A native of Oxford County, Maine, Charles Henry Clark’s parents Thomas Green Clark and Martha Bumpus Clark worked as farmers. Born in October 1847, Charles Clark was the youngest of five children. By 1860, the Clark family had settled in Eagle, Illinois. In June 1864, C.H. Clark mustered into the 138th Illinois Infantry, Company I, serving 100 days on garrison duty at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.
After the war, Clark worked as an artist in Streator, Illinois. In 1880, he took charge of Albert Barker’s photography gallery in Ottawa, Kansas.
His exact arrival in Colorado is disputed, but in December 1881 he purchased L.K. Oldroyd’s gallery in Colorado Springs, Colorado. He published oversized stereoviews of Denver, Colorado Springs, and scenes along the Denver & Rio Grande Railway. In 1883, Clark worked out of Gunnison. He published and was the general trade agent for George Mellen’s photographic views.
In June 1884, he set up a studio in Salida, where his life-size, hand-colored portraits were consistently praised in the press. A display of his views and portraits was included at the 1887 Saguache County Fair. In January 1888, a devastating fire broke out in Salida, just as Clark was moving his studio to new quarters. The studio sustained $1300 in damages, and all of Clark’s early negatives of Salida were ruined.
In the fall of 1888, Clark formed a partnership with C. W. Erdlen. Clark & Erdlen worked as partners until April 1889 when Clark left Salida, and Erdlen took over the gallery. Clark’s departure followed the death of his young daughter, Ada. The Clark family practiced the Christian Science religion and were criticized in the local press for not providing adequate care of Ada during her illness. The Clark’s settled in Manitou, Colorado. His future whereabout are unknown until 1919 when Civil War records indicate he was living in a home for disabled soldiers in Los Angeles. He died in 1925 in San Diego.
Thank you to Elisabeth Parker, former assistant chief, Prints & Photographs Division, Washington, D.C., for proof-reading this post.