Francis Asbury Clark

From: "Biographical Review of Cass, Schuyler and Brown Counties, Illinois 1892", by Biographical Review Publishing Company, Chicago, Illinois; pages 439-440, a reprinted by Stevens Publishing Co., Astoria, Ill., 1971, is sold by the Schuyler County Historical Society, Rushville, Illinois.
  Francis Asbury Clark, a prominent farmer of section 32, Missouri township, has been a resident of Brown county since 1835. He was born in Logan county, Kentucky, September 11, 1820, and is of Scotch-Irish extraction. His father, Abner Clark, was the son of Thomas Clark, who came to this country some time before the Revolutionary war and died at Orangeburg, North Carolina, near the close of that struggle. A copy of his will declares him to have been a yeoman, and the document attests his strength of character and sterling integrity. His widow was left with six children exposed to the ravages of war and the smallpox. She was equal to the emergency. Abner, her youngest son, described her as tall and muscular, with great strength and unflinching courage. To a British officer who rudely demanded to know her political principles she replied: "Sir, I am a helpless widow with six children, but I am an American." She seems to have impressed the stamp of her character upon the family, which is distinguished for simple integrity and resoluteness. The date of her death is unknown, but it must have occurred soon after the death of her husband, for Abner was raised by a Quaker family, and further developed those habits of blunt frankness toward which he had a natural proclivity. In early life he came to Logan county, Kentucky, where he married Nancy Goram, and might have been rich in slaves had he not resolutely chosen free soil and set his face toward the forest and privations of Illinois. In 1835, bringing Francis A., the subject of this sketch, with him, he came to this county; "Dick," as Francis is still familiarly known, drove a four horse team across the fire-swept prairies and bridgeless streams of western Kentucky, and central Illinois to Brown county.
  The family, composed of the parents and ten children, settled in Missouri township, and soon succeeded in making a home whence the children went out to feather the nests of their own. In 1843 Francis took his new bride, Eliza, nee Rankin, into the woods of Pea Ridge township, and they set up a log house with a work bench for a table and other things in harmony. Industry and economy, inside and outside, soon transformed the wilderness into a beautiful field, and their empty house to a luxurious home, in which were born nine children, seven of whom are still living. The mother was Irish by birth, having come from Ireland to Philadelphia in her second year.
  In that beautiful city she resided until her thirteenth year, and acquired the rudiments of education. At this early age she was taken from school and carried to section 36, Pea Ridge township, where, surrounded with a waste of almost tractless forests on the one side and a sea of prairie grass on the other, she wept in childish grief for the scenes and playmates from whom she was forever separated. She was united in marriage to Mr. Clark July 10, 1843, and the "heart of her husband safely trusted in her, and she did him good and not evil all the days of her life." "Her good works praise her in the gates, and her children rise up and call her blessed." She died the 15th of February, 1867, leaving her husband with a family of children, some of whom were small, to mourn his bereavement. He soon after married Sarah E. Burk, a widow, with one lovely daughter, Alta Virginia, who, in her nineteenth year when blooming into beautiful womanhood was attacked by fever, to which her frail constitution succumbed.
  Mrs. (Burk) Clark is an estimable lady, and has been a kind mother and faithful wife. Soon after his second marriage Mr. Clark came to his present home two miles and a half northwest from Mount Sterling, a farm which he had purchased some ten years before, and which he has finely improved.
  His business life, which was "about cattle" rather than farming, though he did and had done much of the latter, has been one of almost uninterrupted success. Beginning while yet a boy by buying a heifer he continued until he became the largest stock dealer of the county and rarely handled either cattle, sheep, hogs, or horses without realizing fair profits. Careful trading with appreciation of values made him a handsome fortune, which he has carefully and equitably distributed by gift or will to his wife and children. In character he is a man affable in manner, sound in judgment, resolute in purpose, sincerely honest and reliable, proud that his paper is always at par. This quality, connected with large discretion and shrewd business instincts, is the key to his success in what he has undertaken. He never tried to succeed by being sharp, though he might have gained temporary advantage by shrewdness, but by being square.
  In politics he has been anti-slavery from the first, believes in moderate tariff and today tends to the principle of prohibition as a means of dealing with the liquor traffic.
  In theology he is a Cumberland Presbyterian, but has never been identified with that church or any other. His children are like himself, prosperous, and are gathered round about him: Alexander H., well known in the county, lives two miles northwest of the county seat; Catherine M. McMurry, his eldest daughter, just outside the corporation; William A., west of town, one and a half miles; Abner and E. E. are members of the faculty of Chaddock College, Quincy, Illinois; Lydia McDonald, the youngest daughter, with her husband resides in section 36, Pea Ridge township, while Benjamin F. is still on the homestead. Few men sitting in the twilight of life have greater reasons for gratitude than Mr. Clark.

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