Chronicles of Early Ascents of Half Dome — Appendix
Frederick Augustus Clark (1840-1920)

An Early Topographer and Surveyor

Frederick's marriage to Sarah L. Dutcher

On December 18, 1880, Sarah L. Dutcher, a 35 years old native of Australia married Frederick A. Clark, a 40 years old full time employee of the San Francisco branch of the U.S. Geological Survey. It appears that this was the first marriage for both.

Marriages. In this city, December 18, 1880, by Rev. Dr. Scott, Frederick A. Clark, U.S. Geological Survey, to Sarah L. Dutcher.

Evening Bulletin, San Francisco, December 20, 1880, p. 3, col. 4

CLARK—DUTCHER—In this city, December 18 [1880], by Rev. Dr. Scott, Frederick A. Clark, U.S. Geological Survey, to Sarah L. Dutcher.

Another newspaper note, a few days later, shows that they are in the Hotel Del Monte, in Monterey Bay, probably on their honeymoon.

Among things that could have brought Sarah and Frederick together, it is easy to identify two: They both knew and esteemed a noted California photographer, Carleton E. Watkins, and they both shared love for mountains. Sarah was an adventerous outdoorswoman, and the first female who made the Half Dome ascent. Frederick, in his capacity of a topographer, had made trips and climbs all over California and the South West.

Step back: Frederick's early career

Fred was a native of La Porte, Indiana, born in June 1840. His father, Amzi Clark, was married twice, and Frederick was one of four children from Amzi's first marriage with Candace R. Bailey. After Candace's death in 1848, Amzi remarried. He and his new wife, Harriet Crosby, had two more children. During the 1860 Census, Frederick was a student, attending Wabash College, at Crawfordsville, Indiana. He left the school and joined the first wave of volunteers at the start of the Civil War. By 1863, he serves as a topographic engineer in the 20th Army Corps. He became ill with tuberculosis and resigned his commission early in 1864. I thank Paul F. Clark for the information about the early years of Frederick's life.

In the fall of 1864, Clarence King desperately needed more helping hands in order to complete his Yosemite Survey in time, and he borrowed a young man from Mariposa Mining Company, a budding civil engineer Frederick A. Clark. Interactions between Clark and King are thoroughly described in Clarence King's Mountaineering in the Sierra Nevada, first printed in 1872. The book not only describes Clark's participation in the Yosemite Survey, but also Frederick Clark's trip with King to Mount Shasta in 1870. At that time, Mount Shasta came in focus of King's interest. In the fall of that year he assembled a party which consisted of geologists Arnold Hague and Samuel Emmons, clerks O. L. Palmer and Albert Clark, and topographers Frederick Clark and Allen Wilson. King also engaged the Yosemite-famous photographer Carlton Watkins and invited the landscape painter Gilbert Munger as an unpaid expedition guest. Watkins' frequently reproduced photo from that Shasta trip is now in the Special Collections at Stanford University Libraries. A detail of that photo, showing Frederick Clark testing his equipment, is attached. (Importance of Gilbert Munger's presence on that trip will be discussed below). Between 1874 and 1876, Clark was working all over the Southwest for Wheeler's "West of the One Hundreth Meridian Survey" (see annual reports of the Wheeler Survey, for years ending June 30, 1875, and June 30, 1876). Since George M. Wheeler was an officer of the Corps of Engineers, Frederick was surrounded by military personnel on these missions, and was directly working (as a civilian employee) under Lieutenant Rogers Birnie, Jr. (1874), Lieutenant Charles C. Morrison (1875), and Lieutenant Eric Bergland (1876). A long article in the New York Times of July 3, 1875, p. 3, describes C. C. Morrison's division of the Wheeler expedition, and mentiones Clark: "The outfit consists of nine men and twenty-two mules, the men including Mr. Frederick A. Clark the topographer, a meteorologist, and the Times correspondent..."

Frederick A. Clark, checking his topographic equipment, Mount Shasta 1870, detail of a larger photo.
Frederick Augustus Clark.

