Friday, August 3, 2012

The Making of a Country Doctor

When Dr. George W. Clark III (George Warren) was born in Chazy in 1920, he was quickly and happily swept up into a large extended family of hard-working locals - many of whom did not have children of their own. George Warren’s aunts, uncles, grandparents and parents were fixtures in Chazy and Mooers, New York. Familiar faces one would see daily – like the Postman, the Schoolteacher, the Builder and Telegraph Operator. Many of them were born in the area and spent their entire lives here, just like George Warren. Dr. Clark’s father, George W. Clark II (1882-1934), was a rural mail carrier for Chazy and his mother, Harriet McDowell Clark (1891-1960), was a schoolteacher in Mooers, Chazy, Champlain and Altona – all part of rural school district #1 during her years of teaching. George Warren was passed around between loving aunts and uncles at gatherings, one of very few offspring in his generation. The two families united by the marriage of George Warren’s parents were the Clark family of Chazy and the McDowell family of Mooers.

George Warren Clark II - your local Postman

Clark Family
By the time George Warren was born the Clark family had been a part of Chazy life for over 80 years. Dr. Clark’s great, great grandfather Henry owned the Fillmore Hotel in Chazy, selling it to his son, Harry S. Clark (1809-1885) in 1866. Harry lost his leg in the Civil War before returning to Chazy and buying his father’s business. He soon changed the name to Clark’s Hotel. Eventually Harry’s son, George W. Clark I (1834-1908), ran the hotel and raised his children there, including George W. Clark II, George Warren’s father.

The Clark Sisters

George W. Clark II was the youngest of seven children, and a favorite of his four surviving sisters - Caroline (Carrie 1863-1953), Marion (Mame 1866-1948), Helen (Nell 1867-1953), and Martha (Mattie 1881-1960). Their sister Alice (1871-1880) died at the age of nine. Nell married James A. Yale (1865-1936), head of Customs & Immigration in Rouses Point for many years. Carrie’s husband John H. North (d.1929) was a prison guard, Mame married Orrin E. Minkler (1864-1929), and Mattie was married to Henry Swenson, a bank employee in Wellesley, Massachusetts. They also had a brother who was a telegraph operator, William H. Clark (Will 1876-1944) who married Jessie Boyd (d. 1941).

Harriet McDowell (in carriage) with her parents and sister Leona

McDowell Family
Harriet McDowell Clark had six siblings. Her father, Julius McDowell  (d. 1908), was born in Canada and settled in Mooers – making his living as a builder. Harriet had two sisters she kept in touch with and who lived in Clinton County - Leone and Kate (d. 1945).

Kate McDowell Oliver

Harriet was very close with her sister Kate, who lived in Plattsburgh. Kate married Grover C. Oliver. Grover owned Oliver Lumber Company, a building and roofing material business in Plattsburgh. The Olivers owned the lighthouse on Point au Roche Road in Beekmantown. Kate and Grover often wintered in Florida, taking Harriet along with them after her husband, George W. Clark II passed away in 1934.

In 1915 these two families became intertwined when George and Harriet married and settled down in Chazy, New York. They were overjoyed when their son George Warren Clark III was born in 1920. This story continues! 

To learn more about Dr. George Clark and his family stay tuned to this blog. We are also preparing an exhibit, "The Making of a Country Doctor" that will open at The Alice in October 2012.


  1. That is so cool! Did Dr. Clark also run an apothecary in the area? I heard there used to be one in the downtown area of Chazy? Is this right?

    1. I do not know about an apothocary in Chazy but don't think Dr. Clark had time for that. The town historian, Bob Cheeseman, would know.

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