John Pearson Clark
John Pearson Clark, who gave to the city of Detroit the handsomest west side park which bears his name, was one of the few men whom almost everybody knew, due to his striking personal appearance and somewhat odd ways. He was born at Catskill-on-the-Hudson, April 10, 1808, and when ten years of age came west with his parents, the family locating near Wyandotte. Here a small farm was cleared, but it proved of so little value that the family lived in straightened circumstances until the death of his father, in 1825. In the spring of 1826 young Clark engaged in the fish business, and from the very beginning made money. While Detroit was yet a mere trading station, he found a market for tons of fish and laid the foundation for the large fortune he subsequently accumulated. During the succeeding years up to 1836 he fished principally in the Maumee river, and at the same time furnished wood for the canal boats. In 1833 he added a steambarge to his possessions and conducted a towing business as a side interest. In 1836 he made an exploring expedition along the shores of Lake Michigan, and from the Indians learned the location of the choicest fishing grounds. He then took his brother George and Shadrach Gillett into partnership, and with a gang of some fifty men they thoroughly fished these waters for some years. He removed to Detroit and started in business as a shipbuilder, erecting the shops and dry docks at the foot of Clark avenue, which are still known as Clarks's shipyards, and owned by the Detroit Dock Company. Here Mr. Clark built the Jay Cook, Alaska, Pearl and Gazelle, Riverside, and many other well known boats, in most of which he retained an interest for years. From this time his property accumulated rapidly, and all of his ventures proved successful. He acquired the ownership of the Hickory, Aleron, Sugar, and two or three smaller islands at the mouth of the Detroit river, one near Toledo, another at the mouth of the Huron river, and large tracts of land in Michigan and Wisconsin. He also owned a good deal of real estate in Detroit, and held stock in a number of manufacturing concerns.
Mr. Clark died at his home on the river road September 3, 1888. He was twice married, his first wife being Susan Booth, of York, England, his second wife, whom he married in 1863, being Eliza W. Whiting, who died in 1883. The surviving children at the time of Mr. Clark's death were: Mrs. J.A. Hekkong, of Paris, France; Mrs. George Atcheson, of Detroit; Miss Florence, afterward Mrs. W.O. Ashley; Norman S. Clark, of Detroit, and Alvin S. Clark, of Detroit. John P. Clark was a man of strict honesty and integrity, and his career was a fine example of what can be done by energy and perseverance. He gave personal direction to many of his interests until within a few months of his death, retaining his shrewdness and farsightedness until almost at the very end.
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This version of Volume II is based, with permission, on the work of the great volunteers at the Marine Captains Biographies site. To them goes the credit for reorganizing the content into some coherent order. The biographies in the original volume are in essentially random order.
Some of the transcription work was also done by Brendon Baillod, who maintains an excellent guide to Great Lakes Shipwreck Research.