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Oklahoma Family Tree Stories

This beautiful sculpture of three redbud trees with gold and silver leaves by artist Robin Starke is located just outside the Eleanor & John Kirkpatrick Research Center in the Oklahoma History Center. Each leaf of the "Oklahoma Family Tree" memorializes an Oklahoma family with the family surname, first name(s), and the town or county where they lived. In addition, a short family history will be preserved in the digital family history book at the base of the tree. This is a great way for your family to make history and benefit future generations at the same time. To find out how to honor your own family with a leaf visit the Oklahoma Family Tree Project page.

Clarke Family

Sidney Clarke (1831-1909) was born in Southbridge, Massachusetts, to a well-known abolitionist family. He moved to Lawrence, Kansas in 1858. Clarke and his wife, Henrietta, had a son, Sidney Clarke, Jr., who was born on January 15, 1860.

Early in the Civil War, Clarke enlisted in the Frontier Guard, a force organized to protect the U.S. capitol and other buildings. In 1862 he was appointed as Assistant Adjutant General of Volunteers, and in 1863, he became Assistant Provost Marshall General for Kansas, Nebraska, Colorado, and Dakota.
In 1864 Clarke worked in President Lincoln's reelection campaign. As one of Lincoln's close friends, he served as one of the president's pallbearers. Congress chose him to accompany Lincoln's body from Washington, D.C. to its burial site in Springfield, Illinois.

On September 8, 1863, Confederate General William Quantrill targeted the Clarke family and raided their home in Lawrence, Kansas. Within minutes, the raiders killed 25 Union soldiers ordered to protect the Clarkes' home, and the family fled to a nearby cornfield. They were unable to prevent their home from being burned, and virtually all their possessions were stolen.

Clarke was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives and served from 1865 to 1871. In the 1880s he joined the boomer movement and served alongside David L. Payne, William L. Couch, Samuel Crocker, and Gordon W. Lillie, better known as Pawnee Bill.

Among the original 89ers who participated in the Run of '89 were Clarke's son, Sidney Clarke, Jr., and his wife, Lou Etta Irion. In 1901 the family moved to Shawnee, Oklahoma Territory, where Clarke opened one of Oklahoma Territory's first feed stores in 1901. He and William Keller formed a partnership in 1903 and, in 1907, built a retail store at 208 East Main Street in Shawnee. Clarke sold his interest in the feed store to Keller in 1936 and died in Shawnee on March 3, 1951.

Clarke's wife, Lou Clarke (1865-1958), was born in Indianola, Iowa, and helped organize the Shawnee Provident Association, which later became the United Fund. As a member of the Shawnee Park Board, she played an active role in the preservation of historic sites in the Shawnee area. Lou Clarke died September 15, 1958.

When Sidney Clarke, Jr., and his wife came to Oklahoma for the first time in 1889, they brought a young son, Sidney Ross Clarke, who was born on July 2, 1887, in Indianola, Iowa. Their daughter, Louise Clarke (née Douglas), was born one January 29, 1901, in Shawnee and died on November 15, 1985.
S. Ross Clarke attended school in Shawnee. He married Lorene Boswell (1887-1965) on July 23, 1909. Ross served in World War I and later became active with his father in the seed business. After his retirement from the seed business, he entered government service. He spent the last three years of his life in Tecumseh, where he died suddenly on August 31, 1951.

The Clarkes' son, Sidney Ross Clarke, Jr., was born in Shawnee on January 25, 1912. He was married to Carolyn Norvell in Wewoka on May 22, 1936. She passed away on December 16, 1980.

Sidney Clarke, Jr., attended Shawnee Public Schools and was the city's first all-state football player (quarterback) in 1929. He attended Oklahoma A&M College (later, Oklahoma State University), where he played football and ran track. Clarke's range of business interests included real estate and oil. He spent his entire life in Shawnee and passed away on September 5, 1974.

Carolyn and Sidney Clarke, Jr., had three sons: Sidney Ross Clarke, III of Shawnee; Robert Norvell Clarke of Oklahoma City; and James Richard Clarke (1945-91). They also had five grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.

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