Clark Farm Tenant House
Archaeological Site

East Granby, Connecticut

History of Site

The house is believed to have been occupied as a tenant dwelling from ca.1860 to ca. 1940 by farm workers associated with one of East Granby's largest tobacco farms. Image of tobacco The start date of ca.1860 is based on map and documentary evidence. A house is depicted at this location on the 1869 county atlas map, where it is shown as one of many houses owned by Charles P. Clark. An earlier, similar map from 1855 shows no building on the site. Land records indicate that the approximately 50-acre property extended eastward to an intersecting street, where there was another, presumably larger, homestead. The Clark family, which owned several hundred acres made up of formerly separate parcels, referred to this lot as the "Barker Farm." In the 1843 probate proceedings for the estate of Charles P. Clark's father, Horace Clark, the Barker farm is described in some detail, including the main house lot to the east, where there was a dwelling, barn, and other buildings. The absence of mention of a second house in that estate is consistent with the map evidence. However, whether the tenant house was built new around 1860 or instead was an earlier building moved to the site cannot be addressed through the documentary record. From the foundation outline, and the shadow cast in the 1934 aerial photograph, it can be plausibly reconstructed as a small gable-roofed dwelling, one or one-and-a-half stories high, with the ridge of its roof set parallel to the road.

Charles P. Clark owned the property during much of the 19th century, a small part of the hundreds of acres he owned as the town's leading tobacco farmer. East Granby historian Albert C. Bates, in the notes he compiled about 1900, names the occupant of the house as the African-American farm laborer John Jackson (born ca. 1839). This attribution is substantiated by documentary sources. The federal census for 1870 records a house in this immediate vicinity inhabited by John Jackson and his sister's family, and the diary of Elmore Clark, Charles P. Clark's brother, records a long association with John Jackson's father King Hopewell Jackson, who helped Clark with his farming work, particularly stripping tobacco. Charles P. Clark's son Benjamin P. Clark bought the property in 1879 and sold it to Nellie J. Lamson in 1910. Like the earlier generation of Clarks, Benjamin Clark was a farmer, as were Nellie Lamson and her husband, Elmore Lamson. In 1927 the property was sold to Anna and Antony J. Bartkus. All of these owners themselves are known to have resided at the east end of the property and so must have either rented out the tenant house or left it unoccupied. Local informants recall the property burning in the 1940s, which is corroborated by the fact that the house disappeared from the East Granby tax rolls as of October 1946.

Charles P. Clark (1815-1895) was one of East Granby's most prominent citizens. He owned hundreds of acres of farmland and many acres of commercially productive woodland, and at one time he ran an inn at the crossroads. He was the long-time clerk of the local school society and twice represented his town in the state legislature. Like many of his neighbors, Charles P. Clark was heavily involved in the cultivation of broadleaf tobacco, a product in great demand for making cigars. In 1870 Clark produced over 100,000 pounds of tobacco, more than a third of the entire town's production, and, at $1,200 in wages, he shared with one other farmer the distinction of employing the most farm labor. He owned at least four houses (other than his own residence) in the vicinity, presumably rented out to farm-labor families.

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