In the 1934 Centennial Edition of an area newspaper a list of the pioneers who attended the Semi-Centennial of the County of Lake, in 1884 was published. Among the names on the list was "W.A. Clark - Date of arrival, 1837."
The attendance book was opened again in 1934, and will again be opened in 1984, during the 150th Anniversary of Lake County, Ind. Names of many of the old pioneers we have written about are also included on the list.
Wellington A. Clark was born in Naples, New York, in September 1815, the son of Benjamin Clark (1758-1827) and Thankful Watkins Clark (1773-1852), whose marriage was the first to take place in the early settlement which is now Naples.
The settlement was started by a group of 60 New Englanders from Berkshire, Mass. Benjamin Clark, who started the first grist mill there, about 1795, was a soldier and an officer in the Revolutionary War. Today, the town of Naples, New York, is shown on maps to be in the western part of the state, south of Canadigua Lake about 75 miles from Lake Erie.
Wellington A. Clark had two sisters: Martha, married to Captain Elias B. Kerine; and Lorene, married to Clarence Myren. His only brother was Sanford.
Wellington A. Clark started his business career as a clerk in a wholesale grocery store in Albany, New York.
Through his brother, Sanford D. Clark, a thriving merchant in Ohio, W.A. Clark obtained a position on a schooner sent from Cleveland, Ohio, to Chicago, around the Great Lakes. Few vessels at that time made regular lake trips.
Disposing of his cargo at Chicago, W.A., then about 23 years of age, visited Lake County, Indiana, and arranged with Adin Sanger, a relative, to hold a claim for him. He then returned to Ohio and reported his sales at Chicago. In the spring of 1839, Sanford was in this area and arranged for the purchase of land in the West Creek area for his brother. Wellington came from Ohio in a buggy and commenced in the fall to improve his West Creek farm of 384 acres.
In December 1843, he married Mary C. Hackley (1819-1906), a member of a family of early settlers residing a little north of what is now the Cook area of Cedar Lake, formerly called Hanover Center. They were married by Judge Robert Wilkinson, a pioneer whom we wrote about in an earlier column. The Judge took his rifle with him, and on the way to the wedding shot a deer near the home of the bride.
In about 1846, Wellington left farming for a while and moved to Crown Point, where he became agent for some large eastern merchandising houses, including Bragg (Patent Medicine) and James C. Ayers Co. He traveled extensively in Indiana, Illinois and Ohio in a wagon.
At Crown Point he built a good dwelling house and returned to the farm and built an excellent farmhouse. After spending the years of 1864 and 1865 at Crown Point, he returned again to the West Creek home.
In 1867 he built a cheese factory near the Indiana-Illinois state line, keeping at times 100 cows.
After he gave up farming, he returned to his home in Crown Point, one of the best in the town when it was built, and a landmark of the earlier years. His home, built in 1847 with lumber from Chicago, is now called "The Old Homestead" and is located on Lot No. 57 of the original plat of Crown Point. The address now is 227 S. Court St. The home is the original structure, carefully remodeled.
Wellington A. Clark's grand-daughter, Claribelle Clark Bevan, resided in the old house until 1965. In May 1966, "The Old Homestead" was opened as an historic residence for the public to visit. The opening was a feature of the Indiana Sesquicentennial Celebration.
In his period of retirement from farming, Wellington became a dealer in real estate, selling town and farm property and negotiation loans. In 1875 he was largely instrumental in the organization of an association for the pioneers and early settlers of the county. The organization, then called the Old Settlers and Historic Assoc., is now the Lake County Historical Assoc. Clark was elected the first president of the organization Sept. 25, 1875, and held the office for many years.
Wellington wrote many articles for the Crown Point papers, his subject being early American history and stories of the Spanish and French explorers. In 1904 he was honorary vice president of the Sons of the American Revolution for Indiana.
A semi-centennial celebration of the first Masonic lodge of Lake County was held in May 1904, and Wellington A. was found to be one of two survivors of the charter members.
On Dec. 7, 1893, soon after the close of the Columbian Exposition in Chicago, Wellington and Mary Clark celebrated the golden anniversary of their wedding, considered to be the first such celebration in Lake County.
Wellington's wife, Mary Hackley Clark, was born in 1819 in Richfield, New York. W.A. and Mary had four children: Henry (1844-1877) married Clara Dyer (1852-1872); Charles S. (1847-1863); Helen; and Frederick (1859-1879).
The children of Henry A. and Clara Clark were Charles A. (1870-?), married to Lodema Hayhurst (1869-1921) of Grant Park, Ill., and Claribel (1872-1965), married to James Bevan.
Children of Charles A. and Lodema Hayhurst Clark were Wellington A., born 1891 and married to Lila Schmal, daughter of Frank and Hattie (Griesel) Schmal of Lowell; Mary A. (1893-1961), who married David Hansen; Henry H., born 1895, married Matilda Bruck; Ora G. (1899-1953), married to Frank Graves, former Lowell businessman; Charles Merwin (1904-1980), married to Clara Lawson; and Leona M., born 1906, who married Clarence Gamble.
Wellington A., the oldest child to Charles and Lodema Clark, was named after his pioneer ancestor, and can be remembered by many in this area as manager of the former A & P Grocery in downtown Lowell.
Wellington and Lila were parents of two daughters, Jeanne, married to William McLellan of Lowell; and Ruth, married to Theodore Jones. Part of the information for this column was willingly furnished by Jeanne Clark McLellan.
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