Solomon
Clark


 

SOLOMON CLARK was born in New Jersey in 1842. He appears in the 1850 and 1860 Censuses, living with his mother, Hannah Clark, in Camden's South Ward.

Solomon Clark appears to have enlisted in the Union Army with the 19th Regiment, United States Colored Troops, and subsequently served in the United States Navy as a Landsman aboard the USS North Carolina.

The first USS North Carolina was a 74-gun ship of the line in the United States Navy. 

One of the "nine ships to rate not less than 74 guns each" authorized by Congress on April 29, 1816, she was laid down in 1818 by the Philadelphia Navy Yard, launched on September 7, 1820, and fitted out in the Norfolk Navy Yard. Master Commandant Charles W. Morgan was assigned to North Carolina as her first commanding officer on June 24, 1824.

While nominally a 74-gun ship, a popular size at the time, North Carolina was actually pierced (had gun ports for) 102 guns, and probably originally mounted ninety-four 42-pounder (19 kg) and 32-pounder (15 kg) cannons. In 1845, she had fifty-six 42-pounders (19 kg), twenty-six 32-pounders (15 kg), and eight 8 in (200 mm) cannons, for a total of 90.

Considered by many the most powerful naval vessel then afloat, North Carolina served in the Mediterranean as flagship for Commodore John Rodgers from April 29, 1825 to May 18, 1827. In the early days of the Republic, as today, a display of naval might brought a nation prestige and enhanced her commerce. Such was the case as Rodgers' squadron which laid the groundwork for the 1830 commercial treaty with Turkey opening ports of the Eastern Mediterranean and the Black Sea to American traders.

After a period in ordinary at Norfolk, North Carolina decommissioned on October 30, 1836 to fit out for the Pacific Squadron, the one other area where ships of her vast size could be employed. Only the Mediterranean and the western coast of South America at that time offered ports which could accommodate ships of great draft. Again flagship of her station, flying the pennant of Commodore Henry E. Ballard, North Carolina reached Callao, Peru on May 26, 1837. With war raging between Chile and Peru, and relations between the United States and Mexico strained, North Carolina protected the important American commerce of the eastern Pacific until March 1839. Since her great size made her less flexible than smaller ships, she returned to the New York Navy Yard in June, and served as a receiving ship until placed in ordinary in 1866. She was sold at New York on October 1, 1867.

Solomon Clark returned to Camden after his military service. He married in the mid-1860s. Solomon Clark was living on Chew's Court in South Camden when the 1872 City Directory was compiled, working as a laborer. 

In November of 1872 Solomon Clark was elected First Lieutenant in one of the companies of the Eight Regiment, Colored of the New Jersey National Guard.

Solomon Clark was appointed to the Camden Fire Department as an extra man with Engine Company 1 on April 8, 1877. He was the first African-American to serve as a member of the Camden Fire Department. Solomon Clark was then living at 918 South 3rd Street. He was reappointed in 1878 and again in 1879. By that time he had moved to 246 Spruce Street.

The 1880 Census shows Solomon Clark and his wife Lydia at 246 Spruce Street, working as a laborer. He was then the father of two daughters, Laura, 14, and Rachel, 6. The family stayed at this address through 1882. The 1883-1884 City Directory shows Solomon Clark running a cigar store and living at 307 Spruce Street. He next appears in City Directories in 1888, when he was working as a laborer again and living at 309 Division Street. Solomon Clark had moved to 312 Spruce Street by the time the 1890-1891 Directory was being compiled. The 1894-1895 and 1895-1896 edition show Solomon Clark at 248 Spruce Street. He was approved for a Civil War pension in 1896 and was granted an increase from $6.00 per month to $8.00 in May of 1898. The 1896 Directory shows him at 842 Locust Street. He is listed at 327 Cherry Street in the 1897 and 1898 Directories.

Solomon Clark last appears in City Directories in 1898. On September 21, 1898 Solomon Clark passed away. He was buried at Johnson Cemetery in East Camden.


Philadelphia Inquirer - November 28, 1872
William G. Darr - Andrew Lewis - David Painter - James Quinn
Solomon Clark - Thomas Jones - George B. Carse
Eighth Regiment, Colored New Jersey National Guard

Philadelphia Inquirer * March 26, 1877


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