Years 1912 - 1922
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George W. Clark - 1912-1914

George W. Clark and his brothers, Charles A. Clark and Richard Clark, came to Jacksonville with their parents, in the year 1873. Their father was William B. Clark and their mother the former Flora A. Lindsley. George was eight, Charles six, and Richard the youngest. This family lived, prior to coming to Jacksonville at Campbellford, Ontario, Canada, where we understand the father was a farmer. Although they were assumed to have been natives of Ontario, there was some mention of George having been born in New York State. Probably the family had resided there temporarily.

The Clark family purchased land and settled just north of what is now Eighth Street, near Pearl Street; then outside the City of Jacksonville. There they had a small farm. Little is known about Richard Clark, but both George and Charles began to work for Calvin Oak, an undertaker and dealer in furniture and monuments. In 1877, the Clarks bought the business from Oak, but two years later, George sold his interest in the business to Charles and went himself to Canada. At about this time there was a yellow fever epidemic in Jacksonville and, as a result of the many deaths, the undertaking business prospered.

George Clark came back to Jacksonville after a very short stay in Canada and attempted to regain his interest in the business then owned and operated by his brother; but unsuccessfully. Soon he organized a business with another man as Clark and Burns, Undertakers, and became a competitor of his brother. Charles A. Clark purchased a building on the south side of Forsyth Street, between Laura and Main Streets in which he operated his business until his retirement and which he continued to own as investment property until his death on January 14, 1956. Charlie had been an active Rotarian until November, 1934. He was the Club Poet, having the ability to compose and recite verses on any subject, including persons present, extemporaneously.

George W. Clark employed S. A. Kyle in 1905 and Harry A. Moulton in 1909, to whom he later sold his under taking business. This business was operated at the Northwest corner of Main and Monroe Streets in the "Massey Building." In this same general vicinity he operated a stone monument yard. Stone for monuments and fireplace mantels were imported from Italy. About 1905, George Clark became the State Agent for Victor talking ma¬chines. Not much later he began to develop real estate subdivisions. His first venture in this field was known as North Springfield and was not far from his boyhood home. Later, he developed Panama Park, just north of the city. He owned other property in downtown Jacksonville and built the five-story Clark Building at Monroe and Main Streets. He owned a beautiful home with spacious grounds at 2059 Riverside Avenue, but he and his wife spent much of their time, in the several years before his death, on March 13, 1939, at their "Oriental Gardens" Estate on the St. Johns River. They had a son, George W. Clark, Jr., who entered the Jacksonville Rotary Club in July, 1920 with the classification of Real Estate Investments. He resigned from the club on June 17, 1931 and died on December 28, 1947.

As will be inferred from the foregoing facts about George W. Clark, he was fast becoming a business leader in Jacksonville when Paul P. Harris came there in the year 1892. After working for a short time as night clerk at the St. James Hotel, Paul became employed by George Clark who was then twenty-seven and not much older than Paul Harris. The latter traveled the State of Florida in the interest of his employer's marble and granite business, although he left this position in Jacksonville on March 1, 1893 in order to go to Washington, D. C. to witness the inaugural ceremonies of President Grover Cleveland and thence to see more of the country and for a trip to Liverpool, England, aboard a cattle boat. But Paul returned to Jacksonville in October and to his position of traveling for George Clark. This travel included a trip to the granite-producing regions of Scotland and the marble-producing regions of Ireland, Belgium and Italy. After six months in Jacksonville, follow¬ing the trip abroad, Paul left the employ of George Clark.

Jacksonville Skyline 1913
Chesley R. Perry, in his book on The Founder of Rotary, published in 1928, gives full credit to the friendship and influence on Paul Harris of George W. Clark. About Clark, he states that he had an office in New York City and did business in every state in the Union and that he lived in Jacksonville from preference.

Organization of the Club

George W. Clark became the first president of the Rotary Club of Jacksonville, which he helped to organize in February, 1912. He was reelected president for a second year and was later given the title of President Emeritus. He was given honorary membership by the Club Board of Directors on July 9, 1928. On February 27, 1912, the Board requested Mr. David Doig, its attorney member, "To proceed with the incorporation of the Rotary Club as a corporation not for profit."

