Aníbal A. González

CLARKE, EDWARD A. (1808–1858). Edward A. Clarke (Clark), priest, son of Ignatius and Aloysia (Hill) Clarke and grandnephew of the first bishop of Cincinnati, was born in Marion County, Kentucky, in 1808. He and George W. Haydon were the first American-born Catholic priests to settle and minister in Texas. Sometime before 1824 Clarke, along with his childhood friend Haydon, entered St. Thomas Seminary in Bardstown, Kentucky. Both transferred to St. Joseph College before graduation and ordination to the priesthood at St. Joseph's Cathedral in 1832. For the next few years Clarke served as missionary in a large district encompassing several counties. In 1836, after a brief assignment at St. Thomas Seminary, he was named coassistant to the pastor of St. Louis Church in Louisville, a position also held by Haydon. In 1837 Clarke joined the faculty of St. Joseph College as professor of natural philosophy.

In 1839 Clarke and Haydon volunteered to go to Texas as missionaries, at the request of a number of Kentucky and Missouri Catholics planning to move to the young republic. After an initial delay due to conflicting reports about their pastoral qualifications, the two Kentucky priests set out for New Orleans, where they obtained canonical credentials from Bishop Blanc and a letter of introduction to President Mirabeau B. Lamar from the Abbé Anduze, chaplain of the French fleet. Upon arrival in Texas, Clarke and Haydon visited a colony of Kentuckian settlers in Brazoria and then undertook a missionary tour of the republic. A few months later, using Richmond as a starting point, the priests made a second, longer, missionary tour of Texas, after which they separated for greater effectiveness. Haydon settled at Refugio, where he started to repair the old Spanish mission church, and Clarke moved to Brown's Settlement on the Lavaca River, where he helped the residents build a log church dedicated to St. Mary. The priests, however, continued to support each other; together they built a two-story log cabin amid the Lavaca farms, to serve as a school for children and adults. Eventually, the church entrusted all the English-speaking Catholics in the southwestern districts of the republic to Clarke's care.

Haydon died in October 1841. The loss of his lifelong friend was a deep blow for Clarke, but it made his pastoral commitment stronger. Using St. Mary's as a pivot, he traveled extensively during the next few years, ministering to Catholic settlers from the upper Navidad River to Victoria and Texana. In 1847 he was appointed resident pastor of St. Vincent de Paul, the oldest church in Houston, where he remained until 1856, when he became seriously ill. He returned to Kentucky to rest and died of consumption in Louisville on November 25, 1858.

Ralph Francis Bayard, Lone-Star Vanguard: The Catholic Re-Occupation of Texas, 1838–1848 (St. Louis: Vincentian Press, 1945). Catholic Archives of Texas, Files, Austin.

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The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Handbook of Texas Online, Aníbal A. González, "CLARKE, EDWARD A.," accessed July 18, 2019,

Uploaded on June 12, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

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