On Sept. 2, 1981, the story in the "Pioneer History" column concerned Wellington A. Clark (1815-1912), who was an 1837 pioneer in the Lowell and Crown Point areas. The story mentioned that Clark had obtained a position on a schooner sailing around the Great Lakes.
Now additional information has been found in an old newspaper article written by Clark himself in 1908, when he was 93 years of age. He was said to be among the first to write historical items for the local newspapers, and was well-known over most of the county. He owned farm land in West Cteek Township, over one thousand acres near Crown Point, and a well-built home in downtown Crown Point, now preserved and called the "Old Homestead" at 227 S. Court St.
He was born in Naples, New York, son of Major Benjamin Clark, who served eight years in the Continental Army. At the age of 22, Wellington A. Clark left Cleveland, Ohio, on his way to Chicago, Ill., on the first of November, 1837, when he was in charge of a vessel load of produce to be sold in Milwaukee and in Chicago.
He first boarded a steamer to do some business in Detroit, Mich., where he waited a few days for the schooner to arrive. In a few days they set out on a stormy trip on Lake Huron, into Lake Michigan, where the ship was safely anchored off the port of Milwaukee, Wis., where he went ashore on a small boat.
The arrival of a ship at that Wisconsin port was a special event, with nearly everyone in the village turning out to greet the new arrivals. "A more sickly looking set of men I never saw!" wrote Clark. He saw nothing at that port but a few one-story wooden houses. A part of the schooner's cargo was unloaded, and on they sailed for Chicago.
Clark wrote on Nov. 17, 1837: "Our schooner, the "Ohio," was entering harbor of that much-talked about paper city, Chicago. It was a beautiful day, and in my mind now, I can see it exactly as I did then.
On my right hand was the frame warehouse of Newberry and Dole, and along the bank were three or four small, one-story frame grocery stores, one of which was run by H.O. Stone. On the left bank was old Ft. Dearborn (built in 1803, destroyed in 1812, rebuilt in 1816, maintained until 1837) and also the block house, then followed an open commons to State Street. That day I hired rooms of John H. Kinzie, in the Lake House, and remained there all winter." The Lake House was a three-story brick building, "the finest in town."
Early in the winter of 1837, Clark made trips to Michigan City and to LaPorte, where he stayed in comfortable lodgings, then called "taverns." Both early villages had a stagecoach line running through to Detroit, with the same line running to Chicago once a week, carrying the mail. This early stage line used the Lake Michigan Beach for their right-of-way whenever possible. Clark reported that the first house was seen 14 miles down the trail on his trip from Michigan City to Bailey Town, and from there all was sand hills and marshes.
Clark continued: "I had been informed that several families from my native town, Naples, N.Y., had settled in the vicinity of LaPorte, so I hired a horse and borrowed a gun and started on the hunt. I found them after three days search, at "Bryant's Settlement," now Pleasant Grove in Lake County.
"The first cabin I struck was James H. Sanger's, and a more forbidding place I never saw. It was built of hickory logs with the bark on, and the cracks between the logs were filled with mortar made of prairie mud.
"All was still as I rode up. I tied my horse to a tree and approaced the opening, -- a hole cut out for a door, covered by a blanket. There sat Mr. Sanger and wife and three children before a rousing fire of hickory logs. A more surprised people could not have been found. A dog would have been welcomed there, which came from their native town. After spending a day or two with them and the families of Ephriam Cleveland and Addison Clark, I returned to Chicago, where I spent the winter of 1837-1838, and in the spring went back to Ohio."
The Bryant Settlement began in 1834, east of Lake Dalecarlia, in the area of the old Jones schoolhouse. Pioneer Bryant called the area "Pleasant Grove" and the writer has proof that the community included land as far south as the present Lowell High School, where the Sanger cabin was built.
Wellington A. Clark returned to Lake County from the east in 1839, but this time he was driving a buggy. When he visited the Sangers in 1837, he had arranged for the purchase of nearly 400 acrea of land in West Creek Township, which his son set out to improve. In 1846 he moved to Crown Point, where he built his fine home and then returned to his farm to build another excellent house. Again he spent a few years at Crown Point and once more returned to his farm home in West Creek Township, where in 1867 he started a large cheese factory. After he retired from farming, he spent many years back at the home in Crown Point.
He had this to say about those early pioneer days: "In those days there were no wells here, the water for all purposes coming from the sloughs, where a hole was dug and a barrel put in, and I don't think there was a family in Lake County free from fever and ague. The air was full of malaria from the new sod broken up and the impure marsh water. On Jan. 1, 1839, Milo Robinson (brother of Solon Robinson) died of consumption, the first death recorded at Crown Point.
"But when first I saw this land, in a complete state of nature, it seemed one of the most lovely spots on earth, and it is still a pleasure to me to dwell here."
Wellington A. Clark, early pioneer, died July 25, 1912, when he was nearly 97 years of age. Burial services were conducted by his pioneer friend, Rev. Timothy H. Ball, author of many books history students have been using for research for many decades. Rev. Ball passed away the following year in 1913.
Clark's grandson and namesake, Wellington A. Clark, born in 1891 and now deceased, was a well-known Lowell business man for many years.
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