JOHN CLARKE*
1781-1852

From: "The Dictionary of Canadian Biography"
by W. Stewart Wallace, MacMillan Co. of Canada, Toronto, 1945


Clarke, John, fur-trader, was born in Montreal, Canada, in 1781,  the son of  Simon Clarke and Ann Waldorf. He entered the service of the North West Company as a clerk in 1800 and served successively on the MacKenzie river and on the Peace river. In 1810 he left the North West Company and joined the Pacific Fur Company of  John Jacob Astor, who appears to have been a relative of his mother.  In 1811 he commanded the second expedition to Fort Astoria, and he was present in 1812 when the fort was surrendered to the Nor'-Westers.  On his return to Canada in 1814 he took service with Lord Selkirk; and during the years 1815-1819 he was the leader in the opposition  which the Hudson's Bay Company offered the Nor'-Westers along the Peace river. At the time of the union of  the two companies, in 1821, he was made a chief factor.

He retired from the fur-trade in 1830 and he spent the rest of his days in Montreal. There he died in 1852. He was twice married, first, to a half-breed named Sapphira Spence, who died shortly afterwards; and second, in 1821, to Marian Tranclar, of Neufchatel, Switzerland, by whom he had four sons and four daughters.


From: "Journal of Occurences in the Athabasca Department 
By George Simpson, 1820 and 1821, and Report" 
Edited by E.E. Rich. Pub. by the Champlain Soc. for the Hudson Bay Record Soc.1938

John Clarke was born in Montreal in 1781 and entered the service of the N.W.C. as a clerk in 1804. In 1804-05 he was stationed at Fort Vermillion on the Peace River. In 1810 Clark left the N.W.C. service and joined the Pacific Fur Co. During his term with the Pacific Fur Co. he led the second expedition to Fort Astoria in 1811, and in 1812 established Spokane House on the Spokane River in opposition to James McMillan of the N.W.C. At the amalgamation of the N.W.C. with the Pacific Fur Co. Clarke declined to re-enter the N.W.C., and at Colin Robertson's instance he joined the service of the H.B.C. in 1814 at a salary of L-400. 

The H.B.C.'s settlement of Athabaska was mainly due to Clarke, who led the expedition there in 1815 and established Fort Wedderburn during that season. The N.W.C. cut down Clarkes activities in Athabaska by arresting him on 7th October, 1816, on a warrant issued by Archibald Norman McLeod, a N.W.C. partner then in charge of Fort Chipewyan who was a Justice of the Peace for the Indian Territories. Clarke had been arrested as a disturber of the public peace, but after a few day's imprisonment in Fort Chipewyan he was released. He had, however, been compelled to obtain recognizances for future good behaviour, his surety being Robert Henry, a N.W.C. partner, who had only consented to stand surety for Clarke after receiving from him as a guarantee thirty pieces of goods valued at L3000. Clarke's conduct following his release was unchanged, and on 15th April, 1817, the old charge against him was renewed and he was again arrested on McLeod's warrant. This time his imprisionment was to last longer. After being detained in Fort Chipewyan until June he was removed to Great Slave Lake, where he remained until August. He was then brought back to Athabaska and from there to Ile-a-la-Crosse, where he was released on 12 December, 1817. 

In 1818-19 Clarke was in charge of St. Mary's, Peace River, from which he was transferred to Ile-a-la-Crosse during the following season. Clarke had been censured by the commitee for not keeping a Journal in 1815: his disasters in 1816-17 made them think that "Mr. Clarke did not act with that caution and circumspection which we should have expected his knowledge of the N.W. Co. would have induced him to adopt', and by 1820  Selkirk, Bird, Robertson and Williams were all agreed that Clarke was vain, extravagant and lacking foresight. But he was also couragous, knew Athabaska, hated the N.W. Co., and 'seems to command every string that can touch the heart of a Canadian'. They thought that 'He may very well calculated to force an Establishment in a country where Opposition is violent, and when the Expense at which it is accomplished is not an object of consideration', Clarke was therefore continued at Ile-a-la-Crosse until 1821. 

