Occupational name for a scribe or secretary, originally a member of a minor religious order who undertook such duties. The word clerc denoted a member of a religious order, from Old English cler(e)c ‘priest’, reinforced by Old French clerc. Both are from Late Latin clericus, from Greek klerikos, a derivative of kleros ‘inheritance’, ‘legacy’, with reference to the priestly tribe of Levites (see Levy) ‘whose inheritance was the Lord’. In medieval Christian Europe, clergy in minor orders were permitted to marry and so found families; thus the surname could become established. In the Middle Ages it was virtually only members of religious orders who learned to read and write, so that the term clerk came to denote any literate man.
This website is dedicated to Shirley Clark Freed Wheeler, who first began the long journey down a road of curiosity, and in doing so, bound our hearts to the past forever. It's also dedicated to her son, Joe Freed, who continually encouraged my digging, and made me laugh along the way.
How it all began . . .
Many summers ago on an overcast and rainy Saturday, my sisters and I called upon a small cemetery in Onaga, Kansas. It was rumored that several Clark family members were buried there, so we decided to check it out. I knew the names of our ancestors, thanks to Aunt Shirley, so I was delighted when we arrived and immediately I found several Clark headstones. Many other names began to look familiar – Mack, Wells and others. So with an umbrella in one hand and my cell phone in the other, I started snapping photos of the ornate headstones, just the names of those I recognized. I didn’t think much of it until I returned home and remembered the snapshots. After perusing through Aunt Shirley’s book, I found some of the names listed on the headstones. What my sisters and I stumbled upon at the cemetery validated the information printed in our family book. What we also stumbled upon was my unrealized addiction to genealogy. That evening I signed up for a one month trial of Ancestry.com, which was like a shot of whiskey to a Scotsman. That’s all it took. I’ve been digging ever since.
I can only imagine Aunt Shirley’s delight if she could see what the internet produces today. I wish I could travel to Europe, I wish I could research full time, but I shall settle for surfing the internet, typing away in the wee hours of the morning as I listen to my cats snoring. My children have determined that I spend far more time with dead people than with the living. And to that I would attest that dead people are more interesting. Imagine fearing diseases such as cholera, consumption, small pox and the like. Imagine spending your entire life on a rented farm, knowing you’d never be able to own the land you tilled. Imagine embarking on what was lovingly called a coffin ship, never having seen the land where you’re headed. To me, those are stories waiting to be told.
I hope you enjoy reading about our ancestors as much as I enjoyed researching them.
Carol (Clark) Stoddard email@example.com
P.S. Any time you see [brackets], those are my notations.