For years I have been seeking concrete actual proof of Sheriff John Clark of Mason County Texas so I can eliminate my John Clark from the scenario and go on to further research. Let me preface by saying categorically.....It matters not one iota to me, one way or the other, if my ancestor was the Sheriff in Mason Co.,Texas, as long as I can finalize my family genealogy, hopefully, before I die. I want the complete truth, facts and sources in my genealogy, not a fantasy. Which means I have to separate my ancestor, John Clark from John E. Clark of Missouri, which some very respected researchers seem to feel was the Sheriff in Mason Co., Texas.
Even though the evidence to fit John E. Clark, born 1834, of Missouri, to the role of Sheriff of Mason County, Texas during the HooDoo War of the 1870's, is presented well, I find several items troubling as far as being SOLID evidence. In fact, the more I hear, the more each item is broken down, the less I see of proof that he actually was the sheriff.
For instance...The military records of John E. Clark are a confused jumble. There are at least 4 John Clarks mixed up. Only extensive research will correct this. Even Jerry Ponder admits this in his article in the Quarterly of the National Association for Outlaw and Lawman History, the issue of July-September 2004. Another point about that particular article is that.. he did not have, nor list, all the proof I have on our John Clark. Even though the research has a lot of military information and is impressive.. it just doesn't connect the dots to the Sheriff of Mason County, Texas for me.
There are numerous John E. Clarks to choose from in that time frame. In fact, I count over 40 John Clarks in 1880 (after the gunsmoke cleared) that are born about the same time frame as John E. Clark....1834.
Here are just a few:
John E. Clark Dekalb Missouri 1880 census..Name: John E Clark Age in 1860: 26 Birthplace: Missouri Home in 1860: Dallas, DeKalb, Missouri..
Name: John E. CLARK Age: 46 : <1834> Birthplace: Missouri Occupation: Farmer Relationship to head-of-household: Self Home in 1880: Grant, De Kalb, Missouri
Name: John E Clark Age in 1860: 24 Birthplace: Kentucky Home in 1860: Not Stated, Metcalfe, Kentucky
Name: John E. CLARK Age: 47 Estimated birth year: <1833> Birthplace: Kentucky Occupation: Farmer Relationship to head-of-household: Self Home in 1880: Goalders, Green, Kentuckyhttp://web.missouri.edu/~haediwc/family/John1813.html
Nancy Cockriel married a John E. Clark on September 26, 1875.
Name: John E. CLARK Age: 48 Estimated birth year: <1832> Birthplace: Kentucky Occupation: Miner Relationship to head-of-household: Something other than a direct relationship Home in 1880: San Francisco, San Francisco, California
there was a... John E. Clark in Texas in 1860 listed on the census in Athens Texas
Have all these John E. Clarks been eliminated?
In fact... Ancestry.com lists over 300 John Clarks for that era!
I'm sorry, but the fact that John Clark is mentioned in Johnson's journal does not prove conclusively that John E. Clark is the one he names, he just names John Clark...... nor does it prove the John Clark he listed was the Clark to become Sheriff of Mason. How are we concluding that this is John E. Clark that Johnson is writing about? Just because they may have been at Camp Chase briefly at the same time? I think the evidence is stronger that he knew our John Clark since Johnson lived in Burnet before the war and Llano then Burnet again after the war. He could very well have known our John Clark who definitely lived in that area, and had relatives there, at the same exact time!
In reference to the Sheriff being called Colonel....the title "Colonel" does not a Colonel make. My Grandfather called my uncle "Colonel" all his life and my uncle was only a 2nd Lt. In the South nicknames like this are quite common. We have heard lots of men in Texas called "Captain" just because they served in any capacity in the service.
Many John Clarks were injured during the war. The fact that the sheriff rode in a buggy sometimes, does not prove he had a leg injury and if he had one, so did others. Our John Clark could very well have had an injury as he fought for Texas and the Confederacy for over 13 years before the HooDoo War. How many times was the Sheriff seen riding in a buggy? Once or twice from a sprain or injury? Or continually?
Rumors about Sheriff John Clark seem to abound, such as the one that he was a "Yankee", "one of the Blue Hen's chickens", which never meant "Yankee" in the first place, it means game, rearing for a fight, hot tempered. Then there is the rumor that he was the instigator of ALL the troubles in Mason, when in fact, several citizens and friends in Mason thought enough of him to put up bond money for him in 1874. He was also a member of the Masonic Lodge there. Maybe he just became the "culprit" because he skidaddled out on the bond money.
The fact that a Captain John E. Clark moved back to Missouri from Texas does not prove that he was the Sheriff of Mason County Texas. Texas is a big place..he could have been most anywhere. (Also..it just doesn't jive. If I were running from the law would I allow my whereabouts to be published on the society page of a newspaper?)
