Biography of Dennis Clark, Hon.

Willian B. Clark and Buford Clark, brothers, residing on adjoining farms in Williamsport Township of Shawnee County, have occupied and developed land that their father, a distinguished citizen of Illinois, secured in Kansas soon after the close of the Civil war. These brothers are among the most progressive men in that community, have won much success in agriculture, and have always been alert and public spirited in connection with movements for the public benefit.

Their father was Hon. Dennis Clark, who was born August 14, 1817, at Vincennes, Indiana. His parents were Walter and Mary (Young) Clark, the former a native of Virginia and the latter of New Jersey. Dennis Clark was a grandson of Dennis Clark, after whom he was named. This Dennis was a native of Ireland and the founder of his family in America. Walter Clark moved over the mountains into the West in the very early days. In 1823 he settled in Illinois, and for a time lived near Galena, where he was engaged in lead mining and subsequently was a steam boatman on the Mississippi. He moved to Wisconsin in 1828, and was soon afterward poisoned by drinking mineral water. At that time Dennis Clark was eleven years of age, and the responsibilities of caring for the other members of the household largely devolved upon his youthful shoulders. In 1829 the family removed to St. Louis, then to Sangamon County, Illinois, where he was bound out to a farmer. After accumulating a capital of $5 he left his employer and in 1833 settled near Abbingdon in Knox County, Illinois. He came to Knox County with Jonathan Lattimore. Settlers were just then beginning to come into that section of Illinois and the Indians were still more numerous than the whites. Dennis Clark worked as a farm hand for Mr. Lattimore. Ambitious for an education, he had taken every opportunity to attend the local schools, and he finished his education in the Cherry Grove Seminary near Abbingdon in 1841-42. In 1837 he began teaching school in the winter and farming in the summer, and that was his routine for several years. He was the first teacher in Indian Point Township of Knox County. In 1836 he served as captain of a company of militia. He also took up the study of law, and with the savings from his work as teacher entered a law school at Chicago, and was subsequently admitted to the bar. For many years he practiced law, beginning in 1866, and filled a number of positions of trust besides. He was township clerk, overseer of the poor, and in November, 1865, was elected county, judge of Knox County. He filled that position for twenty-one years, finally declining to serve any longer. During the Civil war he recruited a company, was elected its captain, but spent most of his time as an enrolling officer and in providing for the relief of soldiers’ families.

It was soon after the Civil war that Judge Clark came to Kansas having in mind the possibility of making the state. his home. He then bought two quarter sections of land in Williamsport Township of Shawnee County, now occupied by his two sons, though he never really became a resident of Kansas himself.

On April 10, 1845, Judge Clark married Martha Meadows. Her parents Henry and Mary Meadows moved from Kentucky to Warren County, Illinois, in 1830. Henry Meadows was a man of deep religious sentiment and his home in the early days was the headouarters for many of the itinerant preachers in Illinofs. Dennis Clark and wife had ten children, five of whom reached maturity. Judge Dannis Clark after a long and extremely useful life died May 17, 1900. His wife passed away in July, 1906.


Connelley, William E. A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans. Chicago : Lewis, 1918. 5v. Biographies can be accessed from this page: Kansas and Kansans Biographies.

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