The Clark House

616 East High Street
Boonville, MO

When they began restoring the Clark House in 1990, Merlin and Roberta Schnell found that they were also restoring part of the legacy of Robert P. Clark, known in his day as "the father of the county".

Robert Clark was born in Bedford County, Virginia in 1791 to a family already interested in going west. As a youth he studied law with an uncle, David Bullock, in Clark County, Kentucky. His work must have been impressive as he was appointed clerk of Estill County, KY, while still in his teens.

Clark resigned in 1816 and with his father and other family members moved to Howard County. In 1818 he and his wife Malinda Trigg (daughter of Stephen Trigg) and three children crossed the river to live in Boonville. Their fourth child, Bennett C. was the first white child born in the new county of Cooper on July 13, 1819. They purchased this lot on High Street in October of that year and built a large one room log house for their growing family.

Such were living conditions in those days that the Clarks, (Robert having been appointed clerk of the circuit court in February of 1819) also provided room and board for the circuit judges and lawyers - Abiel Leonard, Peton R. Hayden, Charles French and John S. Buckey.

In January, 1820, Clark advertised his Franklin home for sale and by the fall of that year he and Malinda had moved into the new enlarged addition (what is now the west wing of the present house).

Boonville resident, David Barton, became the president of the Missouri State Convention and Robert Clark was elected as a member to frame Missouri's Constitution in May of 1820, preparing for statehood.

Such was Clark's knowledge of statute laws, his integrity and wisdom, that he held the positions of Circuit Clerk, County Treasurer, Commissioner of School Lands and Postmaster, simultaneously!

It was natural that when the first formal county court was held on January 9, 1821, the sitting was held at the Clark House.

Malinda Clark died around 1828 or 1830.  Soon after Robert married again and another child was born to join the six by his previous marriage. Clark died in 1841.

His son, Bennett followed his father into public life by becoming a judge. He married Margaret Hutchison and lived around Blackwater until entering the court. In 1849 he was chosen Captain of an expedition of 23 local men to the gold rush in California.

In 1868 the size of the old house was nearly doubled by a two-story addition on the east.  The early part of the house with its attached dog-trot and summer kitchen is well preserved with its original siding, framing and millwork. There are four fireplaces, random width flooring and a walnut staircase to the third floor.

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Latest update:  March 08, 2004

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