1.   Historical note

2.   Scope and content

3.   Provenance

4.   Processing note

5.   Inventory

6.   Subjects

    List of finding aids

    R.I.H.S. Library page

    R.I.H.S. home page

 Clark/Church Family Papers

 Family of Smithfield, Lincoln, Warren and Providence, RI

 Family papers, 1790-1977; bulk, 1806-1945

 Size: 1 ft.

 Catalog number: MSS 1127

 Processed by: Karen Eberhart, October 2003

©Rhode Island Historical Society

Manuscripts Division


Historical note:

            The Clark family in this collection begins with Samuel Clark (1744-1818) and his wife Amey Mowry (1751-1827). They had 10 children, 8 of whom lived to adulthood. Samuel and Amey purchased farm land in Smithfield, RI in the village of Albion which became part of Lincoln, RI in 1783. The land passed down in the family to at least Nelson R. Church in the sixth generation. The oldest son, Joseph Clark (1774-1820), married Mary Foster and became a captain for vessels primarily along the east coast of the United States and the Caribbean. The youngest son, Samuel Clark (1793-1856) married Rebecca Cushman (1788-1876). Samuel and Rebecca had 4 children and lived on the farm in Albion.

            In the next generation, Samuel Clark (1826-1897) married his cousin Louisa E. Clark (1834-1913) and they raised 8 children. Louisa was the daughter of William F. Clark (1805-1890) and Louisa Bacon (1809-1866) who were mill owners in Norwich, CT. Samuel served as General Treasurer of Rhode Island for three separate terms 1872-1887, 1888-1890, 1891-1897.

            Samuel and Louisa's oldest daughter Minnie (1855-1954) graduated from the Rhode Island Normal School and taught for two years before she married Dr. Gilbert Leighton Church (1849-1924). Dr. Church was educated at the Long Island College Hospital and at the University of Vermont and State Agricultural College. He opened a private practice in Warren, RI on the first floor of a tenement building on Miller Street. In 1887, the family bought a house at 87 North Water (corner of North Water and Miller streets) where they stayed until the death of Dr. Church in 1924. The house was near the mill and Dr. Church's office was often busy with mill workers needing medical attention.

            Gilbert "Bertie" L. Church, Jr. (1879-1949) briefly contemplated a military or naval career. He was sworn into service as First Lieutenant and Paymaster for the Warren Artillery in 1901. He settled instead upon banking and accounting. Bertie worked at the National Warren Bank and the Rhode Island Hospital Trust Company before settling in as assistant treasurer for the Brown & Sharpe Company in Providence, RI. He began working for Brown & Sharpe in 1912 and continued until his death in 1949. His hobby was running the Samuel Clark farm in Albion and he was a founder of the Rhode Island Ayrshire Breeders Association. Bertie married his cousin Louisa Clark Randall, the daughter of Catharine Clark and David C. Randall.

            Louisa (Randall) Church (1891-1960) was born in Rhode Island but the family moved to Temple, TX when she was a child. Her father, David C. Randall, worked as a cotton buyer. When Louisa was 15 she had her first job in the publishing world as the society editor of the local Temple newspaper. She moved back to Rhode Island at the age of 19 to teach, first at schools in Albion and then in Pawtucket. She married Bertie Church on April 21, 1915. They raised seven children. Louisa also devoted energy to her literary career by writing articles for national magazines such as Yankee, The Atlantic Monthly, American Home, and Old Time New England.

            See the genealogical chart for more detailed information about the relationships between the individuals represented in this collection



Loveridge, G.Y. "Down on the Family Farm" Providence Sunday Journal Magazine,

            December 31, 1950, p. 3-5.

Rhode Island Cemetery Database

Providence City Directories

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Scope and content:

            This collection consists primarily of correspondence between members of this large and extended family. The letters provide details about daily activities and family news. Included also are wills and other documents for the estates of several members of the family. Several items merit particular attention.

            The autobiography written by Annie L. Church gives wonderful information about her childhood in Warren, her father's medical practice, educational experiences, friendships and entertainment. Annie L. Church also gave an oration for her graduation from Warren High School in 1902 titled "The Training of a Girl in Our Grandmothers Day."

