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Clark Irvine, Sr.
CLARK IRVINE, the 4th child and 3rd son of Thomas Irvine and Tabitha Meredith Clark, was born in Trumbull Co., Ohio 14th June 1809. This was a full 2 years before the family was to take root near Mt. Vernon, Knox Co., Ohio. Growing up on the farm and attending grade and high school in the nearby town offered an opportunity to choose between following the plow or enter one or more of his fathers many town ventures. He chose neither but studied for the Law, practicing in Mt. Vernon where he became prosecuting attorney, re-elected in 1841.
On 13th May 1845 Clark was married to Matilda Blair, Esq., in Millwood, Md. Though born in Mt. Vernon Matilda was the daughter of James Blair, Esq. and Manna Waddle, both of the State of Maryland. To this couple was born a rather large family of 8 children 3 sons and 5 daughters of whom only one of the latter was to marry. Clark died 11th Oct., 1875.
Issue of Clark Irvine and Matilda Blair: -
EUGENE IRVINE, 1st of 5 children of the above was born in Mt. Vernon, 29th Dec., 1846.
The quest for family lore put in its appearance long after my student day visits to Mt. Vernon and as will be understood Aunt Matt failed to dilate on this branch of the Clan. It was 1919 before their existence was known to me, and the last of them departed before this inquiry business came about a full 3 years. It was 1946 before another 2 years John totally missing. And it was from John that our distant cousin Irvine Thompson Holloway became known in 1950. My first and only visit to him in Dallas a 2-hour session supplied me with sufficient notes on the early generation Irvines and Thompsons to cover 24 pages.
Eugenes main occupation was restaurant owner and manager, but he lived with a love for horseflesh breeding them for sale or trade, and sulky racing them. He was possessed of a "natural" voice, of excellent quality, supposedly inherited from his Grandmother Tabitha and for a time in early manhood followed voice culture, and was successful to the point of being a member of an operatic road company. He died unmarried in 1928.
Quotes from a 9/25/1955 letter from Dr. Elizabeth Reed
"I did find out for you the reason for the strained relation between the family of Clark Irvine Sr. and the rest of the Irvines, Thompsons etc. I had rather suspected it anyway from my own Grandmothers reactions when Grandfather used to tease her about her Irvine relatives in Mt. Vernon. In a happily wickedly manner he would say "Some of them are pretty, and some of them are pretty tough", and Grandmother would say something to the effect that "Of course, they arent very closely related to us" rather as if she would like to deny any relationship at all, but knew she couldnt get any with that. Grandfather always knew all of the family relationships too well.
"Two of Clark Sr.s sons operated a "Hotel" in the old "Irvblock" on Main street in Mt. Vernon, which was later bought by old Dr. Larimore, called the "Larimore block" and converted to stores. Dr. Larimore once told my father (about 50 years ago) that it was said more whiskey had been sold there than in any other place, involving "Mickey Finns" or something of the sort, mysterious deaths and disappearances. All this in the Victorian Era of "Queen Respectability". And on elderly citizen of Mt. Vernon Mr. Stilwell who is pushing 90 and was a barber for most of his working years, told me a somewhat involved story of having as a young man discovered Milan Irvine "dead drunk" on the river bank notified the Police who loaded him into the old horse drawn "Black Maria" and took him home again. Mother, who has a strong sense of "Family" said "Of course, you have to remember that a good many of the Stilwells were Lawyers too, and all of them were Republicans, whereas some of the old Irvines were also Lawyers and they were all Democrats in the old days." She apparently felt that a Stilwell would not be an unbiased authority. Any she felt that the Irvines were undoubtedly smarter and got the better of the Stilwells in Court now and then. She may know a bit more detail there than she told me I have a strong feeling."
CLARK IRVINE II, 2nd child of above born in Mt. Vernon 1st Oct., 1847. Following his fathers footsteps Clark studied law, being admitted to the Bar in 1869. He was nominee for the Democratic Party for prosecuting attorney and was elected in 1876. Was nominee for the state legislature in 1879, being defeated in the general election in the fall. Represented Knox Co. as delegate to the State Democratic Convention held in Cleveland in 1880. Elected a member of the State Democratic Central Committee, and represented the 9th Congressional District. Was a member of the State Democratic Committee, and served as judge of common Pleas Court. Died unmarried in March 1900.
MARIE ANTOINETTE IRVINE. B. 22nd Jan., 1849; d. at 1 mo.
HORTRESE IRVINE, 4th child of Clark Irvine and Matilda Blair, was born in Mt. Vernon in 1850, died unmarried April 1913.
ROSABEL IRVINE, 5th child and 3rd daughter of Clark Irvine and Matilda Blair, was born in 1851 in Mt. Vernon. Married Ernest Von Armstadt from Berlin, Germany, a teacher of German and French languages and music in Mt. Vernon high schools. Residence was 20 West Gambier. Rosabel died in 1936. Issue: -
Mary Von Armstadt, daughter of immediately above couple, was born in Mt. Vernon on a date she refused to divulge. She was the lone grandchild of Clark and Matilda none of her aunts or uncles having married. Mary was married to Newton Giles, of Washington, Pa., who died 15th March, 1932. Mary died 6th Feb., 1967.
