Harrison Wadsworth Clark was born at Jacksonville, April 16th, 1952. There are many distinguished names in the various brsnches of the families from which he is descended, some of which should here mentioned: His paternal grand-mother was a daughter of General Elijah Wadsworth, a Captain of Cavalry in Sheldon's Regiment of Light Dragoons, Washington's favorite corps, in the War of the Revolution. It was three men of his company who captured Major Andre and saved West Point. In the war of 1812 he was Major-General of the Fourth Division of Ohio troops, and after the ignominous surrender of General Hull, at Detroit, the command of the entire North-west territory devolved upon him. Wadsworth, Ohio, is named for him. He was in direct descent from William Wadsworth, the original of that name in this country, and from whose brother was descended H. W. Longfellow. It was William's son, Joseph, who saved the charter of Connecticut, by secreting it in the famous Charter Oak. Mr. Clark, through his father's maternal grand-mother, is descended from Stephen Hopkins, "signer" and Governor of Rhode Island, a man of science and great learning in his day; whose own maternal grand-mother, Miss Collins, was descended from Rev. Augustus Collins, of Middletown, Connecticut, who married Mary, daughter of Colonel Dixwell, a member of Cromwell's army, member of Parliament, and one of the Judges who condemned Charles I. Mr. Clark is ninth in descent from him. Of Rev. Augustus Collins' descendants, direct ancestors of this subject, his son, John, married Anna Leete, daughter of William Leete, seven times Governor of Connecticut. His niece, Lorraine Collins, married Governor Oliver Wolcott, the "signer," whose son, Governor Oliver 2d, was in Washington's Cabinet. Roger Wolcott, late Lieutenant-Governor of Massachusetts, was the great-grandson of Lorraine Collins. Two of Rev. Augustus Collins' nieces married respectively Governor Ellsworth and Governor Goodrich. General William B. Franklin and his brother, the Admiral in the late war, were also among his descendants, through his grand-daughter, Aris Collins.
Mr. Clark's mother was a grand-daughter of Captain Samuel Harrison, of Virginia, a Royalist officer in the Revolution. Of four brothers, two were in the Royalist and two in the Patriot army. At the close of the Revolution Captain Harrison went to Yucatan, but afterwards settled on Amelia Island, in Florida, where the family resided through two generations. The Harrisons were English, and dated their titles from the time of Cromwell. Mrs. Clark's mother was Henrietta Roux, of Charleston, S. C., whose ancestor, a Huguenot, refugeed from France after the revocation of the edict of Nates. She was married, in 1851, to Captain Henry E. W. Clark, of St. Marys, Georgia, father of Harrison W. This gentleman was a son of Judge Archibald Clark, a well known lawyer of Savannah, Georgia. His father came from England prior to the Revolution, and was an officer in the Colonial army. H. E. W. Clark was a soldier and politician. He removed to St. Marys, Geogia, when a young man and acquired properties in that State and in Florida. He served through the Mexican War as Captain of Company K, Thirteenth United State Infantry. He also served many years in the Senate and House of Representatives of Georgia. He also served throught [sic] the first Seminole War as Major, and upon the second outbreak, in 1857, organized a company, but ill health prevented him from taking the field. He was a generous, impulsive, and chivalrous gentleman, and in many ways a most remarkable man. He died in Jacksonville in 1857.
Young Harrison W. Clark had a harder struggle than most of his ancestors, as the war had left the family almost destitute. He received his early training from his mother, who, with rare devotion, watched his growth and instilled into his youthful mind principles of honor and morality, which the many vicissitudes of an active life under many trying conditions could never eradicte or even weaken.
He was about sixteen years old when he decided to learn the printer's trade. He first set type on the Island City, of Fernandina, and afterwards on the Observer, of the same place. Later he came to Jacksonville and worked on the Florida Courier, a semi-weekly, published by Perry Brothers. Subsequently he and John D. Treadwell purchased that paper and made it a Democratic organ, at that time the only one in the City.
The strongest paper in the place was the Union, a Republican journal, which made a hard fight against the young men, and eventua,lly crushed them. Business was dull, money scarce, and so they sold out and resolved to go to Texas. As he was on the point of starting west a business man, who appreciated his pluck and ability, made him an offer to take charge of his store, which was so flattering that he accepted it, and thus was saved to Florida one of the most useful and worthy men in the State.
Pretty soon, however, he found himself in journalism again, as Assistant Business Manager of the Union, and later as City Editor. It was in this capacity that he received the first press dispatches that ever came to Jacksonville. For a number of years he alternated between the various journals of this City; some were successes, and some were failures, but all of them bore the stamp of his able mind.
He, with Mr. George F. Cubbedge, established the first afternoon paper in the State, in 1878, the Evening Chronicle, which was a success. Finally, when the fight was on between the Union and the Times, he was Business Manager of the Union, and upon the death of Mr. McCallum, the owner, that paper passed into the hands of Charles H. Jones, who established the Times-Union. The brothers Ashmead then established the Florida Herald, an afternoon daily, and employed Mr. Clark and John Temple Graves to conduct it. Mr. Clark was City Editor and Business Manager. He and Graves purchased the Herald soon afterwards, and it became a profitable enterprise.
In 1885 he was appointed by President Cleveland Postmaster of Jacksonville. He was the first Democrat to hold that office for twenty-five years. This office necessitated his retirement from active journalism. For four years he filled the position of Postmaster most acceptably, and until removed by the succeedig Republican administration. He then turned his attention to real estate operations, and formed a partnership with Mr. A. W. Barrs. Barrs & Clark made a conspicuous success of their business from the very start, and became prominent among the pioneers of phosphate development, after the discovery of that valuable deposit in the State. For a time they gave up everything to phosphate operations, and at times made a fortune in a single deal.
When Mr. Cleveland was elected for the second time to the chief magistracy, he made an exception to his established rule, by reappointing Mr. Clark Postmaster at Jacksonville. He was endorsed for the position by over one thousand citizens, including the full Florida delegation in Congress. Mr. Clark is President of the Excelsior Phosphate Company, and Vice-President of the High Springs Phosphate Company, which is said to be the best paying one in the State.
His connections with important business enterprises is conspicuous. Amongst others he is Secretary and Treasurer of the Merchants' and Mechanics' Building and Loan Association; and holds the same position with the People's Building and Loan Association; is Cashier and Treasurer of the Florida Investment and Savings Bank; member of the Board of Trade, the Seminole Club, is a member and Past Master of Solomon Lodge, No. 20, F. & A. M., etc.; etc. His business and social connections are of the highest, as a man he bears a character that is without blemish.
Mr. Clark is a man of a great deal of public spirit. In business and in politics he has ever taken the keenest interest in all things calculated to advance the interests of the community. A staunch Democrat, he has attended nearly every convention of that party for twenty years, and is recognized as one of its bulwarks in the State. He was married April 16th, 1869, to Miss Helen H. Telfair. They have five children: Rene Telfair, Henry E. W., Anna Mary, Eliza Vipont, and Guy Stockton.