Rebecca Nurse to Rex Clark: 9 Generations of nonconformists


At least 12 generations can trace their ancestory back to Rebecca Towne Nurse, the gentle "saint but witch victim" depicted in plays (e.g., Arthur Miller's The Crucible), novels, and biography. This is a very abbreviated genealogy written for those descendants of hers who eventually joined with other early American families (the Scripps of Illinois) and the Revell(e)s of Maryland to produce the parents, siblings, and cousins known as the Clarks and the Revelles. This webpage was developed from data collected by Peter and Lianne Clark and supplemented with some of the sources that are available on the web. (In particular, the discussion of the Salem witchcraft trials that resulted in Rebecca's hanging, and the Shaker community in North East Ohio that her GGGGrandson Ralph Russell helped organize.) I hope to add more information about collateral branches of the Nurse-Russell-Clarks as I find it. Suggestions for corrections, additions, and deletions are greatly appreciated.

Table of Contents

  1. Rebecca Town (February 21, 1621-July 19, 1692) andFrancis Nurse (18 Jan, 1618 - 22 Nov, 1695)
  2. Elizabeth Nurse (b. Jan. 9, 1656/57-- died after 1733) married William Russell (1655-1733 or 1744?)
  3. Ebenzer Russell (1678-1762) and Deborah Hibbard (1685-?)
  4. Samuel Russell (1713-1779) and Mary Hof Van Huffman (1723-c1807)
  5. Jacob Russell (1746-?) & Esther Dunham (1749-?)
  6. Ralph Russell (1789-1866) and Laura Ellsworth (-1866).
  7. Ralph Ellsworth Russell (1818-1850) & Mary West (1824-1902)
  8. Ellen Rosena Russell (1846-1929) -- married Ransom Bruce Clark (1844-1925)
  9. Rex Brainerd Clark (1876-1955)

(1) Rebecca Town Nurse (February 21, 1621-July 19, 1692)

Rebecca Town was born and baptized in Yarmouth England and moved to Salem in 1632/1640. Her parents were William Towne and Joanna Blessing. (William Towne was either the son of John Towne and Elizabeth Clarke or Richard Towne and Ann Denton. For extensive links to the Towne Family as well as the Russells, see John Berry's pages.

The Nurse Homestead was in Danvers and is now a memorial to her, those killed with her, and the good citizens of Danvers and Salem who protested her slaying. She was hung as a witch following the Salem witch trials in 1692.

She married Francis Nurse (born, 18 January, 1618, Yarmouth, Bristol, England, who died in Salem, 22 November, 1695. He was "an early settler, and had lived for some forty years, 'near Skerry's,' on the North River, between the main part of the settlement in the town of Salem and the ferry to Beverly. He is described as a 'tray-maker.' The making of these articles and similar objects of domestic use was an important employment in a new country remote from foreign supply. He appears to have been a very respectable person, of great stability and energy of character; whose judgment was much relied on by his neighbors. No one is mentioned more frequently as umpire to settle disputes, or arbitrator to adjust conflicting claims. He was often on committees to determine boundaries or estimate valuations, or on local juries to lay out highways and assess damages. " David L. Beckwith

Their children were:

2- Elizabeth Nurse (b. Jan. 9, 1656/57-- died after 1733)

Elizabeth Nurse was the 6th child of Rebecca Towne (Nurse) and Francis Nurse. She married William Russell, (see also) April 24, 1688. Their children included:

2- William Russell (1655-1733)

William Russell was born April 28, 1655 in Cambridge, England. His parents were William Russell and Elizabeth? His first wife was Abigail Winship (married 25 October, 1678) and his second wife was Elizabeth Nurse. (John Berry's history of the Russells suggests that he died in 1744. "He died on May 17 1744. He was a Fisherman & Husbandman. William Russell Lived in Salem, Mass at first from 1673 to 1685 then in Reading until 1694, then returned to Salem." Their children included:

3- Ebenezer Russell (1678-1762)

Ebenzer Russell (1678-1762) b 07 Mar, 1688 (according to Beckwith and the LDS) Reading, Middlesex, Mass. He married Deborah Hibbard (born 1685), the daughter of Samuel and Mary Bond Hibbard. (Another source says Deborah Hibbard was born on Jul 19 1687 in Beverly, Essex, MA, Colonies) He died C1762 in Ellington Parish, Hartford, CT Colonies. Among their children were:

4- Samuel Russell (1713-1779)

Samuel Russell married Mary Hof Van Huffman (1723-c1807). (Or perhaps Marietje HOF) of Esopus, NY. She seems to have died in Windsor, Hartford Co. Ct. (LDS AFN: MMW1-KS). Among their children were:

5- Jacob Russell (1746-1821)

Jacob Russell (LDS AFN: MMW1-L0) was born 15 Apr 1746 Kingston, Ulster Co, Ny and died 29 Aug 1821 Warrenville, Cuyahoga Co, Oh. married Esther Dunham Esther(Hester) DURHAM (AFN: 1QRS-12S) (1749-?) Born Abt. 1752 Windsor Locks, , Conn. Died 16 Sep 1835 Solon, , Ohio in 1772. She was the daughter of ? Among their children were:

6- Ralph Russell (1789-1866)

Ralph Russell was born in Windsor, Connecticut in 1789 and married Laura Ellsworth (?-1866) , the daughter of ?. They both died in Chagrin Falls, Ohio in 1866. Assuming that he is the same Ralph Russell who settled in Warrensville before 1822, they were part of the North Union Shaker community.

