The proposal at a 1993 meeting of the board of directors was unexpected. Obert Clark Tanner, a son of Annie Clark Tanner who wrote the unpublished monograph of her father, Ezra Thompson Clark, called for a "definitive biography of my grandfather." At the time we had been discussing a reprinting of the book by Robert F. Gould of Connecticut. And now came Obert's desire for a different book, one with detailed research and commendable construction. We all agreed, but were at a loss as to which of the Clark descendants would be the author.
The authorship matter had arisen before. In his 1982 outgoing message as president of the Ezra T. Clark Family Organization, Professor Clark Shumway Knowlton wished to "devote my energies for the securing of life histories of the first three generations…and to the publication…that will be an honor---to the memory of our progenitor, Ezra T. Clark. He is indeed a patriarch of a noble family." Clark Knowlton did a huge amount of interviewing of family members and did much other research, but he died before the writing began.
Fast forward 18 years: the new "green book" had been published, family directories had been started and some completed and nearly one-half of the descendants targeted by Clark and Ruth Knowlton had their monographs written and entered into the BYU and U of Utah libraries. But still no author willing to take on the definitive biography called for by O C Tanner and several others. Now enter Antone Lee Clark, great-great grandson of Ezra T. Clark.
Freshly moved from New York and full of enthusiasm, this nuts-and-bolts former newspaperman took on several projects about the Clark family, wrote commendably atop significant research, and showed himself to be the writer for whom we had been searching. Antone was adept at peering into sources heretofore untapped, travel as may be needed, and look into the talents of his siblings who also were experienced researchers. The project, incidentally, nearly terminated when Antone was returning from the East Coast and met head-on a car driven by a man who had collapsed at the wheel and crossed into Antone's lane. In the recovering stages, Antone went on to compose and publish this book.
How very appropriate for the subject of a book to be one whose name is Ezra. Such given name most likely came from the Old Testament priest and scribe who led exiles from captivity, helped rebuild the temple, made possible for common citizens to read the Mosaic law, bore up under recurrent and oppressive disappointments, and aimed his life at preparing for the coming of the Messiah. Hopefully the reader will see parallels between this 19th century Ezra and his namesake of 25 centuries earlier.
Dr. John R. Clark