Modena Chittenden Clark1,2,3

ID# 1042, (1779 - 1837)
FatherGen. Isaac Clark4,5 (5 Oct 1748 - 31 Jan 1822)
MotherHannah Chittenden6 (13 Jul 1756 - 8 Sep 1789)

Key Events:

Birth: 4 Oct 1779, Ira, Vermont7,8
Marriage: Gideon Dyer Cobb, about 1796, Castleton, Vermont9,10
Death: 7 Oct 1837, Caldwell Co., Kentucky8
Burial: Riverview Cemetery, Eddyville, Kentucky11

Spouse:Gideon Dyer Cobb (11 Sep 1773 - 1 Mar 1834)
     Children:

Gideon and Modena reportedly had several other children who died in infancy, whose names are not known. If so, no tombstones for them have been found in the Cobb plot in the Eddyville Cemetery.38
ChartsDescendants of Gideon Cobb

Copyright Notice

Narrative:

     Modena Chittenden Clark was born on 4 Oct 1779 in Ira, Vermont.7,8 She married Gideon Dyer Cobb, son of Elkanah Cobb and Mary Willard, about 1796 in or near Castleton, Vermont.9,10 According to family lore, Modena's family was opposed to her marriage to Gideon because she was so young (about 17), and forbade him from coming to the house. But one day he was out riding and met her taking a walk. He took her up on his horse behind him and they rode into the next county and were married. If so, no record has been found of their marriage in Castleton; no records survive from that period in Fair Haven.12
     Modena and Gideon and their young son Caleb were part of a group of over seventy people who moved from Vermont to Kentucky under the leadership of Matthew Lyon. They were part of a small group that made the trek in late 1799, followed by a larger group who arrived in Jun 1801.13,14,15 According to family lore, Modena was a favorite of her aunt, Beulah Lyon, Lyon's second wife, who she visited many times at the Lyon's home in Fair Haven. Supposedly, that is where that Modena met Gideon. When the Lyons decided to migrate to Kentucky, they prevailed upon the young couple to join the party.16 The group traveled in five wagons across the Allegheny Mountains to New Geneva, on the Monongahela River, over 50 miles above Pittsburgh, arriving in mid-Nov 1799. The water was too low to float down the river, so they spent the winter preparing their boats. New Geneva is not known to have been a common embarkation point, so it seems likely that the location was chosen because of Lyon's association with Albert Gallatin, minority leader of the House when Lyon was serving, and a resident there. Lyon left the party while preparations were underway, returning to his Congressional duties.17,18,19 For details, please see The Trek from Vermont to the Kentucky Wilderness.
     Life on the frontier was challenging to a young mother, though exciting to a young boy, if the story passed down through the family is true. Supposedly, while Caleb was still very young Indians who lived nearby would come and want to take him with them. Modena was afraid to let him go, but also afraid of offending the Indians, and the little boy always wanted to go. They gave him an outfit with a bright feathered headpiece, which he loved. One day his mother saw an Indian swimming out in the middle of the river with the child on his back, giving her a terrible fright. Later the Indians threw him in the river, and the little fellow kicked and stayed afloat, after which they returned him home supposedly saying "Him heap plucky." No doubt the story has been enhanced over time, if not invented outright, but it probably gives at least an idea of the perceived risks the families faced.20
     According to family lore, Modena was often sent for to administer to the sick and distressed. Her daughter recalled often hearing her mother's account of one such case, "a trip down the river in a canoe six or eight miles to see a sick family. The man who came could not get a physician and no one else to go, so she started with him and he took a chill and she had to paddle her own canoe. When they the landed they had to walk two miles through cane nearly as high as a tree to get to the cabin. Nothing but logs covered in, no shutters or doors and one man dead and not one of the others able to help the rest. She and the man who came with her laid out the corpse and then she went a mile and a half to the spring for water with only a dog for company, sat up all night by herself and the wolves howling around the house."21
     Samuel C. Clark seems to have moved in with Gideon and Modena and their family by 1807, and became a partner in the tavern operated in their home. He is assumed to have been some relative of Modena's, but no evidence has been found to indicate what that relationship was.22
     She was probably the female age 26 to 45 listed in the household of her husband, Gideon, in the 1810 Federal Census of Eddyville, Caldwell Co., Kentucky.23,24
     It is unclear whether Gideon and Modena and family moved to the farm or stayed in town. But it seems clear that Samuel Clark, and possibly one or two of his daughters continued to live with the family after his partnership with Gideon was disolved. She was probably the female over age 45 listed in the household of her husband, Gideon Dyer Cobb, in the 1820 Federal Census of Eddyville, Caldwell Co., Kentucky, although she would have actually been only 41 years old.25
     Gideon and Modena returned to tavern keeping after losing the farm. His application for a license was delayed in May and August 1825 by a lack of a quarum at the county court, and was finally approved 17 Apr 1826. The license was regularly renewed until at least 1830.26,27 It would seem that the tavern was actually run by Modena. Their daughter recalled, many years later, that she kept a hotel where she boarded the men who built barges. She had to have breakfast for them by daylight and then she had clerks who ate between 7:00 and 8:00. She did all this with the help of one Negro man.28 She was probably the female age 30 to 40 listed in the household of her husband, Gideon Dyer Cobb, in the 1830 Federal Census of Eddyville, Caldwell Co., Kentucky, although she would have actually been 51 years old. The household included, in addition to their known children, a male age 15 to 20, and seven males age 20 to 30, of whom two might have been their sons Robert and Joshua. The rest, it seems likely, were permanent guests at the tavern/hotel.29
     Modena died on 7 Oct 1837 in Caldwell Co., Kentucky, at age 58.8 She was buried in Riverview Cemetery, Eddyville, Kentucky, in the Cobb plot, next to her husband.11

