St. Matthew's Parish

History of Clare

     Clare, in early days referred to as "The Irish Settlement" is located
in Jackson Township in the northwest part of Webster County. As early as
September 20, 1859, by order of the Board of Supervisors, Jackson Township,
which got its name from President Andrew Jackson, was formed from part of
Douglas Township. The first township election was held in the home of
Richard Furlong, October 11, 1859. In 1860 the boundary lines of the
township were changed and the southern section was named Johnson. Still
another boundary line change was made in 1865 and Deer Creek was formed from
the eastern part of the township.
     The early history of Clare dates back to the year 1881 when work was
begun on the first railroad. Officials of the railroad asked Father Brazil
of Des Moines, to christen the city. Father had relatives, the Hallinan
family, living in the settlement. He and M.T. Griffin suggested the name
"Clare" because a number of residents were from County Clare, Ireland. Other
names considered were "Gareyville," "O'Hearnville," and "Brazil."
     The town was plotted in 1882 and work on the railroad continued to
progress-  a depot was erected on the east edge of the track and Mr. W.W.
Lewis was named the first station agent. In the spring of '82 curious
residents gathered to watch the arrival of the first train.
     Several small stores were under construction, the first to open was a
general store operated by Waller and Taber.
     On April 10, 1882 the first U.S. Post Office was established in Clare
and George S. Waller was appointed postmaster.
     Other stores were soon completed and opened- Tom Cunningham's Hardware,
Conway Lumber Co., John Hanrahan Hotel, Kelleys, the center I.C. Company
Coal and Crowley's Shoe Store.
     The summer of 1883 was called "The Wet Summer". Records indicate the
oats yield was 50 bushel and farmers were faced with soft corn.
     In 1884 the first baseball team was organized by Hugh Hollingsworth.
The members were from Clare and Lizard.
     In 1888 there was further sign of progress. Furlong and Conway were
getting their material on the ground for their new store. In May 1889 the
Bank of Clare was established. The officers were: President, C.J. Saunders,
Vice-President, O.M. Olson; and cashier, Thomas Donahoe. The capital
investment was $25,000.
     The prices in 1890 were extremely low when compared with those the
farmers received for their produce today. Corn was 17c, oats 16c, and hogs
were $3.40.
     Scarlet fever, la grippe and measles claimed many lives in the Clare
community in 1891. Both young and old were among the victims.
     An important event took place in February 1892. The business men drew
up a petition to have the town incorporated. Thomas Barrett was elected
mayor. There were 35 yes votes and 2 opposing votes. The first marshall of
Clare was Luke McKearnan, the first clerk was E.J. hood, first street
commissioner- John Quinlan, the first councilmen were C.P. Conway, C.E.
Griffen, Andrew Funchion, O.J. Klapka, C.M. Hood, J.A. Redden Sr., and
Thomas Donahoe treasurer. First notary public was T.A. Cunningham. The
population of Clare at this time was 159. Another important event was that
the Bank of Clare incorporated under the name "State Bank of Clare" with
$90,000 deposits.
     Roads were bad in April 1892 and travel was out of the question. It was
"well nigh impossible to work in the field. It is an every day occasion for
men to get their teams down in the mud."
     On June 23 , "a disagreeable row took place in one of our pet hell
holes Monday night. Blood and black eyes were prominent." On June 30 we read
that "Saloon men object to having their place of business called 'hell
holes'. We understand that we are to have another saloon soon, then we shall
be compelled to say what Jesus said to Peter, 'Hell hath enlarged herself.'"
     Clare was adding more businesses and those who had not seen it for at
least six months were surprised at its growth. The creamery had just been
completed. It was a very pretty building, 53'x48' with an engine room. The
opening was a gala affair and dinner was served by the wives of the
     The following businesses were established during 1892: Hugh Collins and
Mr. Jackman Clothing Store; Barrett and Downing are selling buggies; Kate
Ford opened a restaurant 20'x40', cost $700; A. Herman and J.J. Cullen
grocery store on 1st street; C.P. Conway, a grain house 20'x60' cost $750;
Donahoe and Hood, a two story grocery and general store; John Cavanaugh, a
livery barn 40'x56' at a cost of $1000. The Clare Examiner opened with W.J.
Collins, editor and in 1893 we find that Dr. H.H. Baldwin arrived in Clare.
His office still stands on the corner, east of the old bank building. He and
his wife Lucie Howe, a cousin of Mr. Baldwin and who later became Mrs. James
D. McElroy.
Building and construction continued in 1893 when Ed and John Cavanaugh
built an ice house and put in about 300 tons. The city jail was almost
completed and the residents of Clare were to have an Independent School
District. The schools were to be located one mile north and another one mile
south of town.
     The following news item was taken from the Clare Examiner, September
30, 1897:

