Justice Silas Moorhead Clark

Justice Silas Moorhead Clark

Justice Silas Moorhead Clark, b 18 Jan 1834 Plum Creek Twp., Armstrong Co., PA d 19 Nov 1891 Indiana, Indiana Co., PA. He married Clarissa Elizabeth Moorhead b 22 Feb 1835 Indiana, Indiana Co., PA d 17 Jan 1887. She was the granddaughter of James Moorhead and Nancy Thompson Moorhead.

From History of the Moorhead Family From the Latter Part of the Sixteenth Century to the Present Time Compiled and Published by A.T. Moorhead, Indiana, PA August 23, 1901 pg. 60-61:

Clarissa Elizabeth Moorhead, daughter of William and Susan Wright Bodine Moorhead, was born in Indiana, PA, Feb. 22, 1835. She was married to Silas M. Clark, at Rose Cottage, Indiana, PA, April 26, 1859.

Mr. Clark received his education in the common schools and the academy at Indiana, and at Jefferson College, Cannonsburg, PA, from which institution he graduated in 1852. He entered the office of the late William M. Stewart, Esq. and began the study of law. While a student in Mr. Stewart's office, in connection with Joseph M. Thompson, Esq., and Colonel John F. Young, both deceased, he established a Democratic paper which supported James Buchanan for president in 1856. In 1857, he retired from the journalistic field, and in September of the same year was admitted to the bar, and entered upon the successful career that ended with his elevation to the Supreme Bench. So great was his popularity that at the time of his election his majority in Indiana county on the Democratic ticket was far in excess of the two thousand majority given the Republican candidate for governor. He was a clear and profound thinker and a strong and logical reasoner. Every enterprise having for its object the advancement and improvement of the town or county found in him an active and energetic supporter; especially was this so of educational or agricultural projects. Popular education had no more zealous or faithful supporter. The State Normal School at Indiana stands as a monument to his devotion to education. Without his industry, perseverance and aid it would perhaps never have been established. For several years, he was president of its board of trustees and held that position at the time of his death. In his home his studied effort was for the comfort and happiness of his wife and family.

Mrs. Clark's death occurred Jan. 17, 1887. She was survived by her husband, who died November 19, 1891. To them were born seven children: Clara, Charles Steele, James Woodward, Annie Moorhead, Mary Bodine, Charlotte, William, and Silas Moorhead.

From Indiana Register, Indiana Co., PA Extracts:

3 May 1859 MARRIED. On Tuesday morning the 26th ult., by the Rev. D. Blair, SILAS M. CLARK, ESQ., to MISS CLARISSA MOORHEAD, both of this borough.

From 26 February 1874 Indiana Progress, Indiana, PA Extracts:

Silas M. Clark, Esq. is fixing up his new law office, in Dixon's building, into which he expects to move in a few weeks.

From the Indiana County Historical and Genealogical Society website:

The Indiana County Historical & Genealogical Society is housed in a Victorian mansion known locally as The Clark House. Silas M. Clark built the house during the years of 1869 and 1870.

Mr. Clark, a descendant of local pioneer settler Fergus Moorhead, became one of Indiana County's leading citizens. He was born in Armstrong County in 1834, and moved to Indiana while he was still an infant. He attended Indiana public schools and enrolled in the Indiana Academy at the age of 14. Upon completion of his instruction at the Indiana Academy, Mr. Clark entered Jefferson College, Cannonsburg, Pennsylvania and was immediately placed in the Junior Class.

After graduation Mr. Clark returned to Indiana and taught at the Academy between 1853, and 1856. During this time he began to study law in the office of William M. Stewart and was admitted to the Indiana County Bar in 1857.

While earning a state-wide reputation as an excellent lawyer, Mr. Clark remained active in community and political affairs. His accomplishments include: Indiana Borough Councilman, Chairman of the Indiana County Democratic Committee, Indiana School Director and Board Secretary, Secretary and President of the Indiana Normal School (Indiana University of Pennsylvania), Board of Trustees, delegate to the Pennsylvania Constitutional Convention, Delegate to the National Democratic Convention, President of the First National Bank of Indiana and President of the Indiana Agricultural Society. Most importantly, Mr. Clark was elected to the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania on November 7, 1882.

The site of Justice Clark's home also has an interesting history. George Clymer, signer of both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States, acquired the land on April 29, 1777, from the original owner, Samuel Pleasants of Philadelphia. In 1815, Mr. Clymer sold the site to the trustees of the Indiana Academy, the first secondary school in the county. The tract contained 147 perches and cost the trustees $50.00. A contract was negotiated with John Henry and John Loughry to erect a stone building, which was completed in 1816. For awhile, the structure was used as a common school until the Academy opened on June 1, 1818, under the Reverend John Reed, its first principal. Among the students who attended were Harry White, Silas M. Clark and Matthew Stanley Quay, noted in later years as Republican "boss" of Pennsylvania.

In 1846, a new brick building was erected on the same site by Henry Altman. It was one story, with three large Gothic windows. Until 1858, the Academy was for boys only, but in that year it became co-educational and the name was changed to Indiana Seminary. On June 22, 1864, the Academy was destroyed by fire. The bell survived and hung for some years in the old Brush Valley School. The Academy lot was offered for sale in 1866. Mr. Clark purchased the lot and began construction of his mansion in 1869.

During the years after Judge Clark's death in 1891, the other members of the family died or married and moved elsewhere. In 1915, his son, J. Wood Clark, was appointed Clerk of the United States District Court and moved to Pittsburgh. The mansion was then rented to F. M. Fritchman. On January 17, 1917, the Clark heirs sold the mansion to the Indiana County Commissioners for use as a memorial to the soldiers and patriotic organizations of the County. The purchase price was $20,000, of which the Clark heirs contributed $1,000. The mansion later served as a meeting place for several organizations, the office of the Indiana County Tourist Bureau, as a voting site, and as the library for the Historical & Genealogical Society of Indiana County. In 1978, the Clark House was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

In 1989, Paul Wass was instrumental in securing a legislative grant of $75,000 for the purpose of acquiring a site or property for the Historical & Genealogical Society of Indiana County. This money was used in 1992, to purchase the Clark House from the county.


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