During this period he came into contact with Simpson, who after a short time was able to perceive Clarkes many bad points and did not hesitate to complain about him. In spite of the N.W.Co.'s attemt to exclude him from the amalgamated concern, and in spite of Simpson's strong disapproval of him, he became a Chief Factor under the Deed Poll of 1821 and was subsequently granted a year's leave of absence. Along with other Chief Factors he was appointed a Councillor in 1821 and he was once more in active service during 1822-23, when he was given charge of  Lower Red River District. His conduct there proved unsatisfactory and was the reason for his removal to Lesser Slave Lake, of which he was in charge from 1824-26. From 1826-30 he was at the head of Swan River District with headquarters at Fort Pelly, and in 1830 he was again granted one year's leave. He was at the head of Mingan in the Montreal department from 1831-33, though his conduct there was severely  censured in 1832. From Mingan he was ordered to proceed into the interior, but by then H.B.C. Committee was tired of his conduct and his dismissal had been decided on. To prepare the way to his retirement he was granted another year's leave, which was extended to the season ending on 31st May, 1835, when he retired from the H.B.C. His conditions appear to have been far from prosperous, so that in 1848 the H.B.C. allowed him an annuity of L50 in consideration of his past services to rescue him from utter destitution; the date of Clarkes death is still to be found. 

Clarke married twice. His first wife was Sapphira, a half-breed daughter of Joseph Spence, on whom he settled L200 in 1816.  after her death Clarke married a Swiss lady, Mary Ann Trutter, in Christ Church Cathedral, Montreal, on 26th October, 1830. 
 

From ""Genealogy of John Clarke The Fur Trader, His
Descendants and Related Families" (a work in progress)
by Patricia Jo Bowers-Kern

John Clarke was born Montreal, Quebec Canada. He entered the fur trade at age 15. He was described in the book "Astoria" by Washington Erving, as "a tall, goodlooking man, and somewhat given to pomp and circumstance which made him an object of note in the eyes of the wandering savages"

He entered the service of the Northwest Fur Company as a clerk in 1804. In 1804-05 he was stationed Fort Vermillion on the Peace River in Canada. In 1810 he left the Northwest Fur Co. & joined the Pacific Fur Co.. During his term with the Pacific Fur Company he led the second expedition to Fort Astoria, Washington State in 1812. John Clarke came in on the Ship "Beaver" owned by John Jacob Astor. He was one of the Astorians. Mr. Astor fitted out a fine ship of 490 tons, called the "Beaver" and freighted her with valuable cargo destined for the post at Astoria on the mouth of the Columbia  River. In 1812 John Jacob Astor and his Pacific Fur Company sent John Clarke from the mouth of the Columbia River to established a post in the same neighborhood as Spokane House on the Spokane River in Washington State; in opposition to James McMillan of the Northwest Fur Company. [Here is where he met and married his 1st. wife Josephte Kanhopitsa.] At the emalgamation of the North West Co. with the Pacific Fur Company, Clark declined to re-enter the Northwest Co. and at Colin Roberts insistance Clarke joined the service of the Hudson's Bay Fur Company in 1814 at a salary of 400 pounds.

The Hudson's Bay Company's settlement of Athabaska was mainly due to Clarke who led the expedition there in 1815 and established Fort Wedderburn during that season. In 1818-19 John Clark was incharge of  St. Mary's Peace River, from which he was transfured  to Lia-a-la-Crosse during the following season. By 1820 Lord Selkirk, Bird, Robertson and Williams all agreed Clark would continue at lia-a-la-Crosse until 1821. 

It was during this period that John Clarke came into contact with Govenor Simpson, who after a short visit was able to precive Clarke's bad points and did not hesitate to complain about him. Inspite of
Simpson's disapproval Clark became Chief Factor under the Deed Poll of 1821. Along with other Chief Factors of the H.B.C. Clarke was appointed a councillor in 1821. He was given charge of the Lower Red River District in 1822-23. Clarke was in charge of  Lesser Slave Lake 1824-26.

From 1826-1830 he was at the head of the Swan River district with headquarters at Fort Pelly. Clarke was head of  Mingan in the Montreal department from 1831-33. From Mangan he was ordered into the interior and granted a years leave. To prepare the way to his retirement from the Hudson's Bay Fur Company he was granted another years leave, which was extended to the season ending on May 31, 1835. 

