Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Passport Application Reveals Physical Description and Signature of Robert George Clarke

Unfortunately, Clarke House Museum has no portraits of the immediate members of the Henry Brown Clarke family. The only image known to exist  is the exterior view of Clarke House taken around 1865, which is in the collections of the Chicago History Museum. This image, however, shows what might be several of the Clarke children from a distance on the steps of the west portico.

The museum must rely on written descriptions to paint a mental picture of what the Clarkes looked like. We know what the Clarkes' third son, Edward, looked like from his military records but until now, we had no indicators as to the appearance of the Clarkes' second eldest son Robert.

A passport application filed by Robert George Clarke on November 9, 1868, several days before his marriage to Clara Gage, reveals interesting information about this appearance. Robert, age 30, stands 5'-6 1/2" tall with brown hair, grey eyes, and medium complexion. His face is oval with a prominent nose, medium-sized mouth, and round chin.

Robert G. Clarke Passport Application. November 9, 1868.

The passport application was filed for a trip abroad, presumably for the couple's approaching honeymoon following their marriage on November 15. In it, Robert gives the following testimony:

I Robert G. Clarke do swear that I was born in the city of Chicago Cook County state of Illinois on or about the seventh day of May An. [Anno or year] 1838 that I am a natural born and local citizen of the United States and about to travel abroad with my wife Clara G. Clarke. 

Signature of Robert G. Clarke

His brother-in-law, Franklin B. Williams, signs the following affidavit:

I Franklin B. Williams do swear that I am acquainted with the above named Robert G. Clarke and with the facts above stated by him and that the same are true to the best of my knowledge and beliefs.

Signature of Frank B. Williams

The passport application was signed by Notary Public A. E. Guilds.
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