Biography of Clark S. West

Clark S. West, born May 9, 1841, in Chautauqua County, New York, is a respected farmer and former state senator in Yankton County, South Dakota. The son of Louis and Amanda West, he relocated to Iowa in 1834, where his father farmed and worked as a machinist. Clark moved to Yankton County with $75 and a team of horses, acquiring 160 acres of government land. Despite early hardships, including a devastating flood in 1881, he expanded his holdings to around 1,100 acres. A dedicated Republican and active Mason, Clark served as a justice of the peace and state senator. He married Elizabeth Van Osdel in 1863, and they have two sons, A. Louis and Jesse C.

Clark S. West was born in Chautauqua County, New York, on the 9th of May, 1841, and is a son of Louis and Amanda (Husbrook) West, the former a native of the Empire State and the latter of Vermont. They were married in New York and the father engaged in conducting a hotel and was also employed as a machinist, possessing considerable mechanical ability. In 1834, however, he moved westward and purchased a farm in Mitchell County, Iowa, becoming the owner of one hundred and sixty acres which he secured from the government and which he cultivated and improved throughout his business career. He was engaged in the lumber business for a time at Carpenter, but his last years were spent in honorable retirement from labor and in the enjoyment of the fruits of his former toil. In politics, he was an active and influential Democrat and he acceptably served in a number of county offices, including those of supervisor and assessor. His wife, a most estimable lady, held membership in the Christian Church and both Mr. and Mrs. West passed away in Iowa. In their family were four children: Warren C. married a Miss Musser and after her death was again married, his home being now in Eldora. He had two children by each wife. Henry P. is married and resides in Saint Ansgar, Iowa, and by his first wife he had one child and by his second wife had two children. He deals in real estate and is also engaged in the butchering business. Francelia became the wife of John Crandall and after his death married D. C. Beldon, who is auditor of the Moore County Transcript, of Austin, Minnesota. Their family numbers four children.

Like the other members of the West household, Clark S. West of this review received good educational privileges in his boyhood days. He remained with his father until twenty-six years of age and then started for Dakota, settling in Yankton County. He possessed at that time cash capital of nearly seventy-five dollars and a team of horses. Flour at that time sold for seven dollars a hundred pounds and the first mower which was placed on sale brought one hundred and thirty-five dollars. Mr. West secured one hundred and sixty acres of government land which was entirely wild and unimproved. He built a log house with a dirt roof but has since replaced this pioneer dwelling with a nice farm residence which was erected in 1875. In 1883 he built a good barn. Trials and difficulties were encountered by him and the other pioneers, for in the decade between 1860 and 1870 grasshoppers frequently destroyed the crops and in 1881 Mr. West lost five thousand dollars in a great flood, when the Missouri River broke over her banks and spread across the country. He had forty head of cattle and horses destroyed at that time and his wheat crop was entirely ruined. Such things would have utterly discouraged many a man of less resolute spirit, but he has persevered in the task which he assigned himself of making a farm and winning a competence in Yankton County and his perseverance and labors have at length gained their reward. He now has about eleven hundred acres of land, including property in Iowa, and he likewise has town property in this state. He has raised graded cattle, carried on general farming, and for twenty years has successfully conducted a dairy business.

In September, 1863, Mr. West was united in marriage to Miss Elizabeth Van Osdel, a daughter of Abraham Van Osdel, and a native of Minnesota. Two children graced this union. A. Louis, the eldest, married Ida Harris and is a successful agriculturist of Yankton County. They have had five children, one of whom is deceased. The younger son, Jesse C., is still with his father and ably assists in the cultivation of the home farm. Mrs. West is a member of the Congregational Church and the family is prominent socially, the hospitality of the best homes of this portion of the state being extended to Mr. West, his wife, and sons. Fraternally he is a Mason and politically a Republican, active in support of the party. He has been honored with public office and for eight years he served as justice of the peace, his decisions being strictly fair and impartial. In 1870 he was elected to the state senate and proved a capable member of the law-making body of the commonwealth. He has also been active in school work. His life has been guided by principles that in every land and clime command admiration and his course has made him an honored and valued representative of his adopted country.


Robinson, Doane, History of South Dakota: together with mention of Citizens of South Dakota, [Logansport? IN] : B. F. Bowen, 1904.

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