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Gabriel Penn Clark Business Records 1853 - 1920

Collection 134

[Business Records,] 1853-[192-]


The business records of Gabriel Penn Clark, early Shawnee County, Kansas, sawmill owner and distiller, were given to the Kansas State Historical Society by Betty (Wright) Leech in1976 and 1987 on behalf of herself and Clark’s other great-grandchildren.

There are no restrictions on access to these papers. Copyright to the letter sent and receipts (folders 134.4 and 134.7-134.8) has been given to the Kansas State Historical Society. The subject of literary rights was not addressed at the time the other papers were donated, consequently copyright is presumed to belong to the donors as Clark’s heirs.

The collection has been arranged to the item level, listed to the file-unit (folder) level, and cataloged to the collection level. The entire collection has been microfilmed; in addition to the reference microfilm copy at the Kansas State Historical Society, a copy of the microfilm has been given to the Jefferson County (Kansas) Historical Society.


Gabriel Penn Clark was born in Virginia. He married Julia Ann Scott and was a carpenter in Marshall Township, Platte County, Missouri.

Anxious to operate his own business, he came to the newly opened Kansas Territory in 1855 and purchased Kaw Half-Breed Reserve No. 8 where Big Muddy Creek emptied into the Kansas River at the foot of Calhoun Bluffs. This land was in what was then Calhoun County, Kansas, but when Calhoun County was divided between Jefferson and Shawnee counties, Clark’s property straddled the county line.

After buying the land, Clark returned to Missouri and brought his family and the sawmill and other purchased goods to Kansas. His business thrived and he sold lumber to many of the early residents of Topeka. For a short time Clark and E. J. Link operated a distillery.

Clark lived on the property with his wife and nine children until his death in 1892. Julia Clark died in 1905.

Additional information may be found in Clark’s biography in the Grantville Community Historical Society’s History of Grantville, Kansas, 1854-1976 (in the Kansas State Historical Society’s Library, K 978.1 – J35 G767), pages 28-30; a copy of these pages has been placed with other biographical information in the finding aids folder at the beginning of the collection.

Scope and Content

This collection records the business activities of an early Kansas resident who operated a sawmill near a rapidly-growing urban area during the time of its greatest construction. It is unknown whether Gabriel Penn Clark realized the prospects for the village of Topeka when he purchased the land where Big Muddy Creek flowed into the Kansas River just northeast of the town, but he soon capitalized on his prowess as a sawmill operator and the nearby availability of good timber.

Clark began keeping the first volume of account books when he was still in Platte County, Missouri. Soon thereafter he moved to Calhoun County, Kansas, and the entries reflected the cutting and sale of lumber to other settlers in the vicinity. Some of the most prominent pioneers in Topeka history were his customers, and their names are entered in his books.

As were many of the early merchants, Clark’s business encompassed not only lumber but also building materials of all kinds; it is also likely that he stocked other merchandise until more specialized stores were built in the vicinity.

These records have considerable research value for several different reasons. Those interested in the territorial and early statehood periods of Kansas will find the account books with their information about construction materials bought and sold to be of interest. Many of the entries in the account books are of persons whom G. P. Clark employed, and the information about their hours and wages could prove useful to those studying economics or labor history. Genealogists will find names of early residents of Jefferson and Shawnee counties which may prove helpful in determining periods of residence.

Other manuscripts that may be of interest to researchers studying early Jefferson and Shawnee county history include the Jefferson County, Shawnee County, and Topeka history collections; the Henry Miles Moore collection and the papers of Moore in the custody of Yale University library, of which a microfilm copy is in the Kansas State Historical Society (MS 33-35, use and copying restricted); Shawnee County commissioners’, registers of deeds, and surveyors’ records on microfilm (MS- 206.1, -26.1, and-959.1, respectively); and the George Albert Root collection. The Henry Miles Moore microfilm cited above and the Stutely Nichols miscellaneous collection contain information relating to Platte County, Missouri. Other manuscript collections with information on the lumber business in Kansas include the Miller Brothers Hardware Company of Onaga (on microfilm); the Foster Brothers Lumber Company miscellaneous collection (Randolph and statewide); Hodges Brothers, Olathe (collection no. 59); Keith Lumber Company, Seneca (collection no. 63); Crihfield-Teeter Lumber Company, Geneseo (collection no. 96); Smith, Shepherd and Company, Burlingame (Margaret Price miscellaneous collection); and the Myron Clarke Tubbs (Kinsley Roller Mills) collection (no. 158). There is also a photograph of an unidentified sawmill in Jefferson County in the photo collection (FK2.J2 .32 *1). The three research departments of the society (Archives, Library, and Manuscripts) hold a wealth of information on Jefferson and Shawnee counties and businesses in the State.