In conclusion on John E. Clark.... I do not have access to the genealogy mentioned by Jerry Ponder of Clark or Worley. I would like to see the POSITIVE SOURCES that link the sheriff as being related to John Worley. If there are any, I haven't found them. I see a few references to different Worley census and marriages but not the DIRECT LINKS to connect them as being related to the sheriff of Mason. If maybes and suppositions worked then I would have my family tree back to Adam and Eve by now.
There were lots of Worleys all over Texas and Missouri. John Worley was born in Tennessee, John E. Clark was born in Kentucky and later moved to Missouri.... I don't see John Worley of Mason anywhere, ever, in Missouri. How is John Worhlie Mason Co., Texas deputy connected to the sheriff? Where is the actual proof that he was a cousin? Also, how is William Worley (never in Mason Co., Texas) related to John Clarks mother? My research in genealogy has taught me, time and again, that just because someone named Worley lives in the same county with you, or works with you, that does not prove that they are related to you, even if you had relatives with the same last name. If that were true we could all find our ancestors quite easily. For instance, I have a very unusual family name of Hartgraves and you would not believe how many I found in the same counties, cemeteries, etc., that were not related! So, I would like to see some positive sources that show the relationship, other than just Clarks mothers maiden name being Worley. How and where was her maiden name located?
In conclusion, even if John Worley was related to John E. Clark's mother that does not prove that the sheriff was John E. Clark..he could have been ANY John Clark.
Even if John E. Clark is buried in a Worley cemetery in Missouri that doesn't prove that he was the sheriff of Mason Co., Tx. In fact, I have just started emailing a lady named Worley that has, what we believe is the pre-1850, history of my John Clark and perhaps a family connection between Worley and Clark...but that still doesn't prove to me that our John Clark was the sheriff.... and that should not be considered strong proof to anyone.
Here are some facts that need to be clarified for the John Clark in our family. Please bear with me through this and you will see why I question if he could have been the Sheriff. If he was not, with proof, I will gladly shift my research to another locale and attempt to find my family roots elsewhere.
However, the trail for my John Clark stops in the midst of burned courthouse records, destroyed probates, removed tombstones, covered tracks, his 7 threatened orphans, relatives, and whispered rumors in the precise locale of all the turmoil, Mason, Burnet and Llano,... culminating with his murder!
1. We have proof that our John Clark family lived in all these Texas counties from 1860 to 1880...Burnet, Llano, Mason, San Saba and Kimble.
2. His middle initial is rumored to be C. but that is not proven on any document.
3. Our John Clark was born 1823 to 1830, which fits into the age bracket given the Masonic lodge in Mason, Texas. (At least one source says it matches exactly, I have heard two different ages...maybe someone can clarify the age the Masonic Lodge has for me?)
In tracing his locations and proof of identity I find:
4. 1859 marriage license for John Clark to N.P. Jane Fowler in Fannin Texas dated 15 Dec 1859.
5. 1862 Local history of the area "Call of the San Saba" reveals that John Clark and his mother-in-law, Mrs.Fowler, were among the soldiers of Camp San Saba during the 1862-1865 period. His first wife must have passed away at this time.
6. name & rank: John Clark Pvt. Comm. Ofc: O'Brien, William G., Capt. organ: Co.K, MV, Front. Regt. Col. J.E. McCord commdg., TST date enlisted: D.20-62 at Camp San Saba for 3 yrs. or war; mus. in same date & at same place.date disc: age: 37 (born 1825)
7. 1870 Census of San Saba..lists John Clark age 46 b.1823/24 Georgia and new wife, Sarah Jane Tow Miller, age 27
8. 1869 to 1872 Some of John Clark's children were born in Tow Valley, Llano Co., Texas near Sarah Tow's family land. (remember Johnson's journal places John Clark in Llano county in 1871...not John E. Clark) Our Clark was in Llano at that time! Johnson could have known our John Clark since he had children born in Llano at the same time and relatives in Burnet and Llano and remember...Johnson lived in Burnet before the War between the States and in Llano and Burnet after the war..
Ranger Muster Roll.
9. 1872 Clark, John rank: private Comm. Ofc: Wm. H. Ledbetter organ: Co., N. Minute men, San Saba Co date enlisted: Sept. 13, 1872 Inform. source Ranger Muster Roll. We do not know if he was injured during this service but many soldiers were injured during this time.
10. 1872 One son of John Clark was born in Kimble County Texas, right next to Mason county Texas.
