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The Clarks of Haddam (Higganum & Haddam Neck) and the Cutaway Harrow Company and

By R. Thurston Clark

(February 12, 2024) — The Clarks of this article are descended from William, who was one of the first twenty-eight settlers of Haddam in 1662.

Matthew was part of the fifth generation, and grew up in the house his grandfather, Benajah, built on Injun Hollow Road in Haddam Neck in 1751.  He and his wife, Hannah, (Ransom) had two boys and three girls.  In 1805 they bought a farm on Ague Spring Road from Robert Brainerd.  Matthew’s son, Gilbert Matthew took over that farm, while his brother George Washington bought a 39 acre farm on the Connecticut River, which is on the border of Haddam Neck and East Hampton.  This property grew to 400 acres and became known as “Clarkhurst,” but is now the undeveloped George Dudley Seymour State Park.  It adjoins Hurd State Park.

George W. and his wife Cynthia (Selden) had three sons: Thomas Jefferson (born 21 Sep 1831); George Marshall (born 14 Jun 1833); and Henry Lee (born 7 Jun 1835); plus a daughter Mary Amelia (born 21 Jun 1844).  The father died in 1845, leaving Cynthia with young children, ages 14, 12, 10, and 1.  She married Linus Parmalee, 67, of Middle Haddam in 1853.  Although primarily a lawyer, he moved into the Clarkhurst farm.  The two older boys went out into the business world early to help the family.

Thomas, at 15, was in the Haddam Neck quarries learning stone cutting; at 16 he is at Apalachicola, Florida, then in Savannah, Georgia.  In 1848 he is back in Connecticut, then on December 7, 1854 he first marries Elizabeth Quick of Masthope, Pennsylvania.  They have four children: Arthur Frank; Effie Elizabeth; Elwyn Thomas; and Ada Selden.  A year and a half after she dies on July 10, 1873, he marries Sophia Madeline Warner on November 19, 1874.  They have a daughter, Nina Gertrude.  They build a house in Higganum.

George, at 12, was doing odd jobs in the neighborhood.  At 17, he’s in Savannah, Georgia, then Bangor, Maine, and New Orleans, Louisiana.  In 1855 he’s back in Connecticut.

On August 26, 1860 George marries Clementine Isabel Bonfoey (photo above).  They would subsequently move into her father’s 16 acre estate in Higganum, after Edwin B. Bonfoey died in 1887.   George and Clementine had four daughters: Estelle Eugenia, Harriet Cynthia, and twins Clementine Dolly and Clementine Isabel.

The third brother, Henry, marries Mirian Ursula Brainerd on September 1, 1858. They had a son, Coit Cortez, born in 1865, who married Ella Manwarring.  Henry and Mirian also had a daughter, Cora Cordelia, on February 20, 1875; she married (William) Harry Brown.  They had a daughter Beatrise Hazel, born in 1898.  Henry L. and Mirian stayed on the Clarkhust farm.  Initially the three boys grew tobacco until George and Thomas left town on their adventures, leaving the youngest brother to manage the farm.

Shortly after George and Thomas returned to Connecticut, the three Clark brothers started thinking about the creation of a farm machinery company.  They used the extensive amount of flat land near the Connecticut River, at Clarkhurst, to test out their agriculture product inventions.  Ultimately, Henry bought out his two brothers.  They removed to Higganum and Henry and Mirian created the resort, Clarkhurst, on the estate.

The 334-acre resort consisted of a nine-hole golf course, ballfields and picnic area where steamboats of the Star Line docked to bring in most of the customers.  It had weekly rates of $20 to $30 and existed from 1920 until a major fire in 1942.   Henry died in 1913, followed by his wife in 1930.  The property was deeded to their daughter, Cora, who, with her husband, managed it.  My mother, Margaret, and her sister, Ruth, worked there in the summers.  On April 26, 1960 it became the undeveloped George Dudley Seymour State Park largely due to a major donation from the estate of this eccentric attorney.

