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Literary Types: Book comes from interest in ancestry

Ken Clarke takes an interest in his ancestors Simeon Prior and Katharine Wright in his recent book called “Wolves and Flax.”

In 1802, Simeon Prior left Massachusetts to establish North Hampton, Ohio, but he and Wright are originally from New London and Norwich.

Clarke’s 96-page book is an account of Simeon Prior’s family’s pilgrimage out west. One reason for Simeon’s journey was so that he could obtain more land for his large family.

Simeon and Katharine got married in 1783 and bought a farm for his family. Katharine later gave birth to eight Norwich native children, seven of whom lived to adulthood.

When they outgrew the Norwich farm, Simeon bought land outside of Northampton, Mass., and he and his wife had four more children. They quickly outgrew that farm and for that reason, he and his family migrated west where author Ken Clarke now resides.

Northampton was a village in Summit County, and is now a part of the Cuyahoga Falls.

Clarke is fifth generation to Simeon Prior and Katharine Wright. The Prior family archive contains more than a century of family papers, documents, letters, photographs, and artifacts,

Ken Clarke has been to Norwich and New London on two occasions, when on business to the U.S. Naval Submarine Base. His goal was to visit the Old Norwich cemetery to find the grave of Simeon’s parents.

Ken Clarke is executive director at a humane society in Northampton. He is president and CEO of the Pritzker Military Museum and library in Chicago and ran a literary organization at the School of Art Institute of Chicago. He has raised money for the historical society and possesses a master’s in English from Miami (Ohio) University.

He has a 10-year-old daughter who is Simeon and Katharine’s sixth generation great granddaughter.

As for Ken Clarke’s interest in history, it began with stories told from his family that have been passed down from generation to generation.

“I wanted to verify that the family stories are true.” Clarke said.

The book is an account of Ken Clarke’s ancestors who left England in the 1600s for Norwich, then abandoned civilization for the hardship of the wilderness and founded Northampton, Ohio.

Ken Clarke resides in Ohio, just five miles from his ancestors’ 1802 homestead that is in Northampton.

The book can be found on Amazon, at Walmart, and at Barnes and Noble.

Lisa Shasha lives in Norwich.  

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