Please send me biographical sketches, obituaries,
and other news about the founders and owners of the Clark Thread
George A. Clark,
who some years ago, stood at the head of the Clark Thread Company
of Newark, N.J., was born in Paisley, Scotland, 1824. He
was a descendant of Peter Clark, who, between eighty and ninety
years ago (~1806), made the first cotton thread that was ever
used for sewing. It is a curious fact that this invention
should be due to the necessities sometimes occasioned by war.
Prior to the great victories achieved by Napoleon, at the close
of the last century (1700's), cotton sewing thread was unknown.
In its place flax, worked by spindles and distaff into hanks
of coarse linen thread, was used for sewing into all kinds of
garments. But when Napoleon seized upon Hamburg and destroyed
all the silk in that port, the weavers of England and Scotland
were deprived of the material used in making the heddles or guiding
threads so essential to the loom. The business of the Clark
Brothers of that day was the manufacture of silk heddle-twine
for the weavers of Paisley, and when no more silk could be obtained
for that purpose Peter Clark looked about for a substitute.
After a series of experiments with cotton, he obtained a thread
from that material which answered his purpose, and moreover,
promised to be far preferable to the old linen thread for sewing.
For some time he continued to wind his new cotton thread upon
bobbins with his own hands for the accommodation of some of his
lady customers in Paisley, and being convinced ere long that
his discovery was a valuable one, he gradually withdrew from
the manufacture of heddle-twine, and, with the firm to which
he was attached, gave attention entirely to the making of spool-cotton.
Mr. George A. Clark, the subject of this sketch, began his business
career as a lad in the employment of the firm of Kerr and Company
at Hamilton, Ontario, and after remaining with this house for
about four years, returned to Paisley, and began the manufacture
of shawls. In 1850, he relinquished this business, and
became a partner with his brother-in-law, Mr. Peter Kerr, in
the manufacture of cotton-thread. This firm was subsequently
merged into that of the Clarks, and therein he retained a partnership
until his death, and it was mainly due to his energy and business
ability that the resources and operations of the establishment
were so vastly developed.
When the business of making cotton thread began at Paisley, in
1812, one man, turning a crank, furnished all the motive-power
required, and the sale of manufactured goods was limited to a
small portion of Scotland and England. When Mr. Clark died,
in 1873, the Paisley works gave employment to upwards of two
thousand operatives, the works at Newark, N.J., employed one
thousand more, and the business of the firm extended throughout
almost every civilized country on the earth. To Mr. George
A. Clark the successful establishment of the American branch
of this great enterprise is wholly due. He came to the
United States in 1856 to look after the interests of the works
at Paisley, fixing his headquarters at New York. The great
increase in the consumption of cotton-thread occasioned by the
increased use of sewing-machines, together with the high protective
tariff, induced him to establish a branch of the Paisley works
in this country. Accordingly, in 1864, he founded a factory
at Newark, N.J., and began operations in a hired building at
the corner of Front and Fulton Streets, in that city. While
conducting the business on a small scale, he put under contract
the extensive works on Clark Street, personally superintending
their erection and in many ways improving upon the Paisley model.
In the spring of 1866, the buildings were completed, and the
gigantic works were set in operation, giving employment to hundreds
of operatives and contributing largely to the welfare of Newark
and the adjacent country. The great business talents and
energy thus exhibited by Mr. Clark could not fail to bring him
prominently before the public, and so we soon see him associated
with the leading business men of the community. His advice
and assistance were sought in all important enterprises of a
public nature. He became an active and influential member
of the Board of Trade; he was also a director of the People's
Insurance Company, and at the tie of his death, was president
of the Burns Society of Newark. To matters of religion,
Mr. Clark was always conscientiously devoted. As a member
of the North Reformed Church of Newark, he sought to live a life
worthy of his high profession, and not only the church to which
he belonged, but all religious and benevolent associations, were
dear to him, and received largely of his bounty. As a friend,
he was sincere, and always ready to perform a friendly act.
His genial disposition made him welcome wherever he went, and
it might be truly said that none knew him but to love him.
Mr. Clark died suddenly from heart-disease on the 13th of February,
1873. The various corporations with which he was connected,
on hearing the sad intelligence, assembled to pay a tribute to
his memory. Funeral services were held in the North Reformed
Church, and his remains were sent back to Scotland to find a
resting-place in his native town of Paisley.
