Saturday, August 20, 2016

Wellington Clark of Minatare, Nebraska

Harry Clark's farm land

My recent trip to the Scotts Bluff County, Nebraska, centered on research into the life of my great-great-grandfather, Wellington Clark. He was born on January 5, 1847, to Roswell Bailey Clark and his wife Pauline "Polly" Pierce, in Climax, Kalamazoo County, Michigan.  He grew up in Climax, and at the age of 19 married Anna Adelaide Vose (May 12, 1866). Wellington and Anna had one son, Harry Albert Clark, born October 17, 1869.

While in Michigan, Wellington began working as an agent of the Kalamazoo Buggy Company. Kalamazoo was well-known in the late nineteenth century for it's horse-drawn carriage industry. By 1887 there were eighteen buggy companies, and Kalamazoo was nicknamed "Vehicle Square." By the early decades of the twentieth century, many of these companies moved to producing motorized vehicles, some with success, other without.

Sometime in the early 1880s, Wellington and Anna divorced. He later moved to Lincoln, Nebraska, where he married Lillie May Wynkoop in October, 1883. In 1885 Wellington left his position with the Buggy Company and, along with his wife, Lillie, began homesteading where the present town of Minatare, Nebraska, is located (southeast quarter of section 6, township 21, of range 53, containing 160 acres). He built a house and moved his wife, Lillie, into it in October 1885. His son, Harry, resided with his grandmother, Polly, who also began homesteading in Minatare and, because of her age, was not able to be left alone.

Wellington's house was a 20' x 40' soddie, habitable year-round, with a shingle roof, three doors, five windows. In the home he had two stoves, two beds, one book case, one dresser, two tables, six chairs, one organ, three rocking chairs, one commode, and one sofa cupboard.

Outbuildings included a 30' x 40' sod stable with a posts and sod roof, a cave 16' x 18', a 16' x 18' sod ice-house, a 10' x 12' sod hen house, a 7' x 14' corn crib of hewed logs, and fencing. He worked the farm with one wagon, two plows, two buggies, one mowing machine, one hay rake, two cultivators, one harrow and other small tools.

He kept 15 head of horses and 13 head of cattle on the land. In his first year his crop - 20 acres of millet - was killed by drouth. After that first year, he successfully raised and harvested corn, and in the fifth year tried his hand at oats, barley and wheat as well. He also planted 75 fruit trees.

Other family members also homesteaded in Minatare, including his mother-in-law, Maria Darker Wynkoop (SW quarter of section 5) and his mother, Polly Pierce Clark (NE quarter of section 7).

On Wellington's homestead paperwork, he states that he also had a timber claim in Minatare on the SE quarter of section 7.

Wellington later gave much of his attention to the real estate business, apparently as an assessor. He was a Republican, politically, and was a member of the Masonic Order and the Knights of Pythias.

Wellington was well-known and influential in Minatare and the surrounding area. One story that has come down involves Sam Cox, a newspaperman and a man strongly opposed to alcohol, who made it his mission to write and speak against a bar that hoped to open its doors in Minatare. Another man, named Kensington, took offense to Cox’s anti-alcohol stand, and confronted him. A scuffle ensued, and Kensington ended up killing Cox. Fearing that he would be lynched, Kensington ran to Wellington Clark’s house to seek refuge. At a later date, Kensington was tried and convicted for the murder of Cox.

This house is known, locally, as the "Wellington Clark House." It, obviously isn't the original soddy that was built on his homestead, but was apparently built later, on another piece of property. It has probably undergone many remodels, over the 125 years (plus or minus a few) that it has stood here. In fact, it has recently been purchased by a new owner, who is in the process of fixing it up, once again. The barn and other little framed structure may, however, be original.

In his later years Wellington Clark was bedridden with what was called "locomotor ataxia*," and was cared for by a "step-niece by marriage" named Eda R. Wynkoop. His wife, Lillie, preceded him in death, by about seven months, on November 10, 1917. After his death, on June 15, 1918, his will was probated and he left his worldly property and goods to the following heirs:

1. To his grandson, Wellington Wesley Clark (Harry's son and my grandfather), the North half of the East half of the southeast quarter of section 12. (This would have been 40 acres), including any buildings and improvements existing on the land. (WW Clark subsequently sold and conveyed this piece of property to his father, Harry A. Clark.)

2. To Eda R. Wynkoop, the "niece" who cared for him in his illness, lot #10 of block #7 in the town of East Minatare, including any existing buildings and improvements; plus a sum of $500.

3. To his son, Harry A. Clark, the remainder of his estate, after payment of any debts or encumbrances, which included:
South half of East half of SE quarter section 12
Lot 5 and Lot 6 of Block 2 of East Minatare
Sum of $112.00
A note for $3000.00 and a mortgage securing the same note upon the West half of the SE quarter of Section 12
Lot 35 of Section A of the East Lawn Cemetery of Scotts Bluff County
North half of lot 2310 in State Cemetery at Lincoln, NE, generally known as Wyuka Cemetery

This map shows all of the property for which I have documentation as being owned by Polly, Wellington and Harry Clark, and Wellington's mother-in-law, Maria Darker Wynkoop, as outlined in yellow. If you look closely you will see the current town of Minatare, with its city streets, in the NE quarter of Section 7, and you will see that nearly the entire current town was part of Polly Clark's homestead.

* Locomotor ataxia is the inability to precisely control one's own bodily movements. Persons afflicted with this disease may walk in a jerky, non-fluid manner. They will not know where their arms and legs are without looking, but can, for instance, feel and locate a hot object placed against their feet. It is caused by degeneration of the posterior white column of the spinal cord. (Citation from Wikipedia)

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Passing It On

My grandmother Clark hand-crocheted this bedspread for Mom and Dad, many years ago. Mom passed it on to me, and I have kept it stored, safely, and moved it from Juneau, AK; to Salem, OR; to Newberg, OR; to Juneau, AK (again); to Albuquerque, NM; and to our home, now, in Temple, TX. Sadly, I have never had a double-bed that it would fit on.

Recently I contacted my cousin, Bonnie, to see if she might like to have it. She said that she was actually there, as a child, and saw our Grandma Clark working on it, and she has always remembered and loved it. So today I am boxing it up to send it to Bonnie, in Oregon. I'm so glad it will stay in the family. And since Grandma and Grandpa Clark lived for much of their lives in Yamhill Co., Oregon, it's nice that it's going back "home."

Think of all the individual stitches it took to make this!