Contents List

Series Descriptions

[Account Books,] 1853-1890. [2] v. (2 in.)
(folders 134.1 – 134.2)

Primarily ledgers of accounts with Gabriel Penn Clark’s sawmill business, but also accounts of all types, including hours and pay of individual employees and purchases and sales of lumber and other building materials. The two volumes were kept concurrently, but the reason for this is unknown.

Vol. 1, 1853-1890, is primarily a ledger, but there are also general and journal entries. At the beginning of the volume there are registers of moneys received and paid out by Clark commencing April 1, 1853 (when he was in Platte County, Mo.), with persons, purposes, and amounts enumerated. Also included in the book are accounts of Clark’s sawmill operation in Kansas—which includes a list of logs handled, chopped, rolled and sawed—and accounts of the Clark & Link distillery. The distillery records (beginning on page (81) [in parentheses]) include a register showing length of fermentation in hours, quantities of pomace and wine (believed to be gallon measures), proof, and amounts taxed. On pages (84) through (86) are lists of apples bought for the distillery. Brandy sold is recorded on pages (87) through (89). Children’s notes, probably by Vivian Chiles, are written in the index pages, as are names and addresses, presumably of classmates as late as the 1920s.

Vol. 2, 1855-1865, contains entries similar in nature to those of the other book, but without the distillery information; in addition, this volume was apparently used as a memoranda book for Clark’s notes to himself. There is also a list of Wright Family members and Lillie Myers’ name and address, written as a child in 1924.

Volumes arranged chronologically.

Accounts in each volume indexed alphabetically by first letter of surname.

[Letters received,] 1861-1865. 3 items.
(folder 134.3)

Letters from F. S. Crane and E. Tefft of Topeka, Kansas. Crane’s letters are requests for lumber to be picked up by others. Tefft’s letter outlines specifications of work he would like done.

Arranged chronologically.

[Letter sent,] 1885 July 7. 1 item.
(folder 134.4)

A letter believed to have been written by G. P. Clark at Eureka Springs, Ark., to the Paddock Hawley Iron Co., St. Louis, instructing the latter to ship the carload of nails he ordered.

[Note,] 1862 Aug. 30. 1 item.
(folder 134.5)

A note for 750 lbs. of flour due J. N. Miller subject to delivery of 1000 feet of lumber from G. P. Clark as ordered by Miller. The signature of the holder of the note has been torn away.

Bills, 1868 Mar. 9. 4 items.
(folder 134.6)

Statements rendered to individuals for lumber purchased and sawed by G. P. Clark. Each bill contains the specifications for each board to be cut, the name of the person to whom the lumber was delivered, the number of board feet, and the cost.

Arranged chronologically with undated items preceding dated documents.

[Receipt for accounts payable,] 1863 Mar. 31. 1 item
(folder 134.7)

Receipt for walnut lumber in lieu of payment made by Clark to C. H. Melonie.

[Receipts for accounts receivable,] 1884 Oct. 3-31. 2 items.
(folder 134.8)

Receipts for payments by Kenner & Whitner of Eureka Springs, Ark., to G. P. Clark.

Arranged chronologically.

Suggested Citation:

The suggested citation form for this collection is:

[name or description of document], [date of document], [series], Gabriel Penn Clark collection (no. 134), Manuscripts Department, Kansas State Historical Society.

Collection and folder numbers are not necessary but often can help archivists locate cited materials more quickly. If the microfilm copy of this collection is used, that fact should also be noted.

Some examples of specific citations:
Gabriel Penn Clark, Account Book, vol. 1, folder 134.1, Gabriel Penn Clark collection (no. 134), Manuscripts Department, Kansas State Historical Society.

F. S. Crane to G. P. Clark, 30 Sept. 1861, Letters Received, 1861-1865, Gabriel Penn Clark Papers, 1853 –[192-], microfilm, Kansas State Historical Society.

J. Thomas Brown, 1980; reprocessed by Robert L. Knecht, 1989

Kansas State Historical Society
Manuscripts Department

Box List

[Business records,] 1853 – [192-]
2 in. (12 items)
(Coll. 134)

Folder List

Col. F
  [Account books] 1853-1890
134.1 [no.1] 1853-1890
134.2 [no. 2] 1855-1865
134.3 [Letters received] 1861-1865
134.4 [Letters sent] 1885 July 7
134.5 [Note] 1862 Aug. 30
134.6 [Bills] 1868 Mar. 9
134.7 [Receipt for accounts payable] 1863 Mar. 31
134.8 [Receipts for accounts receivable] 1884 Oct. 3-31


MS- [Papers,] 1853 –[192-],
2 in. (12 items) (on partial reel of microfilm)

Microfilm of originals in:
Gabriel Penn Clark collection (no. 134).