"The Shaker sect was founded in England by Mother Ann Lee. In 1774 Mother Ann and eight followers came to America seeking religious freedom and established their first permanent settlement near Albany, New York. During the 19th century Shaker membership grew to about 6000 converts living in 19 settlements throughout New England and the Midwest. The Shaker movement in America was characterized by communal living, celibacy, public confession of sins, pacifism, belief in equality of all people, and daily living designed to bring about the Kingdom of Heaven on earth. The Shakers were known for their inventiveness, their outstanding craftsmanship, their industriousness, and their spirituality, as epitomized by their motto: "Put your hands to work and your hearts to God."

"The North Union colony, also known as "The Valley of God's Pleasure," was one of the last to be formed. It was established in 1822 by Ralph Russell, Warrensville settler and land owner, and included many members of his family and more than 80 of his neighbors.

"By 1850, at the peak of their membership, about 300 Shakers maintained their buildings and mills, operated their schools, and produced a wide variety of fruit, vegetables, and dairy products. They packaged seeds and herbs. They made woolen goods, flat brooms, boxes, baskets, and furniture for their own use and for sale in the surrounding area. Not only did they sustain themselves,but they also shared their bounty with the needy of Cleveland. " (Shaker Museum). For reminiscences of Shaker life, as well as further readings, see the Shaker workshops webpage.

Luckily for his descendants, their son, Ralph Ellsworth, was born before they became celibate. Among their children were:

7-- Ralph Ellsworth Russell (1818-1850)

Ralph Ellsworth Russell was born in Warrensville, Ohio in 1818. In 1844, in Warren, Ohio, he married Mary West who was born in Youngstown, Ohio in 1824. (For those geographically challenged, Warrensville is roughly halfway between Cleveland and Youngstown, and close to Chagrin Falls.) She was the daughter of Charles Louis West born in New Jersey, in 1800, died Greenfield, Missouri, 1872.(1800-1872) and Lydia Ross. She died in Cleveland, Ohio in 1902. Among their children were:

8- Ellen Rosena Russell (1846-1929)

Ellen Rosena Russell, daughter of Ralph Ellsworth Russell and Mary West. Born in Chagrin Falls, Ohio, May 1, 1846. (Note that Chagrin Falls, 20 miles out of Cleveland, is near Russell Township. "Geographically, the Chagrin Falls School District includes the Village of Chagrin Falls, Chagrin Falls Township, the Village of Bentleyville, the Village of South Russell, and small parts of three other communities: Russell Township, the Village of Moreland Hills and Bainbridge Township. It is a grouping of residents who have been joined together through their schools for a long time, and who achieve their identity because they are the Chagrin Falls School District." (The LDS records show her as born in Solon, Cuyahoga, Ohio )

Married Ransom Bruce Clark (1844-1925) in Cleveland, Ohio, September 19, 1872. Their children included:

8 -- Ransom Bruce Clark (August 28,1844-1925).

Ransom Bruce Clark was the son of William Amos Clark who was born in Connecticut in 1816 and died in Bucyrus, Ohio in 1871. (1816-1871) and Eliza Ann Richmond who was born in Ellisburg, New York in 1825 and died in Cleveland in 1901. He married Ellen Rosena Russell, daughter of Ralph Ellsworth Russell and Mary West. Their children included:

9- Rex Brainerd Clark (May 31,1876-September1955)

Rex Brainerd Clark was born and raised in Detroit. He married Grace Messinger Scripps (1878-1971), the fifth child of James E. Scripps, the founder of the the Detroit News. Grace and Rex lived in Julian, California (where they had a cattle ranch) and Pasadena, California. Rex developed the town of Norco (North Corona) where he started a private resort, the Norconian Club and Hotel, that eventually became a Navy Hospital and then a drug rehabilitation center (a medium security prison). Rex and Grace were divorced in 1928 and he remarried his long time secretary and companion, Emma (Jimmie) Snyder. He died in September, 1955.

Rex and Grace had three children, five grandchildren, and 14 greatgrandchildren.

Prepared as part of the history of the Scripps, Clark, Revelle, and Dougan families by William Revelle.
last updated August 8, 1999.
comments and corrections to William Revelle