Named after Christian County in Kentucky through the influence of emigrants from that county.
Established February 15, 1839 as Dane County (Laws, 1839, p. 104). Name changed to Christian County in 1840.
REV. EDGAR WARNER CLARKE, who is now pastor of the Presbyterian Church in Pana, Ill., is widely known among his denominational brethren, and in the county where he makes his home is held in high esteem by a large circle of friends. The history of the community would be incomplete without his sketch, for although he has resided here for a comparatively short time only, he has done much to mold public opinion, and his influence will long be felt after he is no longer numbered among the citizens of the neighborhood.
He was born on the old Clarke homestead, near Milton, N. Y., May 29, 1825, and is the fifth child of Nathaniel and Hannah Clarke. He received excellent educational privileges, and after a four-years course graduated from Williams College, of Berkshire County, Mass., August 16, 1848.
He then spent three years in the Union Theological Seminary of New York City [ed., Union Theological Seminary in the City of New York], from which he was graduated on the 18th of June, 1851. He had been licensed to preach by the Presbytery of North River at Freedom Plains, Dutchess County, N. Y., on the 16th of April previously, and delivered his first sermon in the church of Dr. Pennington, D. D., of New York City, who, a colored man, was then a fugitive in England from his master.
The same year, on the 9th of October, 1851, Rev. Mr. Clarke was united in marriage by Rev. W. T. Eustis, of Chapel Street Church, of New Haven, with Miss Martha A., daughter of Luther Northrop, of New Haven, Conn., formerly of Poughkeepsie, N. Y. She was a native of Connecticut, born in Bethlehem, Litchfield County, on the 4th of August, 1824. Her education was acquired in the Poughkeepsie Female Academy and Leroy Seminary, now Ingham University. She possesses excellent ability as an instructor and has been a teacher in Poughkeepsie, Marlboro and New Haven, Conn., and in Riverside Seminary, of Milton, N. Y. She early became a member of the First Dutch Reformed Church of Poughkeepsie.
Of the children of this worthy couple, Herbert Marsh, an adopted son, who was born in Buffalo, N. Y., May 5, 1853, died in North Evans, Erie County, N. Y., September 2, 1853. Charles Nathaniel, an adopted son, who was born in Aurora, N. Y., May 21, 1853, died of consumption in North Evans, September 21, 1855. Emma Northrop, who was born in North Evans November 10, 1854, died of consumption in Medina, N. Y., September 27, 1858, and was buried in North Evans. Walter Hopkins, who was born in North Evans, on the 25th of October, 1855, there died January 4, 1856. Sophia Adelia, who was born in Medina on the 12th of October, 1856, died in that place June 14, 1857. Edgar Luther, who was born in Medina on the 25th of January, 1858, was Professor of Mathematics in Irvington College for five years, but is now a fruit-grower of Pana, residing with his parents. Albert Oscar, who was born in Medina on the 23d of May 1859, was a teacher, in Irvington College, but is now an architect of St. Louis, a member of the firm of Matthews & Clarke. He was married September 27, 1888, to Grace Emma Brownlee. Frances Elizabeth was born in Rochester, N. Y., August 29, 1854, adopted from the "Home of Rochester" in February, 1859, educated at Riverside Seminary, at Milton, N. Y., and on February 3, 1873, became the wife of Clarkson Jennings. They now reside in Baltimore, Md., with their three children: Lora Marian, Amy Louise and Arthur Edgar. Louise, born in Riverside Seminary, Milton, N. Y., December 2, 1864, was educated at Washington Seminary, Irvington College and Knox College. She taught in the High School of Pana for two years and two years in Blair, Neb., where she is now the Principal of the High School.
After being licensed to preach, Rev. Mr. Clarke spent one year at Yale University as a resident graduate. His first call was to the Congregational Church of North Evans, where he went in May, 1852, being ordained and installed by a council December 9, 1852. In March, 1856, he accepted a call from the church in Medina, N. Y., but left that place with broken health in May, 1861, and spent one year on the old Clarke homestead.
He then established the Riverside Seminary at Milton, which he and his wife conducted until June, 1869, and then sold. Removing to Cornwall, N. Y., he there preached for the Presbyterian Church for two and a-half years, but declined to be installed. He has served as Commissioner to four General Assemblies of the Presbyterian Church. On the llth of June, 1868, he received the degree of A. M. from Williams College.
Receiving a call from the Congregational Church of Sterling, Ill., he became its pastor September 1, 1872; there remaining for a year and a-half, when he removed to Richview, Ill., in April, 1874, having purchased the Washington Seminary at that place. Five years later he sold the seminary and removed to Irvington, Ill., in April, 1880, to take charge of Irvington College. Irvington College had been established as an agricultural school. Mr. Clarke conducted it for five years as a boarding-school with marked success, in fact he has met with an excellent degree of success in all his educational labors. He preached in Richview from 1876 to 1881, also in Nashville for two summers, and for two years in the Methodist Church of Irvington.
The location of his Cornwall seminary in New York was a popular summer resort. Near there was the old home of N. P. Willis [ed., Nathaniel Parker Willis], and it was at that time the home of E. P. Roe [ed., Edward Payson Roe], the novelist. Rev. Mr. Clarke frequently visited "Idle Wild," [ed., Idlewild] the old home of Willis, with whom he was on intimate terms, and was familiar with all the places of note in that locality, one of the most interesting spots in New York. His work there was of a very entertaining character, and on leaving that church his successor was the Rev. Lyman Abbott
On the 1st of March, 1885, our subject began pastoral work for the First Presbyterian Church of Pana. He would at first agree to remain but five months at this place, but from year to year he yielded to the earnest solicitation of his friends, and consenting finally, on the 29th of May, 1893, on his sixty-eighth birthday, he was formally installed as pastor. The church has flourished under his able ministration and he has added to it about one hundred and fifty new members. The house of worship has been remodeled and painted, and a pipe organ has been secured. This church stands at the head for its liberality toward missionary work. Mr. Clarke is a member of the Board of Home Missions and has the oversight of the churches in Christian, Shelby and Moultrie Counties.
Rev. Mr. Clarke and his family reside upon a fruit farm, a mile west of Pana, which is conducted by his son. In politics, he has always been on the side of reform, and is a supporter of the Republican party. The cause of temperance finds in him a stanch advocate. His life has been devoted to Christian service, and he has followed in the footsteps of the Master, preaching and teaching wherever he has gone. He has the love not only of his entire congregation, but of all who know him in this community.
© Judy Edwards and Genealogy Trails