I am confused about the history of this house. The old photographs included in this article were taken in 1961 as part of an Historic American Building Survey (HABS) by the National Park Service, and are part of the Library of Congress's Online Digital Collections.
According to the HABS report, this house was built around 1750, and they refer to it as the John Clark House, named after a Portsmouth mariner.
: Three Centuries of
African-American Heritage, a book by
Mark J. Sammons and Valerie Cunningham, call this the Wheelwright House. They
wrote that Jeremiah and Demaris Wheelwright moved to a previous home on this
lot when Portsmouth Jefferson Street
was known as Jose’s Lane. The Wheelrights lived here for a number of years with
their children, John and Mary, and three slaves: Cato, Nero, and Jane. When
Jeremiah died, John inherited the house and probably replaced it with the
current structure around 1780.
According to Strawbery Banke Museum, John Wheelwright, like his father, was a Portsmouth mariner. Captain Wheelwright lived here with his wife, Martha, and two children, Elizabeth and Jack. He commanded the brig, Abigail, on eight voyages to the West Indies prior to the Revolutionary War. His ship was hauling lumber off the New Hampshire coast when the British Navy captured and confiscated it in September, 1775.
During the war, he served as a Second Lieutenant onboard the USS Raleigh, the ship that appears on the N.H. state seal, and he later commanded privateers out of Boston. He died at sea in 1784, a poor man whose house was sold at auction to pay his creditors. His wife and their children were forced to move out.
I do not know the connection between the Wheelwrights and Captain John Clark. It is possible that Clark was the person who purchased the home at auction from Captain John Wheelwright's estate.