John Clarke married his 2nd wife Sapphira Spence in 1816, a half-breed daughter of  Joseph Spence. After her death in 1822 Clarke married a Swiss lady, Mary Ann Trutter-Trauclar in Christ Church Cathedral, Montreal, October 26, 1830.

John Clark died July 28, 1858 and was buried on Clarke Ave. in Montreal Canada.

For a number of years. John Clarke lived at the Beaver Lodge, St. Catherine's known as Outremont. The Beaver Club is where the Northwest Company's winterers met for social gatherings and to entertain distinguished guests.
 

John Clarke from the Book: "The Great Northwest"
by Winter.

John Jacob Astor formed the Pacific Fur Co. on June 23, 1810 to operate in the Oregon Country. Astor was to be the first Partner. Associated with him were Alexander McKayDonald McKenzie, Duncan McDougalWilson Price Hunt, David StuartRobert McLellan, John Clarke and others. In 1812  John Clarke, an Astorian built Fort Spokane near present city of Spokane, Washington.
 

John Clarke from the Book: "Spokane Story"
by Fargo

"At a spot for the post was an attractive parcel of land lying between the Spokane and the Little Spokane rivers. Supervised by John Clarke, Astor's partner and future Bourgeois, or resident-to-be under whom the brigade had made its way from the mouth of the Columbia River. Shortly Clarke was able to point with pride to the new establishment with its 70-foot mess hall, 80 foot warehouse and comfortable log dwelling of four rooms and a kitchen for his personal use. etc.  [I have a photo, that I took, of the monument which is erected now in Washington state]

John Clarke from the book: "History of Oregon"
by Charles Henry Carey

Early in May, 1812, the Astor ship "Beaver" arrived at Astoria after a voyage of 212 days from New York. The Beaver had on board a cargo similar to that brought by the Tonquin etc. It also brought one of its partners, John Clarke, several clerks etc.

"After the arrival of the "Beaver" the Astorians had a meeting to plan out the occupation of the territory. They decided to establish a fort on the Spokane River", [Washington state] "to be under the management of Clarke, and to be near the already located post of the North West Co."

"When the War of 1812 began between the U.S. and Britain word was recieved that the Isaac Todd would soon be at the Columbia and the Canadians trading under the American Flag would find themselves in great trouble, McKenzie and McDonald decided Astoria would have to be given up so they sent messages upriver to the various forts", etc. "In response  Clarke and Stewart came down to Astoria June 1813", etc. June 20, 1813 Stuart and his companions, set out together from Astoria, under the command of  John Clarke, numbering sixty-two persons, ect.
 

John Clarke in the book: "Young Men So Daring"
by Bobbs Merrill

1. "Three Other parties, under McKenzie, David Stuart and Clarke, were to explore the upper Columbia Valley and set up a chain of protective trading posts against any invasion of the Pacific Fur. Co. territory by North West traders", etc.

2. "May 10, 1812, Mr. Astor sent fresh men. Among them was a new wintering partner, John Clarke, another former Nor'wester", etc.

3. "1813 Jan. McDougall at once ordered his own men to stop all trading except for food. McKenzie sped back up-river to order Clarke and David Stuart  to close their posts. Neither Stuart nor Clarke took seriously the idea of closing such profitable posts. Though they agreed to meet McKenzie at the mouth of the Walla Walla" [river] " to return to Astoria together, they carried only their pelt packs with them. Both left their posts open and men behind to conduct trade". etc.

4. "A handsom man with handsome ways, Clarke naturally attracted Indian
attention wherever he went. At a small stream where he stopped to trap, on his way to a rendevous, a band of Nez Perces already camped there watched his every move. What really held their eyes was the magnificent air with which he drank from a silver cup, then returned it to a locked box. They were sure that cup must be something very precious ", etc. 