H. Shaw, History of Essex and Hudson Counties, New Jersey, Everts
and Peck, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
York Times, Page 7, February 14, 1873
CLARK - Suddenly at his late
residence, Newark, NJ, of heart disease, GEORGE A. CLARK,
of the firm of George A. Clark & Brother. Funeral service
will be held a the North Reformed Church, Newark, on this
(Friday) evening at 7 o'clock. Friends are respectfully
invited to attend. Carriages will be waiting at the
Broad Street Station on the arrival of train leaving New York
at 6 o'clock via New York and Newark Railroad foot of Liberty
Street. The remains will be sent to Glasgow by steamer
Victoria sailing at 9 o'clock on Saturday.
Thanks to Michelle Groel
for her generous contribution.
James Oscar Max Clark
graciously provided by The Coats and Clark Company.
A member of the Clark family
in Scotland, who kept closely in touch with operations at the
Newark plant of The Clark Thread Company was James Oscar Max
Clark, son of Robert M. Clark, of Camphill, Paisley, Scotland.
From 1912 to 1930, Mr. Clark made periodical visits to this country,
and displayed a comprehensive knowledge of the business.
In addition to an inspection of the several factories, he made
extensive market surveys, which included visits to depots and
customers, and conferences with sales personnel. He keenly
sensed the need of the organization to keep up-to-date by means
of new products, and had a strong influence in sponsoring many
new articles for crochet and embroidery, which were put on the
market at that period. They included Clark's O.N.T. Package
Outfits, which were large envelopes containing stamped materials,
together with all the crochet and embroidery cottons necessary
to complete them. While nearly all other new products were
marketed successfully, this venture in packaged stamped goods
proved a failure because of the fluctuations in the prices of
cotton textiles. In 1929, Mr. Clark was elected Chairman
of the Board of J. & P. Coats, Limited, Glasgow, Scotland,
being the first member of the Clark family to be thus recognized
and honored. He never lived in the United States, and although
he retired to private life in 1947, he has continued to be deeply
interested in the business n which he was actively engaged for
almost fifty years.
East Newark, Hudson County -- most of the buildings are still
William Campbell Clark
William Clark, son of John Clark,
of the great firm of James & John Clark, cotton-thread manufacturers,
and brother of the late George A. Clark, elsewhere mentioned
in this volume, was born in Paisley, Scotland, in 1841.
After receiving a good academic education in the grammar-school
of his native town, he entered the famous establishment which
had been founded by his ancestors, for the purpose of acquiring
a practical knowledge of all the details of every department
of the business in which he expected, at the proper time, to
become an active and interested manager. This knowledge
having been fully obtained, he accompanied his brother, Mr. George
A. Clark, in 1860, to the United States, where already a general
agency of the home firm had been established with its headquarters
in New York. Here he rendered assistance to his brother
in his manifold operations, and finally, in 1864, removed with
him to Newark, N.J., where a branch of the Paisley works was
established upon a very small scale. This branch was, however,
greatly extended at a subsequent period, and in 1866, Mr. Clark
became associated with his brother as a partner. The enterprise
proved to be highly successful, and after the admission of Mr.
Clark as a partner the works were from year to year extended.
In February, 1873, Mr. George A. Clark, the senior member of
the firm, died suddenly of heart-disease, leaving his brother,
the subject of this sketch, sole manager of this vast establishment.
And now the advantages of a through knowledge of everything connected
with this complicated business became manifest. The survivor
was abundantly able to take the helm from which the brother's
hand had been loosed by death, and although younger by twenty
years, commanded all the respect and confidence which is due
to experience and capability. With the management of these
great works came also, in time, an enlarged interest in the proprietorship,
and with an ambition to see himself not merely the head of one
of the greatest establishments in the land, but the patron, as
well, of industry and thriftiness, Mr. Clark soon took measures
to extend -- in fact, to double almost in magnitude -- his already
marvelous mills. Not only did he erect in close proximity
to his office and ware-rooms, an immense spooling factory, one-hundred
and sixty by eighty-two feet, and four stories in height, all
in brick and stone, but on the eastern bank(2) of the Passaic River, opposite
to the old mills, a tract of land, containing more than ten acres,
was purchased, with a view to making still greater additions
to the works. Here buildings have been erected for the
accommodation of eight-thousand spindles, together with a large
amount of other machinery, as well as boilers and engines and
various safeguards against losses by fire.
With so vast an increase of facilities, the business of the mills
has also increased, and the employees of the great establishment
are now numbered by thousands. This army of operatives
of both sexes is under the most perfect discipline, and their
busy fingers move with as much regularity and precision as the
complicated machinery which everywhere surrounds them.
Industry and skill in these truly wonderful works always find
their reward, while sloth and awkwardness maintain a short career.
Mr. Clark omits nothing that can contribute to the comfort and
happiness of his operatives. He has encouraged the formation
among them of societies for mental as well as physical improvement,
and in addition to the legal holidays and annual picnics, a half-holiday
is enjoyed by them every Saturday.