                    The Clare Races
          A three day session of racing is being well attended- some
interesting races won...
          Wednesday was a busy day in Clare. The hotel and restaurants were
busy. Luke McKernan put up an annex in the shape of a tent in which to serve
the meals and accommodate the weary pilgrims to the Mecca of
Fun..........The green horse race was the first event on the program and it
was especially interesting. The first heat was won by Dick Revenge owned by
J.F. McCarty. In the second heat Dick stumbled and Little Jake beat him but
Dick came out in a good second. The third heat was very close and Billy the
Kid won it by a nose with Dick second. The third heat decided the race in
favor of Dick Revenge, he having taken one first and two seconds.

     In 1897 we find the following businesses in Clare:
Richard Quick...Depot Agent-Telegraph Operator for Rock Island R.R.
W.J. Collins...Editor of "Clare Examiner" and law practice
M.J. Haugh...Saloon
Frank Ennis...Barber shop in South Clare
M.J. McMahon...Hardware
D.E. Welch
Walter Ford...Grain and General Mdse-Land Sales
John Hanrahan...1st Hotel-Saloon and Pool Hall- closed hotel in 1891- Saloon
next fifteen years then pool hall.
R. English...Saloon with M.J. Haugh
M.H. Collins...Grocery
C.J. Rial...Gorcery and Insurance (Chicago Life Ins. Co.)
Ole Larson...Carpenter
J.F. O'Hearn...Blacksmith
M.J. O'Hearn...Blacksmith
M.J. Lahiff...Saloon on West Side
Dr. Baldwin...M.D.
J.A. Redden...Undertaker, Furniture Store
Thos. Donahoe...Bank (State Bank of Clare)
C.E. Griffin...Livestock Buyer
P.J. Crilly...Livery Barn, Implement
F.H. Dickey...Implement business, Livery
E.J. Hood...Drug Store
William Hoyer...Wagons and Buggies, possibly feed
J.F. Cavanaugh...Dray- took over Smith's Dray Line
Lewis Smith...Dray Line
P.J. Levins...Editor- Enterprise 1895
W.J. Hood...Merchant
J.M. Donahoe...Postmaster
John L. Hood...Meat Market and Butcher
E.L. Cavanaugh...Farm Implements, Buggies
Luke McKernan...1st Marshall
Dr. Russell...M.D.
Wm. Hines...Farmer (possibly worked part time for someone)
M.J. Collins...Auctioneer
Thomas O'Boyle...Grocery-postmaster
Charles Donahoe...Grocery and General Mdse
Julian Chalus...Dray-Mngr. Livestock Association
J.D. Conway...Lumber Yard
Otto Klapka...Blacksmith-Hardware
Clem Conway...Grocery
Furlong...Conway and Furlong Store- dissolved partnership in 9-1891.

     On February 4, 1898:
                    The Dewey Opera House
          Robert Emmett Literary Society held its first meeting in the new
Opera House. A debate was staged "Resolved that 'Intemperance is the
Greatest of all Evils'." P.H. Cain, Con Rial, D.S. Couglon, Drs. E.D.
Russell and H.J. Horner filled a lively three hours with pros and cons. The
judge gave the affirmative two votes out of three. Two hundred attended.
Admission was $5.
          In 1898 too the water works was constructed. Cost $5000.

     In June 1898 we read this item:
          2 cribs of corn west of the depot contain 4000 bushels. The corn
will move from Clare as quickly as a voracious steam sheller can get to it.
          Con E. Griffen bought the corn a yar ago for 12-16c a bushel and
sold it for a figure that netted him 28c.

          In 1899 the people of Clare were told they were to have a
telephone. The office was to be in the Fronb Ennis Building. The poles had
already been set and double wire was to be strung before the phones could be
put into operation.
          Report of school taught in District No. 6 Jackson Township,
Webster County for the month ending Jan. 28. Those neither absent nor tardy
are Alice Fitzgerald, Mae Coleman, Martha Coleman, Mary, John, Matt and Joe
Fitzgerald, Don and Jerry Coleman....J. O'Malley, teacher.

     In 1900 the Clare Independent went up in fire. it was thought to be the
work of a malicious destroyer.
     In 1900 too the Wide Awake Restaurant was opened under the Conway
Store. It was operated by B.M. Meyer.
     In 1901 the population of Jackson township was 374 and prices were as
follows: Hogs, $4.20, Corn 24-26c, Oats 19-21c, Cattle $3-$3.25.



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2001 Cathy Joynt Labath