Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Cousin Rich, the Sleuth

Have been reading facebook post by cousins in the Descendants of George Adam Eckhart of Eckhart MD group with great interest. As time goes by the flurry of posts has fallen off but there was Easter and all too. (See posts below to catch-up.)

Where we are now is that Mary Ann's husband, John Eckhart (1768 - 1822?), son of George Adams (1729 - 1806) died and The Consolidated Coal Company's man finessed the sale from the Eckharts. What actually went down is left to CSI investigators.

The operative for the Consolidated Coal Company was a man with the improbably theatrical name of Mathew St. Clair Clarke... perfect with which to paint him the villain in this narrative!

Cousin Rich posted the following to the group's facebook page. Can you read anything into it? We sure could... bet then maybe that's just family lore of the Consol. "stealing" the Eckhart land coming forward;)

Again, so sorry for any strangeness with the fonts as I'm cutting and pasting from sketchy sources.

It's interesting to note that Mary's two sons tried to have her declared "crazy" after the death of her husband. I don't know the laws back in 1835, but nowadays, the sons could have challenged the sale of the property, based on the fact that Mary could have been under mental duress. If the laws were similar back then, that might have been their only hope of getting the land back - having her declared insane at the time of the sale, thus voiding the sale.

Here's the Wikipedia history of Matthew St. Clair Clarke (the person who represented Consolidated Coal Co. during the purchase of the Eckhart land. He is also the "author" of a book about "Our New Land Purchase in Eckhart Maryland").

Matthew St. Clair Clarke was admitted to the bar in 1811, and practiced in Greencastle, PA. Later he removed to Washington, D.C.

On December 3, 1822, he was elected on the 11th ballot Clerk of the House of Representatives in the 17th United States Congress, to fill the vacancy caused by the death of Clerk Thomas Dougherty. He was re-elected five times, serving throughout the 18th, 19th, 20th, 21st and 22nd United States Congresses, and opened the proceedings in the House of the 23rd United States Congress on December 2, 1833, when he was succeeded by Walter S. Franklin.

On May 31, 1841, Clarke was again elected Clerk of the House of Representatives in the 27th United States Congress. Clarke opened the proceedings of the 28th United States Congress on December 4, 1843, but was defeated for re-election by Caleb J. McNulty two days later.

In 1843, he was appointed Sixth Auditor of the United States Treasury and remained in office until 1845.

In 1852, his daughter Anna L. Clarke married Gen. William B. Franklin, the son of Clerk of the House Walter S. Franklin who had succeeded Clarke in 1833.

*** My observation: Clarke was out of elected office between the years 1833 and 1841. From 1834 to 1836: he had the land in Eckhart surveyed; he had the underlying mineral composition determined; he wrote a book extolling the land's great mineral value (primarily COAL); he represented the Consolidated Coal Co. during the purchase of the land; and who knows what else he was involved in.

Maybe he was the one who applied pressure on Mary Eckhart to sell her land (within 5 days of her husband [and maybe her son] dying). Maybe he was responsible for her having a mental break down and her sons trying to have her committed to a mental institution. We can only speculate as to what really happened and why the Eckharts sold their land.
Well! The plot thickens. And maybe, as Rich wisely points out, we never will know what really happened. The Eckhart people aren't talking from their graves above the little place called Eckhart Mines.

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