Andrew D. Crews

CLARKE, ROBERT (1839?–1923). Robert Clarke, printer, son of Robert and Agnes (Butler) Clarke, was born in Dublin, Ireland, possibly in November 1839. He immigrated with his family to the United States and arrived in New Orleans on February 2, 1852.

Clarke married Mary Eliza Church in Houston on March 31, 1860, and their union produced at least two sons and a daughter. In 1867 they moved to Galveston, where Clarke worked for two years at the Galveston Daily News under A. H. Belo.

In 1872 Clarke partnered with M. Strickland and Company, Printers, Lithographers and Blank Book Manufacturers, which had been organized in Galveston in 1857 by Miles Strickland.  The firm was subsequently renamed Strickland & Clarke, and the company received a first prize at the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition for its blank-book business in 1876. 

In 1879 George M. Courts purchased Strickland's interest, and the company became Clarke and Courts. Clarke sold his interest in the company in 1893 and started his own printing company, Robert Clarke & Co. on Tremont Street. Clarke and Courts continued operating under that name until 1989, however.

The death of his son, Edward, in August 1895 took a toll on Clarke’s health, and in 1896 he moved to San Antonio where he became a partner with the Maverick Litho Printing Company to establish the Maverick Clarke Litho Company. This partnership was short-lived, as he opened his own company, the Clarke Printing Company, in 1900.

Upon the death of his wife in February 1913, Clarke sold his business and house in San Antonio and moved to Chicago, where he died on September 7, 1923. He is buried in Anchor Masonic Lodge Cemetery in San Antonio. One of his pallbearers was Frank Huntress, chairman of the board of the San Antonio Express newspaper.

Robert Clarke’s name lives on as part of the Harland Clarke check printing, integrated payment, and marketing company based in San Antonio, Texas.


Galveston Daily News, June 9, 1872; March 21, 1893; September 1, 1895; January 31, 1896. San Antonio Express, September 12, 1923. San Antonio Light, February 18, 1913.

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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, Andrew D. Crews, "CLARKE, ROBERT ," accessed August 21, 2019,

Uploaded on June 29, 2018. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

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