Thursday, May 21, 2015

CATHERINE CLARK (WILLIAMS) 1815-1903

[Ancestral Link: Harold William Miller, son of Ada Marion Williams (Miller), daughter of James Clark Williams son of Catherine Clark (Williams).]




Catherine Clark
A pre-1900 view of the Waterloo battlefield in Belgium where "Katie" was born. The birth may have taken place in one of these buildings, or in one similar nearby.

FIRST GENERATION
CATHERINE CLARKE (WILLIAMS)
"Five O'Clock Katie"
(Mother of James Clark Williams)

Catherine "Katie" Clarke was born 22 June 1815 in Waterloo, Belgium, to Alexander Clarke and Catherine White. Both of Catherine's parents were from Auchterderran, Fife, Scotland. The ancestry of the Clarke (Clark) family can be traced to as early as the mid-seventeenth century in Auchterderran.

According to family tradition, the Clarkes were all tall people, some approaching seven feet tall.  One of Catherine's brothers was so exceptionally tall that he was nicknamed "The Big Shepherd." During the rousing Scottish New Year's celebrations in Kirkcaldy, Katie's lanky brother would dance and sing his favorite song, "Jonny Sands," while flinging his long legs straight out to reach halfway across the room.

Katie's father was a British soldier, receiving a shilling a day (less nine pence for expenses), and her mother, Catherine White Clarke, served as a British army nurse while she accompanied her husband during his foreign service.

In June 1815, Alexander Clarke was serving under the Duke of Wellington at the Battle of Waterloo as English, Prussian, and Belgian troops defeated Napoleon's French army once and for all. It is likely that Alex was part of one of the Scottish regiments that distinguished themselves in the battle.

As it happened, little Catherine was born near the battlefield just four days after the conflict. 
Though the Battle of Waterloo was to have begun at dawn on the 18th of June 1815. History tells us that it rained heavily on the evening of the 17th, the day before.  This storm continued all that night into the next day.  This hindered Napolean's artillary, as well as Wellington's, from moving into place in preparation for the battle which didn't really commence in earnest until 4:00pm on the 18th.  It is also well known that a drop in atmospheric pressure, such as a storm, bring expectant mothers who are near full term into labor.  This is possibly the reason why Catherine was born 4 days after the big battle there in Waterloo. 

The pre 1900 photo of Waterloo shown, near top, above has a Triangular hill far in the background. This mound as constructed by mostly peasant labor on the site (a plain) where most of the battle took place. It was constructed by men women and children who carried buckets and cloth bags of soil on their shoulders from the surrounding countryside. It was meant as a monument to the men who lost there lives there fighting a battle to end all such conflicts.  According to Victor Hugo Over 60,000 men, (see Les Miserables) died there, both sides.  Though others estimate the deaths at closer to 9,500.  At its crest there is a monument consisting of the statue of a Lion with a forepaw resting on top of a globe representing the world to signify the ending of all such worldly conflict.  It was constructed in 1823  (about the same time that Joseph Smith ascended a very similar hill in New York called the Hill Cumorah).  It was completed in 1824.  Well, that one intended purpose of this monument didn't work out so well in ending all war, as we all know.  Though this monument has survived two world wars with many major battles taking place near it.  It is still there today.

The exact length of Alex Clarke's military service is not known. A normal enlistment might be seven years, with no pension offered unless the enlistee was wounded. (If Alex had enlisted for life, he would have received a pension upon retirement.) Many of those who enlisted in that era were farm laborers who were unable to find work.

After Alexander Clarke's military service, Catherine and her parents returned to Scotland. In 1845, Catherine married Alexander Williams, of Fifeshire.

Catherine was always industrious, and did a lot of sewing, knitting, and gardening. She kept a milk goat which had to be milked daily. Catherine would get up very early every morning. She would coax the goat up an outside stairway and into the kitchen of their large house where she would milk it. She would then sell the nutritious goat's milk to mothers for their babies.

Her husband Alex, who had a gift for training birds, mischievously taught their parrot to say, "Five o'clock, Katie, time to get up!" The parrot became Katie's early morning alarm. The story quickly circulated through the community. Afterward, Catherine became forever known throughout Kirkcaldy as "Five O'Clock Katie."

Catherine and Alexander Williams had five sons, all born in Kirkcaldy, Fifeshire, Scotland:
Alexander, born 2 January 1846
William, born 22 January 1848
Andrew, born 14 November 1852
James Clark, born 15 October 1854
John, born 12 August 1858

Catherine Clarke Williams lived to the age of 88 and died 22 November 1903, in Kirkcaldy, just two years and one week following the death of her husband Alexander.

Resouce: Commentary on Battle of Waterloo contributed by Arnold A. Miller
Family records of Charles Irvin Fox
Family records of Lucy Williams Price
Williams-Rogers A Family History, p.5, 6. 

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