 
John Clarke from the book: "Sir George Simpson
by Arthur S. Morton", 1944

1815 -"The Hudson's Bay Fur Company planned an expedition into the rich fur region of the valleys of Athabaska and Peace Rivers. The Hudson's Bay Co. expedition was recruted in Montreal. Many of its officers and men were old Northwester's whose knoledge of the country and Indian languages gave promise of success to the enterprise. John Clarke an old Northwester and lately with John Jacob Astor's Pacific Fur Co. was in supreme charge", etc.


 
John Clarke from the book:
"Journal of a Voyage on the N/W Coast of North America" 1811-1814, by Gabriel Franchere.

Page 112 -footnote 6: "Clarke was born in Montreal in 1781 and joined the Northwest Company in 1800. His mother was Ann Waldorf, probably a relative of Astor. He was in command of the party of reinforcements sent out in the BEAVER. He returned to Canada in 1814 and was later in the service of  Lord Selkirk and the Hudson's Bay Company."


 
John Clarke from the book: "Empire of the Columbia
by Dorthy O. Johansen 

Pages 133-134
"When the Beaver arrived at Astoria it brought supplies and additional personnel.  Among these were several relatives of Astor's, one of whom John Clarke, until 1810 a Nor'wester, was a new partner." Etc. 

"The partners decided that Hunt should go about the Company's business with the Russian posts; that Donald McKenzie and newly arrived John Clarke would move into the interior, Clarke to establish a trading post near the Northwest's Spokane House and McKenzie to winter on the Snake River, Robert Stuart was to carry reports to Astor overland." Etc.


 
John Clarke in the book: "Furs by Astor"
by John Upton Terrell

1. page 189.......The Beaver cleared New York harbor on October 13, 1811. Among the passengers were six clerks destin for service in Astor's posts in the Northwest, which Astor presumed were being built. One of the clerks was Ross Cox, who was to write a famous and controversial book about Astoria. Another clerk was George Erminger, the son-in-law of Astor's sister Catherine. Also on board was John Clark, an ex-North West Company trader, whom Astor had made partner in the Pacific Fur Company. Clarke was said to be distantly related to Astor. His Mother was a German whose maiden name had been Waldorf.

2. pages 211 and 212....."John Clarke was to winter in Spokane. June 29,, all set out for the interior. All traveled together to Walla Walla and seperated. Dave Stuart arrived at the Okanagan Aug. 12, left Alexander Ross in charge, and went on to Thompson River. Clarke reached the Spokane River with clerk Pillet McLennan, Farham and Cox, and commenced the construction of a trading house". Etc. 

There were many History books written that mention John Clarke and my sources came from those books. I also lent a photograph of  John Clarke's daughter, Josephte Boucher Clarke, to John C. Jackson for his book "Children of the Fur Trade" published in 1995. 

