(Henry Peck) Clarke was from a prominent Bridgeport, Connecticut family. In his late twenties, Clarke bought a large
property outside of Columbia, South Carolina, known as Goodwill Plantation, in
hopes of improving his health.
first wife, Julia Caroline Hurd, was the granddaughter of P.T. Barnum, founder
of Barnum and Bailey Circus. After her
death, he married Mary Jane Macfie, daughter of Captain James Macfie. Macfie commanded Company H “Congaree Troop” 2nd
Regiment South Carolina Cavalry, part of Wade Hampton’s Legion.
Clarke family began spending summers in Transylvania County in 1898. Numerous newspaper tidbits tell of H.P. Clarke
leading recreational activities, including camping, sightseeing, hiking,
fishing and hunting with family and friends.
|The Clarke home at Rockbrook faced west and sat on a
rise with a wide lawn.
purchased the old Chisholm place on the French Broad River and named it Rockbrook. He build a large, stately home designed by
Asheville architect, Richard Sharp Smith.
The front entrance of the Neoclassical Revival style house has a
semicircular portico on Tuscan columns. The
house is two-and-one–half stories with a decorative widow’s walk topping the
low hip roof. Five dormers and two brick
chimneys protrude from the roof as well.
The interior was comprised of large rooms flanking a central hall. The third floor was originally servant’s
quarters. Some of the architectural
drawings can be viewed at ncroom.buncombecounty.org/.
Clarkes regularly entertained at Rockbrook. Mrs. Clarke hosted social gatherings, such as
the Ladies Book Club. Daughter, Nancy
would invite friends to dance in the parlor or to a Christmas Day play
performed in the main hall. The grounds
included a tennis court and a baseball diamond with games between local
1912 public schools in Transylvania County began offering domestic science
classes. Nancy Clarke stepped up to
provide equipment and materials as well as pay an instructor for girls from the
Round Top and Island Ford schools. The
classes were held in one of the Rockbrook outbuildings.
April 30, 1913 Nancy Barnum Clarke married Henry Nash Carrier at the Rockbrook home. The wedding description read, “The bride was
attired in a wedding robe of white charmeuse, en train, with trimmings of
duchess and princess lace and bridal veil of tulle and orange blossoms. She wore a magnificent pearl crescent, the
gift of the groom. The bridal procession
formed at the head of the main stairway leading to the profusely decorated hall
and thence entered the drawing room where the ceremony, in the presence of a
large company of local and out of town guests, was performed.”
1921, Mrs. Carrier established Rockbrook Camp for Girls on the property. The camp will celebrate its centennial next
and information for this column are provided by the Rowell Bosse North Carolina
Room, Transylvania County Library. For more information, comments, or
suggestions contact NCRoom staff at [email protected]