Adah Griffin Clark
originally published in the Communicator, Dec/Jan 2009
One of the most interesting people to have lived in Deerfield in the past was Adah Griffin Clark. When you go to the library, look above the new book selection and you will see a plaque with her name on it. Adah Clark was on the committee that got the Soldiers Memorial built with accommodations to house the library.
She was an unusual woman for her time, strong and assertive, what we might call “liberated.” But she was also remembered as being gracious and gentle. Her granddaughter, Adah Anderson Juknievich, wrote a brief biography of the woman from whom she got her first name, detailing her unusual life. A copy of this biography has passed into the collection of the Deerfield Historical Society.
Adah Anderson Juknievich, who is now in her nineties, recalls her childhood summer days spent on the farm in Deerfield where her grandmother lived. Adah Griffin frequented the barn, likely as not wearing a pair of her brother’s breeches, breaking in the colts that her Uncle Milton Griffin sent up from Lynn. Her grandmother disapproved of this activity on two counts: not only was it behavior unbecoming for a young lady, but the horses had been purchased with income Uncle Milton got from operating a large saloon. Grandmother did not approve of spirits.
According to her granddaughter’s biography, Adah was reputed to have a gift of clairvoyance, could locate lost items or people, and was a skillful dowser, finding water underground with a forked oak branch. She was clever at fixing things, from clocks to furniture, was a fine seamstress and designer of hats. A tall (5’8”) handsome woman, she had many suitors, but she didn’t marry until she was 29, practically an old maid in those days. The right man turned out to be a widower, Herbert Clark, who was nearly ten years older than she with four children of his own. She took over the household and managed it with warmth and confidence.
Herbert was a successful businessman, handsome, a music lover, who adored Adah. He dealt in cattle, and later in lumber, and often had to travel. Adah had no fear of going alone to Lee Depot, often after dark, to pick him up after a business trip. She always carried a revolver.
Adah became a widow at 45, but took things in hand, managing her affairs and seeing that her own four daughters were properly educated. She remained active in town, and later purchased land on Pleasant Pond where she had a camp built. In her later years she returned to the house where she grew up on Griffin Road. She died at the age of 71 of a strep throat, during the winter of 1931. Although there was a blizzard at the time of her funeral, they somehow got the road plowed and the church dug out, and a huge crowd turned out to honor her.