Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Ranslure Weld Clarke (1816-1899)

From the Annals of Brattleboro, 1681-1895.

   A native of Massachusetts, Ranslure Weld Clarke later migrated to Windham County, Vermont and for many years was connected with public affairs in that county, being a banker, attorney, state senator and judge during his residency there. Born in Williamstown, Massachusetts on January 27, 1816, Ranslure was a son of Elam and Cynthia Lewis Clarke. His education took place in schools local to Williamstown and also studied at both the Black River Academy and the Orange County Grammar School. Clarke would graduate from Dartmouth College in the class of 1845 and in that same year returned to the Black River Academy to serve as Principal.
   While serving at the Black River Acadamy Clark began pursuing the study of law with future Vermont Governor Peter Thacher Washburn, and after leaving the position of principal continued his studies with Jonathan Dorr Bradley in Brattleboro. Clarke was admitted to the Vermont bar in 1846 and three years later married to Lucy Chandler Wilder (1826-1864), with whom he had one daughter, Mary Clark Acker (born 1857). Lucy Wilder Clarke died in 1864 and Ranslure remarried in 1868 to Lucy's sister Susan (1835-1886), later having a son, Francis.
   Following his first marriage Clarke established a law practice in Brattleboro and within a few years had become involved in Republican political circles in the area. The party later nominated Clarke to be Windham County Attorney, and he was elected to that office in 1852, 1853 and 1854. Clarke continued his political ascent through the latter part of the decade, being selected as a delegate to the 1857 Vermont Constitutional Convention and in 1858 was elected by the citizens of Windham County to represent them in the State Senate. He was reelected to the senate the following year and after leaving the senate became register of probate for Marlboro, Vermont, holding this post from 1861-1862.
   In 1862 Clarke resigned as register of probate to aid in the war effort, becoming an assistant Quartermaster of Volunteers. During a portion of his military service Clarke was station in Brattleboro, and is recorded by his Vermont Phoenix obituary as having "bought 4,000 horses for the government" to be used during war time. He was promoted to major in March 1865 and was honorably discharged from service on October 25th of that year, having attained the rank of Colonel. 
   Shortly after leaving the military Clarke returned to practicing law in Brattleboro and in 1867 formed a partnership with another oddly named man, Kittredge Haskins (1836-1909). Mr. Haskins later went on to distinction as a state representative and senator, and served as a U.S. Representative from Vermont from 1901-1909. In 1868 Clarke served as a Republican Presidential elector and two years later Haskins and Clarke's law firm was dissolved, as Clarke had been appointed as the Postmaster for Brattleboro. He served in that capacity until 1879, and around that time began a lengthy connection with the Brattleboro Savings Bank, serving as its President for a number of years.
   Shortly after the conclusion of his tenure as Brattleboro postmaster, Ranslure Clarke was elected as assistant judge of Windham County in 1882. He served on the bench until December 1892 and removed from Vermont in 1893 to reside with his daughter and her husband (New York State Assemblyman Milo Acker) at their home in Hornell, New York. Ranslure Clarke died in Hornell on January 15, 1899 at age 82 and was returned to Vermont for burial at the Prospect Hill Cemetery in Brattleboro. His January 20, 1899 obituary in the Brattleboro Phoenix memorialized Clarke as having "possessed a striking personal presence and bearing" and "a had a courtly manner of the old school".              

                    From the Barre Evening Telegram, January 17, 1899.                  

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