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California Genealogy and History Archives

Biographies
of
San Bernardino County and Riverside County

 

HIRAM CLARK. A man's value to his community is not measured by the amount of his wealth, for, notwithstanding the fact that money begets money and that one who possesses large means affords employment to others, unless such a man is imbued with a high sense of civic responsibility and strives to render to his fellow citizens a constructive service he does not live up to the best standards of citizenship. The men whose names are recorded on the pages of history are those who have sought to accomplish something of note, and the ones who are held in high esteem by their own and succeeding generations are the ones who have put aside personal advancement and labored to bring about changes designed to result in benefit to the majority. One of the names which stands out in the history of San Bernardino County is that borne by Hiram Clark, for he has made it an honored and representative one and connected it with a high order of public service. He was the first man in this region who realized the practicality of building substantial roads over the mountains, and much of the improvements in this line are due to his effective efforts. In many other ways he has aided in the work of developing the county, and is held today as one of the most valuable assets the county possesses. Especially has he been interested in the work in the Highland, and owns and maintains a beautiful home on Base Line.

Hiram Clark was born at Salt Lake City, Utah, December 3, 1850, a son of Hiram and Thankful Clark, natives of Vermont and New York, respectively. They moved to Illinois, where they were residing when gold was discovered in California, and were among the first couples to start on the weary trail across the plains, traveling in a covered wagon drawn by oxen. They stopped in Salt Lake City, where their son Hiram was born, and from there journeyed to Sacramento, which they reached late in 1850. The father was an Evangelical preacher, who had made several trips to England on Mission work in behalf of the Latter Day Saints, and was in San Bernardino when he died, Hiram Clark then being only three years old. His widow also died in San Bernardino. Of their eight children Hiram Clark is the only survivor, and he was the youngest born.

Losing his father when he was so young, Hiram Clark had few opportunities to attend school, but in after life has added to his store of knowledge by close observation and varied experiences, and is today a very well-informed man, with a keen conception of human nature. His life has been a strenuous one and filled with the most arduous of hard work. When still a child he began helping in farm work, but early drifted to the desert, and for five years was engaged in freighting. In this difficult occupation he had many thrilling experiences which developed his character and self reliance. Disposing of his interests, he then engaged in the retail liquor business, first at Ivanpah, where he remained for two years, and then at New Camp Providence, where he remained for two years. He then formed a partnership with I. R. Brum, and for eleven years was successfully engaged in business at San Bernardino.

With some of the money his wife had saved for him during those eleven years, in February, 1887, Mr. Clark bought the squatters right to 160 acres of wild and unimproved land on Deer Creek, Cienega, from McHaney, and this he homesteaded, securing his Government patent five years later, and this is the world-famous Clark ranch. From the first he made improvements, erecting buildings and putting in crops, and his first materials were packed up Santa Ana Canyon. This he later, at great personal expense, widened to a wagon trail. He and his sons worked on it for three years, putting in all of the fords. A man with very practical ideas, he set out a large apple orchard and did general farming on his ranch, and ran stock on the range. His apples took first prize at the Saint Louis Fair in 1904. The wagon trail made by Mr. Clark and his sons was finally taken over by San Bernardino County and developed into the present automobile road under Supervisor West, but Mr. Clark with characteristic public spirit furnished much of the material and men at his own expense so as to have a good road made in the county. Subsequently he built the famous Clark Grade, mountain road, which he located with his eye, no surveying being done, and this is a marvel, as is all of the road building he has done, which extended over a period of eleven years, during which time he worked in behalf of the county without any remuneration, and is satisfied with what he accomplished for it, as indeed he has every reason to be, for there are very few men who have reared so permanent and useful a monument to themselves. In spite of the fact that he had no technical training and no outside experience his work is so perfect that no changes have since been made, nor has any engineer working in this region produced any effects in any way equaling Ms. both as to the quality of his work and the cost of construction. Without doubt he is one of the natural geniuses in this line, and, although he has accomplished so much in the walk of life in which his feet have been set, many regret that he was not given the training in his youth which would have led him to enter the profession of a civil engineer for they feel that the country would have reaped some wonderful results if he had.