The first meeting of the newly organized Rotary Club of Jacksonville was held on February 13, 1912. One week previously, E. L. Murphy of the Chicago Rotary Club had addressed a group of six men at a dinner in Jacksonville on the advisability of establishing a Rotary Club here, and on its aims and objects. These six men were: George W. Clark; David H. Doig, an attorney; Loren H. Green, a marine and casualty insurance agent; George E. Leonard, a real estate man; H. B. Minium, a dealer in wholesale meats; and W. M. Stinson, a physician. At the first meeting of the club, these men were joined by the following seven others, all thirteen of whom became char¬ter members: Billy Foor, Harry Hassan, Charles H. Mann, Frank O. Miller, Clifford A. Payne, H. B. Race and Frank Taylor. George W. Clark and David H. Doig had been honorary members of the Chicago Rotary Club previously.

In addition to Clark, who was elected the club's first President, H. B. Minium was elected first vice-president; D. H. Doig, second vice-president; H. B. Race, treasurer; and George E. Leonard, secretary. The club's first meetings were at the Windsor Hotel but by the end of 1912 they were held at the Aragon Hotel where Rotarian Billy Foor was the hotel manager. Writing in 1930 of the early days of Jacksonville Rotary, David H. Doig said: "Many of the 'Old Guard' can recall that Prince of Rotary hotel men, Billy Foor of the Aragon, for his wonderful meals and personal services." Doig also related how the club held banquets, ladies nights, theatrical skits, etc.
At the meeting of February 13, 1912, the first officers and directors were elected and "The constitution and by-laws of the Chicago Rotary were adopted with slight amendments to suit Jacksonville." The names of the officers have already been mentioned". The directors were: Loren H. Green, Dr. Wm. M. Stinson, Billy Foor, Charles H. Mann, Frank O. Miller and George E. Leonard. At a special meeting of the Board of Directors on March 1, 1912, the annual dues of members were set at ten dollars. At this same meeting an insignia was adopted, consisting of a wheel with two wings, which it was said, had been recommended by the officers of the National Associ¬ation.

The Windsor Hotel

There were twelve meetings of the Board of Directors from February 13 to May 21, 1912, inclusive. On June 18, 1912, "The first annual meeting of the Rotary Club was held in the Board of Trade Rooms, 8:00 P.M. President George Clark presiding." At this meeting, reports of the officers and commit¬tee chairmen were received. Treasurer H. B. Race reported a balance in the club's treasury of $404.36. The following officers were elected:

President — George W. Clark
First Vice-President — H. B. Minium
Second Vice-President — F. O. Miller
Treasurer — Myron L. Howard
Registrar and Statistician — Clifford A. Payne
Sergeant-at-Arms R. L. Boyd
Secretary — James F. Phillips
Directors: David H. Doig, Loren H. Green, H. B. Hoyt, C. H. Mann and W. M. Stinson.

Other members who came into the membership of the club during the initial period and for the remainder of the year 1912 included the following list, which may not be complete:

February 20, 1912: John D. Baker, groceries wholesale; C. H. Barnes, J. L. Boyd; Richard Boyd, telephone service; Francis P. Conroy, Arthur J. Doyle; George L. Drew; John A. Futch, furniture; Frank C. Groover, wholesale drugs; Harry B. Hoyt, manufactured gas; F. W. King; A. D. Stevens.

March 12, 1912: W. R. Carter, newspaper publisher; J. C. Connally, spring beds; George R. Foster, building materials; G. R. Hoi den, surgeon; William D. Jones, pharmacist; H. J. Klutho, architect; C. D. Mills, florist; Claude Nolan, automobiles.

