I was born free but a colored man.
by Lisa Y. Henderson
George Clark filed claim #2708 with the Southern Claims Commission. Born in Guilford County, he was 61 years old and had lived six miles east of Lexington in Davidson County for 40 years. He was a blacksmith. During the war, he piloted part of Stoneman’s command from his house in Davidson County to Salem in Forsyth County and fed union soldiers who had escaped from Salisbury prison. “I had to leave my home and stay in the woods after I went to Salem with Gen’l Stonemans troops to show them the way. I also had to move all my tools out of the shop because I was a Union man.” Confederate soldiers took some of his tools and two of his horses. He believed that his brother Josiah Clark, who lived in Ohio, joined the Union army. “I was born free but a colored man.”
Philip Ball testified to Clark’s loyalty and asserted that he and Clark “belonged to the Heroes of America.”
W.F. Henderson testified that “on the 10th day of April 1865 General Stonemans Army passed my house where I then lived six miles East of Lexington going towards the N.C. R. Road for the purpose of Destroying the Bridge across Abbots Creek (so They said) and they had with them the two Horses, the property of George Clark. One sorrel mare and one Gray mare.” “The claimant is a colored man which I have known for 30 years and is a unmistakable a Loyal Man and allywas has been and a poor man with a large family to support.”
In the 1860 census of Northern Division, Davidson County: George Clark, 47, blacksmith; wife Elizabeth, 37; and children Marian, 20, Benjamin, 18, Jane, 12, Barbara, 8, Samuel, 6, Eli, 4, Lucinda, 2, and Obediah, 3.