Walter Miller and Virginia Clark

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Kathleen McNulty

Guest
Dear all

Virginia Clark is a survivor that I have never been able to track down by myself and I see that on this site a DOD in 1958 has been given for her. From the research that I have carried out she appears to have remarried on more than one occassion but I am unaware of her married name at her time of death. Does anybody out there know?

Thanks

Kathleen McNulty
 

Mike Herbold

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Feb 13, 2001
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Kathleen:
Don Lynch wrote a very detailed two part article on "The Clark Family of Los Angeles" that appeared in the "Commutator" in 1992. It's too bad its not available in reprints by itself, but THS will sell you the back issues. Contact me at
mikeherbold@hotmail.com
 

Brian Ahern

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Dec 19, 2002
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By accident this weekend, I stumbled onto the knowledge that two of the three famous Montana "Copper Kings" were uncles to Walter Clark - one by blood; one by marriage.

The Copper Kings - William Andrews Clark, Marcus Daly and Augustus Heinze - made their money largely in banking and railroads. They were apparently quite ruthless. They vied with each other for supremacy in business and influence - at least a couple of book have been written about their rivalry, and all three of their lives are fairly well-documented.

Clark was Walter's father's brother. Daly was married to Walter's mother's sister. You can read about the Dalys and their home here: http://www.dalymansion.org/html/

Interestingly, Virginia Clark's ET bio puts her birthplace as Montana. I've asked before to no avail if anyone could shed light on what her family was doing there. About ten years ago, I printed Virginia's post-Titanic wedding announcements from microfilm at the Library of Congress but I misplaced the file in a move. The announcements mentioned who her father was; I believe one of his given names (probably middle) was Kendrick and that he had a military title.

By the 20th century, both the Clarks and the Dalys maintained grand New York homes. They could be seen to represent a certain New York archetype of the time - the Westerner who's moved to New York after making their money to try to take a crack at 'Society'. I suppose that Sallie Beckwith and Martha Stone could also be said to represent that crowd.
 
Mar 20, 2007
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Thanks for this, Brian. I know next to nothing about the Clarks but it is so interesting to learn more of their family connections - which were obviously quite impressive! As with many of the passengers we've discussed here, such information really helps to 'situate' these individuals in the society of the day.
 

Brian Ahern

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Dec 19, 2002
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I finally managed to learn a little more about Virginia's life post-Titanic, thanks to the LA Times archive. I've yet to spring for the articles, but will share them once I have. Here's what I've gleaned from the headlines and synopses...

In October of 1912, Virginia married Dr. Jack Tanner in New York. Her powerful father-in-law, J. Ross Clark, publicly decried her actions and moved to gain custody of Virginia's son, J. Ross Clark II, on the grounds of willful abandonment. He was initially successful, but Virginia fought back, and it appears the boy was shuttled between his mother and grandparents throughout his early childhood as one side, then the other, won the next battle. One article had Virginia entering the Clarks' home and forcibly removing her son after his grandfather failed to hand him over at the appointed time.

J. Ross and Miriam Evans Clark evidently buried both their children. I know that their daughter Ella lived long enough to be married, but I'm not sure when exactly she died or if she had children. Her husband, Henry Carlton Lee, is listed in the 1923-24 Southwest Blue Book with her parents but without her.

John Ross Clark II grew up to be a racehorse owner, and was married and divorced at least once.

In 1919, Virginia obtained a divorce from Jack Tanner, naming a Pasadena woman as co-respondant in her suit, or so the media coverage claimed. According to a NY Times article I saw (and misplaced) years ago, Virginia's son walked her down the aisle when she married a Philadelphian named Rush in 1927. This marriage also ended in divorce, and she and Tanner were remarried in 1930.
 
Mar 20, 2007
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I've just realised that the sumptuous purple-and-gold Lucile evening dress sold for nearly $36,000 by Doyle Auctioneers back in 2004 was from the wardrobe of Marcus Daly's daughter (and thus Walter Miller Clark's first cousin), Margaret. She married Henry Carroll Brown of Baltimore around 1900 and was active in Society, both in that city and in New York. Sadly, she died very suddenly at her mother's home on Fifth Avenue in April, 1911, predeceasing Clark by almost exactly a year. Apparently a very stylish woman, Margaret's Lucile gown was dated by fashion historians to one of Lady DG's first American collections.

As we've discussed elsewhere on the board, Margaret Daly Brown's sister Harriot wed the Hungarian Count Anton Sigray von Febre in 1910 and her nuptials were attended by, among others, the George D. Wideners and Thomas Cardeza - so there were evidently 'Titanic' connections there, too. Armed with wealth and determination, Walter's Daly cousins seem to have done very well for themselves in the east - yet another sister married James W. Gerard, who became American Ambassador to Germany in the run-up to the Great War. I don't know how much contact they had, socially or otherwise, with the Clarks but, given the closeness of their ties, it seems reasonable to assume that Walter and Virginia would have been invited to important family occasions, such as weddings and funerals.
 
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sashka pozzetti

Guest
The auction house had little difficulty dating the lucile dress, because sadly Mrs Brown died very soon after having bought it. There were claims that it was a tribute to Leon Bakst, but I have no idea why. Another dress bought recently by the Victoria and Albert museum, is going to feature in the Lucile book being published by the end of the year. :)
 
Mar 20, 2007
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http://www.rainfall.com/posters/newsservicephotos/94842.htm

Here's a photograph of Walter Miller Clark's first cousin (his mother's sister's daughter) who married the Hungarian Count Anton Sigray von Febre in 1910. The wedding was a 'top drawer' affair, attended by Thomas Cardeza and George and Eleanor Widener, besides swarms of other Society luminaries.

