The white farmhouse has history, now houses ‘Hannah’.
Department of Correction buildings look pretty much alike.
The White Farmhouse, on road #485, adjacent to the Delaware
Correctional Center (DCC), is the exception. The White
Farmhouse or Clearfield Farm was accepted on the National
Register of Historic Places on May 20, 1973.
September, 1754, Issac Norris of Philadelphia and Issac
England of New Castle County were granted a tract of 1,008
acres in Blackbird Hundred on the northside of Duck Creek.
The plantation was called “New Briston”.” Issac England’s
grandparents Joseph and Rebecca England had received
confirmation of the patent from William Penn on May 19,
1701. Governor Edmund Andros had granted the original patent
to Captain Edmund Cantwell on March 25, 1676.
Clark bought “New Bristol” from Issac England in 1755, at
the highest point of “New Bristol”; Clark erected the brick
Clark came from northern Ireland and settled first in the
Pennsylvania. He then moved to Rothwell Landing, north of
Smyrna Landing on Duck Creek. Here he became a farmer and
joined the militia. David Clark died on September 2, 1766,
at the age of 57 years.
son William Clark inherited the land. He was a militiaman
during the Revolutionary War. He served seven years in the
Delaware State House. Captain William Clark raised a Company
of 75 men from the neighborhood and led them at the Battle
of Monmouth in the Revolutionary War.
Battle of Monmouth occurred on June 28, 1778, at Monmouth,
New Jersey. It was a
blistering hot day. Scores of soldiers collapsed or died
General Clinton had decided to move his Base of Operations
back to New York. General George Washington attacked
at the Monmouth Court House. Holding the field, the
Americans were able to claim victory.
Battle of Monmouth, Captain William Clark lost 40 out of his
William’s son John Clark became the third owner of “New
Bristol.” John was born at “New Bristol” on February 1,
1761. In late 1784, John married Sarah Cook. Sarah was the
daughter of Governor John Cook and Elizabeth Collins Cook,
who was the sister of Governor Collins. John Cook and his
wife Elizabeth were first cousins.
Clark spent his adult life as a public servant. He was a
justice of the peace, a colonel in the militia, and a chief
magistrate of Delaware. In 1766, he was a justice of common
pleas. In 1771, he was a justice of the peace. From
1775-1779, Clark was the Sheriff of New Castle County. He
served in the State House in 1798. He was the State
Treasurer in 1802 and 1805.
John Clark ran against Manaen Bull of Laurel for Governor of
the State of Delaware. Clark won the race by 4008 votes to
3517. Governor John Clark resided at “New Bristol.” After
serving as Governor, John Clark was named President of the
Commercial Bank of Smyrna. As a banker and guardian of his
2 grand-daughters, Clark left “New Bristol” and moved into
the town of Smyrna.
thereafter on August 14, 1821, John Clark died. He was
buried on Holy Hill, in the Presbyterian churchyard,
over-looking Lake Como. The Presbyterian Church stood there
until 1846. John’s father and grandfather were buried in
the same plot. Today a rather large bush of poke berries
canopies the plot.
Clark’s wife and daughter are buried in the same plot at St.
Peters, the Episcopal cemetery. His wife Sarah died
December 12, 1790. His daughter Mary died at 24 years on
February 25, 1811.
Clark had married Pennell Corbit of Odessa. Pennell was the
son of William Corbit, a Quaker tanner. Pennell and Mary
were married on October 22, 1807, by Rev. William Pryce.
Pennell and Mary had 2 daughters: Sarah Clark Corbit
(1810-1871) and Mary Pennell Corbit (1812-1875).
orphans came to live with their grandfather at “New Bristol”
or the “Governor Clark Farm” when they were 9 and 11 years
old. The Governor’s housekeeper Melcah was involved in the
Clark died, Daniel Corbit became guardian of the girls, who
were now 10 and 12 years old. The children then went to
live at the Corbit home in Cantwell Bridge, the present day
Corbit-Sharp House in Odessa.
eldest granddaughter of John Clark married Anthony Higgins.
