposed to weigh 150; Lovina Mariah Clark, 16, 5 ft. slender, dark, scar left leg; Queen Victoria, 6, 3’; slender, dark; Milia Clark, 54, 5’ 100 lbs., rather light complexion, SC.
  • June 15, 1854 --- John S. Clark registered. He’s described as 20, 5’10 ¾, 175 pds, scars on face, hands, ankle, dark, born in Vincennes.
  • 1860 – Census shows Samuel Clark, 76, born in Kentucky, with $200 property and $110; wife is Milly, 72, born in South Carolina; Other listed in the home are Victoria, 12 and William Perry, 10, probably grand children.
  • Nov. 26, 1869 --- Vincennes Western Sun newspaper reports Samuel Clark died on Nov. 22. at the age of 96 years, 7 months and 21 days. News reported he was once a slave of the father of the late Mr. H. Decker, who was Luke Decker.
    Death of an Old Resident – Samuel Clark, a venerable and well known colored man, and whose face and form were familiar to our oldest citizens, died suddenly on Monday morning. He was once held as a slave by the father of the late Dr. H. Decker – had resided here more than 60 years, and was at the time of his death, not less than 95 years old.