SILAS S. CLARK, M.D., a veteran philanthropist and reformer, resident in De Ruyter Village, is probably the oldest practising physician in Madison County, where he was born in the town of Brookfield, June 17, 1824. His paternal grandparents came from Rhode Island, and settled as pioneers in that town. Here his father, Elnathan Clark, was brought up on a backwoods farm, where the axe and the flames preceded the plough, and where the harvesting was followed by the swinging of the flail. Some of the migratory instinct being left in the second generation, instead of settling down near the place of his birth after marriage, he made several successive removals, first to Lincklaen, Chenango County, thence back to Brookfield, after a few years to Jefferson, and from there to Lewis County, where an accident caused his death at the early age of forty-five years. His wife, whose maiden name was Maria Spencer, and whose parents were also pioneers of Brookfield,
whither they came from Rensselaer County, survived him some years, and died at the home of her daughter in Wisconsin.
It was not so easy in those days as now for a farmer's son to obtain a liberal education. Even the public schools of New York were not free, but each family paid for tuition in proportion to the number of pupils it sent. The youthful Silas Clark made the most of his opportunities for acquiring book learning, and with such good results that at the age of twenty he was qualified to teach. He taught three terms in a district school, and a few terms in De Ruyter Institute. While thus engaged, he began the study of medicine under Dr. Ira Spencer, preparatory to attending medical lectures at the University of New York. He was graduated from the Medical Department of that institution in 1848, and immediately began practising in De Ruyter, where he has continued till the present time--a period of forty-five years. The year of his graduation also witnessed his marriage with Mary J. Champlin. The three children born of this union are Lucy Maria, Frank Edwin, and Jane Lillian. The son adopted his father's profession, and, after receiving his diploma from the Buffalo Medical College, was successfully engaged in the practice of medicine for twelve years.
He is now doing business as a druggist at Catskill.
Dr. Silas S. Clark., early becoming convinced that slavery was a great wrong, that slave-holding was a crime, zealously embraced the cause of the Abolitionists, and ever cast his vote and used his influence on
the side of human freedom, till emancipation became a fixed fact, and the "peculiar institution," an anomaly in the heart of the republic, was wiped out of the land. Deeply impressed with the immensity of evil resulting from the unrestricted sale and free use of intoxicating liquors, Dr. Clark is as strong an advocate for temperance to-day as he was for anti-slavery before the war, when the movement was far from being a popular one. He has joined the Prohibitionists, believing that party the only one capable of accomplishing, any reform in this direction, or even willing to undertake it.
A portrait of Dr. Clark, which appears on another page of this work, will be appreciated as a good likeness of one of the most widely known and thoroughly respected citizens of the county, a physician tried and trusted, who has been in practice nearly half a century, a reformer never weary of pleading the cause of the oppressed or of siding with a minority in defence of a principle.
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