Iowapeacechief

Worthy to be trusted with the musket

This column by Daniel G. Clark about Alexander Clark (1826-1891) first appeared in the Muscatine Journal.

In the Muscatine Journal archive can be found several reports of Civil War service by a regiment of “colored” soldiers. Next time I will examine their role in making post-war Iowa the place Ulysses S. Grant would call the “bright radical star.”

January 16, 1863: “THE AFRICAN REGIMENTS.—Some of the African regiments, upon the organization of which the President has determined, will be employed to guard the banks of the Mississippi after it shall have been opened by our fleets and armies.”

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A typo cast in stone

This column by Daniel G. Clark about Alexander Clark (1826-1891) first appeared in the Muscatine Journal.

According to Portrait and Biographical Album of Muscatine County, Iowa (1889), Editor-publisher John Mahin “was secretary and manager of the Soldiers’ Monument Association of Muscatine County which erected the beautiful shaft to the memory of the heroes who fell in the cause of Union and freedom upon Southern battle-fields, and which now ornaments the court-house square of Muscatine.”

Author Lee Miller, while researching his 2009 book, Crocker’s Brigade, “noticed a conspicuous disparity between the number of names displayed on the memorial and the actual number of Muscatine County soldiers who died during the Civil War.” (Blurb on his second book, Triumph & Tragedy, 2012.)

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Middle initials

This column by Daniel G. Clark about Alexander Clark (1826-1891) first appeared in the Muscatine Journal.

The first draft of history is the newspaper. Or used to be.

Certainly the Muscatine Journal archive is a main source about Alexander Clark, maybe the most important one. As early as 1853, the editor saw his neighbor’s life as news worth reporting. As Clark’s fame grew from local to national and beyond, John Mahin’s paper supplied evidence of what was said at the time about Iowa’s champion of emancipation and equality.

During the 1880s, Clark and his son worked at publishing a leading Black newspaper in Chicago, The Conservator. Bits of it quoted or mentioned in the Journal are some of the best remnants of an undertaking that put Clark on the executive committee of the national Black publishers association.

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Underground Railroad “stuff” gets personal

This column by Daniel G. Clark about Alexander Clark (1826-1891) first appeared in the Muscatine Journal.

Do you know where your people came from? How they arrived on this continent? How they made their way to Iowa? If not, might it make a difference in your life to learn their stories?

On May 2, 2010, I posted on Facebook: “I just found a ‘smoking gun’ historical document that confirms my hypothesis (ever stronger over the past decade) about my ancestors’ role in the Underground Railroad. I am descended directly from men named as key players in Connecticut, including my great-great-grandfather who migrated directly to Durant, Iowa. Do I sound excited?”

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Alexander Clark and the Iowa Freedom Trail

This column by Daniel G. Clark about Alexander Clark (1826-1891) first appeared in the Muscatine Journal.

Sixteen historical markers across Iowa tell the story of John Brown’s last “underground railroad” trip—February 4 to March 10, 1859—from Civil Bend near the Missouri River to the Mississippi’s edge at Davenport.

The marker I know best stands outside the historic West Liberty railway depot. Its post is well cemented into ballast rock. I know, having dug much of the hole myself in June 2009. I say it’s my most “concrete” contribution to the Iowa Freedom Trail, of which the John Brown Freedom Trail is a subset.

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John Brown at West Liberty

This column by Daniel G. Clark about Alexander Clark (1826-1891) first appeared in the Muscatine Journal.

Cedar County was one of John Brown’s favorite stops on several trips through Iowa, 1855 to 1859, but he set foot in Muscatine County only once.

You can read about it on a marker outside the historic West Liberty depot. Following are passages from three other sources.

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