Clark was my husband's grandfather. Stories have been told
through the years of Clark's life in the early days of Texas.
All his grandchildren have listened eagerly to the tales
of Grandpa Clark in the days of cattle drives and big ranches,
and of the big house he built for his large family. Now,
the grandchildren have children of their own, and the people
left to tell tall tales of this early Texan, grow fewer each
Clay Clark was born in Dallas County in 1850, near what is now
Carrollton. His parents and maternal grandparents were early
settlers in Texas. His grandfather, David Myers, brought
his wife and ten children to Carrrollton in ox wagons from Lebanon,
Illinois, in 1845, and established the first Baptist congregation
in Dallas County. One of Rev. Myers' granddaughters, Mrs. Homer
Fisher, has kept records of this congregation which was organized
with eight members in 1846. 1
One of the stories that must have been told to Henry Clark when be was a little boy was of an Indian scare the Myers children had once when their father and mother were off carrying the Gospel through the wilderness of the Republic of Texas. The Myers' had learned about Indians on the slow trip from Illinois and many Indians came by their cabin during the day to trade their handiwork for corn meal and peaches grown from the seeds that Leticia Myers had brought from Illinois.
The Indians were different at night, however. Often the same Indians who were so friendly during the day would come back by night to drive off stock. The Myers children had been cautioned over and over about what to do if the Indians should come while their mother and father were away. On this particular occasion when the children heard hoofbeats, Cleave, fifteen, led the way to safety. He pulled up one of the split logs in the floor and dropped down under the cabin. He was followed by Sarah, seventeen; Jemima, sixteen; Tom, ten; Mary, five; with George, thirteen, hurrying them along.
The children crawled along a gully toward a neighbor's cabin a mile away. Suddenly, a scream from Cleave broke the stillness and the frightened children knew the Indians had found them. Then their noses told them what had happened. Cleave had disturbed a skunk and had been thoroughly sprayed! From their cabin came a "Hellooo" from their father, who was returning home with guests. No Indians after all, but the children had been wise not to wait, to be sure. 2
Rev. Myers was often away from home, for he traveled about the countryside, preaching under trees, in homes, or any place where a small group of settlers gathered, In 1848, the story is told, a dove flew down and perched on his shoulder for several seconds while he was preaching near Grapevine. During this meeting, a church was organized and called "Lonesome Dove." 3 Because of his frequent absences, his wife and family, left at home, bore a great responsibility, David Myers used to say, "The Lord will provide." His sharp-tongued, capable wife, Laticia, would answer, "Yes, as long as Laticia and the boys hold out, the Lord will provide." 4
Henry Clark's father, Andrew J. Clark, came to Texas from Tennessee. There seems to be some confusion as to when he arrived. In an interview given to W. S. Adair of The Dallas Morning News in 1923, Henry Clark states that his rather fought in the battle of Village Creek in 1841; 5 but in another article written by Kenneth Foree for The Dallas Morning News in 1946, the date of his arrival would seem to be no earlier than 1845. In Foree's article, which tells that the Myers family arrived 1845, we find this statement:
"One of those children was Miss Sarah, grown at seventeen and pledged to a tall young man, A. J. Clark, who was to follow westward." 6 This date is substantiated by the following entry found in John Henry Brown's History of Dallas County, Texas, from 1837 to 1887: Clark, A. J. (old Texian) came in 1845--in Grand Prairie fight, married Sarah Myers, their son, H. C., in Dallas. 7 probably the key to the confusion lies in the possibility of Clark's memory having confused the battle of Village Creek with the Grand Prairie fight. Remember, these are stories he heard as a child.
Clark's story of the battle of Village Creek, and his father's part in it, coincide so completely with other accounts found about this battle, however, that it is difficult to dismiss completely the possibility that A. J. Clark may have been here in 1841, after all. In Henry Clark's own words, we find this account of the battle:
of course, heard much of buffaloes and Indians, I saw some of
the settlers who fled from Parker County when the Indians raided
that region. A number or them came as far as Dallas. My father
was in the campaign against the Indians on Village Creek. The
Dallas and Ft. Worth interurban crosses Village Creek a few miles
west of Arlington and the battle took place, according to my
understanding, not far from the crossing. Indian villages were
strewn along the banks of the creek, and from that circumstance
the stream took its name.
