Family Stories

Bio of Samuel Edwin Clarkson Sr

Taken from the Clarkson Family Summary prepared by Blanche Aubin Clarkson Hutchison, 1998. Revised, 2009.

Samuel Edwin Clarkson was born in Annapolis, Missouri on 9 February 1875. He was the youngest child of Richard Albert Clarkson and Elizabeth Jane Robinson. Fort Smith City Directories give the following:

    1894; S Edwin Clarkson; student
    1897; Edwin S Clarkson; Clerk, J Foster & Co, residence N. A&19th
    1898; S Edwin Clarkson; employed at J Foster & Co, wholesale grocers

Marriage information in Fort Smith says Samuel Edwin Clarkson, formerly of Annapolis Missouri, married 19 April 1899 to Aubin Mildred Fry of Fort Smith Arkansas, by Episcopalian minister, Rev Allen. We have a copy of a lovely news article about the entire marriage ceremony at the Fry home at 418 N 10th. Remarking that Ed was formerly of Annapol is Missouri seems to indicate that the Clarkson's had not resided in Fort Smith very long. Aubin was the daughter of Reuben Macon Fry and Elizabeth Brooks Hutchins of Fort Smith. Children of Samuel Edwin Clarkson and Aubin Mildred Fry were:

Albert Luther Clarkson; born 9 August 1901 in Fort Smith Arkansas Samuel Edwin Clarkson Jr; born 12 September 1909 in Oklahoma City Oklahoma

Albert Clarkson was baptized 8 September 1901, age one month (St John’s Episcopal Church, Fort Smith Arkansas, Parish Records, Volume 2, page 214). It appears Ed and Aubin had already moved to Oklahoma City, but that she came home to Fort Smith for Albert's birth. It's not known how cordial relations were between the Fry and Clarkson families, but such zealous Baptist and Presbyterian folks may have not taken too kindly to their new Episcopalian daughter-in-law. For example, infant baptisms were certainly frowned upon by such anti-ritualistic folks. So, maybe it was best that Ed and Aubin moved off to Indian Territory. Aubin Fry’s father served for many years as Justice of the Peace in Fort Smith and as deputy marshall under “Hanging Judge Parker”, notorious in his prosecution of outlaws. Aunt Rita Clarkson told me that Aubin admitted she had avoided visiting her mother-in-law, Lizzie, in Fort Smith on more than one occasion.

My Aunt Rita Clarkson recalled one of the family stories that Aubin relayed to her regarding early days in OKC. When Aubin and Ed first moved there they lived in a boarding house. Their OKC boarding house did not allow children and each time the landlord came around to collect the rent they had to hide the baby in a drawer.

When Ed and Aubin first came to Oklahoma City he bought Armstrong Retail Hardware at 100 W Grand Avenue. He developed it into Oklahoma City Wholesale Hardware and built a new building at 31 E California. Apparently he had a business talent and drive that convinced bankers to loan him money. He was given an award and recognition as an outstanding young businessman in the new Oklahoma Territory. Ed Clarkson Jr, in 1982-83, gave information to the superintendent of Del City Public Schools regarding Oklahoma Hardware for possible inclusion in a book he was writing on Oklahoma history. More information on Oklahoma City Wholesale Hardware (renamed Oklahoma Hardware) might be found at the Oklahoma City Public Library in the Charles France Room. Among the papers of Samuel Edwin Clarkson is the deed to the Oklahoma Hardware property, the deed to their home on NW 20th, and several loan transaction papers of the Oklahoma City Wholesale Hardware with the St Louis Union Bank. There were family connections in St Louis and Richard Albert and Lizzie may possibly have lived there briefly.

