Colonel Clark E. Carr was born at Boston Corners, Erie County, New York, May 20, 1836. He was the son of Clark M. and Delia (Torrey) Carr. His parents were intelligent and painstaking people, and gave their children all the advantages possible in those days. His mother died when he was three years old, and is buried at Boston Corners. When he was nine years old, his father married Fanny Le Yau, who became a devoted and affectionate mother to the children. The family came West around the Lakes, in March, 1850, landing in Chicago. Here teams were purchased, and they made their journey in "prairie schooners" to Henry County, Illinois, locating on a farm near Cambridge. In the Autumn of 1851, the family removed to Galesburg, where the father and his second wife lived and died.
Colonel Carr's paternal ancestry reaches back to Caleb Carr, who died while Colonial Governor of Rhode Island, and to Rev. John Clark, who was driven out of the Massachusetts colony for preaching the Baptist doctrine. Like Roger Williams, John Clark went to Rhode Island, then a wilderness, and afterwards became its Governor. The Colonel's great-grandmother was a Miss Clark, descended from Governor John Clark, and Clark has been the Christian name of his grandfather, of his father, of himself, and of his son.
Colonel Carr's early educational advantages were of the better sort, and he judiciously and wisely improved his opportunities. He attended the district school in the village of his nativity, until he was eleven years of age. He then went to Springville Academy, Erie County, New York, where he remained two years. At fourteen he arrived in Galesburg. Immediately, he entered Knox Academy and afterwards the Collegiate Department of Knox College, leaving at the end of the sophomore year to commence the study of law. He first entered the Law School at Poughkeepsie, New York, and subsequently, the Albany Law School, graduating in 1857. His first co-partnership in the practice of his profession was with Thomas Harrison, and three years later, with Hon. O. F. Price, under the firm name of Carr and Price. In March, 1861, as a just acknowledgment of his services on the stump, he was appointed by President Lincoln Postmaster of Galesburg, which position he held for twenty-four years.
Early in the War of the Rebellion, Governor Yates appointed him Colonel on his staff, and to its close, Colonel Carr performed his duties faithfully, such as assisting in the organization of regiments at Springfield, visiting the army in the field, and bringing home the sick and wounded. Governor Yates said that no man outside of the army did more efficient service. He was constantly active, also, in the interest of the government, in awakening by his speeches throughout Illinois, a patriotic and living public sentiment; often speaking with Governor Yates and others in support of the State and National administration. In 1862, when an attempt was made to turn out all the republican State officers of Illinois, Colonel Carr and other patriotic men came as champions of their cause before the people, and succeeded in keeping the State Government in the control of Governor Yates and his colleagues. In September, 1863, a great mass meeting was held in Chicago for the purpose of sustaining President Lincoln in issuing the Emancipation Proclamation. It was here, from the Court House steps, that Colonel Carr made one of the greatest speeches of his life. It was published in the Chicago papers and circulated throughout the country.
Colonel Carr has always shown himself to be a public spirited man.
He has held several offices in the city of his adoption. He was a delegate to the National Convention, held at Baltimore in 1864, which re-nominated President Lincoln. He was a delegate from the State-at-large to the National Convention in 1884, which nominated Blaine and Logan. He was a member of the committee on the platform resolutions, of which committee President McKinley was chairman.
It is almost needless to say that Colonel Carr is and always was a republican. He has spoken in almost every northern State in advocacy of republican principles. He also made many literary addresses, and his services in both the political and literary field are still in great demand. He spoke at the first meeting in favor of the Hennepin Canal, held at Ottawa many years ago, and was present at the Willard Hall meeting in Washington, and at other meetings favoring the enterprise. A great event in which Colonel Carr bore a conspicuous part was in the organization of the Gettysburg Association. Commissioners from the several States whose soldiers had participated in that battle constituted the Association. Colonel Carr was appointed commissioner for Illinois by the Governor. The dead bodies were to be consigned to their graves, and headstones erected, before the cemetery was finally turned over to the general Government. It was this Association that invited President Lincoln and his Cabinet to be present, and Edward Everett to deliver the oration at the dedicatory exercises, and it was Colonel Carr that suggested and urged that Lincoln also be invited to speak. All these commissioners sat on the stage, when the great patriotic President delivered that celebrated address.
Colonel Carr has been honored by being called to high positions, and he had honored the positions to which he has been called.