Citations

  1. [S49] Freeman, Family File "David and Deborah.GED," 31 Jul 1998, shows full name.
  2. [S2266] Town Records, bk 1, pg 114, birth record, shows name as Modena Clark.
  3. [S826] Lyon letter to Witherell, 5 Apr 1828, shows name as Modena Clark.
  4. [S2266] Town Records, bk 1, pg 114, birth record, shows her as his oldest daughter.
  5. [S1352] The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography, pg 214.
  6. [S2266] Town Records, bk 1, pg 114, birth record, shows the girl as his oldest daughter of her husband, recorded a month after their marriage was recorded.
  7. [S2266] Town Records, bk 1, pg 114, shows date.
  8. [S2091] Modena Cobb grave marker, Eddyville Cemetery, shows date.
  9. [S2529] Cobb, "Cobb-Garrett Family History", pg vii, notes of author's daughter, citing 31 Jan 1930 letter from Hallie Cabouise Dobbin to the author, shows married at Castleton.
  10. [S826] Lyon letter to Witherell, 5 Apr 1828, shows married.
  11. [S2091] Modena Cobb grave marker, Eddyville Cemetery.
  12. [S2529] Cobb, "Cobb-Garrett Family History", pg 4, gives story of their marriage.
  13. [S2388] Matthew Lyon letter to Jackson, 28 Feb 1800, Lyon says he took with him one of his daughters and her husband, an unmarried daughter, a niece and her husband [Modena and Gideon] and several adventurers, and he intended to later bring his wife and family and others.
  14. [S1977] Cobb, Exit Laughing, pg 21, shows his great-grandfather "assembled his brood" in 1799 as part of nine-month trek overland, then by barge from Pittsburgh, by12 families, led by Matthew Lyon.
  15. [S2384] Matthew Lyon letter to Jefferson, 4 Apr 1801, 6th page, shows within a few days he would start for western waters, but expected to be detained a week or two at N Genevea before proceeding to the Cumberland River.
  16. [S2529] Cobb, "Cobb-Garrett Family History", pg 4, citing "another account."
  17. [S2388] Matthew Lyon letter to Jackson, 28 Feb 1800, shows he had five teams, arrival in New Geneva, and his departure.
  18. [S2308] Ruth Cobb letter to Irvin S. Cobb, 29 Aug 1931, pg 10, shows the party traveled by covered wagon across the Allegenys to Pittsburg, then by flatboat to the Cumberland.
  19. [S1265] Wikipedia, online, article "Albert Gallatin," viewed 17 Jul 2008, shows Gallatin became a member of the House in 1795, and became minority leader as an important member of the Democratic-Republican Party before being appointed Secretary of the Treasury by Jefferson.