This experience may have incited Clark to re-join the Army Corps of Engineers and pursue, at least briefly, a military career. In 1877/78, Frederick may have been assigned to a project of surveying the area of the Hot Springs of Arkansas. An article in Volume 61 of the Harper's New Monthly Magazine from 1877/78, p. 210, describes this project, and states that "the corps of engineers and surveyors is in charge of Major Frederick A. Clark". Although there is a remote possibility that two people with the same name were serving as surveyors and topographers at that time, there are indirect indications that "Major Clark" was the same person as Frederick Clark from King's Survey in 1864. Documents show that Major Clark was actively corresponding with Frederick Law Olmsted at the time of the Hot Springs survey (see, e.g., Jacob Weidenmann, by Rudy J. Favretti, pp. 99-100). On the other hand, we know that Olmsted used to be the supervisor of the Mariposa Company, when Fred Clark from the Company was "on loan" to Clarence King's team.

In another project, Fred A. Clark, together with Gustavus R. Bechler, produced the first topographic (with contour lines) map of the Teton Range in 1878.

We have the following description of Clark from the time immediately before his marriage to Sarah. It was written by his assistant, Alonzo Welles (see Reminiscent ramblings, by A. M. Welles, Denver, 1905, p. 167):

The Major was a man now approaching middle age and had spent many years upon the survey under Hayden, Wheeler and Powell. He was rather slight in build, though decidedly erect. He wore a dark moustache and beard of medium length. The beard was parted in the middle, after the style of a German field marshal, and brushed so abruptly apart that each particular hair occupied a position at absolutely right angles to its line of natural growth. In fact, the Major was noticeably a la militaire in all his movements and appearance, and as it developed later, also in his system of operations...

When Clarence King became the Director of the U.S. Geological Survey in mid 1879, he appointed Fred A. Clark on July 9, 1879, as a topographer at an annual salary of $2,500 [King's salary was $6,000 per year; from the U.S. Geological Survey Annual Report, 1880]. Clark was then immediately assigned (July 17, 1879) to a two-year project of topographical survey of Eureka, Nevada. The Census of 1880 found him still in Eureka, and he was described as single, age 40, born in Indiana, working as "Topographer USGS". His wedding to Sarah probably had to wait until that work has been completed. In a letter from Eureka, Nevada, of September 30, 1880, Arnold Hague wrote to King: "...The topographical party, under Mr. F. A. Clark, is well organized, field work is progressing rapidly, and will be completed, unless the weather proves exceptionally bad, by the 20th of December [1880]". [Annual Report, cited above, pp. 31-32]. Apparently, the weather had cooperated, because Clark's wedding took place two days before that deadline.

With Central Pacific Railroad

The San Francisco directory of 1881 presents him as "Clark Frederick A., topographer [with] U.S. Geological Survey, 320 California, room 13, r[esidence] Occidental Hotel". Sarah is not listed, but it is quite possible that she lived with Fred in "Occidental". However, Clark is no longer listed in the 1882 edition of the San Francisco directory. It appears that shortly after completing his map of the Eureka mining district (late February of 1881), Clark drops from the USGS payrol. Biographies of all early employees of USGS were published in an article by John C. Rabbitt and Mary C. Rabbitt (see Science Vol. 119, May 28, 1954, pp. 741-758), but a note about Fred Clark (p. 747) is quite brief, and doesn't tell us anything about what happened to him after 1881: "Fred A. Clark, topographer, began making triangulation, leveling, and topographic surveys in the Eureka district, Nevada, under general supervision of Arnold Hague [who was geologist-in-charge, with headquarters in San Francisco]".

There is a possibility that Sarah and Frederick moved to Oakland in 1881 or 1882. There are several references in passenger lists from that era to "F. A. Clark and wife, Oakland". Frederick's brother Albert B. Clark died in Orange, Los Angeles County on April 24, 1883, and a certain "F. A. Clark from Oakland" stays at the Pico House, a downtown Los Angeles hotel, on April 25. Was that Frederick coming for the funeral? On Dec 17, 1883, the San Francisco Bulletin identifies Fred as "Major F. A. Clark", an "Assistant Division Superintendent of the Central Pacific Railroad in Oakland". By the second part of 1885, Frederick resides at 909 Peralta street in Oakland. His marriage, however, is in jeopardy: San Francisco and Oakland newspapers of December 15, 1885, had brief reports of an impending divorce suit brought by Frederick A. Clark against Sarah L. Clark. The Daily Alta California of Jan 9, 1886 prints the following short news from Oakland: "Fred A. Clark has been granted a decree of divorce from Sarah L. Clark". Almost nothing is known about Sarah Dutcher Clark after January 1886. Prehaps another marriage and another change of name? Death perhaps? We may never know.