The Indians, who were defeated in the battle, fled in all directions, and, in order that as few as possible might get away, General Tarrant, who commanded the militia and who held that there were no good Indians except dead ones, divided his men into squads to pursue them.
My father and nine others were in a squad commanded by Captain John B. Denton, a famous orator and Methodist minister, who had settled in the Reublic in 1836. His squad followed the Indian trail as far as the Trinity River, where they stopped to drink and to water their horses. Some of the men, who had no hope of overtaking the fugitives, were in favor of going back and taking a more promising trail, but Captain Denton declared that he was going to continue the pursuit till he ran the savages to earth. He had scarcely announced this determination when an arrow, shot from ambush, pierced him. after a single discharge of arrows, the Indians took to their heels. Captain Denton survived his wound but a few minutes. One other man, whose name has escaped me, was slightly wounded in the arm. The men wrapped the body of their dead leader in a blanket and buried it. In 1860, it was exhumed and given final burial on the Chisum ranch in Denton County. Denton County and the town of Denton were named for Captain Denton." 8
We do know,
though, that A. J. Clark was here in 1846. In that year,
he helped the Myers congregation build its Union Church in Carrollton,
was a member of a minute company which was organized for mutual
protection against the Indans, and voted for Cedar Springs instead
of Dallas in the county seat election. 9, 10 When he
came, he took the headright survey of 320 acres alloted single
men (married men got 640 acres), all of which is now in the city
limits of Dallas (see plat). 11
A. J. Clark 33 m Farmer-320 ac. Tennessee
birthplace was typical of the frontier communities of the day.
Though we say he was born near Carrollton, there was actually
no town of Carrollton in 1850. The early settlers were usually
poor people who had come because of the inducement of free land.
They settled as closely together as possible in order to
protect themselves against the Indians. The houses
were log cabins with clapboard roofs. Nails and all other
building hardware were practically non-existent, so logs were
used to hold the boards on the roofs, and doors swung on wooden
hinges and were closed by wooden latches. The latch was
operated from the outside by a string, and when the string was
pulled inside, the door was locked. Thus came into being
the frontier expression for hospitality, "The latch string
is on the outside." In lieu of glass, which was as
scarce as hardware, frontiersmen used little wooden doors for
windows. 13 This sort of home and community, then,
formed the setting for the kidnapping of Henry Clark by the Indians
when he was a year old.
|In 1885, Clark was one of those who contributed $1,000 to bring The Dallas Morning News to Dallas from Galveston. 34 The consolidated State Fair was opened in October of 1886, and Clark was one of the original stockholders. 35 The greatest expansion during these years, especially 1887, was west of the Trinity--in Oak Cliff. Henry Clark was active in the development of this suburb. He and a partner opened the Simpson-Clark addition south of Ervay and Forest. They had great plans for this part of Oak Cliff, but after the panic of 1893, the town developed in the other direction. 36|
1893, Clark was close to being a millionaire, but the panic of
1893 took most of his money. He set about to rebuild his
fortune, but he refused to take bankruptcy, because he considred
it a disgrace to do so, and it took him almost ten years to repay
his debts. 37
never any doubt as to the head of the Clark household. Mrs.
Hale B. Dodge, one of Clark's daughters, says that her name is
H. C., because her father sent word to Dallas from one of the
ranches, just before she was born, that the child would be named
"H. C. Clark, Jr." When the child was a girl,
she was still named H. C., Jr. 40
1. "City's Religious and Material
Growth Go Hand in Hand," The Dallas Morning News, October
1. 1935. sec 6, p. 9.
Adair, W. S., "Dallas Man Tells of Indian Fights," Dallas Morning News, June 10, 1923.
Brown, John Henry, History of Dallas
County, Texas, from 1837 to 1887, Milligan, Cornett and Farnham,
printers, Dallas, 1887.
"City's Religious and Material Growth go Hand in Hand," Dallas Morning News, October 1, 1935.
Dallas and Texas 50 years ago, Dallas Morning News, December 9, 1934, and also March 31, 1935.
Foree, Kenneth, "Dallas Cynthia Ann," Dallas Morning News, August 6, 1946.
Jackson, Frank, "Seventy Five Years in Dallas," Dallas Morning News, March 2, 1924.
Simmons, Tom J., "Incendiary Blaze Almost Wipes Out All of Dallas in 60," Dallas Morning News, October 1, 1935.
Untitled article from The Dallas Morning News, October 1, 1935.
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