Shiloh Sketches – A New Doctor Comes To Shiloh

Written Edna Liggin

Back in Spaulding County, Georgia as the half-way mark of the nineteenth century was reached, Dr. John R. Clark, just turned forty, was still young enough to accept the challenge of a new life in a new place. It was the challenge “Go West, Young Man, ” and the cry of “Westward Ho,” that started the wagon wheels turning in that direction with eastern settlers becoming pioneers to lands rich, fresh, and verdant.

In all probability Dr. Clark had received his medical education at Marshal College at Griffin to which college many were to come in the next few years from Louisiana for higher education. It is not known why he decided to come to Louisiana and the town of Shiloh.

It might have been a family affair, for his brother-in-law, James Edmunds, was already in Louisiana and another, John Edmunds was either at Shiloh or soon to come. Soon after the third brother, Roscoe, died at his home in Spaulding County, his widow, Nancy, and son, William, came to Shiloh. Dr. Clark was married to the sister of these three, Martha.

James might have written that many congenial planters were settling a new village called Shiloh and that these were fine people and good neighbors from Alabama and Georgia. There were the Tillman Porters, a young couple with several small children; W. A. Milner and wife, Rebecca and two children; a young couple Ruffin and Rosanna Pleasant, little Ben and Sarah; Henry Hamilton and wife Penniah and children; Levi Fuller and wife, Sarah and three children; George and Ann Moore with baby Susan; Elijah Tabor and family to mention a few. All were young couples under forty and their children had been born in Alabama, Georgia, or Mississippi. Henry Hamilton was a school teacher while W. A. Milner called himself a physician when the census taker came around. James Edmunds could have written Dr. Clark that a doctor was needed at Shiloh. The letters might also have suggested that there was good land around Shiloh to grow cotton; he might have hinted a merchant might prosper with a storehouse in the newly settled area.

If James kept up with what was happening in the not-too-old state of Louisiana he might have written, as further inducement, that the Indians were now gone from North Louisiana; that the Sabine River was now a fixed western boundary of the state thus eliminating the dreaded No Man’s Land west of Natchitoches. Steamboats were now plying all of Louisiana’s navigable streams and this mode of transportation was an up and coming thing in the modern times of 1854. James could have written that already three of his daughters had married good boys in the new community and he had land to give them a farm a piece.  and enough to spare for himself.

Somehow, someway, for some reason, the interest of Dr. Clark was aroused so that in the latter part of 1854 he and his family came to Shiloh. Perhaps he left Georgia because of the burden of slavery in a state long divided in-so fixed plantations where owners were forced to go on as it were, nor could a poor dirt farmer do anything to increase his property.

In the Clark family besides the doctor were Martha, the wife, one son, John, and four daughters. Only one girl’s age at that time is known, and that is Martha Adeline, 14. The only son, John T., was probably already married to Tabitha Edmunds or soon to marry her. As their child inherited a child’s part in the John Edmunds property, Tabitha was probably a first cousin to her husband, John T. Clark. Many cousins married several generations ago.

Once arrived at Shiloh, Dr. Clark began in March 1855 to buy land at Shiloh, the first from Larkin and Amanda Calloway. It was a sizable place for they paid $3,000 for this first land. The witnesses were James Edmunds and Jesse Tubb, the latter a wealthy planter and preacher. On the eve of the Civil War he bought land next in February 1861, paying $380.00 for 240 acres from Edward Cooper from Sterling County, Cayuga, N. Y. Lawyer W. C. Carr drew up the transaction. Why did a New Yorker own land at Shiloh in 1861? Was he related to the W. B. Cooper who married Cyrena Baker whose son married Victoria Pleasant?

Two years later, July 25th, as the terrible war was ending, Dr. Clark bought more land, this time 240 acres from Ruffin G. Pleasant with J. J. (?) Heard and Elisha Bolton witnessing. That same day he bought another 240 acres from his sister-in-law, Nancy Edmunds and paid her $255 with the same two witnessing the deal. It was noted that Nancy’s son, William, who was co-executor with her for the Roscoe Edmunds estate, was absent. Records show he was discharged from the Confederate Army that year and had probably not reached home as yet. Dr. Clark increased his land holdings in 1867 again, this time buying from a Jesse Tatum 200 acres for $324.00 with Dan Lee and Thomas J. Moore witnessing.

(cont. next week)

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