Addie and Pearl

In 1888, two years after the divorce from Sarah, a civil engineer and surveyor with the name Frederick Clark reappears in San Francisco directories. He has an office at 420 California, where several other surveyors had their places of business. And Frederick is married again!

Frederick Clark marries Mary A. Clements. Evening Bulletin, San Francisco, Jan 28, 1888, p. 3. Fred A. Clark and Mary A[deline] Clements were united in matrimony on January 24, 1888. This was a second marriage for both. Mary Adeline (aka Addie) was previously married to Robert Clements, a San Francisco teamster, and they had a daughter Pearl, born in 1877. Frederick's second wife would tragically die several years later, in 1894, by shellfish poisoning during a beach camping trip with her friends in the Fort Ross area. As far as we know, Frederick Clark had no children of his own. For the next 25 years, all Fred's love and care would be devoted to his adopted child Pearl, and he treated her (and later her family) as if she were his biological daughter.

On January 6, 1897, the Los Angeles Times, p. 7, prints a letter on how to improve the Griffith Park. It is signed by "Maj. Fred A. Clark, San Francisco". In the letter Frederick refers to his former supervisor from Mariposa Company, Olmsted, and calls him "my friend Fred Law Olmstead[!], father of American parks..." In April of 1897, Frederick's title in the San Francisco Directory is expanded to "Clark, Frederick A., Major; civil, hydraulic and mining engineer and U.S. deputy mineral surveyor, 420 California, room 17". He would keep that office space until at least 1903. According to San Francisco Directories, he also rents appartments in various luxury boarding houses in San Francisco, e.g., at 980 Pine, 1110 Sacramento, and 30 Post. Between 1888 and 1903, his residence is often simply listed as "Oakland", where he probably had a permanent home. For example, the voter register in August of 1892 lists his address at 907 5th ave, Oakland. During the 1900 Census, he and Pearl live in Oakland, at 811 East Twenty-second street. Pearl is now 22. Her occupation is not listed in the Census.

Pearl's engagement

Frederick Clark was 62 when his step-daughter got engaged and married.

San Francisco Chronicle, Dec 8, 1902, p.12:

Pearl Adeline Clark and her husband George Alexander Lewthwaite.
George and Pearl Lewthwaite.

Major Fred A. Clark announces the engagement of his daughter, Miss Pearl Adeline Clark, to George Alexander Lewthwaite Jr. of New York city. The wedding is to take place in New York during [Christmas] holiday week. Miss Clark will leave San Francisco December 18th, and will be met on her arrival in New York by relatives, to whome the news of the engagement has been wired. Miss Clark is a charming demi-blonde, with a wealth of golden hair, a native of San Francisco, where she has spent nearly all her life, and is very popular in the younger society set. Lewthwaite, whi is associated with his uncle in an extensive manufactoring plant in the Eastern metropolis, came to California more than one year ago to spend the winter with relatives. He met Miss Clark during that visit and was fascinated by her charms. He prolonged his stay long into the spring of this year, and recently returned to claim his bride.

There must have been a last moment change of plans, and the San Francisco Call, Dec 24, 1902, p. 13, announced that Pearl was actually married in Chicago, not in New York, on December 23, 1902. Similarly, the Chicago Daily Tribune of Dec 21, 1902, confirms that a marriage license was issued in that city to "George A. Lewthwaite, New York, age 26, and Pearl Adeline Clark, San Francisco, age 25".

Two years later, on March 3, 1904, a brief note in the San Francisco Call, p. 14, col. 7, announces: "Bankrupt Engineer. Frederick A. Clark, civil engineer, San Francisco, filed a petition in insolvency yesterday in the United States District Court. He owes $2534 and has no assets". I was unable to learn what had caused this bankrupcy. Clark would now leave California and follow Pearl to the East Coast. The Census of 1910 finds him living with his step-daughter's family in Brooklyn.

By that time, George and Pearl Lewthwaite had three children: Adeline Porter (age 6), Marjorie Mabel (age 4) and George Alexander Jr (age 2). In the coming years, New York business directories describe Pearl's husband George as the proprietor of the "G. A. Lewthwaite Company", manufacturers of machinery and tools. Pearl served as treasurer, and her father, Major Fred Clark, became one of the company directors. George suddenly died in February 1915 of pneumonia, at their residence in New Rochelle. Pearl and Fred stayed involved with the company for a few more years, and then Pearl probably sold it.