Under President Harrison's administration, he was appointed Minister Resident and Consul General to Denmark. While a conference of Consuls General, of which he was a member, was in session in Paris, he received notice from Washington of his promotion to the rank of Minister Plenipotentiary and Envoy Extraordinary, in which position he represented our country at that brilliant court for four years. As Minister, Colonel Carr performed signal service in the interest of the World's Fair and for the commerce of the United States. He served his country faithfully for four years as Minister of Copenhagen, and received the highest commendations from the Government.
Colonel Carr is entitled to great credit for the part he took in inducing the Santa Fe Company to build the line of their railway through Galesburg. The company made several surveys with the design of finding the shortest practical line to Chicago. Orders were issued to adopt the line about twelve miles south of Galesburg. Through the efforts of Colonel Carr, the company was induced to prospect a line through this city, which was finally adopted upon certain conditions. While the citizens contributed generously to the work of the complying with those conditions, but for the efforts of Colonel Carr, the Santa Fe Railway would have gone direct from Fort Madison to Streator, leaving Galesburg to one side.
Colonel Carr also took a deep interest in the Omaha Exposition. He was President of the Illinois commission, composed of twenty members appointed from different parts of the State. The commission erected a beautiful building on the grounds, which became a popular resort. The affairs of this commission were so well managed as to elicit the highest commendations. An unexpended portion of the appropriation of nearly $7,000 was left in the State Treasury. For this, much credit is due to the president of the commission.
From Carl Sandburg's "Always The Young Strangers"
First Paydays Chapter
At one house set well back a man would often be at home and expecting me and more yet, expecting the latest telegraphed news over America and the wide world. This man expecting me would step out of the door to take the paper from my hand. He was the most roly-poly fat man in town. There were other fat men who stood bigger and weighed more, but no other so roly-poly. He was round everywhere you looked at him, no straight lines, even his back curved. He was a waddly barrel of a man, with a double chin, a round face, a gray silver mustache and goatee. This was the Honorable Clark E. Carr, mentioned often as the Republican Party boss of Knox County and having a hand in national politics. He had been appointed postmaster by Republican Presidents. He was to serve as United State Minister to Demark.
He liked to be called "Colonel" Carr, encouraged people to call him "Colonel" and editors to print "Colonel" in front of his name. I believed "Colonel" Carr had sometime and somewhere marched his men on dusty roads in sweltering sun and had seen men fall wounded and dying. But later I learned that the Civil War Governor, Richard Yates, had appointed him a staff colonel, so he was a commander without a regiment, an officer who never reached the marching and fighting fronts.
At a later time I heard Colonel Carr in a campaign speech poke fun at himself for being so fat and roly-poly. At Copenhagen he had worked out some schedule that let American pork into Denmark at a lower tariff. He mentioned this and the collops of fat and flesh on him shook with his laughter as he added, "When I was Minister to Denmark the American hog obtained recognition!"
As a young man he was the Illinois member of the Board of Commissioners who made up the program for the exercises dedicating the cemetery on the Gettysburg Battlefield. He rode in the parade to the battlefield and had written that he noticed President Lincoln on a horse just ahead of him and how Lincoln sat straight in the saddle at first and later leaned forward with arms limp and head bent far down. This roly-poly man taking the Republican-Register from my hand had met Lincoln in party powwows, had heard Lincoln tell stories, and Clark E. Carr said of Lincoln, "He could make a cat laugh." In 1864 he made speeches up and down Illinois for Lincoln and at Quincy had spoken before a wild crowd of ten thousand people from the same platform as Bob Ingersoll, the Peoria lawyer.
Of course the twelve-year-old boy handing him his evening paper didn't know what made Clark E. Carr so important. I knew that he had for more than thirty years met and shaken hands with the all the big men of the Republican Party. I knew he could make speeches and statements that got printed. I didn't know that even though he swung a lot of power in the Republican Party he couldn't get it to give him what he wanted most of all. I learned later that he wanted to be elected to Congress and go to Washington and be a statesman. Several times he came near getting what he wanted most of all and those against him stopped him. He would have stood a better chance of getting what he wanted most of all if he had belonged to the Grand Army of the Republic, the G.A.R. During the War, when Lincoln called for fighting men, Clark E. Carr made good speeches for his party but didn't manage to get into a Union blue uniform.
General News Summary.
Gen. Eugene A. Carr, killed by the Apaches, was a brother of Hon. B.O. Carr of Louisville, Ky., supervising inspector of steamboats for the sixth district.
Another was Col. Clark E. Carr, Postmaster of Galesburg, Ill., editor and well known politician.
Freeborn County Standard; Albert Lea, Minnesota.
September 15, 1881; Page Two.
Sarah Grace Mills Carr
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