B B B B Banyer Clarkson, who had a stutter, and his wife Helen, who had a lisp, have been two people whose story has been present with me since I was five years old and a small boy coming to Tyringham, Massachusetts for the summer. I was born in Nov 1933. Banyer had died in 1927 and his wife died 10 years later in 1937. My father, for reasons unclear to me, had inherited the estate and gardens they had built about 1900 in Tyringham called Riverside. Banyer’s mother and my Great grandmother were sisters, children of Peter Augustus Jay and Mary Rutherfurd Clarkson. So Banyer was my father’s first cousin once removed. Before he died he had indicated that he wished the house in Tyringham to be left to my father and so it was.
We moved in in June of 1938. I remember arriving and exploring all its rooms and land. We brought a new cocker spaniel puppy with us named Josh. The house to me was huge. You drove through gates guarded by two lion statues, that are still there, up a winding drive way to the back of the house. As you faced the house the front entrance was to the right. The kitchen and “maids” area to the left. You came into a small entrance area then went into the main and largest room with the stair case running up its back. The front had large windows with a view to the Cobble, the upside down mountain in the center of Tyringham. To the front was lawn and a big hill that went down to the gardens and was fantastic to roll down. On the right side of the house was a large porch with ?Lilac vines (may have been grape). To the left were woods with a stream running down. Actually there were two streams. If you walked through the woods it would clear into old pasture land filled with blackberries and then down hill through other pastures to the valley floor.
Upstairs was a large master bedroom, over the dinning room, and two smaller bedrooms, the first for my sister, Petey, the second for me. Then there was a big room, I think over the porch, and study that was filled with parts of Banyer’s life and interests. Rocks, barometers, national geographics, scrap books, stamps, old letters.
The house to the front looked out at the cobble but it looked over the garden. Growing phlox was Helen’s passion. This had been carefully laid out with stone walls and fountains. The garden was known in botanical circles. Helen was an early member of the Stockbridge Flower and Garden Club and had won several awards for her flowers. Her garden was photographed and included in 1916 book of famous American gardens. During our first summer, Sydney Howard, the playwright was run over by his tractor. Phlox from the garden were used at his funeral.
As a five year old the gardens were of little interest to me! I was more involved with a toy lawn mower! Also there were several pastures that needed to be mowed. This meant Duffy Clark and his team of horses came, and I could ride on them. Also trout. Fishing the small streams was to become a passion of mine.
In August of 1938, our first summer there, a hurricane can up the East Coast and a huge amount of rain was dumped on the valley. I can remember the sounds of water as it can rushing down the brook and turned to go down our drive way washing it out deeper than I was tall. The valley was flooded. Almost all the bridges were washed out and it was a devastation for several weeks.
We spent summers in the house for 4 or 5 years, then it was sold to Brooke and Buddy Marshall about 1942 and we moved to a farm house in the valley. My mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. It quickly metastasized leading to her death in 1944. My father kept the farm house and I continued my summers in Tyringham for another ten years.
This was all possible for me because of Banyer. Who was he and what was his life like? Where did he come from? The Clarkson and Jay families had close connections. Peter Augustus Jay the oldest son of John Jay and Sarah Livingston, married General Matthew Clarkson and Mary Rutherfurd’s daughter Mary Rutherfurd Clarkson. Then their youngest daughter Susan Matilda Jay married Matthew Clarkson and they both had General Matthew Clarkson as a common grandfather! Their one child was Banyer.
My looking into my Clarkson genealogy brought me first to Banyer’s father Matthew who married Susan Jay. Matthew among other accomplishments wrote a two volume book that was leather bound giving the history of the Clarkson family. Forty-five volumes were published “for the family only”. I have from Banyer and my father volume 4. It is very readable and gives wonderful insight of the history and troubles that were occurring first in England and then in New York as Church and State went through their revolutions and the impact this had on family.
His wife, Susan Matilda Jay was the youngest daughter of Peter Augustus Jay and Mary Rutherfurd Clarkson so they were second cousins. In their early marriage they were very active socially. Mathew became tired of this social life and stated to his wife “that he wished henceforth to stay at home”. While accepting no invitations he had numbers of people visit them to discuss world politics.
I wish I had more information on Matthew. He inherited considerable wealth from his parents, David and Elizabeth Clarkson. He was well educated and a prolific reader. He was well traveled. I have a scrap book of three European tours he took with his wife. The first in 1858, 116 hotels are entered. In 1865, 52 hotels are listed and in 1876 they stayed at 79 hotels. I have the dates listed on the middle trip, which they took with their 12 year old son, Banyer.. It started in July 1876 in London. In July 16 they were in Interlaken Switzerland. In August in Zurich. From August 25 to Jan 21 they were in Lausanne. Jan 25 in Marseilles, France. Feb 21 at Shephards Hotel, Cairo, Egypt, and then Cooks steamer up the Nile. March 30 to May 6 1867 in Campo. May 8-9 sail Mediterranean to Damascus.. May 17 to May 27 ill with Syrian flu in Damascus. May 27 in Athens. June 17 in Milan, Italy. June 26 to June 29 in Paris. July 15 in London. July 19 in Liverpool. July 20 sail on the China for New York. Each of their trips lasted about a year.
