Biography of Ray A. Clarke
Poweshiek County, IA Biographies





Over thirty years ago Ray A. Clarke established his home in Grinnell township and devoted himself to agriculture and stockraising with an enterprise and ability which enables him now to live retired in the enjoyment of the fruits of his labor. He was born at Arcade, New York, February 28, 1850, a son of Elbert and Louise (Steele) Clarke. The father was a native of Brookfield, New York, and the mother of Arcade. Early in life Elbert Clarke gave evidence of unusual talent as a public speaker and at nineteen years of age began preaching, becoming a prominent minister, of the Baptist church at Buffalo, New York. He delivered a noted sermon on the death of William Henry Harrison to a body of distinguished men of the nation. He was of a highly intellectual and nervous temperament and died at the age of thirty six at Arcade in the midst of a life of great usefulness.

In early boyhood Ray A. Clarke lost his father and in 1859 moved with his mother to Oberlin, Ohio. He attended the common schools and was later graduated from a business college and became a student at Oberlin college. In 1866 the family removed to New Haven, Connecticut, and continued there for two years, during which time he possessed advantages of training in a military school of that city. They then returned to Oberlin and in 1877 moved to Painesville, Ohio. Mr. Clarke can relate many interesting incidents that occurred during his boyhood in Ohio. On the 25th of May, 1863, when only thirteen years of age, he nearly lost his life in a vain endeavor to save Martin Fitch while swimming in Black river. The water was cold and his companion went down in the middle of the river. Mr. Clarke reached him and started to help him to the shore but the boy pulled him under and he was compelled to let go or he too would have been drowned.

In 1879, having decided that the west offered better inducements for an ambitious young man than he had observed in northern Ohio, Mr. Clarke came to Iowa and located upon a farm in Grinnell township, Poweshiek county. He diligently improved his place and devoted his attention for many years principally to raising cattle for the market As he made use of good judgment, his business grew in importance and yielded generous annual returns so that he attained a position of comparative financial independence.

In September, 1882, Mr. Clarke was united in marriage at Grinnell to Miss Cornelia Shepard, a daughter of Levi and Mary (St. John) Shepard, both of whom were natives of Painesville, Ohio, and are now deceased. Mr. Shepard was one of the large landowners of his locality. One daughter, Cornelia S., came to bless the union of Mr. and Mrs. Clarke. The beloved wife and mother passed away in 1884 and the daughter is now keeping housel for her father. She is an excellent scholar, having graduated from the high school and also from Grinnell College and has proved an invaluable assistant and companion to her father. Mr. Clarke is identified with the congregational church and is a stanch supporter of its doctrines. Politically he gives his allegiance to the republican party, although he does not hold himself strictly to party lines in voting. He is of a modest, retiring disposition and has never sought the emoluments or honors of public office, preferring to concentrate his attention upon his business. He has many friends whom he has made by his genial, social qualities and by many years of honorable business dealings. He has witnessed great changes in his adopted county since taking up his abode here and as a reputable representative and valued citizen he has assisted materially in its transformation.

From:
History of Poweshiek County, Iowa
A Record of settlement, organization
progress and achievement
By: Prof. L. F. Parker
The S. J. Clarke Publishing Co.
Chiago 1911


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