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California Genealogy and History Archives

Sonoma County


Louis Walker Clark

There is probably no place in the world where the raising of chickens has attained such large proportions as it has in Sonoma county, Cal., particularly in the vicinity of Petaluma, and among those who have contributed to this fame is Louis Walker Clark, proprietor of the Petaluma hatchery. A native son of the state, he was born in Grimes, Colusa county, March 6, 1865, the son of A. J. Clark, an early pioneer settler in that county, who, however, did not long survive to enjoy the results of his early efforts. He passed away in 1865, when his son Louis was an infant. The whole responsibility of his training and education thus fell on the mother, who nobly did her part to make up for this loss to her child. In addition to providing him with a good education in the public schools of Colusa county and Pierce Christian College at College City, he was also given a good musical training. His mother bore the maiden name of Martha Grimes, was born in Virginia and is a sister of Cleaton Grimes, the founder of Grimes, Grand Island, Cal., and a second cousin of Gen. U. S. Grant. She is now the widow of H. D. Strother and resides in Berkeley.

Mr. Clark's earliest efforts at self-support were as a teacher in his home county, following this for some time, after which he engaged in ranching in the same vicinity for two years. His identification with Petaluma dates from the year 1900, as does also his interest in the chicken business. He began in the business on a small scale, first raising chickens for the market, but later installed a hatchery and thus began the nucleus of the large business of which he is the proprietor today. To one less far-sighted than was he the undertaking would have seemed venturesome indeed, as when he had his plant installed he found himself heavily in debt, but this has long since been forgotten in the successful years that have followed. Whereas in the beginning of the enterprise he hatched out about five thousand eggs, his capacity is now fifty thousand eggs at one time, the output of his hatchery for nine months amounting to four hundred thousand chicks. This entails the use of over one-half million eggs. The chicks are sold and shipped when one day old, shipment being made in cases containing one hundred chicks, which are so constructed as to insure safety to the stock for a three-day trip. It is no uncommon occurrence for Mr. Clark to make shipments as far as Seattle, Wash., and Salt Lake, Utah, and in nearly every instance they arrive in perfect condition. However, the largest part of his patronage comes from the country in and around Petaluma, supplying poultry raisers with the young chicks which they raise for the market or for the purpose of egg supply. Mr. Clark has a special contract with poultrymen which insures a first-class stock of eggs for his hatchery, and it is the fact of an unvarying high standard of stock which has placed the name of the Petaluma hatchery high up on the list of those engaged in the chicken industry in this vicinity. He makes a specialty of White Leghorns. At the sate fair held in Sacramento on September, 1910, Mr. Clark received the first premium for newly hatched chickens, his exhibit consisting of one thousand chicks one day old. The hatchery has been enlarged from the plant as originally started in 1900, and is now one of the finest and largest in the county, and by this is meant the largest in the world, for this county ranks first in this industry in the world. The plant is modern and well equipped with all the conveniences which this special industry demands. The hatchery has twenty-four uniform incubators, each with a capacity of two thousand and ninety-six eggs, heated by hot air, generated from gas burners, all placed in one large building.

On October 11, 1899, Mr. Clark formed domestic ties by his marriage with Miss Irene I. Howe, who was born in Santa Cruz, Cal., the daughter of Ira and Mary A. (Hoag) Howe, both natives of New York state. The father came to California across the plains and followed mining in Trinity county until returning east. After his marriage he returned to California by way of Panama about the year 1857. He died in Lake county, and his widow is a resident of Colusa. Two children, Dorothy and Truman, have blessed the marriage of Mr. And Mrs. Clark.

History of Sonoma County, California
Biographical Sketches of The Leading Men and Women of the County Who Have Been Identified With Its Growth and Development from the Early Days to the Present
History By: Tom Gregory
Historic Record Company, Los Angeles, California (1911)

Transcribed by Peggy Hooper 2011