He also cataloged all sorts of information from newspapers etc. I have three volumes that trace events in Europe as well as the United States. Much of the clippings from one volume are from the Civil War, in 1861-65.
“(VIII) Matthew (3) Clarkson, son of David (4) and Elizabeth Streatfeild (Clarkson) Clarkson, was born in New York City, June 23, 1823. He never engaged in professional or business pursuits, yet occupied his time most worthily in lines which particularly interested him and these were often to the advantage of others. He devoted considerable time to the compilation of his family’s history, and by his painstaking efforts perfected a volume which was privately printed and relieves forthcoming generations of any necessity for research back of the present time. He is a Republican, and a member of the Episcopal church, but has not accepted office ecclesiastic or political. He joined the Order of the Cincinnati and the Huguenot Society, and his latest place of residence was at his sister’s home, No. 16 West Forty-eighth street, New York City. Matthew Clarkson married, at Calvary Church, in New York City, April 14, 1852, Susan Matilda Jay, born in that city, November 29, 1827, died at her home, No. 160 West Fifty-ninth street, June 29, 1910, daughter of Peter Augustus Jay (eldest son of John Jay and Sarah Livingston), born January 24, 1776, died February 22, 1843, married, July 29, 1807, Mary Rutherfurd Clarkson, daughter of General Nathan Clarkson and Mary i. They had one son, Banyer”
The only child of the marriage, BANYER CLARKSON(pa6/33) , married Helen Sheldon Smith in 1900 when he was 47 and she was 43. They lived in New York and built a summer estate in Tyringham, Mass.
Banyer like his father lived off his inherited wealth and spent his time collecting and organizing for what he wanted. He wrote a book of a trip to the western deserts he took when he was in his 30’s. Many rocks were collected that were brought home and ended in the Tyringham house. He collected stamps which my father also inherited. He had a collection of letters written by John Jay and other revolutionary people, that may have come from his father. He had every issue of the National Geographic magazine. He had a collection of weather forecasting tools. Barometer with huge lead bowl, wind direction and velocity, rain Gauge, etc. A regret that I have is that I did not take better care of some of this!!
My brother in law, Ned Perkins, was a small boy, lived close to Riverside. He remembers Banyer getting in his horse drawn cart and driving to Tyringham General Store for mail. He would fall asleep as soon as they got started. His horse would take him to the store and shake to wake him up.
His wife Helen Sheldon Smith was known for the garden at Riverside. Her special interest was phlox and as mentioned above she used sheep manure from the sheep at Riverside Farm to fertilize the garden. The sheep were allowed to graze on the cobble, across the Hop brook, and kept the grass, etc down. Next came cows and now it’s a tractor!
She was very active with the Lenox Garden Club. The garden was photographed and published in a collection of famous gardens in the United States in 1906. She invited members of the Lenox Garden Club Council as their guests at Riverside, in Tyringham. “ this afternoon. (July 1906) Mrs. Edward Spencer read a paper on delphiniums, and there was a contest among members of the council who exhibited floral specimens.”
He had many philanthropic interests. Part of his life was involvement with the Jay Cemetery. He was one of the three original trustees and was active with the development of the Cemetery..
ObitNYGS: . “BANYER CLARKSON. 1854-1928. Banyer Clarkson, an Annual Member of the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society, died October 20, 1928, at his summer home at Tyringham, Massachusetts. His funeral was held in St. Paul’s Church, Stockbridge, on Octo- ber 22. The interment took place in the Jay family cemetery at Harrison, New York. Mr. Clarkson was born in New York City on March 13, 1854, the son of Matthew6 Clarkson and his wife Susan Matilda Jay. He was descended in a direct male line from Matthew1 Clarkson (ab. 1665-1702), who emigrated in 1685, and his wife Catherine Van Schaick, through the following line: David2 (1694-1751), and Ann Margaret Freeman; David* (1726-1782), and Elizabeth French; General Matthew’ (1758-1825), and his second wife Sarah Cornell; David,5 and his wife Elizabeth Streatfield6 Clarkson (who was also his cousin, daughter of Thomas Streatfield’ Clarkson, a brother of Gen. Matthew Clarkson) ; Matthew6 and Susan Matilda Jay ; Banyer7 Clarkson. General Matthew’ Clarkson took a prominent part in the Revolution, and was one of the original members of the Society of the Cincinnati. His member- ship certificate, signed by George Washington at Mount Vernon, is still preserved in the family. Susan Matilda5 Jay, the mother of Mr. Clarkson, died June 29, 1910. She was a grand daughter of the Honorable John3 (Peter, 2 Augustus1) Jay (1745- 1829), first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, and his wife Sarah Van Brugh Livingston, through his son Peter Augustus’ Jay (1776-1843), who married Mary Rutherford5 Clarkson, a daughter of Gen. Matthew’ Clarkson by his first wife, Mary Rutherford. It is thus seen that of Mr. Banyer Clarkson’s four grandparents, three of them were born Clarkson. Banyer Clarkson married on December 6, 1900, Miss Helen Shelton Smith, daughter of Denton Smith and Harriet Emmons Shelton. He was a member of the Sons of the Revolution, the Society of Colonial Wars, the St. Nicholas So- ciety, the Huguenot Society, and the Society of the Cincinnati. His residence in New York was at I I East 92nd Street. Mr. Clarkson had no children, and is survived by his widow. “