            Gilbert Leighton Church Jr. writes a letter to his sister-in-law Amey Mowry Clark dated May 1, 1925. In the letter he accuses the man who has just purchased Amey's house of being a bootlegger: "It is intimated to me that he is active in the bootlegging business, with a partner working off the Florida coast, and he attends to the distributing end up here. As my informant has told me, he is a rounder, a sport and morally, he isn't regarded favorably, and that is the type you have brought into our midst. Only last Sunday an automobile full of coarse looking men of the type of bar-tenders, drove up to my house, and asked if Marcotte had purchased it."

            Eleven letters written by Joseph Clark to his wife Mary (Foster) Clark while a ship captain, 1806-1812. He tells her, sometimes in great detail, about the sale of his cargo including prices and profit. He primarily sailed to ports on the east coast of the United States, Cuba, and the Caribbean carrying cotton, produce, cider, molasses and a number of other products.

            The file for Nelson E. Church contains the valedictory address he gave upon graduating in 1873 from the Lapham Institute in Scituate, RI.

            William F. Clark writes several letters to his daughter Louisa E. Clark while she attended the Ladies Seminary in Warren, RI in 1850. His letters are full of fatherly advice on the value of education. He also mentions his association with the Slater mills: "You mention in your letter to Mary having made the acquaintance of a daughter of Joseph Almy of Smithfield. Mr. Almy is an old and valued friend of mine, I was with him several years in the Counting room of Messrs. Almy, Brown & Slater at Slatersville near which Mr. A now resides."

            A letter from William Ray to Minnie L. Church dated Oct 31, 1897 discusses the history of his family. According to the letter, his grandfather, Miles Bacon (1753 - c.1830), came to America with one of the Slater brothers who helped found the mills at Slatersville. If true, then he probably came over with Samuel Slater in 1789. 

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            This collection was donated by the grandchildren of Gilbert Leighton Church, Jr. The majority of these records were gathered by Minnie L. (Clark) Church and include her notations.

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Processing note:

            The collection arrived in packets but did not have an overall organizational scheme. The materials have been sorted into files for individual persons. Correspondence is filed with the person who received the letter.

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Type of documents


B.1 F.1

Blackington, Catharine A.C.


Will & probate records


B.1 F.2

Church, Annie L. (1884-1968)

Corr. from family,

Commencement oration

1893-1967, n.d.

B.1 F.3

Church, Annie L. (1884-1968)



B.1 F.4

Church, Ebenezer G. (c1822-1896)

Deeds, estate records


B.1 F.5

Church, Eliza (Hopkins) (1817-1901)

Receipt for stone monument


B.1 F.6

Church, Elizabeth (1916-1959)

Corr. from Minnie Church


B.1 F.7

Church, Genie S. (c1856-1931)


1927, 1941

B.1 F.8

Church, Dr. Gilbert Leighton, Sr.


Corr. from family, deeds, list of medical books, receipts

1859-1924, n.d.

B.1 F.9

Church, Dr. Gilbert Leighton, Sr.




B.1 F.10

Church, Dr. Gilbert Leighton, Sr.


Medical training - matriculation tickets


B.1 F.11

Church, Gilbert "Bertie" Leighton


Corr. from family, debate oration, employment inquiries


B.1 F.12

Church, Gilbert "Bertie" Leighton


Account book


B.1 F.13

Church, Gilbert "Bertie" Leighton


Grace Church Cemetery, Lot #613 Providence

1924, 1942

B.1 F.14

Church, Gilbert "Bertie" Leighton


Church, Louisa Randall

Household inventory


B.1 F.15

Church, Laura Cleaveland


Rhode Island Agricultural Council


B.1 F.16

Church, Louisa (Randall) (1891-1960)

Corr. from parents and other family


B.1 F.17

Church, Louisa (Randall) (1891-1960)

Sympathy letters from friends


B.1 F.18

Church, Minnie Louise (Clark)


Corr. from parents, husband and other family


B.2 F.1

Church, Minnie Louise (Clark)


Sympathy letters from friends, corr. from siblings

1921-1951, n.d.

