Orion Clark, Elliot Street Barber


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Elliot Street, Summer 1864 To Summer 1869


Orion Clark's barber pole angles out from his house near a great sycamore tree. A man with boots peers into a shop window at the left and another person stands on the far side of Main Street. The driver who holds the reins on top of the coach has a beaver top hat and a dark mustache. He has one passenger, who wears a smaller hat.


The sign fastened to the Exchange Block reads "Wood & Kathan", indicating the stove and hardware emporium of Edward A. Wood and Dorr W. Kathan. The barber pole of Frank Green stands before the Exchange Block.


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Elliot Street, Circa 1873 To March 1877

Charles L. Spears Dining Room At Right


Orion Clark's family includes his wife Lucy A. Kenney from Guilford, daughter of George W. Kenney and Roxanna, his adoped niece Elizabeth Kenney, his father Colin Clark and his mother, the former Gratia Streeter from Vernon, Vermont, and two brothers and two sisters---Forrester, Eugene, Eveline, and Marietta.


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Vermont Record And Farmer, July 28, 1871


Orion's Lustre Referrals


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Twisted Himself To Death.


The Determined Suicide of a Former Brattleboro

Barber and Respected Citizen.


Orion Clark, for 24 years a well known barber in Brattleboro, hung himself to a pine tree on Col. Bradley's farm near the mouth of West river, Friday night. His body was found after an all night's search about 10 o'clock Saturday morning. He had made a noose of two pocket-handkerchiefs, and after adjusting the knot it appears that he tied the other end to a limb which he bent down for the purpose.


He was found crouched on his knees, having tightened the noose by swingling round and round, with a determination to make an end to himself which no difficulty or pain could shake. When found, his face and hands were considerbably discolored, his body perfectly rigid, and it was evident that he had been dead 12 or 14 hours.


Mr. Clark came home Wednesday from Connecticut, where he had been at work at his trade for the past two months. He remained in the house nearly all that day, saying he hated to go out because everybody was looking at him. Thursday afternoon about 5 o'clock he went out, as his family supposed, for a walk, though he kissed his wife and said something about a broken heart.


He greeted his friends very pleasantly as he met them and proceeded to Gen. Lynde's office, and waited some time for the general to come in to talk with him about buyiong back the shop and business which he had sold to Conrad Schneider last fall. Gen. Lynde finally offered to help him to the money and take a second mortgage on his house. He told him to go to Schneider and get his lowest figures.


Clark seemed very much cheered up at this at first, but after thinking a moment he said, "No use, General; nobody would let me shave them, for they would all say I am crazy. Thank you for your offer; but you can't help me, nobody can. And here are all these other notes coming due. It's no use."


Then he walked up the railroad track, and down upon the rocks where they boys go in bathing. Some boys saw him looking into the water there about seven o'clock, but they supposed he was fishing and paid no attention to him. This was the last anybody ever saw of him alive. Apparently he had intended to drown himself, but seeing he was discovered he left and walked up the track, and probably hung himself soon after.


As he didn't return in the evening Mrs. Clark became alarmed, called for assistance, and a party of searchers started out for him about 10 o'clock. The river and its vicinity was searched all night and the morning following, until Mason Lamb and a couple of boys finally found the body.


Mr. Clark had been in business here for 24 years, and was universally respected. His life was uniformly upright and honorable, and he was always polite and pleasing to everybody. But he had been supposed to be "out" of his head before.


Some 14 years ago he invented a "lustre" and "lotion" for man and horse, and he went into a wild speculation to make a fortune from it. He sold his shop and put all his money, a few thousands which he had saved from hard work, into the scheme; all the country around Brattleboro was plastered with showy hand-bills bearing a picture of the constellation Orion; a fine advertising wagon was fitted out; and whole columns taken in several newspapers.


The result was the loss of all he had, and a load of debt; but he went to work, paid up like a man, and had got well started towards prosperity when he sold out last fall and invested in patent rights.


He bought a washing machine and corn sheller patent, with the whole of Fisk's lightning rod outfit, which he had never used, and of course after he had worked this scheme for a few months his money was gone again, and a note just maturing, which he was unable to meet, threw him into the fit of despondency which finally unsettled his mind, and resulted in his terrible end. His family consists of a wife and niece, but no children. His father now resides at Orange, Mass.


The Reformer, August 15, 1884


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A Sad Case Of Self-Destruction.


---Our community was somewhat startled last Saturday morning to learn that Mr. Orion Clark, the well-known barber, had been missing since the evening previous, and that a search during the night had failed to reveal his whereabouts.


It was known that he had at times shown symptoms of mental unsoundness, and also that recent lawsuits and unwise business ventures had left him somewhat embarrassed financially, and opinions differed as to the probabilities of his having made way with himself or hastily left town.


Inquiry revealed the fact that he left his house shortly before supper time and called upon Gen. W. W. Lynde at his meal store, with whom he had some conversation about his financial affairs. He then seemed in a very dejected mood and declined the General's offer to re-establish him in business, saying that it would be of no use.