It is easy to believe that the benefit of Mr. Clark's great business
talents has been sought than once by the financial institutions
of Newark, but his own immense operations have formed a sufficient
excuse for him to decline such positions. He has been induced,
however, to become one of the managers of the Mutual Benefit
Life Insurance Company, and a director of the American Mutual
Fire Insurance Company, to both of which institutions he cheerfully
gives his services. He is president of the board of trustees
of the Newark Eye and Ear Infirmary, and takes a great interest
in that noble charity. Of the Board of Trade, he is a member,
and the Newark Library Association acknowledges him as one of
its benefactors. In politics, he is a pronounced Republican,
and was strongly urged to become the Congressional candidate
of that party at the election of 1884, but although eminently
qualified for that important position, he could not be induced
to accept that or any other political office.
H. Shaw, History of Essex and Hudson Counties, New Jersey, Everts
and Peck, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
graciously provided by The Coats and Clark Company
Mr. Clark was the son of James
Clark and was born on April 8, 1863. His father was then
the senior partner of Clark and Company of Paisley, Scotland.
He came to this country in 1879, when he was sixteen years old.
After two years at Rutgers College, New Brunswick, NJ, he entered
The Clark Thread Company, Newark, then under charge of his uncle,
William Clark (1841-1902). He first obtained a practical
knowledge of every branch of the cotton thread industry, familiarizing
himself with every phase of cotton production from the planting
of the seed to its refinement as sewing thread. He added
to this technical knowledge by learning about the marketing of
the finished product, including the methods of advertising, selling,
and distribution. At a comparatively youthful age, he succeeded
to the presidency, in 1902, following the death of his uncle
William Clark. Taking over direct charge of the operation
of the several mills at Newark and East Newark, he was especially
capable as a buyer of cotton, and as an expert in machinery.
Mr. Clark had a winning personality, an amiable disposition,
and was quick to learn. At the same time, he revealed a
canny discernment of human nature. This he subsequently
demonstrated in the wise selection of supervisory personnel.
Shortly before William Clark, and his sons, left The Clark Thread
Company, William Campbell Clark sensed that they were not giving
the organization their undivided energies, whereupon, he engaged
Herbert Walmsley as manager of the spinning mills. The
latter had been trained in Bolton, England, and had an enviable
reputation as a textile manufacturer. Mr. Walmsley remained
with the company until 1901, when he resigned to become the managing
director of the Wamsutta Mills at New Bedford, Massachusetts.
William Campbell Clark also was
a vice president and a director of The Spool Cotton Company,
New York, through which organization, The Clark Thread Company's
products were sold and distributed. As such, he made frequent
visits from the Newark Mill to the New York office. In
1885, Mr. Clark married Mary Clementine Kinney, who with two
daughters, survived him when he died November 14, 1912.
He had one brother, Kenneth Clark, who lived in Scotland.
His home was at 1110 Broad Street, Newark. In 1910, Mr.
Clark received an apparently slight injury at his country home
in Elberon, NJ, which eventually proved serious. In September
1912, after an operation in Mercy Hospital, Chicago, Illinois,
by a famous surgeon, Dr. John B. Murphy, his recovery seemed
certain, when intestinal trouble developed. He was taken
home, and underwent another operation, from which he did not
survive the effects. His burial was in Mount Pleasant Cemetery,
Mr. Clark was regarded as a prominent
citizen of Newark. He was a director of the American Insurance
Company, The Essex County National bank, a governor of the Essex
Club, and of the board of managers of the Babies' Hospital, Newark,
Newark, NJ, November 15, 1912
to Michelle Groel and Marion Paterson for their generous contribution.
William Campbell Clark, president
of the Clark Thread Works in Newark, one of the best known men
in the thread industry, died in his home at 1010 Broad St., Newark.
Death was indirectly due to an accident which Mr. Clark had two
years ago at his summer home in Elberon, NJ. At that time
he fractured a bone in his hip. Seven weeks ago he went to Chicago,
where he underwent an operation at the hands of Dr. John B. Murphy,
the well know surgeon. Mr. Clark did not rally as successfully
as was hoped and two weeks ago was brought east in a private
car accompanied by Dr. Murphy.
Mr. Clark was born in Paisley, Scotland, he being a son of the
late James Clark. He succeeded his uncle, William Clark,
on the latter's death as president. Mr. Clark was forty-nine
years old. In 1893, he married Mary Clementine Kinney,
daughter of Estelle Condit and the late Thomas Talmadge Kinney
(1821-1900), publisher of the Newark "Daily Advertiser,"
who survives him with two daughters.
content supplied by Coats and Clark remains their property.