John Stevenet Clow (Aug. 12, 1810 – Mar. 13, 1892: Father of Richard Headley Clow

John Stevenet Clow (Aug. 12, 1810 - Mar. 13, 1892: Father of Richard Headley Clow

Born in Haverford West, Wales in 1810, John Stevenet Clow studied art and then left Wales to emigrate to Nova Scotia. There he married Agnes Louise Redman in 1831 and lived with her at her farm for a number of years. The farm, in Schubenackedy (Shubenacadia) was sold and the family moved to Dartmouth across the harbor from Halifax. The family had a total of 8 live children, with Richard Headley Clow being the last of these, being born May 25, 1847. Two years later in 1849, Agnes died while giving birth to a 9th child.

Following Agnes’ death in 1849, the family moved to Boston. The passenger list for the Brig Belle in 1853 shows a portion of the family’s move including that of Richard Clow.

John Stevenet Clow worked for three years in a patent office copying documents and then worked in a photograph gallery coloring photographs. (An enlargement of this attending photo shows his reddened cheeks). While in Boston, John Clow married for a second time to a woman named
Sarah Ellis Leighton. There do not appear to be any children from this union.

In 1855, he left Boston with his wife and at least one daughter, Bertha, stopping in Erie, PA to see two older sons, Thomas and John Sherwin (Sher). Young Richard was left in Boston with his older sister (nearly 20 years his senior), Agnes Louise and her husband, Alexander Cruikshank.

John Stevenet Clow settled in Madison, Wis. where he had a small art gallery while his wife and daughter worked in a small shirt factory which they had started. He was naturalized in 1856 to be a US citizen and at the close of the Civil War was living in Milwaukee, Wis. with a short sojourn in McGregor, Iowa.

In the summer of 1870 he moved to Minnesota and lived with his son John Sherwin and other son Thomas for a period of time on the farms and then bought his own farm near Lyle in Mower Country. He paid 600$ for the farm. The next year he sold the farm for $1000 and moved for a short time to Austin, Minn.

In 1872 he picked up again and moved to San Francisco where he worked a coloring photographs for McMillan Bros. but was actually supported by his wife who had a dress making shop. Near the end of his life he was in a home for the aged and was supported by his children. He died in the San Francisco area in 1892.

5 Comments on “John Stevenet Clow (Aug. 12, 1810 – Mar. 13, 1892: Father of Richard Headley Clow

  1. Hi Richard.

    I am interested in early photography in Nova Scotia and was delighted to see your page on John Stevenet Clow. You mention that he left Halifax after his wife died in 1849, citing a passenger list of 1853 which records ‘a portion of the family’s move, including that of Richard . . . ‘ Do you know if there is mention of John Stevenet on this vessel as well? I am most interested in determining as precisely as possible when John Stevenet ended the photography business in Halifax. Thanking you in advance for any light you might shine on this.




    • Ruth, Thanks for your note and question. The passenger list for the Brig “Belle” does not list John Stevenet Clow, It has only the oldest daughter,, Agnes and the two youngest Clow children, Alice and Richard on it. I think that this would mean that he must have gone to Boston sometime earlier with the rest of the family including the two middle girls, Bertha and Jessie and the three older boys, John Sherwin, Thomas and George. There might be something that you can find on “” about this. I will certainly be glad to share anything that I find about Clow family history with you, so keep in contact. Sincerely, Richard McBee, Author of “Rough Enough”


  2. Hi Rick,
    I too am a descendant of these folk. They’re on my mother’s father’s side. I look forward to reading your book and using the above site to fill in a bit of my family tree! I believe that our trees diverge with John Stevenet Clow’s children. My ancestor is George Wyman Clowe who was a pastor around the New York City and Hudson NY area. I don’t have my tree in front of me unfortunately. Anyway, I’d love to hear from you. I’ll provide my email on the form below.



    • Paul, Thanks for getting through to me. Yes, it looks like we would be classed as 2nd cousins umpteen times removed in the English system. I have kept working on family tree stuff. Obviously George stayed on the East Coast as younger brother, father, John and the two younger girls, Jessica and Bertha went to the west as far as Minnesota and Wisconsin and then settled for a time and then Richard had his life as described in the book and Father John Stevenet and at least daughter Bertha went to California where he died and Bertha eventually ended up housing my grandmother, Cora Cochran Clow while she went to school in California and her parents were sheep farming in Idaho and then moved to Oregon. I find that trying to trace family history is like scooping skeletons out of the closet, but you only get the skeletons people want you to have or remember unless you stumble onto some hidden trove of notes, etc. I still have tons of my grandmother’s letters to read and may find out more interesting things in the future. Keep in touch, All the best, Rick McBee

      On Fri, Feb 28, 2014 at 11:29 AM, Rick McBee's Writings wrote:



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