Cerro Gordo County Iowa
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WHEELER, J.H. Vol. II. Pp. 735-39. Lewis Pub. Co. Chicago. 1910


Honorable Joseph J. Clark, judge of the district court of the Twelfth Judicial District of Iowa and a resident of Mason City, was born in Madison county, Kentucky, October 30, 1851, a son of James W. and Martha (Embry) Clark.

James W. Clark was a graduate of Danville University in Kentucky and was first a lawyer, being engaged in the practice of law at Lexington, Kentucky, for a few years, and afterward he became a Presbyterian minister. He was twice a delegate to the Presbyterian General Assembly. He married in Richmond, Kentucky, and his wife, Martha E., was a daughter of William and Nancy Embry. William Embry, who was an early pioneer of Madison county, became a wealthy planter, and was an acquaintance and friend of Daniel Boone. James W. Clark was of Scotch-Irish and English descent. His grandfather, James, was of a wealthy English family which located in Albemarle county, Virginia. He was a prominent planter of the colonial period. The subject's grandfather, John, was a native of Virginia and an attorney. He married Maria Moore MeCalla, of Virginia, whose parents were natives of the north of Ireland. Her father, Andrew, served as purveyor-general of the medical department of Virginia in the Revolutionary war. The subject's grand uncle, John McCalla, was an attorney and marshall of the state of Kentucky for about twenty years and was also auditor of the treasury, during his incumbency being located in Washington, D. C. He was a soldier and saw service at the battle of River Raisin; was a prominent member of the legal fraternity, and a member of the legislature of Kentucky. James W. Clark and his wife moved from Kentucky to Saline county, Missouri. In 1865 they removed to Nebraska City, Nebraska, and the following year to Clarinda, Iowa. The mother was born in Kentucky in 1819, her parents being natives of the Keystone state. Her father's parents came from Scotland and on her mother's side she was descended from the French Huguenots. Both of Mr. Clark's parents died at Clarinda, his father in his sixty-fourth year and his mother in her eighty-third.

Joseph J. was the eight in order of birth of the family of eight sons and two daughters born to his parents. One of the number, Honorable T. E. Clark, late of Clarinda, was at one time a member of the Iowa state senate. Judge Clark accompanied his parents on their several removals, as above stated; had the advantage of a high school education; and afterward by farm work, teaching and other lines of endeavor, earned the means with which he finished his education. He is a graduate of the law department of the State University of Iowa and was admitted to practice in the supreme court with the class of 1873. The year following his graduation Mr. Clark settled in Mason City, Iowa, and entered into a partnership wath Honorable John S. Stanbery, under the firm name of Stanbery & Clark, which association continued with a large and successful law practice for more than a quarter of a century. During this time Mr. Clark took a prominent part in all the important civil, social, political and public movements and enterprises of the city and county. He was elected county attorney of Cerro Gordo county in 1886 and filled that office three successive terms. In June. 1908, upon the resignation of Judge Clifford P. Smith, the Republican Judicial Convention held at Charles City nominated Mr. Clark for the unexpired term of Judge Smith. Governor Cummings endorsed the action by appointing Mr. Clark to fill the vacancy, and that fall he was elected and has now filled the office for more than two years, as one of the judges of the Twelfth Judicial District. He was renominated in June and re-elected in November, 1910. He has always been a Republican in polities, and since coming to Mason City has been a member of the Methodist Episcopal church, filling prominent places in both political and religious organizations.

Judge Clark was twice elected to the lay electoral conference and to the general conference and served as a lay delegate to the general conference of the Methodist church held in Baltimore, Maryland, in May, 1908. He has always been active in various temperance, political, literary and philanthropical organizations.

On September 13, 1875, Mr. Clark married Miss Ida Belle Chambers, daughter of Rev. W. A. Chambers, who for three years was pastor of the First Methodist Episcopal church of Mason City. To them were born three children: Edward W., now clerk of the district court of Cerro Gordo county, Iowa; Frederick J., now a Methodist minister; and a daughter who died in infancy.

Edward W. Clark, the elder of Judge Clark's sons, was born June 12, 1876; was reared at Mason City, Iowa; and is a graduate of the Mason City high school with the June class of 1895. In 1898 he enlisted with the Fifty-second Iowa Regiment and served as its color sergeant during the Spanish war. Upon his return he engaged in the banking business for himself and others until in the fall of 1906 he was elected clerk of the district court of Cerro Gordo county, the place he now occupies. He was married April 29, 1903, to Emma H. Hansen, a native of Minnesota.

The second son, Rev. Fred J. Clark is a graduate of Cornell College of Mt. Vernon, Iowa, and is now pursuing his final year's study in the Boston University of Boston, Massachusetts. He was married to Miss Prudence Weston April 25, 1906.

NOTE: Judge Clark died on January 15, 1937. Ida Belle (Chambers) Clark was born on July 7, 1857, and died on May 30, 1947. Edward W. Clark died on November 1, 1964. Emma H. (Hansen) Clark was born on February 19, 1876, and died on November 24, 1930. They were interred at Elmwood-St. Joseph Cemetery, Mason City IA.

Transcription and note by Sharon R. Becker, January of 2014



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