PHILO M. CLARK. - In the annals of Wyandotte county no more honored name is found on the long list of eminent men than that of Philo M. Clark, who is distinguished especially as the founder of Bonner Springs, a beautiful, modern and sanitary city, to the improvement and attractiveness of which he is constantly adding. He has converted the former "happy hunting grounds" of the Wyandotte, Delaware, Pottawatomie and other Indian tribes, who came here to drink from the waters of the numerous mineral springs that break from the depths of the earth, into a charming home, not only for those that seek health and strength in its mineral waters, but for all who desire clean, pleasant and peaceful environments. The beautifully shaded avenues and the natural park ways along the rivers and lakes make the place particularly attractive to visitors as well as to residents while the country roads along the sun-kissed hills of the Kaw valley are appreciated by those fond of driving or autoing.
The invalid who comes to Bonner Springs in quest of renewed physical vigor soon forgets his troubles and ills, finding relief and cure in one or the other of the many natural springs which here give forth carbonated waters at all times, some of the springs being rich in soda, others in iron or in bi-carbonates of other minerals, each spring possessing remedial properties of great value. Bonner Springs has become the home of many valuable industries; has an excellent school system; is well supplied with churches of various denominations; has substantial banking institutions; well equipped, up-to-date mercantile establishments; plenty of means of amusement; and is within reach of several trunk lines of railway.
Coming from a long line of honored New England ancestors, Philo M. Clark was born in 1835, in North Hadley, Hampshire county, Massachusetts, where the birth of his father, Philo Clark, occurred in 1806.
A farmer in Massachusetts during his early life, Philo Clark made a specialty of raising broom corn, which he manufactured into brooms. In 1837 he formed a colony, consisting principally of his relatives, and with this little band of emigrants made an overland trip to Walworth county, Wisconsin, where he took up a tract of heavily timbered land. He subsequently founded the city of Elkhorn, which was made the county seat of Walworth county. He improved a good farm, and was there a resident until 1847, when he moved with his family to Waukegan, Illinois, where he was engaged in the hotel business for two years. Upon the discovery of gold in California, in 1849, he conceived the idea of conducting a party to the Pacific coast, journeying with ox teams from St. Joseph, Missouri, and for nearly two years made a business of personally conducting parties across the plains to the gold fields. Returning to his home in Waukegan, Illinois, in 1850, in the later months of the year, he was there a resident until his death, in 1863. He was a Whig in politics and a Presbyterian in religion. He married Irene Hibbard, who was born at North Hadley, Massachusetts, in 1808, and died in Chicago, Illinois, in 1895. Of their eleven children, but two are now, in 1911, living, namely: Philo M.; and Mrs. J. H. Kump, a widow, living with Mr. Clark.
But two years old when his parents settled in Walworth county, Wisconsin, Philo M. Clark lived there until eleven years of age, when he went with the family to Waukegan, Illinois, where he attended school until fifteen years of age, that being his only schooling. Unknown to his family, he studied telegraphy at night, and became so proficient in the art that while still a beardless boy he was given charge of the telegraph office at Waukegan. There were then three hundred different telegraph lines in the United States. In 1851 Mr. Clark conceived the brilliant idea of consolidating these lines to save expense, and during that year brought together the "Speed and O'Reilley" lines, which extended from Waukegan to Chicago, this being the initial attempt toward organizing in the United States a telegraph system of lines.
In 1855 Mr. Clark began trading with the mines located along the banks of Lake Superior, his boat, in that year, being the very first vessel to pass through the Sault Sainte Marie canal. In 1857 Mr. Clark made his first appearance in Wyandotte, Kansas, now Kansas City, Kansas. He soon located at Kansas City, Missouri, where he assisted in developing the McGee Addition, in which he built and sold several houses within the next two years. Going from there to Memphis, Tennessee, in 1859, Mr. Clark established a bottling plant in that city, and then took up his residence in Louisville. A few months later he opened bottling plants in five large cities, Louisville, Lexington, Jeffersonville, Indianapolis and New Albany, and operated these five plants successfully until 1865, when, within the short space of one week, he sold all of them.
Establishing himself next in Oil City, Pennsylvania, Mr. Clark engaged in the bottling and real estate business, and laid out three additions to the city, all of which were sold soon after being placed upon the market. One of the large tracts of land lying near Oil City he named Clark's Summit, and to it built a railroad line. In 1874 Mr. Clark returned to Kansas City, Missouri, and after traveling for two years, engaged in selling oil from wagons, being the patentee of the movement, and he continued the business in Kansas City and St. Louis until the Standard Oil Company refused to sell him oil in bulk. He was then employed in the bottling business at Kansas City, Missouri, and Kansas City, Kansas, until 1885, when he organized the Bonner Springs Town Company, which was very successful in its operations.
Mr. Clark was chosen as the first mayor of Bonner Springs, which he founded and which he named in honor of Robert Bonner, for many years editor of the New York Ledger and a favorite author of Mr. Clark's. Although Mr. Clark has passed the allotted three score and ten years of man's life, he is still active in business and is at the head of the Clark Real Estate Company. He is continually working for the best interests of Bonner Springs, and has recently laid out five more additions to the city. He was a Lincoln Republican until the impeachment of Andrew Johnson, but has since been independent in politics, supporting the best men and best measures regardless of party affiliations. He is a generous, whole souled man, and his home, which is one of the finest in Bonner Springs, is always open to city visitors.
Mr. Clark married, in April, 1863, Anna Todd, who died in Oil City, Pennsylvania, in 1871. Four children were born of their union, namely: Philo B., deceased; Herbert E., a pressman on the New York World; Edward S., living at home; and Annie F., wife of Burt Hoxie, a farmer in Oregon. Mr. Clark married for his second wife, in 1884, Martha A. Wilson, of Kansas City, Missouri.
Home Page for Kansas
Search all of Blue Skyways
The KSGenWeb Project