H. C. CLARK
Mr. Clark is one of the substantial farmers of Brighton township. He is a native of Kentucky, and was born in Greene county, of that state. December 27th, 1826. His ancestors had come to Kentucky from Virginia. His grandfather, William Clark, was a Virginian, and on his removal to Kentucky was one of the earliest pioneers of that state. He first settled in Barren county. The name of Mr. Clark's father was Howard Clark, and his mother's name before she was married was Eliza J. Wilson; her father was a Virginian who served under Gen. Washington fourteen years, first in the wars against the Indians and then in the war of the Revolution, when the thirteen colonies gained their independence from Great Britain.
The subject of this sketch was the second of a family of six children, composed of five boys and one girl. While they resided in Kentucky, the home of the family was in Logan, Greene and Barren counties. In 1831 they left Kentucky for Illinois, and first settled in Edwardsville. While living there his father volunteered and took part in the Black Hawk War. About the year 1836 his father bought and entered some land in Jersey county (at that time still a part of Greene) about two miles west of Brighton. Mr. Clark was about five years of age when he came to Illinois, and about ten when the family moved to Jersey county, where he was principally raised. The schools in that neighborhood were of a fair character, and he enjoyed the advantages of a good common school education. After he was married he also attended a commercial college in St. Louis. He became twenty-one years old during the Mexican war, and toward the close of the war went to St. Louis, with the purpose of enlisting in the service. Being unable to get in as a soldier he enlisted as a teamster, and in that capacity went from Jefferson barracks to Fort Leavenworth and thence to Fort Kearney, on a government expedition, to establish forts for the protection of overland emigration to Oregon. The country which the expedition traveled was then known as the "far west", and had never been traversed except by some few adventurers. After remaining in the government service five months and a half, he returned to Illinois.
This expedition only gave him a taste for further adventure, and in the spring of 1849 he joined one of the first companies to cross the plains for California, where gold had been discovered the previous year. He left Brighton on the 27th of March. The company was composed of fifteen wagons drawn by ox teams, and Capt. Elan Eldred, of Carrollton, was the commander. Mr. Clark bought and fitted out a team in partnership with William Jones, now of Brighton township, and William H. Loveland, now of Golden City, Colorado and recent democratic candidate for governor of that state. The train was made up of farmers and men used to traveling and handling cattle, made good time in crossing the plains and mountains, and got into California among the very first arrivals - on the 18th of August, 1849. He was employed in mining over two years, chiefly near what is now Nevada City. He was moderately successful, and had abundant opportunity to experience some of the incidents and adventures which marked life in California during the times of the "forty-niners". He came back to Illinois in the fall of 1851. He bought a piece of land consisting of 185 acres in section 5, Brighton township, and began its improvement. December 9, 1852, he married Eliza L. Shaw, who was born near Zanesville, in Muskingum county, Ohio. She was on a visit to her aunt, Mrs. Herman Griggs, of Brighton, at the time of her marriage. He continued to live on section 5 till the spring of 1859, and then moved to his present residence, just north of and adjoining the corporate limits of Brighton. He here bought eighty acres and planted a nursery, which for a year he carried on in partnership with Dr. E. F. Johnson, now deceased, and afterward for nine years by himself. The business was conducted on quite an extensive scale, and large quantities of trees were sold through Greene, Jersey, Madison and Macoupin counties, and also in Missouri. In 1864 he enlisted for the hundred days' service, and was sergeant of company E, 133d Illinois regiment, and commanded by Col. Phillips. During his service he was principally on garrison duty at Rock Island. He took a trip to California in 1876, and in that now great and prosperous state, overlooked the scenes of his early gold mining days, traveling in a spring wagon more than fifteen hundred miles over various portions of the state. He has had four children. The oldest daughter, Clara F., is now the wife of T. A. Jones, of Brighton; Lenora and Henry Clinton live at home; the third child, Howard Colburn, died in 1865, when about five years old. He was originally a whig, and voted for Gen. Taylor in 1848; he has been connected with the republican party from its first organization. He was the first assessor of Brighton township after the adoption of township organization, being elected in 1871, and holding the office for six years. He seems to have a natural taste for travel and adventure, and has made several long trips, partly for business and partly for pleasure. In 1874 he went to New Orleans with 1615 barrels of apples, which he disposed of in that city and in Galveston, Texas. He is known as a good citizen and an enterprising man.>