Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Mahlon Clark, Guardian of his Sister Jane (52 Ancestors #15)

This is another article for the series in which I'm participating, "52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks", a challenge by Amy Johnson Crow on No Story Too Small.

It remains to be seen whether Mahlon Clark would have played a significant role in his sister Jane Clark Brown’s life other than being one of her five brothers.  But he did and therein lays many unanswered questions.

About Mahlon

Mahlon was the eighth child of Benjamin Daniel Clark and Hannah Carrigan.  Born about 1852 in Adams County, Ohio, he lived in Franklin Township, Adams, Ohio for 20 some years.  On 12 Feb 1878, he married Margaret Minerva Hill in Highland County, Ohio.  For the next 40+ years, he and Margaret lived in Liberty Township of that county where they raised six children.  Mahlon was a farmer.  The 1880 and 1900 U.S. federal censuses for Highland County, Ohio placed him within the household of Silas Hill, his father-in-law.  Beginning with the 1910 U.S. federal census, Mahlon was the head of household on the farm.  Silas Hill had died the year before. (Click images to enlarge)

Marriage record of Mahlon Clark and Margaret M. Hill, 1878.
Source: Highland County, Ohio Court Records
Guardianship Role
I learned about the significant role Mahlon played in his sister Jane’s life from the 1880 U.S. federal census which showed that he had “adopted” her youngest daughter Hannah E. Brown.  I have written before about how Hannah came to live with her Uncle Mahlon.

1880 U.S. federal census, Highland County, Ohio
Source: Ancestry.com
I should note that the adoption has yet to be confirmed with legal records.  For now, “adopted daughter” was how Hannah Brown was listed in this census.  As I researched more about Jane Clark Brown and her institutionalization in the Athens Insane Asylum, court records revealed that Mahlon Clark and Silas Hill were witnesses on her commitment papers along with a physician.  Not her husband, Thomas Brown.  Other commitment-related records showed Mahlon as her Guardian.  He paid her debts upon initial admission and saw to her care needs beyond what the facility covered.   Today we would call it out-of-pocket expenses or non-covered services.  He maintained records and reported to the court annually as legal guardians are required to do.  Significant role indeed.  She lived out her life at the hospital until her death in 1918 – 37 years.

Attestation to Insanity by Mahlon Clark
Source: Highland County, Ohio Probate Court
So why Mahlon and not her other brothers?  Was he the most willing, the most responsible, the smartest kid in the family?  Did he or any family members visit her?  Was the Guardian role a hardship for him or his family?  The court of Highland County approved the commitment so he probably filed the annual reports locally since he too lived in Highland County.

Mahlon outlived Jane by a few years so if he was still able, he possibly fulfilled his obligation without having another guardian appointed.  He died 19 Aug 1923.

Future Research
1. Confirm legal adoption of Hannah Brown.
2. Continue record search for guardianship documents.
3. Locate descendants of Mahlon and Margaret Clark for "stories" and clues.
4. Learn more about guardianship and what education, if any, was required.
5. Other?  Suggestions welcome.

1. Highland County Ohio Marriage Records
2. U.S. federal censuses 1860-1920, Adams and Highland Counties, Ohio
3. Highland County Ohio Probate Court Records
4. Highland County Ohio Death Records

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