Placer County









            Philetus B. Clark, of Colfax, Placer County, California, came to this state in 1853.  He is a native of Vermont, born November 8, 1833, and is descended from Welch ancestors, who were among the early settlers of Massachusetts.  Two brothers by the name of Clark came from Wales, one of them settling in Virginia and the other in Massachusetts, the latter being the ancestor of our subject.  Noah Clark, Mr. Clark’s great-grandfather took an active part in the affairs of the colony of Massachusetts, and his grandfather was a participant in the Revolution.  Philetus Clark was born in South Hampton, Massachusetts, and spent most of his life as a Presbyterian minister in New England.  He married Miss Irene Brown, a native of Vermont.  In 1847, his voice failing, he retired from the ministry and purchased a farm in Rutland, County, Vermont, where he resided for six years, until he regained his voice, after which he had a charge in Sharon, New Hampshire, and later in Sharon, Massachusetts.  He reached the ripe old age of eighty-one years and died in Memphis, Tennessee, at the home of his daughter Amelia, wife of Lewis Knowlton Ristwoch.

            Mr. Clark’s mother died when he was one year old and he lived with his grandfather Clark until his fifth year, when his father married again and he then lived with him, receiving his early education from his father, and later attended Castleton Seminary, in Vermont, and the seminary in South Hampton.  Afterward he became a clerk in a dry-goods store in Boston, where he remained until 1849, when he went to South Bend, Indiana, clerking there until 1853.  That year he came to California, making the journey overland as one of a party composed of thirty-eight men and twelve women.  Their outfit consisted one hundred and forty horses, forty mules, fourteen large wagons, a carriage, and a conveyance containing medicines.  Nothing of particular interest happened to Mr. Clark on this journey, excepting that while hunting one day, he drank alkali water, the effects of which nearly caused his death.  One member of the company, a Mr. Goode, was taken ill with blood poisoning and died.  Mr. Clarke gave twenty dollars for the privilege of burying him inside of an enclosure.  The place is now the site of the town Genoa.  The Indians were somewhat troublesome at different points along the way, but the company were well armed and cautious and were not attacked by the red men.

            Mr. Clark passed through Hangtown, now Placerville, on his way to Sacramento, and at the latter place secured a position in the store of Werner & Company, at the corner of Fourth and K Streets, at a salary of one hundred and eighty dollars per month.  He remained there, however, only eight months.  Being desirous of trying his fortune in the mines, he left the store and went to Iowa Hill, Placer County, where he engaged in placer and tunnel-mining.  He made money on contract work, but his own tunnels never paid.  In 1855 he went to Georgetown.  About this time, being poor in health, he was advised to engage in the butchering business, which he did, and was thus occupied for eight months.  After regaining his health he purchased a meat wagon and sold beef all over the county, driving sixteen miles every day.  This he continued until 1864.  Since 1866 he has been a resident of Colfax.  That year he purchased a meat market here, which he conducted successfully for a period of thirty-one years, or until 1897, when he retired from active business, with a comfortable competency, the result of his years of honest industry.

            In 1863 Mr. Clark married Miss Elizabeth Kitching, and of the seven children born to them all are living except one.  They are as follows:  Amelia; May, wife of George Griffin; Nellie, wife of A. D. Fenton; Charles and William, both residents of Colfax; and Ida, wife of Richard Montgomery.  Politically, Mr. Clark is a strong Republican; fraternally, a member of the Chosen Friends.

Mr. Clark owns a pleasant home, surrounded by a beautiful garden, in which he busies himself, and it may be said of him that he is living in peace and happiness under the vines and fruit trees planted by his own hands.



Transcribed by Gerald Iaquinta.

Source: “A Volume of Memoirs and Genealogy of Representative Citizens of Northern California”, Pages 757-759. Chicago Standard Genealogical  Publishing Co. 1901.

© 2010  Gerald Iaquinta.




Placer County Biographies

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