RANDAL CLARK - Among the leading farmers and enterprising citizens of Gillespie township, the name of Randal Clark deserves mention in this work. He is a native of the Palmetto state, and was born within ten miles of Greenville, in the Greenville district, South Carolina, November 30th 1815. His forefathers had been settlers in that same part of South Carolina from a date previous to the revolutionary war. His father's name was Joseph Clark and his other's maiden name, Mary Taylor. His grandfather, William Taylor, was a brother to the father of Gen. Zachary Taylor, the hero of the Mexican war. William Taylor had been a soldier in the war of the Revolution, and served several years in that memorable and important struggle. He was in several engagements, among which were the battles of Cowpens and King's Mountain. He died in Cherokee county, Georgia.
Randal Clark was the oldest of a family of five children. He was raised in South Carolina. His father died when he was about twelve years of age. There were no public schools at that time in South Carolina, and the only advantages he had in way of securing an education, was seven month schooling in a subscription school. He was chiefly his own instructor and picked up knowledge as best he could. Two of his uncles had visited Illinois in 1831, and had volunteered in the Black Hawk war which was then in progress. Mr. Clark resolved on visiting the far-farmed western country and in the company with his uncle, Arter Taylor, left South Carolina for Illinois on the 12th of February, 1835. They made the journey all the way from South Carolina on horseback. Their route was through the Cherokee nation, up through East Tennessee, by way of Nashville, and then through Kentucky to Illinois. They reached Bloomington on the lst of April 1835. Mr. Clark was not then twenty years of age. He hired his services to man named Dodge, who ran a grist mil and worked for him till August, 1835, when he left Bloomington and came to Gillespie township. What is now Gillespie township, was then wild and unsettled, and contained few inhabitants. The season was very sickly, almost every one was afflicted with the shaking ague, and he was not favorably impressed with the country. In the winter of 1835-6 he made sufficient rails to pay for the horse which he had ridden to Illinois, and which he had bought on credit from his uncle. The next fall he sold the horse, and with part of the proceeds (sixty dollars) bought part of the pre-emption right of his cousin, Marion Taylor, and thus became the owner of twenty acres of timber land. This land, the first he ever owned is still in his possession.
His home was with his uncle, Arter Taylor, till his marriage, which took place February 14th, 1839. Mrs. Clark was formerly Miss Lucy Gray. She was born in Cabell county, Virginia, and was the daughter of James P. Gray. Her father moved from Virginia and settled on Lick creek in Sangamon county, about sixteen miles south-west of Springfield, at a very early date, about the year 1823. He moved from Sangamon county to Hilyard township in 1831. Soon after Mr. Clark was married, he built a cabin on the same spot, in section twenty, where his present residence now stands, and moved in and began housekeeping. He has lived at the same place from that time to the present, and has carried on farming, at which he has been highly successful. He is one of the men of the largest means in the township,. He is the owner of 755 acres of land lying in Gillespie township, besides 320 acres in Summer county, Kansas, and 240 in St. Clair county, Missouri. Mr. and Mrs. Clark have had thirteen children. The oldest daughter, Mourning, is the wife of William Whitfield, of Gillespie township; Mary, now deceased, was Mr. Whitfield's first wife; Manoah, the oldest son, is farming for himself in Gillespie township, as is also the next son, James P. Clark. Elizabeth married James Culbertson, moved to Bates county, Missouri and died there. Josephus Clark is living in St. Clair county, Missouri; Elijah and Vespasian are living in Gillespie township, Randal and Edward are deceased. Ann is the wife of Newton Gwin, of Gillespie township, and Lincoln and Isabella are still living at home.
Mr. Clark in his early life, was a member of the democratic party, and cast his first vote for President, for Gen. Jackson in 1836. He had always, however, been opposed to the system of slavery, from what he saw of the workings of the institution in South Carolina. He voted in 1856 for Fremont, the first republican presidential candidate, and has been a republican ever since. He is now one of the oldest settlers of Gillespie township, and has witnessed many improvements and changes since he came to the county. In these improvements he has borne his full share, for he is a man of enterprise and public spirit. He began life with nothing on which to rely except his own energy, and has fought his way up by his own exertions. He has succeeded by the exercise of industry, prudence, enterprise and superior business management. He was the first member of the Board of Supervisors from Gillespie township after the adoption of the township organization.