He left the store about half past 7 o'clock and was seen going up the railroad track back of the American House. Search was continued in this direction in the morning, and about 10 o'clock his body was discovered suspended from the limb of a tree on Richards Bradley's place about opposite Mr. Eaton's house, west of the railroad track and within sight of the highway.


He had tied two handkerchiefs together for a rope, and had tightened it to the point of strangulation by turning round and round, as the limb bent so low that when found his knees touched the ground.


Mr. Clark leaves a wife, but no children except an adopted daughter. His aged father, Mr. Colin Clark, has for the past few years resided in Athol, Mass. The deceased was a member of the Baptist church and highly respected. He was at one time in good financial circumstances, being an excellent workman and a good manager when in his right mind. He first manifested symptoms of insanity some 13 years ago, when he went into a wild scheme in connection with the manufacture and sale of a "hair lustre," by which he became deeply involved.


His recent lawsuits with Wm. Martin and the Methodist society, involving the question of the location of the boundary lines of his lot on Elliot street, caused him a great deal of worriment and an expense which necessitated mortgaging his house; and last spring he was again seized with one of his wild speculative manias, sold out his barber shop, started to go into the lightning rod business, and finally bought patent right territory for a washing machine, to sell which he went off on an extended trip.


He returned (doubtless in his right mind) to find that he was again financially ruined, and it was, no doubt, the discouragement consequent upon realizing the results of his crazy schemes which led him to the fatal act. Of late he had been at work at his trade as a journeyman in Hartford and Stafford Springs, Conn., and other places, coming home the fore part of last week. The funeral services were held from his house Monday afternoon.


Vermont Phoenix, August 15, 1884.


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Mrs. Orion Clark.


Lucy, widow of Orion Clark, died suddenly of heart disease at 11:15 Monday forenoon at her home at 16 Elliot Street. She had been in ill health since the death of her husband about 13 years ago, but had failed more rapidly during the past three weeks. Funeral services were held at the house a 2 o'clock yesterday afternoon, Rev. L. D. Temple officiating. The burial was in the Prospect Hill cemetery.


Mrs. Clark was one of 13 children of Mr. and Mrs. George W. Kenney, and was born in Guilford, near the Vernon line, Sept. 12, 1837. When about 18 years old she came to Brattleboro to take charge of the dining room in the cold water cure building on Elliot street which was then a flourishing establishment. She was next employed in the dining room of the old Revere House and in both houses she was a general favorite with the patrons and employes.


She left the Revere House to be married 32 years ago. She has had no children, but for the past 24 or 25 years her home has been the home of her niece, Miss Elizabeth Kenney. She joined the Baptist church over 20 years ago and was active in its affairs until her health began to fail. Since then she has given liberally toward its support.


She was sympathetic to an unusual degree and she was distinctively a friend in times of trouble. Her loss is felt by a wide circle of acquaintances. She leaves a father and mother in Perkinsville, a brother, George W. Kenney, master mechanic for the Central Vermont railroad in Rutland, and the following sisters: Mrs. Matilda Jones of Detroit, Mich., Mrs. Joseph Twitchell and Mrs. Jacob Perkins of Gardner, Mass., Mrs. Charles Truax of St. Paul, Minn., Mrs. Melvin Robbins of Perkinsville, Mrs. George P. Sheldon of Hopedale, Mass., Mrs. Robert Hollister of Hartford, Conn., and Mrs. Albert Rockwell of Brattleboro.


Vermont Phoenix, January 21, 1898.


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The professional house painter John Davis conducted his shop on Main Street, and kept an account ledger from 1863 to 1867, with this page detailing the closed account for Orion Clark during April 3 to May 7 one year. The entry for May 2 indicates "To painting pole" for 3.25 dollars. The last day's work was "To varnishing door".


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June 1879

Orion Clark has "put up" Leonard's monkey, that died last winter, with great skill and ingenuity, and in a style which shows a correct appreciation of monkey nature.


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An arson fire in 1869 changed this Elliot Street neighborhood, even for those with only minor damage, like Orion Clark---


Those who suffered to a greater or less degree by fire and water, and through the breakage caused by the removal of their goods, aside from those who had the lion's share of the fire, are enumerated below: E. A. Wood, F. C. Edwards, E. G. Simonds & Co., Perry & Holding, Orion Clark, Wilder Smith, O. J. Pratt; Pratt, Wright & Co., Cune & Brackett, Miss H. J. Gill; Houghton, Spencer & Co., H. F. Houghton, Thompson & Ranger, Glover & Cutting, Vermont Phoenix, F. D. Cobleigh, Fred Simonds, Leonard & Roess, Mrs. T. Avery, T. M. Titus & Co., P. Simonds, Henry Harrington, I. N. Thorn & Co., C. C. Frost, H. Soule, John W. Watson, Savings Bank, F. S. Brackett, G. A. Boyden. (These losses have been promptly adjusted by the companies holding the risks.)


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