  20. [S2308] Ruth Cobb letter to Irvin S. Cobb, 29 Aug 1931, pg 18, citing a story handed down in the family.
  21. [S2308] Ruth Cobb letter to Irvin S. Cobb, 29 Aug 1931, pg 17, quoting Aurelia (Cobb) Kirkpatrick's response to an 1881 questionaire sent her by her nephew.
  22. [S4054] Livingston Co. tax lists,, 1807, pg 6, shows person charged with tax as "Clark & Cobb," with two white males over age 21; shown as "Cobb & Clark" at 1808 pg 7 and 1809 pg 5.
  23. [S583] Cobb & Clarke household, 1810 U.S. Census, Caldwell Co., Kentucky.
  24. [S826] Lyon letter to Witherell, 5 Apr 1828, shows that Samuel C. Clark was living with G. D. Cobb in 1828.
  25. [S576] Gideon D. Cobb household, 1820 U.S. Census, Caldwell Co., Kentucky.
  26. [S1971] Caldwell Co. Order Book, D:226, 17 Apr 1826, Gideon D. Cobb granted license for tavern at Eddyville after three continuances for lack of a majority; renewed D:361, 21 Apr 1828; D:425, 20 Apr 1829; and E1:55, 19 Apr 1830 (record not searched thereafter).
  27. [S4057] Caldwell Co. tax lists,, 1827 pg 7, 1828 pg 57, 1839 pg 10 all show a tavern license.
  28. [S2308] Ruth Cobb letter to Irvin S. Cobb, 29 Aug 1931, pp 16-7, quoting Aurelia (Cobb) Kirkpatrick's response to an 1881 questionaire sent her by her nephew Major Robert Cobb, son of her brother.
  29. [S1789] Gideon Cobb household, 1830 U.S. Census, Caldwell Co., Kentucky.
  30. [S2303] Kilbury-Cobb, "RE: Cobb Ancestry," e-mail to author, 15 Jun 2001, citing hand-written pages titled "From Joshua Cobb's Family Bible," provided by Lillian W. Sprout, 5 Dec 1931, Montrose, Pennsylvania.
  31. [S2529] Cobb, "Cobb-Garrett Family History", pg 5.
  32. [S1042] Connelley and Coulter, History of Kentucky, pg 497.
  33. [S1289] Mary W. Clark, Register of Deaths, shows parents as G & M Cobb.
  34. [S2793] Crittenden Co. Deeds, B:893-4, Gideon D. Cobb to Persus C. Marshall & her children John C. Marshall, Edwin M. Marshall, Ellen A. Marshall, Gideon D. Marshall, Henry B. Marshall, Mary E. Marshall & Charles U. Marshall, 15 Dec 1851, grantor states that Persus was his sister.
  35. [S1951] Westerfield, Kentucky Genealogy and Biography, vol. IV, pg 18.
  36. [S2290] Eishen, "Descendants of William Bradford."
  37. [S2303] Kilbury-Cobb, "RE: Cobb Ancestry," e-mail to author, 15 Jun 2001, citing hand-written pages titled "From Joshua Cobb's Family Bible," provided by Lillian W. Sprout, 5 Dec 1931, Montrose, Pennsylvania, shows date.
  38. [S2529] Cobb, "Cobb-Garrett Family History", pg 5, shows that several children died in infancy, and names the nine that survived to adulthood.