The Button Picture (Benjamin Roland Clark born 1901)
On this page we have posted small parts from the pages of 126 -129 of the book titled "Oldtimers... Stories Of Our Pioneers In The Cass And Crow Wing Lake Region" by Carl A. Zapffe. The sections of this book are posted below with permission. The sections below will say on which pages of this book we are quoting from.
On the top of page 126 is the photograph of our Henrietta (Simms) Harrison and the caption reads:
"NETTIE SIMMS of Chicago,
daughter of a mixed-blood horsethief
hanged in Kangas, wife of a physician
who was grandson of President
William Henry Harrison and brother
of President Benjamin Harrison, and
mother of Adelaide who married
From pages 126 and 127 we loved this part posted below, about great great grandfather Chauncey (Chant) Clark and his wife, Adeline (Addie) Harrison and some on her mother Henrietta (Nettie) Simms Harrison.
"Chan's wife was a novel character. My kidhood memory of her presents the rather arresting sight of an old woman almost completely shrouded in a shapeless dress, sitting in a rocking chair on their porch with her head wrapped in a red bandanna hankerchief -- as it was called in those days -- and smoking a corncob pipe! This was decades before American women even began smoking cigarettes. Her son many decades later helped me adjust his shocking memory somewhat by explaining that "in those days all women wore ankle-length dresses and smoked corncob pipes"! Maybe so. I was but a six-year old at the time; and I probably hadn't seen enough women yet to establish their norm. But I still say, after nearly 70 subsequent years of virtually earning a Ph. D on the subject, that she was weird.
In fact, Herb Anderson -- as one may recall from earlier essays -- was a bosom pal of her son, bull-necked George, particularly when it came to demolishing dancehalls on Saturday nights. Herb had dinner at the Clarks one night -- and just once we might add -- at which he got served a big batch of sauerkraut and eggs! This not only falls considerably short of recommending itself to me; but my background as a chemist prompts serious consideration of checking out what might be easily visible sulfurous reactions in a laboratory flask.
However, "Addie" had a pedigree that would choke a horse -- in direct line of descent from one President of the United States, and in collateral descent with another! William Henry Harrison (1773- 1841) was our 9th President; and a son named John Scott Harrison spawned some ten children by one wife before shifting to a replacement. The second of John's children was another U. S. President, No. 23 in the line up, namely Benjamin Harrison (1833-1901); and our story now concerns a brother of his who became a distinguished medical doctor. When this man came to marry, the lucky girl was one Nettie Sims of Chicago -- daughter of a mix-blood frontiersman who had been hanged for stealing horses!
To Nettie and her husband were born a number of children, the youngest of which was Adeline, arriving in 1873; and "Addie" was a resident of Osakis, Minnesota, when Chan Clark married her. So in this little pipe-smoking lady's veins there pulsed direct-line blood from both a U. S. President and a part-Indian horse thief! No wonder she struck most of us as quite fascinating."
On the top of page 127 is the photograph of Ben Clark (you can also see this photo by scrolling to the top of this pop up web page) the caption in the book reads:
"FAMOUS "BUTTON" PICTURE.
Meet Benjamin Clark, namesake of
his grand uncle U.S. President Ben-
jamin Harrison, direct-line great-
great grandson of U.S. President
William Henry Harrison. Now note
carefully the buttons on his coat! In
those days when you lost a button,
you lost a button, and photographers
On page 129 we found a wonderful description on the character of Mandy's great grandfather Ben Clark.
"Ben was one of those truly backwoods characters whom you must treat in a very special manner, or there is no conversation. Even his widow Flossi later confessed to me she knew practically nothing about Ben's family because he talked so little. ( Please remind me sometime to ask Flossi to recount exactly how Ben made his proposal to her!)
However, Ben was also a typical woodsman being so loaded with priceless and generally unmined information that, if prosperity ever gets around to thanking me for anything, it could well be for the pains I took over the course of many years to transfer -- in fact, often to translate -- Ben's wealth of grass-roots knowledge into potentially useful files. The way I did it was simply to take him where he felt most at ease, namely right out in the woods. For once there, and as I found with my Indian friends, Ben's words would flow so readily that I had trouble recognizing it was the same man."
These are only tiny samples of the stories in the book "Oldtimers... Stories Of Our Pioneers In The Cass And Crow Wing Lake Region" by Carl A. Zapffe. This book holds a wealth of photo-stories on many families in that part of Minnesota during the frontier days. Carl Zapffe's work can be found in major online book stores.
We have more family stories on some of the people mentioned above linked from the Our Stories page. Here you can read about our unsolved Harrison family connection.
If you would like to share your thoughts or add a resource, please visit the message board.
A timeline of all the example stories used in "The UnWritten".