J. GIPSON CLARK. One of the men who came into Southwestern Kansas thirty years ago, during the boom period, was J. Gipson Clark, who brought with him youth, considerable experience as a hard worker and farmer, but absolutely no capital. In attaining his present enviable position as a citizen, rancher, farmer and stock breeder, for all of which he is well known at Fowler in Meade County, Mr. Clark has gone through a great variety of experience.
He was born in the mountain region of Western North Carolina and Eastern Tennessee. His birth occurred January 7, 1860, in Mitchell County, North Carolina, but close to the Tennessee line. In 1871 he ran away from his stepfather and went to Carter County, Tennessee, where he grew to manhood. He had practically no education, since schools during the war and the years that immediately followed did not exist in that part of the country. When he reached his majority he moved to Indiana, and while working in Fountain County attended school, paying tuition. It was in the same locality that he became acquainted with his wife, though they were not married until some years after he had come to Meade County.
It was from Fountain County, Indiana, that Mr. Clark started westward in 1886 to find a new home and opportunities in Kansas. He came by train as far as Dodge City and then used a part of the few dollars he brought with him to enter land in Gray County. This land he proved up but had to mortgage it, and paid such interest on the debt that he finally deeded the entire tract to the mortgage company to satisfy the debt. Later he took a pre-emption in the Montezuma community of the same county, and after proving it up sold or traded it for stock, and then transferred his interests permanently to the Fowler locality of Meade County. In the meantime he had worked as a farm hand at low wages, sometimes even for his board. Even after his marriage he occasionally went to some of the eastern counties to harvest or to gather corn. The beginning of his prosperity was made in cattle, and he finally invested in the grass lands of Meade County and acquired about sixteen quarter sections, which he later exchanged for land near Fowler. He had acquired his first bunch of steers by taking cattle on the shares and later used some cows for half the increase. It was through the intelligent handling of his stock interests that he bought the lands in Meade County.
On locating two miles southwest of Fowler Mr. Clark bought a half section partly fenced. It had on it a small tract of alfafa.[sic] Be is one of the older alfalfa growers of this region and his experience with the crop has been favorable except for inroads made by grasshoppers. During the drought of 1916 and 1917 much of his alfalfa died out. He has been successful in handling the staple spring crops of maize, kaffir and feterita. For a number of years he bought and raised young mules, and subsequently became a conspicuous breeder of this stock. It has perhaps been more profitable to him than any other department of his farm enterprise.
Something should now be said concerning his living and home conditions. As a bachelor he lived in a half dugout and sod shanty of two rooms, and on his second claim he lived absolutely alone in a structure built entirely of sod. In those early days much wild game was to be found, consisting of antelopes, jack rabbits and ducks. But he was no hunter, and seldom had wild meat on his table. Some of the work that enabled him to make a living in those days of toil and adversity was digging wells with pick and shovel. One or two of them was 140 feet deep. Off and on he followed this occupation for a couple of years, until the accidental death of another party doing the same kind of work, the result of a cave-in of sand, seared him out of the employment. Later he acquired a well drilling machine and went to work in the artesian valley and for about six years in connection with his farming put down some of the pioneer artesian wells in the valley. One or two of these wells are on his own farm, and gave him abundance of water for his trees, garden and lawn.
The present Clark farm is conspicuous in many ways for its improvements. His first shelter here was a small frame house 12 by 16 feet. This served as a habitation until 1907, when it was replaced by a handsome eleven room frame house, which stands out as one of the best residences along the Fowler-Meade highway. In the same year he constructed an immense barn 60 by 74 feet, with mow capacity for 100 tons. In this far famed valley Mr. Clark has five and a half quarter sections of land, while his landed possessions include five quarter sections near Stonington, Colorado, all substantially improved, and a place of three quarter sections owned by the family northwest of Fowler.
A man of property interests and of good business capacity, Mr. Clark has become identified with several institutions at Fowler, including the Fowler State Bank of which he is a director, and the Fowler Equity Union and the Kansas Casualty Company, in both of which he is a stockholder. Perhaps his chief community and public work has been as a member of the school board in early days. Probably due to his own early lack of advantages he has been an enthusiastic believer in good educational advantages for the young and besides his official work he has paid large taxes for school purposes and has thought the investment well repaid him through the benefits derived by his own children. In national politics he is a republican but in local affairs is liberal, and while never failing to vote has frequently exercised an independent judgment. He has been a delegate to various polictical[sic] and other conventions. In church matters the family is connected with the Christian Church and Mrs. Clark was one of its thirteen original charter members in Fowler. Mr. Clark is affiliated with the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, while his wife is Rebekah.
Mr. Clark represents one of the old families of the mountain districts of Western North Carolina. His grandparents were Jeremiah and Mary (McCall) Clark, who spent all their lives in Watauga County, North Carolina. Their children were: Wilburn, John, Samuel, Marion, Robert, Jinsy, Eveline, Mary and Bettie. The daughter Jinsey married Harrison Aldridge, Eveline married Cain Lusk, Mary married George Bird and Bettie became the wife of Albert Brewer. There was a strong Union sentiment in this family, and the sons Samuel and Robert were both in the Union army, Robert losing his life in the service.
Marion Clark, father of J. Gipson Clark, was born in Watauga County, North Carolina, and though, like his brothers, strongly Union in sentiment, he was practically forced into the Confederate army. He was physically unfit for the service, and never returned home, being lost in Virginia. During his brief career he was a farmer. Marion Clark married Frances Wise, daughter of Josiah Wise, who married a Miss Davis. Their children were: J. Gipson; Sarah, who married Monroe Baird, of Watauga County; John, who married Susan Hicks and lives in New Mexico; and Jennie, who became the wife of Jordan Hicks, of Watauga County. Mrs. Marion Clark married for her second husband Rabe Brewer. She died in Watauga County, leaving by this second union two children, Nancy and Wesley.
About two years after coming to Meade County. J. Gipson Clark married Miss Minnie Rynearson. Her parents were DeWitt Clinton and Charlotte A. (Crise) Rynearson, the former a native of Darke County, Ohio, and the latter of Tippecanoe county, Indiana. Her father was reared in Fountain County, Indiana, where he married, and in 1887 brought his family to Kansas and was a Meade County homesteader. He was a stockman and farmer and owned a large amount of land in this locality. His death was due to a runaway accident April 28, 1894. His widow is now living at Fowler, past eighty years of age. Mrs. Clark, who was born January 26, 1868, is the youngest of three children. Her brother Morton lives in Hammond, Indiana, and her brother Charles in Fountain County, Indiana.
Mr. and Mrs. Clark have seen their own children grow up around them, and they now have half a dozen grandchildren. Their own children in order of age are Ethel, Eva, Marion Clinton and Bernice. The son Marion C. is a freshman in the Fowler High School. Ethel is the wife of Harry Crissman, a farmer of the Fowler community. They have five children, named Shirley, Fern, Elmer, Leona and Dorothy. The daughter Eva married Raymond Pullman. They live at Elsworth, Nebraska, and have one daughter, Evelyn Dorothy.
Transcribed from A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans, written and compiled by William E. Connelley, Secretary of the Kansas State Historical Society, Topeka. [Revised ed.] Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1919, c1918. 5 v. (xlviii, 2530 p.,  leaves of plates): ill., maps (some fold.), ports.; 27 cm.
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