|History of the Stone House of Garonne P Clark|
|MILFORD-An old stone
house continues to "guard the prairie" from a lonely spot 4½
miles east of Milford, after more than a century,
The only building of its kind in the entire area, it occupies a gentle rise north of a county blacktop highway with which it is connected by a narrow road reminiscent of the turn of the century. Architecture and construction of the old house are of the Dutch Colonial period still evident in New York and New Jersey area.
Gerome P. Clark was a native New Yorker. Although well situated in "York State," he became enthralled with stories of the opportunities offered by the frontier and acted upon Horace Greeley's famous advice, "Go west, young man!"'
He purchased a good team of horses and covered wagon, which he filled with family possessions, as many as it would hold, sold the rest, gathered his family together and began the long trek westward.
They crossed the Mississippi from Rock Island to Davenport and. arrived here in the early summer of 1867 or 68. So impressed was he by the lakes and unending stretches of virgin prairie covered with a. lush growth of "blue-joint" (grass) that he decided, this would be the family home. He staked out a claim-the quarter section on which the stone House stands, and walked the 100 miles to Sioux City to register his claim at the "land office."
An early report states that he learned on arrival that the legal description of his homestead was not correct, undaunted, he walked the 100 miles back home, made the corrections, and walked a second time to Sioux City where his claim was registered in proper form.
Summer was passing rapidly and housing for the approaching winter had to receive top priority. Two of his grandsons, who still reside here, Hal, 84, and Art, 77, say their grandfather dug a cave back into the hillside and erected a sod house in which the family passed the first winter.
Later, a large building for grain storage was erected, and it provided housing for the family until better accommodations could be completed.
Rocks left by the last glacier had to be removed before the land could be cultivated adequately. Clark regarded them as a valuable asset. He had learned well the skill of the Dutch in using them for building structures so substantial that they stand as monuments to the ingenuity and workmanship of the builders for generations. He determined to build a house which would rival the quality of those with which he was so familiar back east.
As his sons cultivated the land he gathered the rocks and began the arduous task of house building. His grandson, Art, said that he started construction the year after his arrival, using lime to seal the rocks together. He worked alone, and after two or three years, the first small part was ready for habitation. Information concerning the family life during the ensuing years is fragmentary. They resided at several locations, but retained ownership of the home farm. At some point the Clark’s returned to the house. Clark's wife died and a son was critically injured in a fall, which left the youth with some mental retardation. The wedding of at least one member of the family took place there.
Construction of the building progressed intermittently and was not completed until 1888. That date, scrawled in the oak at the north-east corner of the house, indicates its completion.
Structurally it is as solid as the day it was completed. The rock walls range in thickness from 20 to 24 inches. Windows and doors are recessed from eight Inches to one foot. Interior partitions have been changed from time to time, but basically, the house stands unaltered, and there is no structural deterioration.
A number of families have resided there in recent years. Beryl Coleman, Terril, retired business woman, reported that she had roomed there while teaching country school in the vicinity. There were fireplaces adequate to warm the place, she said, but when she lived there, the owner failed to provide adequate fuel, and on cold, winter mornings, a thick coat of frost covered the interior walls. "It was cold!" she stated flatly.
The house is not occupied now. Doors nave been locked tightly and windows boarded up. Vandals have broken out window glass, but were unable to damage the structure.
The farm was sold to the late J. L. Williams Sr., of Milford and is now owned by his heirs.
Information regarding the widow and children(Garonne P. Clark)of Ezekial Clark are contained in copies of legal documents as follows:
In Deed Volume 105, pages 413-414 dated 15day of March 1842, Elizabeth, widow of Ezekial and his children sell a piece of their
father's land to Mathew Clark. On the same day, they also sell a piece to George
Clark. (Vol 107, pages, 341-342). On the 21st of June 1846, the children sell a piece of property to a family member, their sister Lefanny married to Henry Blazier. (Vol. 148, pages 67-68.)
In earlier deeds, the children buy land but the descriptions are not of land that they sell later to siblings. (Vol. 94, pages 537-539, 535-536)
Copies of these documents are in possession of Xantha Pescheck, Louisa St. JohnDurkin, Charles Harrison Williams, Stephen Clark, and Loretta Miller, who are all descendants of Garonne P. Clark, the son of Ezekial.1860 Federal Census Kenyon, Goodhue, Minnesota Page 73 dated 9 July 1860.Garone Clark age 50, male Farmer, with value of personal property $540 born10 Nov 1810.
Present condition of the stone house in July 2004.
The house has been
unoccupied for 35 + years and the present owners have no interest in maintaining
the house despite being listed as a historical building by the state of
|Shirly Gould, Jerry Clark and Charles Williams: Great Grand children of Garone P.Clark with the old grave marker of G P Clark|
|Present marker of Garonne P Clark at Okoboji Cemetary, Milford, Iowa|