An issue of this marriage was Anthony Clark Higgins, who
became a U.S. Senator. Another grandson of John Clark was
John Clark Higgins. This descendant was the U.S. Consul to
Bristol” or the Governor Clark Farm came to be called
Clearfield Farm. Architecturally, the plantation house is a
rural Georgian, based upon the Virginian “big house-little
house” plan. The white-washed brick in Flemish bond is
stately but restrained. Its grace lays with its
simplicity. Facades are symmetrical and accented with
house is a 4 bays wide, 2 ½ storeys, and 1 room deep. There
is a stretcher belt course below the second storey windows.
Wrought iron shutter dogs are present. There is a transom
over the front door which is set off-center. Chimneys are
at the north and south ends of the house. There age 2
fluted dormer windows in the front and 1 fluted dormer in
the back of the house. One small window is on the south
side of the house.
house has a Center Hall design. The south parlor was used as
a library or study. The original raised paneled front door
has an iron case lock and brass knob. Original chair
railings, beaded door-frames, floors, and 6 over 6
blownglass, deep-set windows are present in the downstairs.
There is an added Victorian fireplace mantel in the Dining
stairway is unusual in that the single incline separates
into two paths. The north staircase is the original while
the south staircase is a Victorian addition. Originally,
there was an upstairs hall.
house had 2 bedrooms. The south bedroom originally had a
fireplace. The front bedroom has the original mustard color
trim and random width floors. Pegboards and
built-in-storages are present.
a winding box staircase that goes to the garret or attic.
The attic is finished in plaster over lath with beaded
tongue-in-groove floor decking. Originally, a back
staircase had gone to the attic.
original basement had a brick floor, walls, and support
arches at each end. There are built-in-shelves in the
brick. The windows are 5 light casements. At the south end
of the cellar, there is a brick vaulted room. Originally,
there was a door to this arched underground room. Iron pegs
are present on the walls.
frame addition to the main house was added in the 1840’s.
This addition included a summer kitchen, replacing the
original kitchen. A covered walkway led from the summer
kitchen to the main house. Servants’ quarters were upstairs
over the summer kitchen. The walls of the servants’ wing
were whitewashed plaster. There is an inside transom “to
borrow light” for an interior bedroom. Floors are random
width pine. Windows are 3 over 6 panes.
an 1880’s addition that forms an “L” with the summer kitchen
and the main house. At the back of the house, a 1930’s
addition was erected.
Governor John Clark’s occupancy, the house was decorated to
reflect the wealth of its owner, who wore engraved gold
sleeve buttons. In the back room below the stairs, the
Dining Room, there was a mahogany side board, walnut dining
table, and a waiter. The kitchen and cellar had pine tables
and cupboards. The garret had a spinning wheel. Muslim
curtains would have been at the bedroom windows. The John
Clark household also included: 6 windsor chairs, 1 arm
chair and desk, 1 8-day clock, 1 tea chest, Delaware Law
Books, 1 writing desk and 1 liquor case.
Clark property was landscaped with boxwoods and cherry trees
that lined the drive. Women and children would come from
Smyrna to gather the fruit.
prized possessions of John Clark included: a violin, a
walking stick, and his father’s sword. The sword with its
silver hilt, was probably presented to Captain William Clark
at the time he raised his Company. The sword was the weapon
that killed a British soldier at the Battle of Monmouth.
The sword was “misplaced” at the time of John Clark’s death.
John Clark, the owners of Clearfield Farm have included:
Helen Duer Councill of Byrn Mawr, Pennsylvania, who was a
cousin of John Clark Higgins, a Mr. Kennedy, a Mr. Schuster,
and T. Coleman Cauffiel.
current owner, the Department of Correction, has furnished
Clearfield Farm quite differently. The house is essentially
vacant except for the basement. In the basement, prison
cell locks are nestled in the arch supports. Leaning
against a basement wall, a grey, splintered wood pillar
rests. It is the “Delaware Bride”, “the Cat’s” “the Red
Hannah”: the New Castle County Whipping Post, abandoned in
1971. The last person to receive a whipping was a white,
30-year-old-male. He received 20 lashes for breaking and
entering. The date was June 16, 1952.
Pippin is an
author and began her research of Clearfield Farm while on
staff at DCC. She requested the historical marker at the
site in 1989 to identify the significance of Clearfield Farm
and the Underground Railroad. She later identified the town
of Smyrna, the Brick store and other sites in the state for
NPS Underground Railroad Special Resource Study 1995.
Clearfield Farm is not open to the public.