Peter Clark monument in St. Agnes Cemetery, Menands

Posted on February 8, 2024 by Albany Diocesan Cemeteries under Historic St. Agnes Cemetery, Preservation, Stories of our Dearly Departed, Uncategorized, Volunteer
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From the “Stories of our Dearly Departed” series from Kelly Grimaldi, Historian and Associate Director for Albany Diocesan Cemeteries.

Albany Diocesan Cemeteries’ “Stories of our Dearly Departed” is a series featuring stories and photographs of those who are buried within our 20+ upstate NY cemeteries.

Our hope is that people will enjoy reading about the lives of our community members just as much as we enjoy learning about them from the families we serve and in the information we find throughout our archives. There are so many fascinating stories buried within these Sacred Grounds!

Peter Clark: St. Agnes Cemetery, Menands, NY

Photo of the Peter Clark family monument before restoration, located in St. Agnes Cemetery, Photo of the Peter Clark family monument before restoration, located in St. Agnes Cemetery, While looking through old newspaper articles for information on someone interred in St. Agnes Cemetery, Menands, the following article caught my eye. I thought there would be a good chance the victim in the story would likely be buried in St. Agnes and I was right. I found a burial card for sixty-year-old Peter Clark.

Peter, his wife, and several of their children rest in peace in section 26, lot 9 in St. Agnes Cemetery.  The family gravestone is pretty marble with an urn on top. It is badly stained with pollutants and barely legible.  This Spring we hope to rectify that.

If anyone would be interested in volunteering to help us clean and restore the Clark monument in memory of poor Mr. Clark, please contact Kelly at (518) 350-7679 or [email protected]

Peter Clark could have never imagined his last day on earth would be caused by a barehanded, drunken Irish immigrant woman. Part of his job as City Marshal was to serve court summons to citizens of Albany, New York. Mr. Clark, an Irish immigrant himself, carved out a successful life for himself, his wife Bridget, and their many children. He was well-known and well respected among his peers. Therefore, let us remember Mr. Peter Clark by telling his story. His was a life cut short by a senseless act of violence.

The newspaper account is as follows:


“City Marshal Peter Clark, aged sixty, went to the house of John O’Hearn to serve a summons and was met at the door by O’Hearn’s wife, Margaret, who had been drinking.  She attempted to prevent the Marshal from entering.  He persisted, when a struggle ensued and the woman, who is vigorous and athletic, threw him over the railing of the stoop, breaking his neck. He fell headfirst into the area beneath and died instantly. The woman was arrested and committed. She denies having hurt the officer, insisting that he accidently fell over the railing while leaning against it. Her husband, however, says he saw her throw Clark over the railing. Clark was formerly a well-known businessman here.” 

Years later Margaret O’Hearn (also spelled Ahern in newspaper articles) was in trouble again even after she was given a pardon by Governor Hill after serving only three years for killing Peter Clark. The catchy headline in the Albany Morning Express published nearly nine years after Peter’s untimely death shows the City of Albany had enough of Margaret!

The article is summarized here:

Margaret Won’t Be Missed!  She Will Leave the City!

About nine years ago, Margaret Ahem, who then lived on Plum Street, pushed Constable Peter Clark, who called to collect her rent, from a stoop, breaking his neck. She got off with three years in the penitentiary imposed upon her plea of manslaughter in the second degree. Governor Hill pardoned her on condition that she would remain sober and conduct herself respectably hereafter, and that, in case of her failure to do so, she should be sent back to serve out her sentence. Since her release, she has been caught abusing her former landlord by pelting him with rocks and beating him with a stick. Margaret had been arrested for breach of the peace and assault and was being fined on the charges when she started accusing her husband of the manslaughter of Peter Clark.  She was committed to jail to await further investigation and yesterday was brought down to court again.  She had repeated what she said when she was in jail, but when she appeared in court, nothing could make her talk on the subject. She did not say that what she had said was not true nor did she say that it was.  She simply kept her mouth shut on that subject. Her husband was in court and while she was waiting to be arraigned for assaulting the landlord, the two “made up.”  Her case was soon called.  Judge Stephens fined Margaret $10 or 30 days in jail.  He also added the provision that if the fine was paid, Mrs. Ahern must leave town.  Mrs. Ahern then called her husband to her and the two had a conference.  She finally turned to the judge and told him that her husband had $6, and she had 80 cents, and she wanted to know if he would accept that amount and put the balance on account.  The judge said that he did not keep a set of books and that his business was strictly on a cash basis.  He wanted the full fine or she would have to go to jail until the fine was paid.  Off to jail went Margaret and as she passed John out of the court, she turned to her husband and commanded him to rake together the amount of the fine. He said he would, and she left for the Maiden Lane boarding house.  It had come to be about 1 o’clock in the afternoon and the attachés of the Police Court were beginning to think that Margaret’s husband had decided it would be best to keep his wife in jail and that instead of getting the money needed to pay the fine, he had spent it on liquid refreshments. Just then however, Mr. Ahern walked proudly into court and plunked down $10 in front of Judge Stephens and received from him in return an order for his wife’s discharge from jail on the condition that she leave town forever.  Margaret agreed to obey and leave the city. 

Good riddance Margaret!

If you’re  interested in volunteering to help us clean and restore the Clark monument, please contact Kelly at (518) 350-7679 or [email protected].

Kelly Grimaldi

Do you have a story of an ancestor and/or loved one buried in one of our cemeteries that would be interesting to highlight in our “Stories of our Dearly Departed” series?

We are looking for stories of those buried within the following 20+ cemeteries:

St. Agnes, Menands  •  Most Holy Redeemer, Niskayuna  •  Holy Sepulchre, Rensselaer  •  Our Lady of Angels, Colonie  •  Immaculate Conception and St. Patrick’s in Watervliet  •  Our Lady Help of Christians and Calvary in Glenmont  •  St. Agnes, Cohoes  •  St. Patrick’s, Coeymans  •  St. Anthony’s, Glenville  •  St. Patrick’s, Catskill  •  St. Jean de Baptiste, St. John’s, and St. Mary’s in Troy  •  Sts. Cyril & Method and Holy Cross in Rotterdam  •  St. Joseph’s, Waterford  •   St. John the Baptist and St. Mary’s in Schenectady  •   St. Mary’s, Coxsackie

If you have a story to share, contact Kelly at 518-350-7679 or [email protected].

Albany Diocesan Cemeteries

Albany Diocesan Cemeteries are operated for the religious and charitable purposes of the Roman Catholic Church through the burial and memorialization of the faithful departed.

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