Unusually for a debutante, Harriot had been an active supporter of the fashionable Metropolitan Opera. 'The New York Times' of 12 November, 1907, noted that she was the youngest girl that season to have engaged a parterre box in her own name.
 
Mar 20, 2007
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http://www.1st100.com/part1/wclark.html

Brian has already flagged this link on another thread but, for the purpose of general comprehensiveness, it perhaps deserves a place here as well. The Clark family was one of the wealthiest and most influential in the western States around the turn of the century - a position only consolidated by their marital alliance to the Dalys, which Brian detailed in his post above. Included is a photograph of Walter Miller Clark's parents, J. Ross Clark and his wife Miriam, standing on the steps of their private railroad carriage, with Walter and Virginia's son, J. Ross Clark II. Given the very distinctive style of Mrs Clark's gown, I'd set the date of this snapshot to somewhere between 1912 and 1914 - exactly the time that the 'Titanic' was making her fateful voyage. Another link, attached below, supplies some more biographical information about Walter's father, together with a small picture:

http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GSln=Clark&GScty=17920&GRid=9364146&

J. Ross Clark's brother (Walter's uncle), Senator William A. Clark, was himself quite a character - and, upon his death at a ripe old age in 1925, was apparently one of the '50 richest Americans ever':

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Andrews_Clark

After his move to New York, Senator Clark built himself a house on Fifth Avenue. I think the kindest word that can be used for this particular pile is...ummm...'bold':

http://www.flickr.com/photos/cprimm_manly427/2519246942/

At least one contemporary source I've come across suggests that Senator and Mrs Clark were at the pier on the evening of 18th April to meet the 'Carpathia' when she docked, carrying their now-widowed niece, Virginia. And it was their son, William A. Clark Jr, who afterwards escorted her via rail from Salt Lake City to her home in Los Angeles.

Like Eleanor Widener, with her library at Harvard, and Julia Cavendish, with her village hall in Suffolk, Walter's mother Miriam later gave some of her seemingly considerable wealth to propagate the memory of her lost loved one in bricks and mortar. In 1937, she donated the land and funds to build the Walter Miller Clark Memorial Community Church in Lakewood, California:

http://www.thelvcc.org/
 

Brian Ahern

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Dec 19, 2002
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Happy New Year, Martin!

Your posts are motivating me to finally finish writing up the summary of Virginia's life - as told by contemporary news accounts from her days as a Montana belle to her days as a much-married New York-Palm Beach-Pasadena society matron - that I probably started a year ago. Her life might win the prize for the most soap opera-esque of First Class ladies (though, of course, she's got stiff competition).
 
Mar 20, 2007
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Hi Brian

Naturally, I'll be thrilled to read anything you might care to contribute here about Walter and Virginia Clark. Although I am, by the sounds of it, ten paces behind you with my research, I've been following up a few leads of my own and eagerly anticipate your summary. I'm sure it will be a corker.

Myself, I've been using the holidays to write my own potted biography of James Clinch Smith, which I hope to get on-line in the next month or so.

Best wishes for a happy and healthy 2009.

Martin
 

Brian Ahern

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Dec 19, 2002
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Here's a link on the family she married into, which includes a photo of Walter and Virginia's son standing with Walter's parents:
http://www.1st100.com/part1/wclark.html

There is some info on the Net on Walter's family because of their railroad dealings, but does anyone have any info on Virginia's background? I believe, though I'm not certain, that she was a military brat. Her ET bio says she was born in Montana in 1885, which was an unusual birthplace for a society woman in her day, but then the Clarks were west-coasters
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But other sources have described her as a society girl from New York.

I've checked my files and can't find my NY Times clippings on her post-Titanic doings. The Times devoted fairly in-depth coverage to her subsequent remarriages to men named Rush and Tanner. She married one, divorced him, married the other, then divorced him and remarried the first one (though I should say that I believe some time elapsed between each of the marriages, so it's not like she kept leaving one man for another).

She's always struck me as an especially interesting survivor, and an especially shadowy one.So if anyone knows about her life pre-Titanic, I'd love to hear about it.
 

Mike Poirier

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Dec 31, 2004
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Hello Brian-
Don Lynch did a very nice article on Virginia in the THS Commutator. It was spread out over two issues. I think 1991-1992 era. You may want to check their website for back issues.
Mike
 

Brian Ahern

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Dec 19, 2002
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Thanks, Mike! I'll get on that.

The first class passengers who interest me the most are the ones of whom less is written, and who don't necessarily fit into the whole New York-Philadelphia society thing, people like the Clarks, Cavendishes, Minahans, Stengels.
 
Apr 26, 2005
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Did Mrs. Walter Miller Clark, first class passenger, ever wrote an account of her own concerning her experiences on the Titanic? Any information appreciated. Sincerely,

Charles Provost
 

Mike Herbold

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Feb 13, 2001
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Charles:
I don't think she wrote her own account, but Don Lynch gave a detailed recap of her time in his two-part "Titanic Commutator" article entitled "The Clark Family of Los Angeles," in 1991-1992.
 
Apr 26, 2005
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Dear Mike, thanks for this information but unfortunatly I'm not a member of the Historical Titanic Society. Do you know where I can obtain a copy of this article? Most appreciated. Sincerely,

Charles