Philo M. Clark, financier, inventor, who is known as "the father" of Bonner Springs, was born at North Hadley, Mass., Aug. 9, 1835, the third son of Philo and Irene (Hibbard) Clark. His father and mother, who are of Scotch-Irish descent, were both born in North Hadley in 1808 and 1809, respectively. Philo Clark was educated in the public schools of Massachusetts and became a farmer and broom manufacturer. In 1825 he married Irene Hibbard and eleven children were born to them, of whom only Sarah Salome, who married J. H. Kump, of Kansas City, in 1859, and Philo M., are living. The Clarks removed to Troy, Wis., in 1837, and ten years later went to Waukegan, Ill., where Philo received his education at the Waukegan Academy. When only fourteen years of age he learned telegraphy, but worked at it only one year. After giving up telegraphy Mr. Clark worked on one of the steamers plying between Chicago and Lake Superior ports. He was on the steamer Illinois, which made the first trip through the Soo canal, after it was opened for traffic in 1855. Mr. Clark saw the opportunities offered along the lake and became a shipper himself, selling supplies to the copper miners in Wisconsin and Michigan. He was engaged in this business until 1857, when he came to Kansas City, Mo. He engaged in the contracting business and put up the first houses in McGee addition. The houses were built in sections in Cincinnati, Ohio, and sent out by boat by way of Cairo and St. Louis. Colonel McGee, the owner of the addition, was so pleased with the work that he gave Mr. Clark three city lots on Walnut street that are now valued at $80,000. In 1858 Mr. Clark and his brother-in-law, Mr. Kump, established a large bottling works at Memphis, Tenn. They were very successful but at the outbreak of the Civil war they closed the works and left for the North. During the two years in Tennessee they had cleared some $20,000; and as it was contrary to the Confederate orders for any Northerners to take money with them, when leaving they were puzzled as to what to do with it. Mrs. Kump concealed it in a hand satchel, which she used for a pillow on the train and it was never discovered. Mr. Clark went to Louisville, Ky., and opened a bottling works; he also established the same business at New Albany, Jeffersonville, Lexington and Indianapolis, and was thus enabled to supply soda water to the soldiers of the Union army during all the years of the war. In 1865 he sold out his interest in the bottling business and went to Oil City, Pa., where he again established soda water works and made good money during the oil excitement. He bought land in Oil City and laid out four additions. In 1871 he bought 200 acres of land on the summit of a mountain; platted it all into fifty-foot lots, which he sold at auction for $365 a lot and cleared about $44,000. At a cost of $25,000 he built a double incline railroad to carry people up and down the mountain, and the place became famous as "Clark's Summit." During the panic of 1873 the price of oil dropped from $4 a barrel to forty cents, and as Mr. Clark had sold the lots on time payment, he was caught in the slump of values and had only about $10 clear on the investment. He returned to Kansas City and took a position as traveling salesman for a cracker factory. In 1875 he invented the first oil tank wagon ever used in the United States, by which any desired number of gallons of oil could be delivered to retail dealers. In 1876 he sold the right for the exclusive use of the tank in Kansas City for $400. He then went to St. Louis with one of his patent wagons and entered the wholesale oil business, delivering oil to the retail dealers. He was offered $10,000 for the exclusive use of his patent in Missouri but refused, and within a short time failed, as the Water-Pierce Oil Company refused to sell him oil at wholesale. But Mr. Clark was not discouraged and invented a gas governor, which he put upon the market with success. In 1877 he returned to Kansas City and again engaged in the bottling business until 1880. That year he extended his business and established a soda water factory in Kansas City, Kan., which he ran until 1885, when he went to Bonner Springs. In partnership with some other men he bought 300 acres of land at Tiblow; platted the ground out as town lots; erected a hotel and other buildings. The honor of naming the town was given to Mr. Clark and he chose the name Bonner, in memory of Robert Bonner, the editor of the "New York Ledger," and the town was called Bonner Springs. Six months later the name of the postoffice was changed from Tiblow to Bonner Springs. In 1888 Mr. Clark sold all his interest in the original town site to his partners. Since then he has laid out five new additions to the town and two sub-additions. When Bonner Springs was incorporated, in 1889, Mr. Clark was chosen the first mayor. He has been elected three times since and is called by those who know him and his work in building up the town, "the father of Bonner Springs." He is public spirited and always is working for improvements. He has been the moving spirit in securing the bridge over the Kansas river at Bonner Springs and in securing the leases for putting down the test wells for natural gas, which is now furnished in abundance for local use. Mr. Clark takes great interest in politics, but has never run for office. He has been a delegate to the Republican county and state conventions when local interest demanded it. One of the first services he rendered to the party was as telegraph operator for the Wyandotte convention in 1859, when the constitution of the state was being drawn up.
In 1862 Mr. Clark married Anna Todd, the daughter of Alexander Todd of Louisville, Ky. Five children were born of this union: Philo B., born in 1863, deceased; Ross, born in 1865, deceased; Herbert E., born in 1867, now a newspaper pressman in New York City; Edmond S., born in 1870, who is associated with his father; and Anna T., born in 1872, now the wife of Bert Hoxie of Prosper, Ore. Mr. Clark's second wife was Martha A. Wilson, a native of Philadelphia, Pa., whom he married April 8, 1884, at Kansas City, Mo. Mr. Clark is a member of the Masonic fraternity, belonging to Bonner Springs Lodge, No. 366. He is interested in all public affairs and is enthusiastic in promoting any enterprise for the upbuilding of the city or state. At the present time Mr. Clark is engaged in the real estate and loan business.Pages 1509-1511 from volume III, part 2 of Kansas: a cyclopedia of state history, embracing events, institutions, industries, counties, cities, towns, prominent persons, etc. ... / with a supplementary volume devoted to selected personal history and reminiscence. Standard Pub. Co. Chicago : 1912. 3 v. in 4. : front., ill., ports.; 28 cm. Vols. I-II edited by Frank W. Blackmar. Transcribed December 2002 by Carolyn Ward. This volume is identified at the Kansas State Historical Society as microfilm LM195. It is a two-part volume 3.
TITLE PAGE / LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I
TITLE PAGE / LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
J | K | L | Mc | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z
A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | Y | Z
Background and KSGenWeb logo were designed and are copyrighted by
Tom & Carolyn Ward
for the limited use of the KSGenWeb Project.
Permission is granted for use only on an official KSGenWeb page.
Home Page for Kansas
Search all of Blue Skyways
The KSGenWeb Project