California Genealogy and History Archives
San Bernardino County and Riverside County
MYRON A. CLARK has been a resident of California since the year 1887, and as a contractor and builder has been concerned actively with the development and upbuilding of the communities in which he has lived. He is one of the representative citizens of Redlands, San Bernardino County, where his attractive home is situated on Myrtle Street.
A scion of a sterling pioneer family of Michigan, Mr. Clark was born at Amboy, Hillsdale County, that state, on the 8th of October, 1849. He is a son of Charles and Mary A. (Simonds) Clark, the former a native of the State of New York and the latter of Boston, Massachusetts. The father became one of the substantial pioneer farmers of Hillsdale County, Michigan, in which state both he and his wife continued to maintain their home until their deaths. They became the parents of six children, namely : Francis M., Ella M., Myron A., Emma, Louisa and Charles G. Of the number all are now deceased except Myron A. and Charles G.
The common schools of his native county gave to Myron A. Clark his early education, which was supplemented by a course in a seminary in which higher branches were taught. His aid was early enlisted in connection with the work of the home farm, but he was only fifteen years old when he left the parental roof and initiated an apprenticeship to the trade of cabinetmaking. In accordance with the custom of the locality and period he, as a minor, "bought his time" from his father, who normally was supposed to provide for and receive the services of the son until the latter had attained to his legal majority. In securing this release and attending independence of action Myron A. Clark contracted to pay his father the sum of $200. During his apprenticeship he received his board and lodging and the sum of ten dollars a month. He became a proficient workman and was assigned to the best class of productive work at his trade. His discipline was such as to give him ready facility when he engaged in the work of the carpenter's trade, and he became a specially successful contractor and builder in his native state, where he erected high-grade buildings in various cities and towns and where he continued his active associations with this line of business enterprise until he came with his family to Southern California. He arrived at Riverside, this state, on the 3d of January, 1887, his coming here having been largely due to the suggestions of kinsfolk of his wife, they having previously settled at Riverside. Mr. Clark continued his residence at Riverside until February, 1887, when he came to Redlands. Here he purchased ten acres of land on Fern Avenue, the place being given over to fruit propagation. He paid for this land $2,900, erected on the same a good house and other buildings, and after there maintaining his home about five years he removed, in 1892. to Pasadena. Within a year after buying the property mentioned he was offered, but refused, $14,000 for the place. At Pasadena Mr. Clark remained about fifteen years, within which he gained precedence as one of the leading contractors and builders of that section of Los Angeles County. He erected a goodly number of the best buildings constructed at Pasadena within this period. He next passed three years at Oceanside, San Diego County, where he was the contractor in the erection of the San Louis Rey Hotel and a number of high-grade houses and business buildings. In November, 1904, he returned to Redlands and took possession of the residence property which he had previously purchased, at 25 Myrtle Street, his original Redlands property having been sold at the time when he left this city. As a contractor and builder Mr. Clark has erected many of the finest houses and other buildings in the Redlands community. The twin brothers, Alfred and Albert Smiley, whose contribution to the upbuilding and beautifying of Redlands was large and munificent, as shown in a personal memoir dedicated to them on other pages of this work, became personal friends of Mr. Clark, and it was while making a drive in company with Mr. Clark that Alfred Smiley became enthusiastically impressed with the natural attractions of the hills above San Timeteo Canyon, with the result that he telegraphed for his twin brother to join him here, and they purchased the property which they developed into the present idyllic Hill Crest Park, which has added greatly to the attractions of the Redlands district. As a personal friend of the Smileys, who knew his exceptional technical ability and experience, Mr. Clark was retained by the brothers to erect the various buildings on this fine property. He first constructed, for the use of the landscape gardener employed by the Smiley brothers, a cottage at the north end of the property. Thereafter he erected the beautiful home of Alfred Smiley, and later that of Albert. All of this work, in harmony with the very liberal policies adopted by the brothers in the improving of the magnificent estate, demanded the most punctilious attention and care on the part of Mr. Clark, who took deep pride in the progress of the work and gave to each detail a most careful supervision. Many beautiful houses stand in evidence of the ability of Mr. Clark as a contractor and builder. He erected the fine residence of .Isaac N. Hoag on High Avenue, and his contribution to development and progress in Southern California has been large, along both material and civic lines. When he established his home at Redlands the nearest railroad point was San Bernardino, from which place all building material and other commodities were transported by team and wagon to Redlands and vicinity. None of the irrigating systems had been developed, and Mr. Clark has thus witnessed the wonderful transformation which had made this district one of the garden spots of Southern California, with the most modern of improvements and facilities.
At the time when the construction of the dam in Bar Valley was instituted the object of the promoters was to give irrigation facilities to the Allesandro Valley. Eventually it was found that the supply of water would be inadequate, and this feature of the irrigation project was abandoned. Mr. Clark had made heavy investment in this valley, and consequently he met with large financial loss when it was found that the supply of water was sufficient only for use in the Redlands district, the Allesandro Valley being left unimproved. Though Mr. Clark is now virtually retired from active business, he still responds to occasional demands for his interposition as a contractor and builder, and he continues as one of the most loyal supporters and ardent admirers of the beautiful district which he has seen develop from little more than a barren waste into one of the most attractive sections of Southern California. Of conditions in evidence when he came to this part of the state it is not necessary to speak in this brief review, but he takes satisfaction in the thought that he has been able to have his part in the splendid march of progress during the past thirty or more years.
At Rollin, Lenawee County, Michigan, on the 19th of March, 1871, was solemnized the marriage of Mr. Clark and Miss Ellen Underwood, who had been one of his youthful schoolmates. Mrs. Clark was born at Rollin, Michigan, on the 21st of June, 1851, and is a daughter of Van Wyckand Mary Jane (Green) Underwood, both natives of the State of New York. Concerning the children of Mr. and Mrs. Clark brief record is here entered: William A., who was born at Amboy, Michigan, December 20, 1873, completed his education in the public schools of California, and he is now a successful exponent of ranch enterprise in the Imperial Valley of this state. He married Maude Tennison, and they have had four children — Leonard A., Kingsley (died in early youth), Louis and Eleanor. Fred B. was born at Rollin, Michigan, May 13, 1879, and his education included a course in a business college at Pasadena, California. He is now employed as an expert accountant in the office of the leading furniture store in the City of San Bernardino. He married Lulu Clem, and they have one child, Velma. Florence E., who was born at Addison, Michigan, October 8, 1884, died on the 9th of February, 1888, after the removal of the family to California. Leonard A. was born in Pasadena, California, and after his graduation from the high school at Holtsville, Imperial County, California, he found employment in a banking institution at that place. He entered service when the nation became involved in the World war, and he received preliminary military training at the University of Southern California. He gained the rank of sergeant and was transferred to an officers' training camp. He was thus placed at the time of the signing of the armistice, and upon receiving his honorable discharge he obtained a position in a bank in the City of Los Angeles. Later the president of the bank at Holtsville induced him to return to that place, and later he became teller in the Southern Trust & Commerce Bank of El Centro, judicial center of Imperial County, where, entirely through efficient service and sterling characteristics, he has been placed in charge of the department devoted to collections, notes, mortgages and all other securities.
Transcribed by Peggy Hooper 2011