In a little over a week, I’ll be participating in the annual reenactment of the Boston Massacre. This has been 8 years in the planning for me. Well, more like a month but it’s been a dream of mine for 8 years. This is looking to be the most challenging event I’ve taken a part of for a variety of reasons. High authenticity levels, complex characters, and school life has created a deadly concoction these past few weeks. In between sewing clothes and researching who I’m portraying, I’m forced to read thousands of pages for my classes and prepare for midterms, which are conveniently placed the week of the event. This has left me with WAY less time to prepare than I’d like. For somebody who’s done oodles more character development than me, check out my dear friend Tim Abbot.
Skip to 10:40 for the good stuff.
I’ll be portraying John Clark (Clarke) the day of. I didn’t expect to get an actual role my first time going so this is a pretty big honour. Unfortunately, John Clark has been a bit of a mystery to me. No doubt, there are probably more things about him in print but thanks to school, I’ve been trapped at home and only have internet access for research.
So what do we know?
- He was born 10 June, 1752 and died 6 May, 1778 in Medford, Massachusetts.
- He is the son of John and Mary Clark.
- He has a twin sister named Mary. (Obviously, his parents weren’t really original with names.)
- We have the following from the Boston Gazette on 12 March, 1770:
A lad named John Clark, about 17 years of age, whose parents live at Medford, and an apprentice to Capt. Samuel Howard of this town; wounded, a ball entered just above his groin and came out at his hip, on the opposite side, apprehended he will die.
That little snip-it gives us a nice chunk of info but not enough. Now we know his trade: a captain’s apprentice. Everyone thought he was gonna die, but he didn’t…well…just not right away. Did he die like his fellow massacre victim Christopher Monk many years later because of his wound? We don’t know.
But what about his master? This has been a HUGE pain in the arse for me. Samuel Howard isn’t exactly the most unique name and finding stuff on him has been impossible for me. At first, I was advised to look at a Samuel Howard born in 1752. This guy would later take part in the Boston Tea party. Obviously 1752 is a bit young to be a master, it’d make him the same age as John Clark. As we’ve seen, passing down names is a pretty common thing in the 18th century so maybe Samuel Howard could lead us to the right guy. Well, it didn’t. And any search for Samuel Howard brings us right on back to the Tea Party Howard. For the time being, this is a dead end.
We are left with a 17 year old captain’s apprentice and that’s about it. On one hand, I’m frustrated with myself for not being able to go further but passing the semester is slightly more important than one day. On the other, I desperately want to do a good job and getting nowhere provides a sense of failure. Once spring break begins next Wednesday for me, I’ll be kicking it into high gear to put 10 fake buttonholes on a coat and trying to fill some last minute gaps in John Clark’s story. Until then, here’s a sneak peek at what he’ll be wearing, give-or-take blonde hair and either a striped blue and white waistcoat or a solid blue waistcoat. And of course, without the ATM.