April 23, 1912: Robertson T. Arnold, printing; Angus Baker, merchandise broker; John Balfe, painting and decorating; J. D. Burbridge, bill posting; Leon T. Cheek, coffee roasting; Charles A. Clark, investments; Jacob E. Cohen, retail dry goods; R. P. Collyer, men's clothing; James Coons, plumbing contractor; Montgomery Corse, wood deal¬er; Hardy Croom, electric railways; A. G. Cummer, phosphate; R. N. Ellis, Jr., civil engineer; Gerald Franz, safes and locks; John H. Gay, paint manufacturing; W. K. Hale, express company; J. C. Halsema, mfg. sash and doors; George W. Hardee, cigar manufac¬turing; Walter Hawkins, fruits; Myron L. Howard, turpentine ma¬chinery; F. J. Hyde, wholesale oils; T. G. Hutchinson, public ac¬countant; A. H. James, business college; James F. Lane, jeweler; T. B. Livingston, electrician; J. E. McGraw, bicycles and motor¬cycles; J. F. Phillip, metal products; H. E. Ploof, machinery sup¬plies; Frank Richardson, building contractor; Frank T. Russell, foundries; E. M. Sanderson, dentist; J. Y. Wilson, paving contrac¬tor; G. T. Woodward, photographer.

October 29, 1912: Walter P. Corbett, life insurance; Dr. H. Marshall Taylor, eye, ear, nose and throat specialist; J. D. Steward, representing R. G. Dun's commercial agency.

November 20, 1912: C. L. Bagwell, stocks and bonds; R. M. Barbour, Trust company officer; Ellis Crenshaw, cracker manufacturing; Thomas B. Elton, screens manufacturing; J. D. Holmes, groceries wholesale, associate to John D. Baker; C. Finley Knight, crockery wholesale; J. J. Lo¬gan, coal; Edward S. Spencer, building materials; Ernest L. Vordermark, groceries retailing.

December 17, 1912: A. Wright Ellis, elevators; F. W. R. Hinman, publisher of morning newspaper; John G. McGiffin, ship broker; Harry S. Moulton, undertaker; Lucius B. Wooten, fiber manufacturing.

Captain J. R. Slattery, chief of the U. S. Engineers stationed in Jack¬sonville, addressed the club on March 5, 1912 and, on March 12, 1912 was elected to honorary membership; the first honorary member of the club. On March 26, 1912, F. O. Miller addressed the club on the recommendation of a second ferry across the St. Johns River to be located at Albert Street. This ferry would materially shorten the distance to Pablo Beach, Mr. Miller said.

President George W. Clark was a delegate to the International Conven¬tion of Rotary Clubs, in Duluth, Minnesota on August 6 to 9, 1912. The minutes of the Board of Directors on October 29, 1912 state that "The
em¬blem chosen at the International Association in Duluth was adopted for use by the Jacksonville Club on all stationary and notes." At this meeting the publishing of a club roster was authorized.

During the first year, a weekly bulletin was published and styled the Jacksonville Rotarian. Its first issue, or the first issue now in the files of the secretary's office, is that of January 1, 1913. This publication carried news' of the club, with personal items and paid advertisements. It often urged Rotarians to patronize the business establishments of other Rotarians. In De¬cember, 1914 the name was changed to: "The Centrifugalist." It is interest¬ing to note some of the early advertisers in the Jacksonville Rotarian and the Centrifugalist: George W. Hardee,cigars; H. E. Harkisheimer, butter; Harry B. Hoyt, gas for lighting and heating; Myron L. Howard, turpentine machinery; C. Finley Knight, wholesale crockery; George E. Leonard, real estate; J. J. Logan, coal; Charles H. Mann, hides; F. O. Miller, pianos and violins; Clifford A. Payne, fire insurance; Leon T. Cheek, coffee; The Arnold Fruit Company, oranges. The name of the weekly bulletin was again changed in 1916 to "Rotary Service." The bulletin of November 25, 1913 listed the attendance records of the club's eighty members.

On February 22, 1913, the club held a George Washington Birthday picnic in the "Panama Park" subdivision of George W. Clark. A rather full account of this outing was carried in the Jacksonville Rotarian of February 26, 1913, which elaborated on a baseball game between the "Fats" and "Leans." According to the Jacksonville Rotarian, issue of March 11, 1913, the Jacksonville club was the first Rotary club to have buttons and Rotary pennants.

