Sunday, November 10, 2013

Charles B. Clement

What does the Erie Canal and the Clement Family have in common?

Well first let’s start with a bit of US History.  The Erie Canal was proposed in 1808 and completed in 1825; it connects Lake Erie in western New York state to the Hudson River.   In those days the most efficient trade routes were managed in waterways.  There was no direct route from West to East, and any goods that needed to travel either way were tied to pack animals and transported by foot.  A pack animal could handle about 250 pounds of goods, which was no where near what was necessary to build up New York State for settlement. The important part of connecting Erie to the Hudson River was that products could be shipped up river from New York City or down from the St Lawrence Sea Way, and then distributed across the state via this system of Canals and Locks.    More information about the Canal and it’s importance to New York and the Country can be found at

Now on to Charles B. Clement who was born February 15, 1818 in Salina, Onondaga Co., New York.  Much of what I know about Charles comes from his family bible and records that I’ve been able to locate through research.   Charles is the last positive link in our family chain that I have primary sources evidence for, meaning there are original records that document his life.  Some of the information I am going to give you will be theory and I will identify that from facts.    Research has not identified Charles’ father, mother, or siblings at the present time, but it can be inferred that they were residents of Salina NY and Onondaga County.  Around 1844 he met Sarah A. Bromley, who was born May 6, 1821 in New Haven, Oswego Co., New York, and they married August 12, 1844 and began their family.  

Their first child, Annie M. was born June 1,1845 in Scruple, Oswego Co., New York.  In 1869 she married John V. Harris.  Not many records have been found to this point that identify what happened to the Harris family,  that is still a work in progress.  As is the youngest son Ira Franklin, born November 28, 1848 in Lysander, Onondaga Co., NY;  almost nothing is available on him other than I know he was alive and six years old in 1855.  At present that is the last mention of him in the official record that I’ve found.   

Charles and Sarah’s second child Daniel was born May 8, 1847 in Philadelphia, Jefferson Co., New York, and more about him can be found in the previous post. 

By 1850, Charles, Sarah and all of the children had settled in Lysander, Onondaga Co., NY and he was identified in the census of that year as a boatman.  Because earlier census reports only identify the head of house by name, there is no way to tell based on those documents, what Charles may have been doing before that.  However, it would not be too much of a stretch or surprise to find that he may have followed in his father’s foot steps. 

The records indicate that in 1870 Charles, without his family, was in Jefferson Co., New York and was in the household of Ira Clement, whom I believe to be his brother.  The census of that year indicated that he was 57 years old and a farmer.  So it appears that he went to Jefferson County to obtain work, as it wasn’t uncommon in the day to have the husband travel great distances to find work while the wife stayed home; then if steady work was found, he would send for the rest of the family to join him.   In Charles’ case, he did not stay in Jefferson County but returned home and began farming himself.  By 1875 he had established himself as a farmer, his wife, daughter and her husband John Harris (who was by this time a sailor) lived with him.   Daniel was in Jefferson County himself establishing his family and there is no indication where Ira Franklin was or if he survived into adulthood. 

In 1880 Charles and Sarah left Onondaga County and settled in Brownville, Jefferson Co., New York; their neighbor was William B. Clement, son of Ira.  They stayed in this area until Sarah died on April 3, 1890, at the age of 69.  

On July 3, 1897 Charles entered into the Jefferson County Poorhouse at the age of 79 years old.  These places treated the residents as inmates, they lived in dorms with sometimes 15 or more people to a room. If your wife came with you, they separated you at night.  The Keeper of the Poorhouse decided everything for the "inmates"  from meals to when people could receive medical treatment, there were no bathing facilities and while it was heated in the winter, there was nothing to cool or circulate the air in the summer.  Not a great situation to end up in after a full life of working and with no social safety net; if you had no money, the choice was the poorhouse or freezing to death.  He probably did not survive long in this place, and he is not listed in the census of 1900.

I believe that Charles B. Clement died between 1897 and 1900, but he had no known grave marker, nor do I know where he is buried.  I have to assume somewhere on the grounds.

Grandfather Charles may be lost to us, but he is not forgotten!

“The people who have left us are never truly gone until there is no one left to remember them.”