Samuel A. and Harriet T. Clarke papers, 1845-1931

Overview of the Collection

Clarke, S. A. (Samuel Asahel), 1827-1909; Clarke, Harriet T., 1832-1890
Samuel A. and Harriet T. Clarke papers
1845-1931 (inclusive)
1845-1914 (bulk)
0.45 cubic feet, (1 legal document case)
Collection Number
Mss 1156
Papers of Samuel A. Clarke (1827-1909) and Harriet T. Clarke (1832-1890), including diaries, correspondence, writings, and genealogical materials. Samuel A. Clarke came to Oregon in 1850, and worked in the newspaper industry. In 1852, he married Harriet Talcott Buckingham, who had come to Oregon in 1851.
Oregon Historical Society Research Library
1200 SW Park Avenue
Portland, OR
Telephone: 503-306-5240
Fax: 503-219-2040
Access Restrictions

Collection is open for research.

Additional Reference Guides

Harriet T. Clarke's 1851 diary is described in Platte River road narratives, entry 1047.


Biographical NoteReturn to Top

Samuel Asahel Clarke was born in 1827 in Cuba, and grew up in Charleston, South Carolina, and New York City, New York. He emigrated to California in 1850 to mine for gold, but soon moved to Oregon. There, he lived in Portland before moving to a donation land claim south of Salem, Oregon, and then to the city of Salem itself. Clarke was involved in the newspaper industry: from 1869 to 1872, he owned the Oregon Statesman, and from 1872 to 1887 published the Willamette Farmer; he also served as a field correspondent for the New York Times during the war between the U.S. government and the Modoc Native people in the early 1870s. Clarke also wrote prose and poetry, and authored a history, "Pioneer Days in Oregon." Other positions that Clarke held included county clerk of Baker County, clerk of the lower house of the Oregon state legislature, and librarian of the General Land Office in Washington, D.C.

Clarke married Harriet Talcott Buckingham in 1852; the couple had four children. Harriet T. Clarke had been born in 1832 in Norwalt, Ohio, and emigrated to Oregon in 1851. Harriet T. Clarke died in 1890, and Samuel A. Clarke died in 1909.

Sources: Articles in the Oregonian, 1873-1909; obituary for Harriet T. Clarke in the Salem Capital Journal, January 27, 1890; vital records on; "Oregon Statesman," by Floyd J. McKay, Oregon Encyclopedia,

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

The collection consists of the papers of Samuel A. and Harriet T. Clarke, including diaries and correspondence. One of the diaries is Harriet T. Clarke's 1851 diary that covers her overland journey from Iowa to Oregon, and includes descriptions of landscapes, weather conditions, and campsite locations. There are three versions of this diary: the original, which only describes her journey up to when she was near Salt Lake City; a typescript copy of the original; and a partial handwritten copy from a later date, which includes entries relating to the later part of her journey, including her arrival in Oregon. The other diaries are Samuel A. Clarke's original diary from 1845, and a photocopy and typescript copy of his diary from 1850 to 1853 and 1879. Correspondence in the collection includes letters from Joaquin Miller, Jesse Applegate and his daughter Sallie Applegate, and James W. Nesmith, as well as George Curry, Joseph Lane, and Edward Baker.

Other materials in the collection consist of essays and poems by Samuel A. Clarke; Clarke's reminiscences about traveling to the Shasta mines in 1851; a scrapbook compiled by Clarke about the issue of free silver during the 1890s; writings and reminiscences relating to Oregon history; an affidavit regarding Clarke and an attached certificate; biographical and genealogical materials; and souvenir programs, one of which postdates both Samuel A. Clarke and Harriet T. Clarke, and may have belonged to one of their children.

Use of the CollectionReturn to Top

Alternative Forms Available

A typescript version of the later, handwritten copy of Harriet T. Clarke's diary was produced by students at Lewis and Clark College under the title "Buckingham diary," edited by Allan H. Kittel; a copy of this is held in the Oregon Historical Society Research Library's book collections.

Harriet T. Clarke's diary was also published in Covered Wagon Women, Volume 3, edited by Kenneth L. Holmes (Glendale, Calif.: Arthur H. Clark Co., 1984).

Preferred Citation

Samuel A. and Harriet T. Clarke papers, Mss 1156, Oregon Historical Society Research Library.

Restrictions on Use

The Oregon Historical Society owns the materials in the Research Library and makes available reproductions for research, publication, and other uses. The Society does not necessarily hold copyright to all materials in the collections. In some cases, permission for use may require seeking additional authorization from copyright owners.

Administrative InformationReturn to Top

Acquisition Information

Bulk of collection gift of Sarah Clarke Dyer, July 2022 (Lib. Acc. 9364). Photocopy and transcript of Samuel A. Clarke's 1850-1853 diary and Clarke family history, gift of Francis and Claire Stockum, November 2013 (Lib. Acc. 28087).

Preservation Note

Due to fragility of the materials, researchers are asked to use the typescript copy and handwritten copy of Harriet T. Clarke's diary, and use of Samuel A. Clarke's 1845 diary requires assistance. Contact library staff.

Related Materials

Additional papers of Samuel A. Clarke are housed at the University of Oregon Special Collections and University Archives, Eugene, Oregon.

Separated Materials

Additional Clarke materials that were acquired with this collection were separated to book, scrapbook, photograph, and serials collections at the Oregon Historical Society Research Library. Artifacts were separated to museum collections, Oregon Historical Society.

Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
Box Folder
1 1 Harriet T. Clarke diary (typescript copy of original) 1851
1 2 Harriet T. Clarke diary (original) 1851
1 3 Harriet T. Clarke diary (partial handwritten copy of original 1851 diary with additional entries) undated
1 4 Samuel A. Clarke diary (original) 1845
1 5 Samuel A. Clarke diary (photocopy of original) 1850-1853; 1879
1 6 Samuel A. Clarke diary (typescript copy) 1850-1853
1 7 Correspondence to Harriet T. Clarke (original) 1870-1887
1 8 Correspondence to Harriet T. Clarke (preservation photocopies) 1870-1887
1 9 Correspondence to Samuel A. Clarke 1858-1902
1 10 Affidavit about Samuel A. Clarke by Samuel Chapman, and attached certificate certifying Henry B. Harrison as justice of the peace 1853 August 1
1 11 Warranty deed for property that Octavius M. Pringle and Emeline M. Pringle sold to Samuel A. Clarke 1857 October 19
1 12 Poems, prose, and historical writings by Samuel A. Clarke undated
1 13 Samuel A. Clarke reminiscences undated
1 14 Reminiscences of H. C. Coe about the Yakima War undated
1 15 Scrapbook compiled by Samuel A. Clarke of articles about the issue of free silver 1894-1896
1 16 Biographical sketch of Samuel A. Clarke 1931
1 17 Genealogical materials 1878-1914
1 18 Family history by Samuel A. Clarke 1900
1 19 Souvenir programs and postcard 1901-1927; undated

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

Subject Terms

  • Overland journeys to the Pacific
  • Pioneers--Oregon
  • West (U.S.)--Description and travel--19th century

Personal Names

  • Applegate, Jesse A., 1811-1888--Correspondence
  • Clarke, Harriet T., 1832-1890
  • Clarke, S. A. (Samuel Asahel), 1827-1909
  • Long, Sallie Applegate, 1848-1912--Correspondence
  • Miller, Joaquin, 1837-1913--Correspondence
  • Nesmith, James Willis, 1820-1885--Correspondence

Form or Genre Terms

  • correspondence
  • diaries
  • poems