Santa Cruz County History - People

Old Soldiers: Santa Cruz County Civil War Veterans
by Robert L. Nelson

CLARK, ISAAC M (1845-1935)

History of Santa Barbara County, Michael James Phillips

Isaac Montgomery Clark

Isaac Montgomery Clark, one of the venerable citizens of Santa Barbara, gallantly defended the Union cause on the battlefields of the south and was long a leader of agricultural progress in the Golden state, which numbers him among its honored pioneers. He was born January 16, 1845, and is a native of Michigan. He is of English descent in the paternal line and his maternal ancestors were natives of Holland. His father, Abraham Clark, was born in 1805 and in New Jersey was married, in 1826 to Leah Courter, whose birth occurred in 1806. He died at the age of seventy and his widow reached the ninetieth milestone on life's journey. To their union were born fourteen children, ten of whom attained years of maturity, and three of the sons served in the Union army. Abraham Clark came to California in 1852, crossing the plains in a covered wagon drawn by a team of oxen, and in 1855 returned to his home in Michigan. He brought his wife and eight children to the Pacific coast in 1856, by way of the Nicaragua route, and landed in San Francisco on the 20th of January 1856. He had but ten dollars left when they arrived at the ranch in Alameda County and his sons undertook the arduous task of converting the wild land into a productive farm.

Isaac M. Clark is the only surviving member of the family. He was a boy of ten when his parents migrated to the west and his education was acquired in the district schools near the ranch. In 1865 he and his brother, George, enlisted for service in the Civil War. They joined the First Cavalry and were assigned to duty with Company E, California Volunteers. Mr. Clark is the only survivor of this company. With the California Volunteers he saw service in the southern part of the state and in Arizona. After the war he attended an academy in Lebanon, Oregon, for nine months, and in 1868 located in the Pajaro valley of California. He acted as agent for J.L. Rathbone and had charge of fourteen ranches. In 1886 he moved to Santa Barbara County and purchased a tract of ninety acres near Lompoc. Through systematic, untiring effort he brought the land to a high state of development and began raising potatoes and beans. He became widely known owing to his success in the production of these vegetables and established a record in potato growing. On eight acres of land he produced two hundred and forty bags of Burbank potatoes per acre and a tract of two acres yielded seven hundred bags of the Peerless variety. Later he turned his attention to the study of fruit growing and in this field he was equally successful. On forty-three acres of land he raised four varieties of apples and his last pack in 1909 was ten thousand boxes of choice fruit. His exhibit of Missouri Pippins was awarded first prize at the St. Louis Fair and his display of apples also receive the first prize at the Colombian Exposition in Chicago. Mr. Clark did much to advance the standards of agriculture in the west demonstrating the value of science in promoting productiveness. He has reached the age of eighty-two years and is the oldest subscriber to the Rural Press of California; a paper devoted to the interest of the farmers of the state. He also raised a good grade of cattle and his ranch was equipped with all modern improvements. He sold the property in 1909 and has since resided in Santa Barbara, owning an attractive home at No. 2501 Chapala Street. He purchased oil lands in California and derives a substantial income from his investments.

On December 16 1879, Mr. Clark was married in San Jose, California to Miss Juliet C. Duncan, who was born in Missouri in 1852. She was but a year old when her parents started for California, placing their household goods in one of the old-time "prairie schooners," with ox-team, and previous to her marriage she engaged in teaching for seven years. She reached the age of seventy-three years, passing away in Santa Barbara, July 19, 1925. Mr. Clark has two adopted children: Pearl Fern, the wife of J.L. Frazer, of San Francisco; and Allan Morrison, a senior at the University of Oregon. Mr. Clark is a member of the Grand Army of the Republic and relives the scenes of the Civil War with his comrades who wore the blue uniform during the dark days of the rebellion. He joined the post at Watsonville in 1882 and has been commander of Lompoc Post. He has experienced every phase of frontier life in California, witnessing the progress of Civilization in this region, and his conversation spans the past in interesting reminiscences. His life has been crowned with successful achievement and an exemplary character has established him high in public esteem.

Notes from Edson Strobridge (January 2001)

Isaac Montgomery Clark, who was living at 532 2nd Ave. Santa Barbara, died on July 5, 1935 in Santa Barbara. He was buried at the Santa Barbara cemetery in Ridge Section, Lot 24, Quadrant E 1/2 and has a 3 1/2 foot monument.

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