A few Oklahoma City Directories give the following:

    1912; Clarkson, S Edwin (Aubin F); Pres Okla City Hardware Co, res 411 W 11
    1915; Clarkson, Samuel E (Aubin); Pres Okla City Hardware Co, res 411 W 11
    1916; Clarkson, Samuel E (Aubin); Pres Okla City Hardware Co, res 411 W 11
    1920; Clarkson, Samuel E (Aubin); Pres Okla City Hardware Co, res 1000 NW 20; phone W 3064
    Oklahoma City Hardware ad; 25-27-29-31 E. California; phone Walnut 387

Some time after Albert Clarkson was born Ed and Aubin Clarkson moved to their first real home on 11th street. They remained there until they built their home on the corner of 20th and Ollie. Several years ago my aunt Rita Clarkson loaned me numerous papers (mostly business correspondence) of Samuel Edwin Clarkson Sr. Included were some details about the building of their home and a few personal letters between Richard Albert Clarkson and his son Samuel Edwin Clarkson, which are a treasure.

Rita Clarkson, recalled for me her first meeting with Ed and Aubin Clarkson, the parents of her fiance Ed, when they came to Boston to meet her. They invited her down to the Boston Statler Hotel and she was very pleased with what lovely people they were and impressed with their appearance. When later she married young Ed on 13 August 1945, and came to Oklahoma City to live, she was shocked and described the senior Ed as “a broken man”. This was not more than a year after their first meeting. In the interim a very unfortunate family and business struggle had occurred as learned from family sources and the few letters I have had access to.

When Alfred and Annie Clarkson Boyd moved to Oklahoma City they invested in Ed Clarkson’s hardware venture. Alfred Boyd remained a good friend to his brother-in-law Ed Clarkson. In his 1930 Will, Alfred requests that Ed be consulted in matters of his estate as he trusted his judgement. Annie Clarkson Boyd, at the close of World War II, wished her son-in-law, Carl Dalbey, to become President of Oklahoma Hardware. It was time for a younger man to take over as founder Ed Clarkson was now almost 70 years old. She garnered enough stockholder votes to have Carl Dalbey elected instead of Ed's eldest son, Albert Clarkson. Actually neither man, Carl nor Albert, had the business acumen nor drive of the founder, Ed Clarkson, and the business began its decline.

All this occurred around 1944-45, just as the war was ending and Ed Jr was returning from military service in Europe, rejoining the hardware firm, and anticipating his marriage to Rita. During the previous years Ed Sr had employed his two sons, Albert Clarkson and Ed Clarkson Jr. He had also employed William Vick Jr, the son of his dead sister Cammie Clarkson Vick and Carl Dalbey, the son-in-law of his one living sister, Annie Boyd. Simply too many “claimants for the throne”. During this struggle for power Ed Sr suffered a stroke and he was never able to recover. Ed and Aubin could not attend the wedding of their son Ed Jr to Rita Galvin in Boston. He lingered on as an invalid in his lovely, old carved bed, and I remember on visits as a teen-ager trying to feed him bits of broth, and reading him the stock market reports. A consequence of his stroke was that he became almost blind. What a sad end for a real pioneer who stepped out with his bride as a young man into Indian Territory and built his small business “empire” as an honest and admired man, and an honor to his parents. Ed Clarkson Sr, whom we loving called “Bapoo”, died on 16 September 1952, a date I always recall as it was the second anniversary of my marriage to Bob Hutchison, then in the army in Germany.

Aubin Fry Clarkson lived on until her death in the wonderful “old” home on 20th Street where I spent many weekends of my childhood. It was not “old” except in the eyes of a child, but it had a fascinating basement where we took afternoon naps to keep cool in the awful Oklahoma summer heat before the wonder of air-conditioning! Another remarkable innovation (to me) was a cabinet door in the upstairs bathroom that opened to a laundry chute that went all the way to the basement where my grandmother's maid, the ever faithful Nora, did the laundry in a big Maytag washing machine and wrung out the clothes with a hand crank! Aubin suffered from Parkinson's disease in her last years, and son Albert, after the death of his wife Blanch (my mother), moved back to the old home to help care for his mother. It was mutually helpful to both at this sad time in their lives. After Aubin died on 30 December 1957, sons Albert and Ed Jr sold the 20th street home to a large new office building complex that wanted the whole square block for a parking lot between Western and Ollie. Their home, so substantially built, was moved off but many were demolished.

A more detailed account of the life of Samuel Edwin Clarkson is found in the Clarkson Family Letters, edited by Pamela Hutchison Garrett. It is available to family members, in the Family User Area of this website.