Nominations of officers for the second year were made at the regular luncheon meeting, at the Cafe Albert, on Tuesday, May 27, 1913. All of the following nominees were elected, at the meeting on June 10, 1913, at the Aragon Hotel:

President: George W. Clark
Vice-President: Harry B. Hoyt
Treasurer: Myron L. Howard
Secretary: Clifford A. Payne
Sergeant-at-Arms: Richard L. Boyd
Directors: F. P. Conroy, Walter P. Corbett, George E. Leonard, Charles H. Mann, W. M. Stinson, Loren H. Green and John H. Gay.

The Metropolis, Jacksonville's Evening Newspaper, carried large pictures of the six officers of the Club, in its issue of Wednesday, June 18, 1913. This paper carried a full story of the Rotary banquet in the evening of the preceding day.

The headlines ran thus:
“Banquet at Aragon Hotel Was Unique in History of Both City and Club. Souvenir Dinner Most Enjoyable.”
Not to be outdone, the Florida Times-Union, morning newspaper, issued a special edition, captioned: "EXTRA! ROTARIAN EXTRA!" Covering four of the seven columns on page one, much humorous detail of the Rotary banquet was given. Vice-President Hoyt was referred to as "Old Harry B. — The Tom Catt of the evening". C. Finley Knight "Rendered the Florodora Sextette from Lucia in a highly ornamental manner." Claude Nolan (Automobile Dealer) "Impersonated a carburetor, furnishing the laughing gas for the evening." Numerous other references to personalities and stunts were published.

A very attractive printed program gave the menu of "A Rotary Meeting-by-the-Sea" at the Atlantic Beach Hotel on July 8, 1913. The dinner meeting was billed as a Rotary meeting in honor of the ladies. It was held in the "Japanese Garden" at the hotel, and twelve instrumental musical numbers were played by the Royal Hungarian Orchestra with Louis Zsiga as director. The Florida Metropolis, evening newspaper, carried a cartoon of a character¬ization of Rotarians George W. Clark, Harry B. Hoyt and one other man dancing by the waves of the sea, with mermaids, to the fiddling of King Neptune. Under the cartoon, a note read: "The Rotarian Club motored to the beach last evening and enjoyed a dinner, concert, etc."

The International Convention was held at the Statler Hotel in Buffalo, New York, beginning on Sunday, August 17, 1913. The Florida Times-Union of Wednesday, August 17, 1913 carried large pictures of each of the delegates of the Jacksonville Club to the Buffalo convention, and a generous news account of the purpose and agenda of the convention. Pictured were: President George W. Clark, R. T. Arnold, J. C. Blanton, Robert P. Colyer, David H. Doig, Loren H. Green, Harry B. Hoyt, George E. Leonard, H. B. Minium, Frank O. Miller and Dr. W. M. Stinson. Loren Green was on the program and made a speech at Buffalo.
Apparently, there were no weekly meetings of the club after the annual meeting on June 17 and the dinner meeting at Atlantic Beach on July 8, 1913, until the summer season was over. The Jacksonville Rotarian was published on June 7th and again on October 25th. Just when the luncheons were resumed is not definitely known, but undoubtedly in the early autumn. Since the Jacksonville Rotarian was not then a weekly publication, the Tuesday luncheon programs have not been preserved. Many special events were held at dinner meetings.

On March 17, 1914, a program was carried out at the Aragon Hotel by "The Rotary Troupe of Bad Actors.” The title to the program was "The Follies of 1914" and the meeting was in the evening. The cast was listed, as follows:
John S. Arnold, Jr., The Follies of the Adding Machine; Henry L. Covington, The Follies of the Meat Man; Arthur J. Doyle, The Follies of a Money Lender, George W. Hardee, The Follies of the Auto Agent, Harry B. Hoyt, The Follies of Life Insurance; and Connie Mack, The Follies of the Fans.