The origin of the Cutaway Harrow Company of Higganum began in 1835 after a fire that largely destroyed the factory of Selden Usher.  He sold his water rights on the Higganum River to Higganum Manufacturing Company. It became the R. H. Allen Co., but this is before the birth of the two Clark brothers who would later own a firm of that name.

This version of the company name was sold to Russell Manufacturing Company in 1860 and relocated upstream.  In 1844 the D. & H. Scovil Hoe Company forms.  The company ceases operations in 1943, but several of their brick buildings remain to this day.  Some other manufacturers in Higganum were: Chase Reed and Company (hardware); L. C. & L. D. Barry Company (sellers of general merchandise).

The (new) Higganum Manufacturing Company factory was erected in 1867 at the confluence of three branches of the Higganum River, ultimately called the Hollow, i.e. on the East side of the intersection of Routes 154 (Saybrook Road) and 81 (Killingworth Road).  It was started by the Clark brothers; George Marshall, Thomas Jefferson and Henry Lee.  They were joined in this enterprise by Henry H. Brainerd, their uncle, and James Walkley.

In 1877 the Higganum Manufacturing Company is “purchased” (reorganized) as the Higganum Manufacturing Corp. with George M. as President and Thomas J. as Vice President, Secretary and Treasurer.  An “Illustrated Catalogue of Higganum Specialties” of the Higganum Manufacturing Corp., about 1885, includes “Clark” products.  It describes various Cider Mills, Wine Presses, Hay Cutters, Corn Shellers, Grinders, plus Harrows and Seeders.  This and other catalogues I’ve found detail only a few of the 400 items they were making at the time.

Also found was “The Soil and its Tillage” about 1936, and “The Story of the Clark “Cutaway” in Pictures, circa 1938 (image above).  The company was selling about $200,000 worth of products at this time.  In 1891 the firm was renamed the Clark Cutaway Harrow Company.  A number of disasters befell Higganum Mfg. Co./Cutaway Harrow Co.: a flood in 1868; a fire destroyed the foundry on March 13, 1869; a flood on October 4, 1869; a fire in Pattern House on March 9, 1883; a fire destroyed the storehouse on June 1, 1884; a fire December 6, 1914.  This last fire destroyed most of the wooden buildings, but the business rebuilt and continued.

At some point, ownership of the business was turned over to the next generation, with Elmer S. Hubbard as President (photo above). (Elmer was George’s son-in-law); Elwyn T. Clark as Vice President, and Clement S. Hubbard as Secretary and Treasurer (Clement also was George’s son-in-law).

At some point in the early part of the 20th century the firm merged with Bateman & Company.  Elmer S. Hubbard becomes a director of the firm and relocates to New York City. Elwyn T. Clark stays in Higganum as the plant’s manager.  In 1942, the factories were sold to Orville Kilborne of the Orkil Company, which made dehydrated food products there.  Subsequently the property was purchased by Rossi Lumber.  The Cutaway Harrow office building still stands at the corner of Routes 154 and 81.  It may have been erected in about 1920, based on brochures showing it.

My sincere thanks to Lisa Malloy of The Haddam Historical Society, without whose help this article would not have been possible.

Sources:

  • Images of America, Haddam 1870-1930, by Charlotte Gradie & Jan Sweet 2005
  • A Pictorial History of Middletown, by Elizabeth A. Warner 1990
  • Portrait of a River Town, by Cunningham & Warner 1984
  • The Story of Mr. Clark, The Soil and its Tillage 1936
  • Hartford Weekly Times, obituary George M. Clark, March 5, 1908
  • Commemorative Biographical Record of Middlesex County, by Beers 1903
  • The Middletown Tribune, Souvenir Edition 1896
  • History of Middlesex County, Haddam, by Beers 1884

Photos:

  • George Marshall & Clementine Clark, Commemorative Biographical Record
  • Elmer Stephen Hubbard, brochure: The Cutaway Harrow Co., Cat. # 34
  • Cutaway Office Building at Routes 154 & 81, The Story of Clark Cutaway, ca. 1938

 

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