In addition to his wonderful achievements in road building Mr. Clark continued ranching for thirty-three years. During that long period he saw many changes. In the beginning he and his son had to pack on horses over the rough mountain trail every article needed for the ranch. The machinery had to be taken apart and then reassembled after it had been hauled, with increditable labor, up the mountain trail. Only a man of indomitable persistence and strength of character could have surmounted these difficulties. In 1874 Mr. Clark bought five acres on Base Line, between G and I streets, and this he now makes his home, having sold his ranch to his son-in-law, H. G. English, and has now practically retired from business. However, it is impossible for a man of his caliber to remain inactive, and he is now giving considerable attention to his duties in the control office at Harvey's Control on Mill Creek Road, and is there rendering, as usual, a real public service. For forty-five years Mr. Clark has been a zealous member of Phoenix Lodge No. 178, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, and his wife belongs to Silver Wave Chapter No. 75, Order of Eastern Star. Mr. Clark is also a member of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks.

On September 4, 1870, he married Laura Ellen Case, who was born at San Bernardino, March 10, 1855, a daughter of Gashum and Samantha (Wells) Case, natives of Ohio. They were among the first settlers in Utah, having made the long trip across the plains with oxen. They, like the Clarks, belonged to the True Latter Day Saints, and were most worthy people and good citizens. At the time Mr. and Mrs. Clark were married they had but three dollars in money, but possessed good health and strength, a willingness to work, and had unbounded faith in each other. During their more, than fifty years together they have never placed a mortgage on anything, nor have they owed for a single article for which they could not pay. As the years went on Mr. Clark learned that his wife was the best economist of the two, and so formed the practice of turning the money over to her to save, and recognizes the fact that to her thrift and good management is due much of his success in life. From her he has always received an understanding encouragement and appreciation, and together they have reared their four children to be one-hundred percent Americans and useful men and women, in whom they take a natural pride.

The eldest of these children, Hiram Wallace Clark, was born July 4, 1873, and was reared on the home ranch, where under his father's watchful supervision he learned to be an expert agriculturalist, and is now one of the leading cattlemen of Clark County, Nevada. He married Miss Emma Stuart, a member of the well-known Stuart family of Kentucky, and they have one child, Hiram Stuart Clark, who was born September 11, 1914.

Grace Aphalena Clark, the second child born to Hiram Clark and his wife, February 24, 1876, was educated at San Bernardino, and was there married to H. G. English, and they have two children, namely : Helen Grace English, who was born in Seoul, Corea, February 20, 1904 ; and Henry Clark English, who was born at San Bernardmo, September 17, 1910. Following their marriage Mr. and Mrs. English sailed for Corea, where he was sent from San Francisco to take charge as electrical engineer of the mines, railroad and general electrical construction of the English-American Electrical Construction Company, with headquarters at Seoul, and is responsible for some of the most important electrical construction work in Corea. Returning later to the United States, he purchased, as before stated, the ranch of Mr. Clark, and he is also a large property owner in the City of San Bernardino.

The third child of Mr. and Mrs. Hiram Clark is Fay Goodsell Clark, and he was born September 13, 1884, and he is exceptionally well educated. After having been graduated from the San Bernardino High School he took a three-year course at Occidental College, Los Angeles, following which he did two years' post-graduate work, and then went to Ann Arbor, Michigan, and entered the University of Michigan. Declaring his desire to study forestry, he so impressed the faculty with the importance of this subject that, having induced a sufficient number to join it, a class was formed, and this course is still maintained as a regular part of the curriculum. During his vacation period he had devoted himself to practical forestry, and after completing his course turned his attention to it and now has 1,500,000 acres of land under his supervision in Montana, and during the winter months teaches forestry in the University of Montana. By profession he is a civil engineer. He is superintendent of the Young Men's Christian Association at Butte, Montana, and was on his way to an Eastern port to embark overseas in work for that association, but at Chicago was stopped by the signing of the armistice, and returned to his duties in Montana. He married Miss Alice Morgan, of Michigan, and they have two children, namely: Laura Emma Clark, who was born in Michigan, September 20, 1911; and Fay Morgan Clark, who was born at Missoula, Montana, September 16, 1914.

Ruby Cleo Clark, the fourth and youngest child of Mr. and Mrs. Hiram Clark, was born April 1, 1888. She married Edgar Jones, of San Bernardino, and they have two children, Vernon Clark Jones, who was born April 16, 1907; and Mildred Cleo Jones, who was born May 20, 1913. Mr. Jones is a prominent agriculturalist of San Bernardino County, and a very highly esteemed citizen.

 

Source:
History of San Bernardino and Riverside Counties 
By: John Brown, Jr., Editor for San Bernardino County 
And James Boyd, Editor for Riverside County 
With selected biography of actors and witnesses of the period 
of growth and achievement.
Volume III, the Western Historical Association, 1922, 
The Lewis Publishing Company, Chicago, ILL

Transcribed by Peggy Hooper 2011