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