This condensed letter from Robert E. Lee Clark (tax assessor for Mason County) to his brother, James Clark, written in 1914 proves that his father, John Clark, lived in the Mason area between the years of 1870 and 1880. These sons lived with John Clark in 1870 San Saba census but were grown and gone by the 1880 Burnet census...proving that they lived in the Mason area sometime between 1872 (birth of a son) and 1880.
11. "Dear Brother, Well Jim, seems but a few days since I and you was small boys and and drove our cattle through and Mason town when Father moved to Kimble County. I hardly went pass one place in the road here in the edge of Mason one incident comes to my mind and that when you found a small pocket knife. I think you will remember that time. And then to think I have passed my 50 birthday last June..it all most seems like a dream that such could be. Love to all, I hope to hear soon. Your brother, R.E.L.Clark"
Ranger Muster roll:
12. name: Clark, John rank: private Comm. Ofc: C.C. Smithorgan: Co., R Minute Men, Mason Co. date enlisted: Dec. 9, 1873 description: Mason Co. Occup: 25 days of service Inform. source: Ranger Muster Roll. We do not know positively if this is our Clark but it sure looks as if he rejoined the rangers when he moved from San Saba to Mason to me. Again, we do not know if he was injured during this service but many soldiers were injured during this time. This proves law enforcement and ranger connections.
Murder threat http://www.texfiles.com/texashistory/hoodoowar2.htm
" In the Summer of 1876 Cooleyâ€™s band was again reported stealing livestock in the Mason area and many residents remembered he had made a vow to kill Sheriff Clark. Sheriff John Clark had been indicted for complicity in the disappearance of Bill Coke. After the charges fell through, Clark resigned his position and left Mason County."
So...he was not worried about being arrested there. Where did John Clark live after he left Mason? Maybe he left Texas for awhile or maybe they lived near his wifes family in Tow Valley, Llano Co., for protection.(Perhaps they moved back to Kimble in 1876 and then back to Burnet area after they thought things had cooled off.)
Jan. 21, 1877 the Mason County courthouse burned in an obvious case of arson, all the legal records of the Hoo Doo War were destroyed. I found no probate or death records there for John or his wife.
13. 1880 Burnet Tx Census lists John Clark's birth year as 1830 Texas, and wife, Sarah Jane Clark.
14. 1880 Llano courthouse burned 17 Oct 1880. I found no probate or death records there for John or his wife there or in Burnet.
The Sheriff from Mason county was threatened with murder. Evidently, that sheriff was pretty thick skinned, "game", "blue hen's chicken", "rearing for a fight", not scared of threats in the least. Maybe... he had more grit than sense.
Someone recently told me, "I don't think the Sheriff of Mason County was your John Clark because moving back to the Burnet area would mean certain death ." Guess what? It probably did! Our John Clark was murdered shortly after the 1880 census.
notes on Johnny Ringo....Leading member of the Cooley faction. Christmas day 1874 he was in Burnet, Texas, where he fired a pistol across the town square, an act for which he was fined seventy-five dollars. He spent the duration of 1876 and most of 1877 in jail during his trial for the Cheyney killing and was freed in May 1878, when the case was dismissed. He was just a lowly cattle rustler and bushwhacker reported to be in Arizona by 1879. He remained there until his death....except for a visit to his family in California in 1880. (Hmmmm... I guess a revenge trip to Texas was not out of the question then.) Also there were many many men, neighbors in fact, living in Burnet in 1880 that had strong motives for killing Sheriff John Clark.
I don't think any of us should close the folder on this research yet and name John E. Clark as the Sheriff of Mason Co. in any publication, especially the Texas Ranger Dispatch.
My ancestor was an actual Ranger, as seen on the Ranger Muster Roll for San Saba, and he was the only John Clark of that age living there at the time, and no one has proven that John E. Clark was ever a ranger.
Just for the record, I would like to see a correction stating that his middle initial may not be E. in the Texas Ranger Dispatch magazine.
I respect Jerry Ponder very much and he is a nice man, giving me information on his research freely. Even he told me ( in a letter he wrote to me and dated 27 Aug. 2004) that he did not intend for that version of his article to be printed in the Quarterly of the National Association for Outlaw and Lawman History, the issue of July-September 2004. I tried to email that publication but both email address listed on the website came back as undeliverable. Has it gone out of business?
I need all the objective help I can get on this research. I understand there are about 50 people working on this John Clark, who was the Mason Co., Sheriff. I need them to look at the facts again and feel free to email me. All I ask is just don't write off any other possibility without indepth research and actual proof. I am going to publish the facts I have listed on Rootweb.com just so anyone else researching John Clark will have permanent access to both sides of the story and all the facts.
Cheyrl Velten email@example.com