Portrait from the Memorials of Deceased Companions of the Commandary of Illinois, 1901.
Sporting a fashionable long-whiskered mustache (quite popular in the 19th century), Massachusetts native Haswell Cordis Clarke would find distinction in Kankakee, Illinois, where he relocated in the mid-1860s. A Civil War veteran who attained the rank of Lieutenant Colonel, Clarke went on to further prominence in Kankakee civic affairs, serving as a bank cashier, city alderman and member of the board of education. In the final years of his life, Clarke served Kankakee as its Mayor, holding that office until his death in January 1901.
Born and raised in Boston, Massachusetts, Haswell Cordis Clark was born on September 28, 1842. The son of John Jones Clark (1803-1887), a former Massachusetts state senator, representative and Mayor of Roxbury, Haswell C. Clarke's early education took place in the city of his birth, attending the Roxbury Latin School. He would enroll at Harvard University in 1859 but left his studies behind in 1861 to accept a commission as a Captain and aide-de-camp, to Major General Benjamin F. Butler of Massachusetts.
A year after his commission Clarke was brevetted to Major due to "gallant conduct" at the Battles of Forts Jackson and St. Phillip in April 1862. Following his promotion, he continued service with Gen. Butler in New Orleans and was mustered out of service in 1865 having been brevetted as Lieutenant Colonel in March of that year. Soon after his leaving the military Clarke removed from Massachusetts to Kankakee, Illinois, where he became involved with a local flax mill in which his father had purchased an interest. For a short time he would serve as superintendent of the mill but due to its lack of success, it was later closed. Clarke married in 1869 to Harriett Amelia Cobb (to whom he was wed for over thirty years) and three years later was awarded his diploma from Harvard.
Several years following the closure of the flax mill Haswell C. Clarke joined the National Bank of Kankakee as a stockholder and would later be made its cashier, serving in the latter capacity for over twenty-five years. In addition to banking, Clarke served in several other capacities within Kankakee, including service on the city Board of Education and the Board of Aldermen. Clarke also maintained a lengthy affiliation with the Illinois Eastern Hospital at Kankakee, serving as the hospital's Secretary and Treasurer for over a decade.
A past Grand High Priest in the Royal Arch Masons, Haswell Clarke's activity in the Masonic order received high praise in the Portrait and Biographical Record of Kankakee County, which notes that:
"At the time of this writing (1892) he is Grand Marshal of the Grand Lodge of Illinois. During the many years of his prominent activity in the order, Col. Clarke has made many pleasant acquaintances throughout the state and nation, where the pleasure has been reciprocated."Despite having never been an office seeker, Clarke was elected as the Mayor of Kankakee in 1899 for a term of two years. He died in office on January 16, 1901 after having suffered a "long illness" and was survived by his wife Harriett. Both Haswell and his wife were interred Kankakee's Mound Grove Cemetery underneath a truly unique headstone denoting the former's status as a Colonel.
From the Encyclopedia of Biography of Illinois, Vol. III, 1902.
From the Jacksonville Daily Journal, Jan. 16, 1901.