1815 – 1901

From History of Texas Published in 1896

J. A. Clark – The world has little use for the misanthrope. The universal truth of brotherhood opposes with great force the living for self alone. The underlying principle of all religion consists in man’s duty to his Creator and to humanity, and, “he serves God best who serves most his fellow man.” Such has been the service in which Mr. Clark has for many years been engaged. In educational and church work in Texas he has been a most important factor, laboring earnestly in those interests which elevate humanity and make the world brighter and better.

Each calling or business, if honorable, has its place in the scheme of human existence, constituting a part of the plan whereby life’s methods are pursued and man reaches his ultimate destiny. “All are needed by each one,” wrote Emerson. The importance of a business, however, is largely determined by its usefulness. So dependent upon his fellow man is man that the worth of the individual is largely estimated by what he has done for humanity. There is no class to whom greater gratitude is due than to those self-sacrificing, noble-minded men who carry the gospel into the frontier regions. Their influence cannot be measured by any known standard, their helpfulness is as broad as the universe, and their power goes hand in hand with the beneficent laws of nature that come from the source of life itself.

Laboring for his fellow men through four-score years, Mr. Clark is to-day honored and revered by all who know him. He was born in Shawneetown, Illinois, November 6, 1815, a son of Thomas D. and Jane (Cunningham) Clark. The family removed to Louisville, Kentucky, at an early day, and in 1839 the mother came with her children to Texas, locating in Austin. The father had died while the family were living in Kentucky. From Austin they went to Nacogdoches, Texas.

Mr. Clark received excellent educational privileges, completing a course in the State University of Alabama, at Tuscaloosa. Feeling that his services were needed in the ministry he began preaching in Texas in 1843, being ordained in Titus County in the same year. For several years he preached for the church at Palestine and afterward at Fort Worth and other places. For fifty-two years he continued his work as a preacher of the gospel, and his eloquent, earnest words induced many to forsake the ways of the world and prepare by righteous living for the life eternal beyond the grave. In 1873 he came to Thorp Spring, Hood county and founded Add Ran College. At his own expense he erected the school buildings, which are constructed of stone and are commodious, substantial structures, furnishing accommodation for six hundred students. In 1873 Mr. Clark opened the school with thirteen pupils, and in six years had increased the membership to five hundred. In 1879 he turned the management of the college over to his sons A. and R. Clark, who conducted the school until the winter of 1895-6, when it was abandoned and the school removed to Waco, Texas.

Mr. Clark has been one of the strongest educational workers in the state and has done more for the upbuilding of the church and school interests of Texas than any one man, save perhaps the venerable Dr. Burleson of Baylor University, at Waco. For a number of years past he has been retired from all business cares, yet he has preached at intervals in Thorp Spring and other places and recently conducted a nine-days meeting in Bell county, Texas. In May, 1896, he held a nine-days meeting at Bonham, Texas, doing all the preaching himself.

In 1842 Mr. Clark was united in the holy bonds of matrimony with Miss Hettie De Spain, and their marriage was blessed with eight children, namely: Addison, Randolph, Ida, Joseph, Thomas, Mollie, Frank, and Amelia. The two eldest sons served in the Confederate Army during the Civil War, the eldest continuing at the front throughout the struggle. The mother of this family was a most estimable Christian woman and proved of great assistance to her husband in his work. She died in 1894, at the age of seventy years, after fifty-two years of happy married life, but though the husband is now left alone he lives in the assurance of a blessed reunion in that land where parting and sorrow are no more.

Joseph Addison “Joe” Clark died January 11, 1901 and was buried next to his wife in Thorp Spring Cemetery in Hood County, Texas.

History of Texas, 1896, Chicago: The Lewis Publishing Co.