Frederick dies in 1920

Frederick died on December 13, 1920, in New York. His wish was to be interned in San Francisco alongside Pearl's mother and his second wife Addie. Frederick Clarks funeral announcement, from the New York Times, Dec 14, 1920, p. 17. Their grave indeed can be found in the San Francisco National Cemetery, at the Presidio. A marker on the grave describes Fred as "Frederick A. Clark, 1st Lt., Co. C, 29th Ind. Inf., Civil War", and his wife is simply identified as "Addie M. Clark".

What about Fred's first wife? It is puzzling and frustrating that nothing reliable about Sarah Dutcher's life after her divorce from Frederick has been discovered so far. There was a slim chance that Pearl's family could provide more information. One possible lead came from Michael Schroeder, who is an authority in the art of a painter Gilbert Munger. When he talked about Munger's trip to Shasta with Clarence King and Frederick Clark in 1870, he added that "both King and Clark would later become collectors of Munger's paintings". A catalogue of Munger's oils, indeed has the following note about the painting entitled Yosemite Valley from Old Inspiration Point: "This painting descended in the family of Frederick Clark, a member of the King geological survey (...), to the current owners". The descendants reportedly also kept Fred's family Bible annotated with many important dates from his life. I have not been able to confirm the existance of this document. If it is ever found, it could perhaps shed more light on Fred's life between 1880 and 1888, and of Sarah's fate. Several other pieces of art belonged at one time to Pearl's descendents: an early portrait of Pearl by painter Mary Curtis Richardson (1848-1931), as well as an oil depicting sailboats in a fishing wharf by painter and photographer Harriet Candace "Rose" Clark (1852-1942). Turned out that Rose Clark was Frederick Clark's half-sister.

Unlike Rose Clark, who spent most of her life on the East Coast and probably didn't know details about Fred's private life, one of Fred's sibling lived much closer to him, in California. An early mention of that relative comes from Clarence King's book Mountaineering in the Sierra Nevada. King lists two Clarks on his 1870 Shasta trip, Frederick and Albert, but doesn't mention if the two were related. However, a local paper in the Shasta region, the Yreka Union of September 28, 1870, p. 3, identifies them as "two brothers named Clark". Census data from 1850 and 1860, which I found later, confirmed that Albert B. Clark was Frederick A. Clark's younger brother. At the time of Fred's marriage to Sarah Dutcher, in December 1880, Albert lived in Southern California, and it would be no surprise if he actually attended his brother's wedding in San Francisco. Albert died in 1883. He was survived by his widow Mary (nee Teegarden) and four children. I wonder if that part of the family perhaps have more information about Frederick and Sarah's marriage and divorce.

Note added: Several years after this webpage about Frederick Clark was first posted, I was contacted by Paul Clark. He explained that his great-grandfather was Albert Clark, Frederick's younger brother! Paul kindly provided some details of Frederick's life that were unknown to me. At that time Paul was editing and preparing for print an unpublished memoir written by Albert's widow, Mary T. Clark. Her recollection was covering the years between 1875 and 1887, while Albert and Mary lived on a ranch in Southern California. Frederick was mentioned several times in the text. For example, we learn that children in the family affectionally called him "soldier uncle". However, not a word about Fred's marriage to Sarah Dutcher. Similarly, Paul found nothing about Sarah in other family documents to which he had access. No lucky break here.

[The result of Paul's editorial effort was a book published by the History Press, Charleston, in 2013: Pioneer Ranch Life in Orange; A Victorian woman in Southern California. By Mary Teegarden Clark; Edited with Preface and Introduction by Paul F. Clark].


The Lewthwaites

As stated earlier, Frederick died in 1920. In the mid 1920s, Pearl, a widow, lived with her three children in Westport, Connecticut. From 1929 to 1931, only her son George, a student (and later a 'clerk'), still lives with Pearl in Westport. Two daughters, Adeline and Marjoire, have married and changed their last names to Bull and Rough, respectively. By 1933, there are no more Lewthwaites in Connecticut, and tracing Pearl and her children becomes increasingly difficult. In 1953 we find George A. Lewthwaite Jr., now married to Barbara T[aft?], in Davenport, Iowa, where George is a sales or general manager of the Pioneer Instrument Division, a part of the Bendix Aviation Corporation. George's mother Pearl may have been living with them in the final years of her life. Pearl died in Davenport in April 1973, at the age of 95.

Chronicles of Early Ascents of Half Dome