Here is a list of some of my Sources:
1. The Hudson's Bay Record Society Publications Volume 1-XXX, Vol.XXX Hudson's Bay Miscellany 1670-1870 is a bio.; Clarke listed under Chief Factor on page 167 in Simpson's Character Book.
2.The Hudson's Bay Company Records Society Publications-Northern Quebec & Labrador Journals & Correspondence Volume XX1V 1819-1835 pages 290-293, 301-305 and also the Appendix A.
3. The Hudson's Bay Co. Records Society Publications Volume 1. Simpson's Anthabaska Journal and Report 1821-1822 [Journal of Occurences in the Athabaska Department] pages: 1,2n,4,5,7-10,12,13,16-18,21,23-25,27-30,33,34,36,113-118,122,130,134,136,138,172,173,175n, 176, 200,203,204,217,250,255,256,266,268,270,308,315,331,335,346,377,390,396,433,XXV, XXXV1,XL111,XL1V,XLV1,and LV111. Arrest of Clarke on pages 97-98,118,129,130.
Charactor and Activities; pages 122,249,270,301,324-325 and n,327,345,359,361,404-407,433.
Correspondence with;pages43,45,76n,170,248,257,262,303,305-306,316,321,332,338,and 334.
Mistress info.; on pages 32,112,249. Plan to Murder; on page 111
4. Furs by Astor, pages 189,211,212 etc.
5. The Honorable Company...by Douglas McKay, pages 142,160 etc.
6. History of Oregon...by Charles Henry Carey.
7. Young Men So Daring...by Vera Kelsey pages 152-154 "Mentions the Silver Cup under the title", "Vengeance for a Cup."
8. From Sir George Simpson..by Arthur S. Morton, [copyright 1944]
9. The Great Northwest...by Winter.
10. Spokane Story...by Fargo.
11.Farthest Reach: Oregon & Washington...by Nancy W. Ross
12. Fur Trade Empire [George Simpson's Journal]...by Frederic D. Merk.
13. Ceasers of the Wilderness...by Peter C. Newman.
14. Empire of the Columbia..by Dorthy O. Johanse, pages 133-134. [first edition]
15. The American Fur Trade of the Far West [two Vol's.]..by Chittenden pages 169,182,204,205.
16. The Northwest Company..by Cambell, pages 242-247,250-252,258-262.
17. John McLoughlin...by Johnson, pages 10 & 11.
18. History of the Willamette Valley...by Long, pages 160-165.
19. Big Business...by ? pages 6-16.
20. Red River..by Hargrave, Joseph James, Appendices B, page 491 for Clarke, covers Chief Factors journal od 1819-20. Page 149.
21. The Columbia River...by Ross Cox, pages 107-10.
22. The Spokane Indians....by Robert H. Ruby and John A. Brown, pagesm 40-42.
23. Adventures at Astoria 1810-1814...by ? their is a picture of the Palouse River which mentions Clarke.
24. The Nez Perce...by? pages 47-52 which mention Clarke.
25. Oregon Under The Union Jack...which lists Company Employees, the Astorians of the Pacific Fur Co.
26. Astoria and Empire...by James P. Roda, pages 241,246,279-283. Shows a photo of the Ship "Beaver".
27. The Pacific Northwest Quarterly.
28. Astoria...by Washington Irving.
29. The Washington Historical Quarterly Volume 8...by O.B.Sperlin, pages 104-113.
30. The Journal of Alexander Ross...by Ross, Chapter 3, 1818-1823.
31. Strangers in Blood...by Jennifer S.H. Brown, pages 112-119, 126-129
32. Drummers and Dreamers...by Click Relander. "Mentions the Silver Cup". 
33. Let Me Be Free...by David Lavender. "Mentions the Silver Cup".
34. Renegade Tribe...by Clifford E. Trafzer & Richard D. Scheuerman. "Mentions the Silver Goblet".
35. Mountain Men & Fur Trade...by LeRoy Hafen. "Mentions the Silver Cup"
36. Thunder Over the Ochoco...by Andrew Gale Ontko. "Mentions the Silver Cup"
37. Indians of the Pacific Northwest...by Ruby and Brown. "Mentions the Silver Cup".
38. The Nez Perce..by Clifford E. Trafzer. "Mentions the hanging of an Indian over the Silver Cup". 
39. Journal De Franche're...1812..written in French...Mr. John Clarke [Proprietaire] This book is in the Astoria, Oregon Library under lock and key.
40. Astorian Adventure the Journal of Alfred Seton, 1811-1815..edited by Robert F. Jones. [this book mentions John Clark all through it".
41. The Catholic Church Records of the Pacific Northwest...by Werner & Munnick. [this set of books lists our whole family starting with Clarke]
42. The Mountian Men....by Rick Steber on page 38, "Mentions the Silver Cup" under the title "The Silver Goblet"

Direct Descendants of John Clarke to Patricia Jo Bowers-Kern

 1   John Clarke my g-g-g-g Grandfather, m. Josephte Kanhopitsa
...... 2   Josephte Clarke Boucher my g-g-g-Grandmother, m. John McKay
.............. 3   Isabelle McKay my g-g-Grandmother, m. Francois Jean Guerin
...................... 4   Jean Baptiste Guerin my G-Grandfather, m. Esther Saunders-Sanders
............................... 5   Frances Aldean Guerin my Grandmother, m. Harvey Alfred Bowers
....................................... 6   Clarence Harvey Bowers, m. Josephine VanHorn
............................................... 7   Patricia Jo Bowers-Kern

See also:
His father, Simon Clarke
His daughter, Adele Clarke
His daughter, Louise Clarke


*Researching John Clarke.............Patricia Jo Kern ............gggg granddaughter


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