Contributed by Patty Smith. 2018

Phoebe Clarke (Clarke/Clark) was born circa 1766, possibly in Georgia, and died circa 1817, in Phillips County, Arkansas. Her father is purported to be a famous Revolutionary General from Georgia (perhaps Brigadier General Elijah Clark, but proof is not yet found). Phoebe married a William Dunn, born circa 1766. William died prior to 1800. Phoebe came, with her six children, to the confluence of the St. Francis and Mississippi River, in what is now Phillips County, Arkansas, after the death of William. Her arrival was about 1797 – 1798. Some have said that Phoebe and William left Georgia, traveled to Kentucky or Tennessee, and from there to what is now Missouri. What is known is that Phoebe Dunn appears on the registers of both the Spanish Land Grants, and the “sunken lands” grants of New Madrid. (The latter is named so due to the lands that literally sunk after the New Madrid Earthquake of 1811-12.

Children of Phoebe and William were:

  1. Joseph Clarke Dunn: 1791 – 1833. He married Clarissa Murch (Merch), (born 1799, died 1863) on May 29, 1820 at Utica (a village located very near the confluence of the St. Francis and Mississippi river, about ten miles north of Helena). It was a double wedding, with brother Ichabod marrying also on that date. Joseph is found in the 1830, Phillips County, Arkansas census, but died in august of 1833. Known children of Joseph Clarke and Clarissa Murch Dunn are: Lawson Biscoe Dunn (1826-1903), who married Melinda Lewis; Amelia Dunn (1821-circa 1863), who married William King Sebastian; Elizabeth Dunn (1829 – 1852) who married James B. Shell; Augustus Franklin Dunn (circa 1823 - ?), who married Dardane Morris in 1848, and next married Josephine Baynes in 1865. An Ancestry tree also lists children Sophrenia S.Dunn, and Feronia C Dunn as children of Joseph Clarke Dunn , but no other information is available on these last two children. When Joseph Clarke Dunn died, his wife, Clarissa, married an Alfred Swearingen on September 24, 1835. Alfred was the carpenter who was building the home on Walnut Bend, twenty-five miles north of Helena. This home was the first frame home built south of Memphis. The land for the home was part of the Spanish Land Grant that Phoebe Dunn left to her children.
  2. Ichabod Dunn: born circa 1790 – 1798, death unknown. The only record found on Ichabod is the marriage record, which states he married Margaret Latimer on May 29, 1820, at Utica, on the St. Francis River. On September 29, 1821, Margaret Latimer Dunn died, as did her infant son.
  3. Gideon Dunn: born circa 1790 – 1798, death unknown. Gideon is listed in the 1830 census of Phillips County, Arkansas, with 1 male 30-40, 1 female 20-30, and 1 female 10-15, and in the 1828, 1830 and 1832 tax list for St. Francis County, Arkansas. He is not found in the 1840 census.
  4. William Dunn: born circa 1791-1798, death unknown. He is listed on the Phillips County, Arkansas tax records for 1827, and marriage records state that he married Elizabeth Hampton on February 28, 1811.
  5. Hiram Dunn: born circa 1790 – 1798, death unknown. He is listed on the Phillips County, Arkansas 1830 census with 1 male 30-40, 1 male 5-10, 1 male 20-30, 1 female under 5, 1 female 5-10, 1 female 20-30. He is not listed on the 1840 census. There is a Hiram Dunn listed in the 1850 Crittendon County, Arkansas census that could possibly be this Hiram. There is a Hiram Dunn buried in the Little Rock, Arkansas National Cemetery. Death is listed as 1965, so this would make him rather old to have been fighting in the Civil War.
  6. Elizabeth Dunn: born circa 1790 – 1800, death unknown.

It appears that of all the Dunn children, only Joseph Clarke Dunn leaves a trail, telling us that his descendants remained in the Phillips County area after the 1850’s. Descendants of Joseph Clarke Dunn married into the William King Sebastian family, and eventually into the Hornor family of Helena, Arkansas.

It is interesting to note that there is a Josiah Dunn listed in the 1830 Phillips County, Arkansas census. He is listed as 40-50 years old. Was he an unlisted child of Phoebe and William, or was he a brother-in-law to Phoebe?

Phoebe Clarke Dunn married 2nd, William Patterson prior to 1800 at the Arkansas Post. William was another very first settler to the area, having arrived at the confluence of the St. Francis and Mississippi River between 1797 and 1798, along with others such as Syvanus Phillips, Daniel Mooney, and Phoebe Dunn. These first settlers were brought to the Post due to fear of an Indian uprising, and then returned home to their prospective homes circa 1799 -1800. William brought children by a previous marriage with him when he came to the area. Two of his daughters married at the Arkansas Post circa 1797-98; Nancy Patterson to Daniel Mooney, and another unnamed daughter to Sylvanus Phillips. (This wife of Sylvanus Phillips died young).