On March 19, 1914, the Board of Directors appointed a committee to cooperate with John E. Shelby of Birmingham, Alabama, Southern Vice-President of Rotary, in forming a Rotary Club in Tampa, Florida. Mr. Shelby came to Jacksonville on his way to Tampa and, on April 7, met with the Board, which held a meeting at 8:30 o'clock, A.M., before his departure for Tampa. On that evening the Tampa, Florida Club, No. 117, was organized under the sponsorship of the Jacksonville club. This was Florida's second Rotary Club. John A. Turner of Tampa had already become a member of the Jacksonville Rotary Club. John E. Shelby of Birmingham, Alabama, In¬ternational Vice-President of Rotary Clubs of America, addressed the or¬ganization meeting and Jacksonville Rotarians Arthur J. Doyle, Leon T. Cheek and James D. Stuart attended and each made a short talk about the benefits of Rotary membership.
On April 21, 1914, the club held a dinner meeting at 6:30 o'clock P.M. at the Burbridge Hotel at which J. C. Blanton and H. J. Klutho debated the best site for the contemplated union railway passenger station: Lee Street or Myrtle Avenue. F. O. Miller didn't like either site and predicted Jacksonville would grow to a half million population. New members proposed at the Director's meeting of June 2, 1914 were: Ralph Payne, Barrie C. Smith, W. A. Lloyd and W. M. Bostwick. The sum of thirty dollars was appropriated as the treasurer's salary for the next (1914-1915) year.

The annual meeting was held at the Seminole Hotel on Tuesday, May 26, 1914. This meeting was held in the evening and, according to the news¬paper account, lasted from 6:30 to 11:30 P.M. The following officers were installed: Harry B. Hoyt, President; Francis P. Conroy, Vice-President; Myron L. Howard, Treasurer; Robertson T. Arnold, Secretary; and R. L. Boyd, Sergeant-at-Arms. Directors for the new year were: George W. Clark, Walter P. Corbett, John A. Futch, Loren H. Green, George E. Leonard, George W. Hardee, and Frank O. Miller. Both newspapers published long articles, with bold headlines, about the meeting. The Florida Metropolis carried pictures of Retiring President George W. Clark, Incoming President Harry B. Hoyt and Francis P. Conroy. The headline said: "Real Live Goat Takes Part in Ceremonies when Harry B. Hoyt Becomes Head of Rotary Club." Conroy was the speaker and discussed the forthcoming school bond election and its importance to Jacksonville.

The Florida Times-Union reported on Wednesday, June 10, 1914, that "The Rotary Club held its last weekly luncheon for the summer yesterday at the Mason Hotel." The article closed by saying: "The last meeting of the club for the summer will be held at Atlantic Beach next Tuesday night, when the Rotary Club, with the wives and invited guests, will eat dinner at the Atlantic Beach Hotel and end the season in fitting style."

A printed menu of the dinner at the Atlantic Beach Hotel on Tuesday, June 16, 1914, carried pictures in caricature of President Harry B. Hoyt, a bow of ribbon on his hair, sitting on an oven, inscribed with "Cook With Gas" and holding a toy ferry boat in his arms; and of Rotarian Leon T. Cheek sitting in a big coffee cup. Cheek had charge of the arrangements for the dinner meeting. Directions on the cover of the menu had to say: "Leave Jacksonville four o'clock over President Hoyt's ferry, and have a swim in the surf before dinner, which comes off promptly at 7:00.

On Friday, June 19, 1914, The Florida Metropolis published an article captioned: "Rotary Club Crackers off on Jaunt to Houston, Texas, to Attend National Convention." The heading made use of the word "Crackers" to indicate that a number of natives of Georgia were in the delegation. It continued: "Led by President Harry B. Hoyt, Delegation of Prominent Business Men leave to Show Brother Rotarians the Best Crowd of Boosters that ever Straddled a Pullman Car." The newspaper also carried a cartoon, showing the faces of the nine Rotarians going to Houston. They were: Presi¬dent Hoyt, R. T. Arnold, Ellis Crenshaw, R. M. Barbour, Leon T. Cheek, John A. Futch, George W. Hardee, George E. Leonard and James D. Stuart. Harry B. Hoyt made a speech at the convention in which he nominated John Shelby of Birmingham for vice-president to represent the Southern Division of the International Association. Shelby was elected and Jacksonville Rotarian George E. Leonard was elected a director of the Association.