Sunday, June 22, 2014

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: #25 Why Did Clark Earl Crispen Read Humor Magazines?

My great-grandfather had adolescent reading preferences, according to my grandmother. She said Clark Earl Crispen always read comic books. As I researched the family, I learned that the Judge magazine he's reading in a photo from the 1930's is neither a comic book nor targeted to adolescents.

The answer to why he read Judge and similar political-humor magazines is found in family relationships. I'll answer the question next week, so stay tuned.

Quick drop page from Gratitude digital kit, Club Scrap

Clark Earl Crispen is an ancestor that I wish I had known. His love for family, others and pets came before money or security. He was always willing to try new experiences. My grandmother adored her beloved father.

Clark, born March 5, 1863, was the third child of Nerinda Margaret Kerr Crispen [Tookey] and Jacob Crispen. He was born in or near Oil City, Pennsylvania, in the era of big oil in that area. Jacob was a torpedo shooter, a man who fired oil wells using nitroglycerine. For some reason, possibly the job, Jacob and Nerinda separated and later divorced.

Nerinda took the children and apprenticed Clark to a blacksmith. Where Clark spent those years is a mystery. By 1885, Clark was living in Chicago and helping to build that city. The construction of the 1893 Columbian Exposition was one of the projects he claimed to have worked on.

Though he was no farmer, he decided that he would run for a homestead in the last Oklahoma land run: the opening of the Cherokee Strip in September, 1893. Clark made his way to southern Kansas to start the run. He claims that he overslept and wasn't ready when the starter gun sounded at noon. Even with a late start, he tried to find land, but was not successful. As he started back to Kansas, he stopped and shared the evening meal with a family. The man told Clark that he would tell him where to find some land if Clark would pay.

Having nothing to lose, Clark fell for the con. He soon found the land and he staked his claim. But when he went to the land office to file for the claim, he discovered it was a piece of military bounty land and wasn't open for homesteading. Clark refused to give up. He corresponded with the owner, who lived in another state. They were able to work out a deal and Clark paid for the land, which was hilly and hard to farm, due to runoff from adjacent farms.

Living a mile or so down the road was the young and beautiful Daisy Myrtle Maddox. Clark was fair complected with red hair and blue eyes. He was enthralled with Daisy's olive complexion, black hair and dark eyes: the marks of her Native American heritage. The 32-year-old Clark wooed the 17-year-old and married her on October 2, 1895, in Enid, Oklahoma Territory.

Daisy was a farm girl and soon found herself tending the home, working the farm and teaching her city-slicker husband the many things he didn't know about farming. Clark and Daisy had two daughters born on the farm, near Meno: Effie and Esstella. Eventually, Clark decided that farming was not what he wanted to do.

He leased his farm to his brother-in-law, Archie Maddox, and joined his mother in the Lake Michigan resort area near Benton Harbor, Michigan. He went to work at one of the many manufacturing facilities in the area. A third daughter, Leona, was born to Daisy and Clark in Van Buren County, Michigan.

Daisy grew tired of Clark's tendency to put people ahead of financial security for the family. She divorced him in 1921, after the two older girls were married. Clark never remarried, but dedicated the rest of his life to being a good father and grandfather. He inherited his sister Mary's healthy stock portfolio in 1927, but the stock was soon made worthless by the crash of 1929.

Clark was bed-ridden at the end of his life. His daughters took turns caring for him until his passing on February 7, 1940. Clark was buried in Crystal Springs Cemetery in Benton Harbor. His daughters sold his Oklahoma farm outside the family, though for many years they received small checks from the mineral rights they retained.

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