Correspondence with Mary was far from satisfactory. She imparted "I am living in the home which I inherited. It has always belonged to the Irvines but I may dispose of it as I am alone and other interests keep me very busy." Response to a query "As to the family differences that arose between then I really could not enlighten you, as it seemed to me more of a jealousy existed among them". And - - - as a PS, "At some future date we may have quite a little talk of the renowned family ha ha!"
The home mentioned 20 West Gambier was that of Mary Giles Grandfather, Clark Irvine. In 1918 to 1925 this home positively was occupied by all of Clarks children save Rosabel and for a certainty Flora was the base of the household. Undoubtedly the inheritance came to Mary Giles at death, in 1944, of Flora her mothers youngest sister.
The "PS" above was Marys response to a query anent the causes of what seemed like a barrier between the Irvine descendents living on either the East or West side of Main Street. Prior to 1918 there are only childhoods vague memories of a tale recited by Louis Clarke Irvine of family disruption way back in the early days. As the story went the "falling out" was over the East contingent of Thommas and Tabithas progeny being desirous of disassociating themselves completely from the saloon and stable environment and influences seemingly nurtured by the West contingents. These latter were but the natural outgrowth by propinquity to the still earlier stagecoach and tavern and blacksmith establishment by the energy and foresight of the emigree farmer-entrepreneur Thommas. The tavern had long since converted to a hotel under other management the stagecoach past had long since been replaced by the Penn. R.R. Station the smithy had vanished. But the love of some of the grandchildren for horse flesh had kept alive the stable with inherited ownership and its associated beer parlor was an added lucrative holding.
In 1918, among a plethora of unrecorded family lore poured my way by Aunt Matt was a tangled recital of the earlier and principle factor bringing about the disruption among the 1st generation family members. The exact details were never unscrambled in my memory and are forgotten, but the theme concerned disproportionate inheritances at the demise of the father, Thommas, in 1851. According to Aunt Matts version the lawyer son Clark was industriou7sly instrumental in garnering for himself despite stipulations in Thommas Will the lions share of his fathers holdings and that most of this excess had been deducted from what should have been her own fathers portion i.e. James Callenders.
Whichever of these factors was responsible it was obvious that considerable adverse feeling existed in 1924-25. These dates refer to the funerals of Aunts Becky and Matt. Flora was the vocal representative for the "West" contingent, although one of the brothers and Rosabel were present. Flora was pleasant but noticeably ill at ease. With a familiarity which certainly did not exist she confided to me with a queer air of superiority that "these affairs, and births, and weddings, were all that brought families together".
In 1919 Dad took me along for a visit to 20 West Gambier. We were admitted by a middle-aged man in soiled dungarees, either Eugene or Milan but somehow the name Bill persists. There was no William.
Of significance the following took place in less time than the telling. Our host seemed not to recall his Cousin Louis, seemed confused and embarrassed but did ask us in. As we shook hands the pungent odors of sweet and stable and beer offered me an explanation for his embarrassment, for he was in no condition or attire to receive visitors. Perhaps I misjudged for what was to follow was undoubtedly something that had happened before, and is a situation prone ever after to render the victim self-conscious and ill at case.
Our host invited us to sit and jus as we were getting settled in bustled Flora. From somewhere in the rear she had in no uncertain tones. She first showed recognition of Cousin Louie and surprise while glaring at her brother. Dad started to introduce me but while holding my hand she caustically tossed at her brother "Get your dirty clothes off my chair". She lashed at him for entering the parlor in such clothes. "And youve been drinking again! What will our relatives think of us?" Then "Well, get out of here. Get cleaned up if you want to come back I suppose these men have smelled beer before".
To say the least embarrassing for all. Brother "got" hastily, and didnt come back. Nor did I blame him. In his way I thought he was doing alright.
Do we eat again. While Flora quizzed Dad on his family and affairs my eye dawdled about the room. Little light entered from the heavily curtained windows, and visibility was poor. The main impression retained was that the room was small or the ceiling disproportionately high or the room was cluttered with heavy furniture. Our visit was short, but as we were rather formally I remember taking our departure Flora apologized for her brothers condition. "But you know how these men are around their horses".
After Aunt Matts funeral, in 1926, I took Charlotte for a stroll to show her the site of the original tavern and stagecoach and saloon now occupied by a 5 & 10 store. This was the south-cast corner of Main and Gambier. No. 20 was west but a short half-block the old stable and smithy toward the center of the square and well to the rear of the street-fronted homes so we thought to say our respects and renew acquaintances. A cleaning woman came to the door "Nobodys to home". We left our calling card.
Mary had possession of emigree Thomass gold and agate cuff links.
ADDIE IRVINE, 6th child of Clark and Matilda was born and lived her life in the 20 West Gambier home b. 1854. Her girlhood and life experiences are a secret, died unmarried 1929.
MILAN IRVINE, 7th child of Clark and Matilda was born in 1856. Was associated with his older brother Eugene in both restaurant and horse breeding and racing. Died unmarried 1934.
FLORA IRVINE, 8th and last child of Clark and Matilda was born in 1856. Familiarly called Flo this lady was the efficiency expert of the entire greed. After the death of her mother she installed herself as housekeeper and general supervisor of home and activities not that her brothers minded or paid any heed. For a number of years she also carried on a real estate business with considerable success. During the later years all members of the household were more or less dependent on her efficient and motherly though scolding directives. Cousin Flora died unmarried in May, 1944.