Carpenter, sawmill owner, distiller; of Platte
County, Mo., Shawnee County, Kan.
Account books and other records of Clark’s carpentry, lumber,
and distillery businesses. The firm sold building-construction goods
to many of the early settlers of Topeka, Kan., and vicinity. Included
in the account books are ledgers of customers’ accounts, hours & wages
of employees, sales, timber cut & sold, and products bought & sold for
the Clark & Link distillery; the volumes also contain memoranda, names
of family members, and children’s notes. Other records consist of
correspondence, notes, bills, and receipts.
Arranged by series, thereunder chronologically.
Original collection given by Betty (Wright) Leech, 1976 and
1987, on behalf of Gabriel Penn Clark’s great-grandchildren.
Microfilmed by Kansas State Historical Society (Topeka), 1989.
Information on copyright available in the repository.
Unpublished finding aids available in the repository.

1 Accounting-Kansas-Jefferson County-Books of account.
2 Accounts current-Kansas-Jefferson County.
3 Building materials-Kansas-Jefferson County.
4 Building materials-Kansas-Shawnee County.
5 Business records-Kansas-Jefferson County.
6 Carpenters-Kansas-Jefferson County.
7 Carpenters-Missouri-Platte County.
8 Children's writings.
9 Clark family.
10 Commercial correspondence.
11 Distilleries-Kansas-Jefferson County.
12 Genealogy-Kansas-Shawnee County.
13 Invoices-Kansas-Jefferson County.
14 Jefferson County, Kan.
15 Logging-Kansas-Jefferson County.
16 Logging-Kansas-Shawnee County
17 Lumber trade-Kansas-Jefferson County.  
18 Memorandums.  
19 Pioneers-Kansas-Topeka region.  
20 Platte County, MO.  
21 Promissory notes-Kansas-Jefferson County.  
22 Receipts (Acknowledgements)-Kansas-Jefferson County.  
23 Sales-Kansas-Jefferson County.  
24 Sawmills-Kansas-Jefferson County.  
25 Shawnee County, Kan.  
26 Timber-Kansas-Jefferson County.  
27 Topeka, Kan., region.  
28 Wages-Woodworkers-Kansas-Jefferson County.  
29 Woodworkers-Kansas-Jefferson County.  
  I Clark & Link.
  II Chrono: 1853-1859
  III 1853-[192-].
  IV Chrono: 1860-1889
  V Chrono: 1870-1879
  VI Chrono: 1880-1889.
  VII Chrono: 1890-1899.
  VIII Chrono: 1900-1909.
  IX Chrono: 1910-1919.
  X Chrono: [192-].
  XI Source: Leech, Betty (Wright), gift, 1976.
  XII Source: Leech, Betty (Wright), gift, 1987.

Notes on this Microfilm Copy

This microfilm contains records of Gabriel Penn Clark’s sawmill business and other ventures in Platte County, Missouri, and Shawnee and Jefferson Counties, Kansas, from 1853 through the 1920s. The original records form the Gabriel Penn Clark collection (no. 134) in the Kansas State Historical Society (Topeka), Manuscripts Department.

Notice: This material may be protected by copyright law (title 17, U.S. Code).

The user is cautioned that the publication of the contents of this microfilm may be construed as a violation of copyright. Copyright derives from the principle of common law, affirmed in the 1976 copyright act, that the writer of an unpublished letter or other manuscript has the sole right to publish the contents thereof for the duration of copyright unless he or she affirmatively parts with that right; copyright descends to his or her legal heirs regardless of the ownership of the physical manuscript itself. It is the responsibility of an author or his or her publisher to secure permission of the owner of copyright in unpublished writing.

Copyright to the letter sent and receipts (folders 134.4 and 134.7-134.8) has been given to the Kansas State Historical Society. The subject of literary rights was not addressed at the time the other papers were donated, consequently copyright is presumed to belong to Clark’s heirs.

A register describing the Gabriel Penn Clark collection follows this introduction. A contents list follows the register.

Blank pages in each volume have not been microfilmed. Similarly, arithmetic computations in the volumes and on the reverse side of other documents were not filmed.

These records were prepared for microfilming by Bob Knecht, May 1989.