Clark County Press, Neillsville, WI
April 1, 1998, Page 36
Transcribed by Dolores (Mohr) Kenyon.
Index of "Oldies" Articles
Good Old Days
Compiled by Dee Zimmerman
Clark County Named for George Rogers Clark a Hero of Revolution
Local uncertainty has surrounded the naming of Clark County for decades. The assumption of local authority was to credit Moses Clark as the person for whom the county was named, he being one of the early settlers. Some local persons supposed fame belonged to the junior partner in the great exploring firm of Lewis & Clark. A great amount of research was done in 1953, prior to the 100th Anniversary of Clark as a county, to determine the county’s rightful namesake. It was determined that neither of these men gave his name to the county, but the name came from George Rogers Clark, a Revolutionary War hero.
The authority for advancing George Rogers Clark as the man honored is in a publication of the State Historical Society of Wisconsin. The publication known as Wisconsin Historical Collections states on page 12 of Volume 1: that the legislature “has recently honored George Rogers Clark by naming Clark County after him.” It was written immediately after the event by Lyman C. Draper, honored secretary of the society, who was in position to have first-hand knowledge. He lived and worked in Madison and was following the work of the legislature.
Area residents of the early 1900s adhered to quotes made by local historians in their unanimous belief that the county was named after Moses Clark. However, none had first-hand knowledge to what took place in 1853. Quite obviously, they were repeating what they had heard previously about Clark County’s naming. The authority centered in Madison, where the creation of the county, designation of its boundaries and the giving of a name was the function of the legislature.
Draper was there at the time and it was his duty, as secretary of the State Historical Society, to record the decisions made and he may have had a part in suggesting George Rogers Clark as the name to be used.
Draper knew credit was due this Revolutionary War hero’s actions more than to any other man, for the fact that the upper Mississippi Valley, including the area now known as Clark County, became part of the United States. Clark had seen to it, with remarkable enterprise, persistence and bravery, that the British were pushed out of the Mississippi Valley and that it was in American hands at the crucial time when the treaty of peace was being concluded between the United States and Great Britain. The action which brought about this situation culminated in the capture of Vincennes, an event which is described in heroic detail in Theodore Roosevelt’s “Winning of the West” and in the fiction “Alice of Old Vincennes.”
The final capture of Vincennes came about well toward the end of the Revolutionary War. Clark, a friend and companion of Daniel Boone, had become informed about the situation at Vincennes and Kaskaskia, which was in British hands. Men whom he had sent into the area reported to him that it was lightly held by the British. They assumed the French population would cooperate with the American strength. So Clark made the long trip east to Virginia and secured the backing of Patrick Henry for an expedition against Kaskaskia and Vincennes.
Clark had difficulty in securing men for his force, eventually gathering about 200, and approached Kaskaskia, which was along the Mississippi, about opposite St. Louis. The town, lightly garrisoned, quickly fell to him. A French priest of Kaskaskia offered to go alone to Vincennes to secure the allegiance of the French in that area. He was successful, and Vincennes became an American outpost, without Clark appearing there. When the news of the American invasion reached Henry Hamilton, the British commander at Detroit, who was lieutenant governor of the entire area, he organized a force of about 500 men, marched on Vincennes and easily took it.
With winter approaching, he decided to wait until spring before coming to conclusions with Clark, who, with a diminished force, was in Kaskaskia. Anticipating no winter campaign, Hamilton experienced a dispersal of his forces, particularly the French and Indians.
Clark was not one to be stopped by winter’s difficulties. Sensing an opportunity, he led a small force over fearful obstacles eastward toward Vincennes. The weather was mild for winter, but the streams were in flood. To reach their objective Clark and his men had to wade mile after mile of water, often up to their waist. In some places they had to carry their rifles and powder horns over their heads, while the water came shoulder high. Arriving after incredible hardships at Vincennes, they took it with a minimum effort and made Hamilton their prisoner. From that time forward the entire Mississippi Valley remained in the hands of the Americans. Their possession of it gave Jay an unanswerable argument in the negotiations which led to the treaty ending the Revolution.
George Rogers Clark lived unhappily after the Revolution, having no great work to do and being land-poor. His home was located near Louisville. He died in 1818, crippled with paralysis. But, he had lived long enough to witness the exploit of his younger brother, William, who was the Clark of the great Lewis and Clark expedition to Oregon.
