Biography - John Clark

JOHN CLARK. A well-built and attractive house is a monument erected to the honor of the builder, speaking more truthfully than can words, of the dominant traits of his character. If he is thorough, it will be indicated by the firmness of foundation and the quality of lumber that he uses. If he be of an analyzing turn of mind, it will show in the detail, and if he have taste and culture, it will bespeak itself from the ridge pole to the cellar and from the front entrance to the rear. Our subject is evidently one who pleases his patrons in every detail in building, for he is one of the most successful dealers in lumber and house furnishing supplies in Moweaqua, having, previous to engaging in this business, made a reputation for himself as a builder.

Our subject is one of the firm of Berry & Clark, dealers in all kinds of lumber. Mr. Clark has been a member of the firm since it was started, September, 1889. He came to the county in 1854, and with his father, settled in Flat Branch Township. He has since lived in this county, with the exception of six years, extending from 1875 to 1881, at which time he was a resident of Montgomery County, Kan., where he was engaged as a cattle dealer.

While yet a lad, our subject learned the trade of carpenter which he has followed for many years. He has erected many of the best buildings both in the township and village of Moweaqua, and in Flat Branch Township. He has been a contractor and builder, and all the best buildings in Moweaqua he has been more or less connected with during construction.

Our subject was born in Warren County, Ohio, April 14, 1842. His father, was W. H. Clark, a native of Ohio, and his grandfather was William Clark, also a native of Ohio, and one of the first settlers on the site of what is now the city of Cincinnati, at that time nothing more than a wilderness. William Clark had married while in Ohio, a Miss Rachael Ross. He and his wife lived in Warren County at an early day, and there died, an old man. He was of a Welsh family noted for their longevity. All his life was engaged in agricultural pursuits. His wife survived him and was a second time married, her husband being Mr. Decker, who left her a widow. She then came to Illinois, and died in Mercer County, this State, at the age of eighty-six years. She was of German ancestry.

W. R. Clark was the only son of his parents. He grew up in his native county and when Cincinnati became a village of some importance, and a commercial center for the region about, for a period of eighteen years he drove a six-horse team over the new country from Lebanon, Clarksburg, Milford and Foster Crossing, carrying flour, pork, whiskey and other freight, and bringing back supplies for the general stores in the country towns. In 1854, with his family, he moved West, making the journey overland, his household goods as well as his family being conveyed hither by means of teams. They enjoyed camp life during this emigration and after a long trip they settled on a tract of Government land in Flat Branch Township, Shelby County, and the tract which he at that time located upon was never transferred until his death, he having passed away from this life on the farm which he had preempted, September 19, 1889. He was born February 14, 1802, and had become a well-known man in this part of the country. He was quiet and unassuming in his personal bearing, but had had an experience that few men, even at that time, had enjoyed. He lived to see the country change from primeval wilderness to one of the richest commercial and agricultural districts in the country. His wife had preceded him, having died April 9, 1881. Her birth occurred December 19, 1806, near Pittsburg, Pa. Her maiden name was Nancy Berger. She and her husband enjoyed fifty-two years of married life.

Our subject is the youngest but one of nine children, now living. Two of his mother's children had died at an early age. He grew up in his native county, enjoying the limited advantages as to education and social life that were to be had at that time. When the first three years' call was made for volunteers to go to the front to quell the rebellion, our subject responded. He enlisted August 14, 1861, in the Seventh Kansas Cavalry, Company F. The Colonel in command being C. R. Jennison, and F. M. Maloney serving as Captain. The regiment in which he served was known as the noted Jayhawkers, and they served in the Sixteenth Army Corps, being engaged in Missouri, Kansas, Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama and Mississippi. Our subject was a participant in the battles of Corinth, luka or Tupelo, Oxford, Water Valley and Coffeyville. The regiment was under the general command of Gen. Grant and was the first to penetrate into Oxford, Miss., being in the advance of the main army from Holly Springs to Coffeeville.

The original of our sketch during his military experience, was fortunately never seriously injured, but was once knocked off his horse by a spent ball. He was never captured, nor spent a day in a hospital. During all his service he reported every day for duty. He saw much hard fighting during the three years he spent in the army. He veteranized at Corinth, Miss., and became recruiting officer of the regiment. He was honorably discharged at St. Louis, Mo., after three years and seven months of service, in 1864. He had received the honor of being advanced to the position of First Lieutenant of his regiment, and was on special duty as Court Marshal at St. Louis, Mo., for some time. He was also offered the Provost Marshalship in Northern Missouri, but refused to serve.

After our subject's discharge from military life, he returned to Shelby County, this State, and took upon himself the obligations of married life, his wife having been a Miss Charlotte A. Goodwin, who was of English ancestry and birth, having come to the United States when but thirteen years of age, her only kinsman in this country being Dr. Richard Dawson Goodwin, of St. Louis. Mrs. Clark died in St. Louis on May 19, 1871. She was in the prime of life at the time of her taking away.

Mr. Clark again married, the second partner of his joys and sorrows being Mrs. Nancy H. Jones, a native of Illinois. She died one year after her marriage, while yet in her young womanhood. The little daughter that she left to be a comfort to her husband, followed her mother when but four years old. By a former marriage, Mrs. Clark was the mother of two children, Eliza J. Brickey, who lives with her step-father, and Charles W. Brickey, who took to wife Stella Henry, now a resident in Moweaqua Township. The lady is a daughter of Ex-Representative Thomas Henry, of Windsor, Ill. Mr. Clark's first wife was a member of the Baptist Church. His second wife was a member of the Christian Church. She was the daughter of Levi Jones, now deceased, a prominent minister at an early day in Montgomery County, Kan.

Our subject is an adherent of the Republican party. He is much interested in local as well as national affairs and has been closely identified with all the local offices from Supervisor down. He is a Past Commander of J. V. Cleming Post, No. 363, of the G. A. R. in Moweaqua.

Extracted 27 Sep 2020 by Norma Hass from 1891 Portrait and Biographical Record of Shelby and Moultrie Counties Illinois, pages 708-709.

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