Biography of Col. Clark N. Thorp
Cuyahoga County, OH Biographies

COL. CLARK N. THORP, a resident of Cleveland over forty years, a veteran of the Civil war and a veteran in the railroad service, was born in Canandaigua, New York, September 6, 1841. His grandfather, John Thorp, probably a native of England, came to America and settled in Philadelphia, where he acquired considerable real estate.

Peter Thorp, father of Colonel Thorp, was born in New York state on January 27, 1797. He learned the trade of wagon maker, and in 1842 came to Ohio, traveling by the Erie Canal to Buffalo, by boat to Toledo and by wagon team to Sylvania, a village near Toledo. At that time, eighty years ago, Ohio was a state of considerable prosperity, both agriculturally and in other lines of business, but depended altogether upon the transportation facilities of its pike roads and waterways. A great part of the northwestern counties were covered with the original forests, and occasionally a tribe of Indians camped near Sylvania. Colonel Thorp as a boy once witnessed an Indian funeral, when the brave was buried with his favorite weapons. Peter Thorp followed his trade as a wagon maker at Sylvania for many years, or until he lost an arm in an accident, and then was engaged in merchandising until his death in 1856. He married Phoebe Young, who was born in Canandaigua, New York, on October 10, 1803, the daughter of Stephen and Hannah (Brott) Young, the father born August 20, 1780, and the mother born June 7, 1783, and died December 28, 1868.

Clark N. Thorp was a year old when his parents came to Ohio. He grew up at Sylvania, and was educated at the Village Academy. At the age of sixteen years he began an apprenticeship at the carpenter's trade at Rockford, Illinois, but about a year later, returned home and finished his apprenticeship at Toledo. In 1859 he joined a crew engaged in building bridges for the extension of the Evansville and Crawfordsville Railway east of Terre Haute, Indiana, and in March, 1861, while thus engaged, he was one of the audience before which President Lincoln made a speech from the balcony of the old Bates House in Indianapolis, while on his way to Washington to be inaugurated. During the early months of the Civil war he was at work as a bridge builder with the Peru and Indianapolis Railway, but in November, 1861, he enlisted in Company D, Nineteenth United States Infantry, and went to the front with his regiment. During the next two years he saw active service with the Army of the Cumberland, including such important battles as Pittsburg Landing, Stone River, Chickamauga and others. On September 20, 1863, at the battle of Chickamauga, he was captured by the enemy and taken to Richmond, Virginia, thence to Danville, Virginia, and after a few months was transferred to Andersonville, Georgia, where he remained nearly a year, having been one of the last prisoners to leave that stockade prison camp. While he was confined in that notorious prison thousands of his fellow prisoners died of starvation and exposure, and only his very strong constitution carried him through that experience. On being released he was sent to Jacksonville, Florida, thence by boat to Annapolis, Maryland, and then to Fort Wayne at Detroit, where he was mustered out and received his honorable discharge.

On his return from the war Colonel Thorp went to work in the shops of the Cleveland & Toledo Railway (now the New York Central System) at Norwalk, Ohio. In 1870 he took charge of the wood machine shop of the Atlantic & Great Western Railway (now the Erie System) at Kent, Ohio. In 1881 he removed to Cleveland and for the next seven years had charge of the car department in the Mahoning Division of what is now the Erie Railway going next to the Big Four and having charge of the Merwin Street Shops, Cleveland, continuing in charge of the shops for three years. In 1892 he went to work at the No. 1 Works of the Standard Oil Company in Cleveland, which works were later engaged in wagon building and repairs, and still later in automobile building and repairs, where he remained until he retired from active work in 1914.

Colonel Thorp is a member of the Grand Army of the Republic, and in 1913 served as commander of Army and Navy Post of that order in Cleveland. A souvenir of that experience is a handsome gold Past Commander's jewel. He was made a Mason by the Mount Vernon Lodge of Norwalk, Ohio, soon after he returned from the war, and later was knighted by De Molay Commandery No. 9, Knights Templar, at Tiffin, Ohio. He is a charter member of Norwalk Commandery No. 18, Knights Templar, and a charter member of Holy Grail Commandery No. 70 of Lakewood, Ohio, having demitted from Oriental Commandery No. 12, Knights Templar, Cleveland, to help institute the Holy Grail. He is deeply interested in Masonry and very active in Gaston G. Allen Lodge No. 629, Lakewood, from which he received a gold Chaplain's Medal in 1923. For thirty years he was a member of the Pilgrim Congregational Church, Cleveland, and now is a member of the Lakewood Congregational Church. He is a member of Lakewood Chamber of Commerce, and is a staunch republican in politics.

On December 10, 1868, Colonel Thorp married Anna McKelvey, who was born in Huron County, Ohio, October 8, 1843, daughter of Robert and Mary (Prosser) McKelvey. Colonel and Mrs. Thorp celebrated their golden wedding anniversary on December 10, 1918, and just a year later she passed away in death, on December 13, 1919. There were three children: Walter Eugene, Leon Ernest and Bessie Pearl. Walter E. married Mary Quayle, who was born in Cleveland and who died at the age of twenty one, leaving a daughter, Bessie May, who was reared by Colonel and Mrs. Thorp, and who, since the death of Mrs. Thorp, has had charge of her grandfather's home. She married Herbert W. Randt, and they have a son, Clark Thorp Randt. Walter E. Thorp married for his second wife, Clara Renftle. Leon E. Thorp married Jennie Cayward, of St. Paul, Minnesota. Bessie Pearl married Clarence L. Bloxharn, and they have two sons, William Robert and Raymond Thorp Bloxham.

A History of Cuyahoga County
and the City of Cleveland
By: William R. Coates
The American Historical Society
Chicago and New York, 1924

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