B.2 F.2

Church, Minnie Louise (Clark)


Corr. from William Ray regarding Miles Bacon


B.2 F.3

Church, Nelson E. (c1850-1889)

Lapham Institute valedictory address

1873, 1877

B.2 F.4

Church, Nelson R. (1918-1967 )

Golf course 

1949, 1960, 1967

B.2 F.5

Church, Samuel Clark (1923-1969)

War service on board Battleship New Jersey


B.2 F.6

Church, William H.

Corr. from Mary A. Kimball


B.2 F.7

Clark, Amey Mowry (1876-1925)

Corr. from mother Louisa Clark


B.2 F.8

Clark, Amey Mowry (1876-1925)

Corr. from mother Louisa Clark, property deeds


B.2 F.9

Clark, Amey Mowry (1876-1925)



B.2 F.10

Clark, Amey M. ( -1884)

Corr. to cousins regarding her estate


B.2 F.11

Clark, Charles Cushman (1854-1913)

Sympathy letters, details regarding death


B.2 F.12

Clark, Charles Cushman (1854-1913)



B.2 F.13

Clark, Louisa Elizabeth (Clark)


Corr. from parents, husband, children, siblings

1820-1908, n.d.

B.2 F.14

Clark, Mary (Foster)

Corr. from Joseph Clark


B.2 F.15

Clark, Mowry (1786-1843)



B.2 F.16

Clark, Rebecca (1828-1873)

Corr. from sister Catharine


B.2 F.17

Clark, Rebecca (Cushman)


Corr. from Mary Robinson


B.2 F.18

Clark, Samuel (1793-1856)

Account book


B.2 F.19

Clark, Samuel (1793-1856)



B.2 F.20

Clark, Samuel (1826-1897)

Corr. from family, property deeds, estate


B.2 F.21

Clark, Samuel (1826-1897)

Nathaniel Mowry's estate


B.2 F.22

Clark, William Foster (1805-1890)

Corr. from Samuel Clark, Jr.


B.2 F.23

Foster, John

Corr. from Elizabeth Foster


B.2 F.24

Hopkins, Layton (1793-1871)

Reminiscences written by G.L. Church, Sr.


B.2 F.25

Hopkins, Sarah

Corr. from mother Sarah Hopkins during trip to Europe


B.2 F.26

Hopkins, Sarah (Clark) (1807-1901)

account of illness and death


B.2 F.27

Mowry, Daniel

Receipt, guardianship of Oliver Smith

1812, 1859

B.2 F.28

Randall, Catharine "Kate" Amelia (Clark) (1866-1916)

Corr. from sister Annie Sherman


B.2 F.29

Randall, David Cleaveland ( -1942)

Corr. from friend, burial insurance

1891, 1942

B.2 F.30

Sherman, Alfred Everett (1860-1934)

Corr. from family, funeral of Annie Sherman

1929, n.d.

B.2 F.31

Sherman, Annie (Clark) (1861-1929)

Corr. from sister Amey Clark


B.2 F.32

Sleight, Elizabeth (Clark) (1855-1924)


1923, n.d.

B.2 F.33

Sparhawk, Rebecca (Clark)



1907, 1925, n.d.

B.2 F.34

Whipple, Amy A.


1916, 1920-1922

B.2 F.35

Clark family property deed extracts


B.2 F.36

Church and Clark family coat of arms


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Church family.

Church, Gilbert Leighton, 1849-1924.

Church, Gilbert Leighton, 1879-1949.

Church, Louisa (Randall), 1891-1960.

Church, Minnie L. (Clark), 1855-1954.

Clark family.

Clark, Amey Mowry, 1876-1925.

Clark, Joseph, 1774-1820.

Clark, Louisa E. (Clark), 1834-1913.

Clark, Samuel, 1793-1856.

Clark, Samuel, 1826-1897.

Hopkins family.

Ladies Seminary (Warren, R.I.)

Lapham Institute.

Lincoln (R.I.) - Social life and customs.

Physicians - Rhode Island.

Prohibition - Rhode Island.

Rhode Island Agricultural Council.

Schools - Rhode Island.

Smithfield (R.I. : Town) - Social life and customs.

Texas - Description and travel.

Warren (R.I.) - Social life and customs.

Women - Education - Rhode Island.

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