Hannah Clark - Notable Women Ancestors
Hannah Harrington Clark(e)

Text By Beverly L. Pack

Hannah Harrington [Arrington] was born around 1737(?) and became the wife of Colonel Elijah Clark. He was born 1733 in Edgecomb County, North Carolina and was the son of Elizabeth Darden (niece of George Washington and the second wife of Governor Stephen Heard).

Early 1771, Colonel Clark moved with his wife and several children to Grindal Shoal, on the Pacolet River in Craven County, South Carolina from Edgecomb County, North Carolina. As the second season of his sojourn in South Carolina wore on him, he moved his family to upper Georgia. They settled in an area which became known as "Hornet's Nest" which was several miles northwest of Fort Heard, between the roads leading from Broad River and Cherokee Corner to Augusta in Wilkes County (now Washington).

At the time of the Clark's move to Georgia (around 1773 - 1774), Hannah was 37 years of age and had four small children (ranging in age from seven to two years). She was a large muscular woman whose every movement showed efficiency. Hannah was a rather quiet woman usually, but when she spoke it carried a note of such authority that one was most apt to do her bidding quickly. She was a very particular housekeeper having been reared in Virginia.

Around 1779, Hannah and her maids spent long winter evenings spinning and weaving and sewing. A dozen fine frilled-bosom shirts were made for the handsome Colonel--and his wife did not want them stolen and worn by the Tory soldiers. So they were packed in a box and buried in the smoke-house. Raiders came and heard of the gala attire and seized the shirts.

Mrs. Clark was turned out of her home because Elijah had become a fugitive for his fierce fighting against the Tories. The house was burned to the ground and only one patch-work quilt was saved. This was a special quilt to Hannah as her daughters Sarah and Betsy had made the quilt. Hannah and Elijah also had a son named John who twice became Governor of Georgia. (One account states that Elijah and Hannah had eight children: John Clark (d. 1832), Gibson Clark, Nancy Clark Thompson, Sarah Clark Walton (d. 1805), Elizabeth Clark Smith, twins Elijah Clark Jr. and Fanny Clark Mounger (b. 1781), Mary (Polly) Clark Williamson Hobby. Hannah born a daughter named Susan who died as an infant around October 1772 ???.)

Hannah mounted the only horse and rode away with the folded quilt on the saddle. On her way she met a party of Tory soldiers who immediately spied the fine needle-work quilt and tried to take it away from her. Remembering how the Tories had taken her fine ruffled shirts, she was determined not to give up the only piece she saved from her home. The Tories fired at her, thinking she would be frightened, and would give up her quilt. The coward's bullet wounded the horse, but Hannah held her own. Upon seeing the courage of Hannah, one Tory said, "So brave a woman should not be robbed." They rode away and left her.

After their home was burned, Colonel Clark sought safe refuge for his family with the kind people in Tennessee (some reports say he took them to Kentucky in 1780). However, Hannah would not stay in a safe retreat while her patriot husband fought battles. She went from fort to fort, from camp to camp, cheering him and doing all she could for his comfort. At the first siege of Augusta (1780), Colonel Clark had been severely wounded. Hannah heard the news and left at once to ride 50 miles over the same road as Mammy Kate to rescue Stephen Heard. Hannah had with her only a man-servant and two small children--twins--but they reached the camp safely.

On another occasion (1780 ?), while fleeing on horseback from Tories and holding two small children in her arms, she had her horse shot from under her, but she escaped unharmed.

Hannah Clark did everything for the cause of Independence except shoulder a gun and go to battle.

She was at the second siege of Augusta (1781) when Tory Brown surrendered Fort Cornwallis forever to freeborn American citizens. There was rejoicing throughout the frontier of Georgia. It had been a long and bitter struggle for independence, but the worst was now over. Hannah Clark was known throughout as the "Heroine of Hornet's Nest," and was one of the great women of the American Revolution.

Elijah died on December 15, 1799 in Richmond County, Georgia. Hannah died in 1827 (1829 ?) at the age of 90. They were both buried at Lincolnton; however, when the dam covered the territory, the bodies were moved and buried at Woodburn in Lincoln County, Georgia. After 125 years (in 1925), the State of Georgia woke up and realized the great contributions of the Clarks had rendered the State. The neglected and unmarked graves of Elijah and Hannah were located and the remains were moved to the National Cemetary at Marietta. Amid great ceremonies the markers were unveiled by eight of the great-grandchildren, who had finally been located.

[NOTE: Noted historian Louise Frederick Hays, who takes her research direct from the Georgia State Archives, says that Elijah Clark spells his last name as "Clark", not the often published version of "Clarke". Elijah Clark was a member of the Clark family of Virginia.]

Elijah Clark

Elijah Clark
Photo © Hero of Hornet's Nest: A Biography of Elijah Clark (1733 to 1799)


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