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Biography - SIMPSON CLARK

The aged resident of any community who has assisted in the development of the material blessings amid which he lives, and who has exerted an influence for good before the people about him, is always held in special esteem. Such a man is the venerable Simpson Clark, of Mendota, Illinois. now ninety-three years old, but active, alert, full of good cheer and rich in interesting reminiscences.

Simpson Clark was born March 12, 1806, in Thornton, Grafton county, New Hampshire, a son of John and Elizabeth (Enos) Clark, early residents of Londonderry, Rockingham county, that state. John Clark was a Revolutionary soldier and he and his father served in the same company. He left the plow to go to war, and after American independence was assured he again became a farmer. He died at Thornton, New Hampshire, about 1809. His wife died about 1856, aged eighty-nine years. They had eleven children, all of whom lived to manhood and womanhood. The tenth in order of birth was Simpson Clark, who was named Simpson in honor of his maternal grandmother's maiden name, and who is the only member of the family now living. At the time of his father's death he was about three years old. His mother kept him four years longer, until he was seven, and then he was given a home in the family of James Smith, of Squam Ridge, Grafton county, New Hampshire, in which he remained, getting a limited amount of schooling and living the life of a farmer's boy of all work until he was eighteen. He then went, a stranger, to seek his fortune in Boston, and for a time his experiences were discouraging; but at length he met a friend named Wheaton, who procured work for him of a farmer living just outside the city. After a few months he returned to New Hampshire and worked at quarrying and laying stone. Later he was employed at the United States navy-yard at Charlestown, Massachusetts, and helped to lay the foundations of the runways from which the Vermont was launched. From this work he went to Quincy, Massachusetts, and was there employed in the stone yards for a time. For a number of years he lived in Boston and was a member of the city police force. Railway construction, on the line of the Connecticut River Railroad, next claimed his services, and he was stationed at New London.

In 1829 Mr. Clark married Miss Matilda Vickery, daughter of Abraham and Rachel (McLinch) Vickery, of New Hampshire, and she bore him two children, named Chastina E. and Matilda L. Chastina E. Clark married Ivory Chick, a native of Maine. They had a son, named Ivory S. Chick. Ivory Chick died while on a visit to Maine in 1854. Matilda L. Clark married Nicholas Johnston and is now living, a widow, at Boulder, Colorado. She has six children, named Charles, Frank, Mary, Lizzie, George and Roy.

In 1852 Mr. Clark, his wife and their daughter Matilda came west to LaSalle, Illinois, where Ivory Chick, husband of his daughter Chastina, had a contract for construction work on the Illinois Central Railroad, and had preceded them with his family. Mr. Clark was employed at railroad building for some time on a salary, and later did contract work on the Bureau Valley Railroad, toward Peoria. Returning to LaSalle he removed to Mendota in the fall of 1854, built a residence and remained there nine years. He then purchased a twenty-acre farm at Troy Grove and later added other land to it and farmed there successfully thirty years and then retired from active life and located at Mendota. Mrs. Clark died August 15, 1892, aged eighty-one years and ten days. Mrs. Chick, his widowed daughter, had been a member of his family for many years and she then took the position which she has since held as the head of his household. Mr. and Mrs. Clark were reared under religious influences, and though they never joined any denomination, were always in sympathy with the church. Since the death of his wife, however, Mr. Clark and also Mrs. Chick have united with the Baptist church, to which his younger daughter also belongs.

Mr. Clark has always been a leader of many of the men with whom he has been associated. In New Hampshire he was captain of a militia company four years. He was constable and deputy sheriff in LaSalle county before he moved to Troy Grove. Until 1896 he was a Democrat who never failed to vote for the nominees of his party; but at that time, influenced by his view of the financial question, then paramount, he cast his vote for "McKinley and sound money." An earnest, kind-hearted old gentleman, modest in his manners and social intercourse, he takes an interest in current events and converses well on all the important topics of the day. His nobility of character is always evident and he is in every way worthy of the affectionate regard in which he is held by numerous friends, some of them of many years' standing. He preserves in a wonderful degree the robust health and physical strength which characterized him in the prime of his manhood, and in good weather took especial delight, until a recent date, in daily walks down town.

Extracted 26 Dec 2016 by Norma Hass from Biographical and Genealogical Record of LaSalle County, Illinois published in 1900, volume 2, pages 428-430.

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