Children of Phoebe Dunn and William Patterson were:

  1. John Patterson: born 1800, five miles north of Helena, very close to the Mississippi River, and died 1880, in Lee County, Arkansas. He was married several times, and left numerous descendants in the area. He is listed in the 1830 Arkansas Territory (Phillips County, Arkansas) census, and the 1840 – 1870 Phillips County, Arkansas censuses. He is listed in the 1880 Lee County, Arkansas census, with a note saying he had died in June of 1880. (Lee County was formed in 1873 from Phillips County.) The 1850 census lists wife, Eliza, with children, Francis, Mary, Phoebe, Elizabeth, Freeman, Gideon, John, James, Martha, and Margaret. The 1860 census adds children Amos, and Columbus. The 1880 census adds no more children, but the wife’s name is Mildred. An ancestry tree lists the following wives and children of John Patteson: wife Elinor Glass, whom John married in 1826, with children Francis, born 1829, Mary born 1831, Elizabeth, born 1835, Freeman, born 1838, Eleanor, born 1839; wife, Eliza Way, with children Gideon, born 1845, John Jr., born 1845, James, born 1847, Martha, born 1850, Amos, born 1854, Columbus, born 1856; wife Mildred, with no children. A Phillips County Historical Quarterly states that his first wife had children Francis and Phoebe, leaving the other children born to Eliza Way.
  2. William Patterson, Jr: born circa 1802, died unknown. The 1840 Phillips County, Arkansas census lists William as age 20-30. William is also listed in the tax records for 1844, for Phillips County, Arkansas, and listed as William H Patterson in the 1850 St. Francis County, Arkansas census. One Ancestry family tree lists his name as William Hunter Patterson. Family papers name a Hunter Patterson, but not a William. Casteel Cemetery, in Lee County, Arkansas shows Phoebe Patterson, birth unknown, death July 15, 1818, as the daughter of William H. and Fannie Patterson, leading one to believe that his name was William Hunter Patterson, and also leading one to believe that this Phoebe must have died as an infant because in 1818, her father was only 16 if he was born in 1802.
  3. Freeman Patterson: born circa 1805, died 1857. Freeman is listed in the 1840, Phillips County, Arkansas census, and the 1850, Phillips County, Arkansas census with wife Eleanor, and children, Sophronia, Phoebe, Rebecca, Sarah, Elizabeth, and George. Freeman married Eleanor Hall in 1834. The 1850 Phillips County, Arkansas census lists Freeman as age 45 with the same wife and children as the 1840 census.
  4. Francis “Frank” Patterson: born 1800 -1808, died 1830 (as per Ancestry). There are no records found. He is listed as a son in an Ancestry family tree. Frank is the brother who built the cabin that John Patterson lived in. After Frank built the cabin, he took his wife to live there, in the middle of the wilderness. As she was most unhappy with the location, Frank moved her back closer to town (Helena), and gave the cabin to his brother, John. (This information comes from a Phillips County Historical Quarterly, Volume 28, # 1 and 2.)
  5. +Thomas Patterson: born 1800 – 1808, died, according to an Ancesty tree in 1832. The birth and death dates are questionable as there are no records +not proven
  6. Phillips Patterson: Phillip Patterson is listed on the Phillips County, Arkansas tax records in 1824. No other records are found, other than a listing as a son on an ancestry family tree, which lists the death of Phillips Patterson as 1809, which I believe to be incorrect.

William Patterson,Sr, husband of Phoebe Dunn, was shot in 1808, while sitting in front of his fireplace at his home. “Courts and Lawyers on the Arkansas Frontier” by Lynn Foster state in the footnotes “….Burnet has been apprehended for the murder of Patterson….”. It is assumed they are referring to Moses Burnett, another early settler of the area. Nothing must have been proved against Burnett, or at least he served a short prison sentence, as he appears in the 1840 St. Francis Township, Phillips County, Arkansas census with wife and children.

Phoebe Clarke Dunn Patterson, married as her 3rd husband, Sylvanus Phillips, born In North Carolina circa 1765.

Children of this union are:

  1. Harriet Phillips, born 1810, died in May of 1832, and married Eli J. Lewis In December 1825 at Helena, Eli was an early postmaster at Arkansas Post, as well as a lawyer, and judge in Helena, Arkansas. It was the third marriage for Eli, have previously married a Sally , and then Polly Stillwell (daughter of Joseph Stillwell). Eli died before March of 1841
  2. Helena Phillips, born 1816, died 1831. The town of Helena, Phillips County, Arkansas is named for Helena Phillips. It is said that Helena, and her father, Sylvanus, are buried on the old family home place. This home place could be one of two places. The original home of Sylvanus and Phoebe is located on the Mississippi River, one mile south of the confluence of the St. Francis and Mississippi River, and nine miles north of Helena. In 1815, the family moved to town (Helena), and built a two story log cabin on the bluff between Perry and Porter Street, at Franklin Street. This location was also the site of Fort Curtis during the Civil War, and is now the location of First Baptist Church of Helena. Many believe that ‘the old home place’ refers to the location of their first home, about 9 miles north of Helena. Harriet and Helena Phillips were raised by Sylvanus and their step mother (Rebecca Kendrick), after their mother, Phoebe, died about 1816-17. Sylvanus Phillips’ and Rebecca Kendrick’s had a daughter named Caroline, born 1820, died 1898 in Helena, Arkansas. Caroline Phillips married Thomas Burton Hanley and had eleven (11) children, only three who lived to attend their mother’s funeral in 1898: John, Robert, and Sylvanus.

Sources: Phillips County Historical Quarterlies; Josiah Shinn, “Pioneers and Makers of Arkansas”; Early Court Records of the Arkansas Post; Spanish and New Madrid Land Grant Certificate Registry;;;; Family Papers of Lawson Biscoe Dunn; Hallum’s “Biographical and Pictorial History of Arkansas”.

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