These two Clarks were men of heroic personality, with amazing energy, persistence and enterprise. Of George Rogers Clark it was said by Theodore Roosevelt in his “Winning of the West” that “it may be doubted if there was another man in the West who possessed the daring and resolution, the tact, energy and executive ability necessary for the solution of so knotty a series of problems” as were faced by him in his campaign against Vincennes.
Ed Faber, district forester, discovered the name of John G. Clark as one of the first surveyors of Clark County. Faber found a log of an original survey, with the name of John G. Clark as surveyor and the date of June 1853, upon it. The log was discovered 100 years after it had been marked in the survey. Faber and others speculated that John G. Clark was the county’s namesake. Historical records proved it to be an invalid claim.
(This year, 1998, being Wisconsin’s sesquicentennial anniversary as a state, we will occasionally run articles pertaining to state history. D.Z.)
March 1953 Specials around the County
Cash in your old wringer washer on a new 1953 Speed Queen at C. E. Seif’s Sons at the corner of 6th & Grand, Neillsville, phone # 3. That old clunky washer you are now using may have more trade-in value than you think. Let us make you an offer on a new, double-wall Speed Queen with super-duty wringer and timer. Starting with a price of $134 and up
It’s time to buy Seed Oats at C. E. Seif’s Sons’s: Certified Shelby oats $1.75 bu.; Uncertified Clinton oats, $1.50 bu.
Svetlik Ford’s Shock Absorber Special:-Front, Passenger car ’35 to ’40, reg. $10.50 each $3.50.
Kerns Rexall Drug Store Specials: – Greeting Cards for every purpose, 5¢ & 10¢ ea. Springtime Ice Cream Sundae made with vanilla ice cream, Maple flavoring and crushed nuts, 19¢.
Red Owl Grocery’s Sale Items – Duncan Hines Cake Mixes – 3-16 oz. pkgs $1; Harvest Queen Coffee, 1 lb. tin 89¢; Orange Juice 46 oz cans, 2 for 55¢; Head Lettuce 2 for 21¢; Chuck Roast, center cuts, 43¢ lb.
Zimmerman Bros. Store – Men’s Loafer Shoes - $4.98; McCain’s Clothing – Early Spring Dresses $8.95 each; Nylon Hosiery with black seam & outline heel, 51 gauge, pr. 77¢.
Gaier’s Hatchery will buy poultry at Counsell’s Warehouse on Wed., April 15.
Inwood Ballroom at Hatfield will have two wedding dances next week – In honor of Wm. Genteman, Jr. and Louise Mayer on April 9 with the Stan Thurston Orchestra; in honor of Ruth Jacobson, Merrillan and George Barlowe, Altoona with music by Tost Thompson.
Buy a new 1953 Buick Special 2-door, 6-passenger Sedan for $2,278.88 at Zilk Villa Motor Sales, 1 Hewett St.
Join in square dancing at the Quonset Ballroom, east of Thorp, Highway 29, Saturday, April 11, 9 p.m.; Sponsored by the Thorp Lion’s Club and music by the Nemitz Brothers.
Attention Farmers! Get ready for spring field work now! Buy Varcon Premium Quality tractor oil at Gambles Store – 30 or 50 gallons at 75¢ per gal. Chuck & Jim Jordahl, authorized dealers
Buy potted Easter Plants at the Pine Valley Nursery (Coyier’s, across from the City Park) Greenhouse; open 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Do all the good you can
By all the means you can
In all the ways you can
In all the places you can
At all the times you can
To all the people you can
As long as you ever can.
It is better to be a person of value rather than a person of success.
A successful person takes more out of life than he or she puts into it;
A person of value gives more to life than he or she takes out of it.
-- Albert Einstein –
An early 1900’s boating scene was taken on the Black River, a summer pastime.
(Photo courtesy of Clark County Historical Society Jail Museum)
H. H. Eberhardts Store was located on Hewett Street, starting in 1892. Mrs. Eberhardt worked with her husband in the store. Wooden racks were anchored to the ceiling which held various chairs on display in addition to those on the main floor. (Photo courtesy of L. Schoengarth)
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