In 1850, 12-year-old Sylvia Wadley are is living with her parents and
sister in District 21, Iroquois County, Illinois.
In the 1850’s, Sylvia
Wadley and O. B. Clark lived only 6 miles apart. They married on
January 1st, 1856; Sylvia was 18 years old, Orrin was 27.
In 1858, they had a daughter named Lydia. The next year O.B. and Sylvia have another
daughter, Alice. At this time,
O.B.'s widowed mother Sarah was living with them.
In 1860, O.B. and Sylvia Clark are living in Wygandt Township, Iroquois
County, Illinois. They have two children living with them, Lida and
Alise. They also have Orrin's mother Sarah Clark living with them.
In the winter of 1861, Baby Alice died. A few months later, Sylvia
gave birth to a baby boy, Major, born on April 22, 1861. Twelve days
later, O. B. Clark died. He was 32.
Stephen Benjamin rented the 160 acres of Clark farm
ground through Nelson Bancroft, a 33-year-old farmer from Martinton Township who was the administrator for O. B. Clark’s estate. Sylvia apparently liked the new farmer for she
married Stephen in 1863 and they continued to farm the Clark place.
next year, Stephen and Sylvia had their first daughter, Emmaline.
About this time, Sallie Clark moved out of the house to live in the homes
of her other children.
The following year, seven-year-old daughter Lydia died on the July 2, 1865.
So the household consisted Stephen, Sylvia, O. B.’s son Major, their daughter Emmaline.
In 1867, Stephen and Sylvia have their second child, a
daughter named Caroline.
***** JLM 1868 *****
In 1870, Stephen and Sylvia Benjamin are living in Papineau Township,
Iroquois County, Illinois. They have three children living with
them, Major Clark (Sylvia's son by Orrin Clark), Emma and Caroline
On October 8, 1870, Sallie Clark sued her daughter-in-law Sylvia
Wadley Clark Benjamin for support from the Clark farm, which she claimed
she had not received since her son O. B. died. Like many court cases, it lingered on and on.
In 1871, Stephen and Sylvia have their third child, a
son named Levi.
In September 1872, Stephen Benjamin
died at the age of 38. Sylvia married David Brown on June 11th, 1873.
In November 1873, Judge Chamberlin
decided in favor of Sallie Clark.
Nine months after Sylvia married David Brown, he
died in March of 1874.
Two months later, Sallie Clark died, in May 1874.
The following month, Sylvia sued her 13-year-old son Major Clark as a
result of the court decision and the deaths of O. B. and mother Sallie
Clark. The results of this case are that Sylvia got one third of the
land, the house to live in, and $1000 for Lydia, the daughter who was
living at the time of O. B.'s death.
By 1880 Sylvia was
living on a farm with William Dunning, Chancy Smith and Smith's 8-year-old son
George. Dunning, who was retired, owned the farm, on the north edge of
Iroquois, that once belonged to Gurdon Hubbard who used it as a fur
trading post at what was then called Bunkum. Smith was farming the
ground and Sylvia was keeping house for the men.
Sylvia married Chancy Smith on
March 2, 1880. He was about twenty years older than her and she
eventually had him placed in the Iroquois County poor farm.
In 1900, Sylvia Smith is living in Kankakee Township, Kankakee County,
Illinois. She has her three grandchildren, Sylvester, Arthur, and
Gertrude, living with her. (These are the children of her daughter
In 1904, Sylvia Smith, widow, is living at 20 West Avenue in Kankakee,
In 1910, Sylvia Smith is living in Kankakee, Illinois with her "grandson"
According to census records, Sylvia had a total of eleven children; only
four survived beyond childhood and these four were alive in 1900 and 1910.
In an article in the Kankakee newspaper,
Sylvia was reported as sick with cancer in December 1911.
This death notice appeared in the Kankakee Daily
Republican on Monday, October 6, 1913.
Sylvia's body is
believed to have been interred in the
mausoleum built by her daughter, Nell Clark. After Nell's death, the
mausoleum is supposed to have contained five bodies:
Carrie Benjamin Langan,
Sylvia Wadley Smith,
Gertrude Clark Berchier, and
Nellie Clark. In 1991, the deceased in the
buried in unmarked graves, and today the mausoleum