Walter Clark, now the leading merchant of Ketchum, is numbered among the honored pioneers of Idaho of 1863, and for more than forty-five years has been closely identified with the development of the northwest, having taken up his residence in Oregon in 1853. Into a wild region infested by Indians and by ruffianly white men, the forests standing in their primeval grandeur, the mountains still holding their rich treasures, he came and established his home. He was one of the vanguard of civilization, and has borne an important part in opening up this region to industry and commerce. Few men of the northwest are more widely known in this section of the Union than Walter Clark, and today, in his pleasant home in Ketchum, he is enjoying the comfortable competence that has come to him as the result of years of honest toil.
Mr. Clark was born in Iowa, October 10, 1840, and is of English and German ancestry. He lost his parents when only five years of age, and knows little of them save that his father was Jacob Clark, and that they resided in Danville, Lee county, Iowa. He lived with J. S. Reland until he was thirteen years of age, when, in 1853, he crossed the plains to Oregon, with W. C. Myer. They crossed the Missouri river May 10, 1853, and arrived at Rogue River on the 3d of September following. He had but little opportunity to attend school and may be called a self-educated as well as self-made man. In the school of experience, however, he has learned many valuable lessons, and is now a man of broad, practical knowledge, thoroughly in touch with the interests of his town, state and nation. In his youth he eagerly accepted any employment that offered, working for some time on a ranch and at herding cattle. In 1863 he came to Idaho basin, driving a pack train, and in 1864 went to Montana. For twenty-five years he engaged in the packing business, owning from fifty to seventy-five mules, utilized in hauling the goods to the different destinations. Two of those mules, which he obtained when he began packing in 1864, he turned loose at Ketchum in 1887, they having rendered him faithful service twenty-three years. He sent his pack trains into British Columbia, Montana and Idaho, and did an excellent business. He never had an animal stolen by the Indians and they never attacked him, not-withstanding they committed many murders and depredations all around him.
On the 12th of May 1881, Mr. Clark came to Ketchum, bringing with him his pack train. He became connected with the very rich mining interests of the Wood river valley, and although he continued packing for some time he also became a part owner of the Carrie mine, on Smoky Mountain. From this he and his partners took out over one hundred thousand dollars in silver and lead, and on December 25, 1886, they sold the mine for one hundred and five thousand dollars. Mr. Clark is now the owner of a gold mine in Joseph County, Oregon, and in 1887 he began merchandising at Ketchum, in partnership with Mr. Comstock. They soon secured an extensive patronage, and erected a large two-story brick store, twenty-eight by one hundred feet. In 1889 Mr. Tague bought out Mr. Comstock’s interest, and the firm of Clark & Tague carried on operations until 1892, when Mr. Clark purchased his partner’s interest, since which time he has been sole proprietor of the leading store in Ketchum. He enjoys a large trade from the surrounding country and derives there from a good income.
In the winter of 1887-8 Mr. Clark was united in marriage to Miss C. Dallarhide, a native of Austin, Nevada, and they now have one daughter, Ollie. Mrs. Clark is a valued member of the Episcopal Church. They have a pleasant and commodious home in Ketchum and are highly esteemed throughout the community. Mr. Clark is independent in both politics and religion, and is a thoroughly honorable and reliable businessman. He certainly deserves great credit for his success in life, for since a very early age he has been dependent entirely upon his own resources and has won his fortune through earnest, diligent effort.