Historian and author Paul F. Clark strikes a pose in front of the Plaza Historic District commemorative wall at Almond and South Glassell where his name is listed as a contributing citizen. His new book reveals the life and times of his great grandmother, Mary Teegarden Clark, a ranching pioneer of Orange.
Orange history comes alive in Paul F. Clark’s new book documenting his great-grandmother’s ranching life in the late 1800s.
Published by The History Press, Pioneer Ranch Life in Orange, A Victorian Woman in Southern California, features the original writing of Mary Teegarden Clark, whose first-hand accounts shed new light on Orange County’s citrus and ranching industry from 1875 to 1887.
A local historian who served as president of the Orange Community Historical Society, Paul remembers his childhood days spent at the old Clark homestead and orchard before urbanization took over the 10-acre property in 1976. He says he feels lucky to come from a family that valued history enough to protect it.
“My great-grandmother kept old notebooks and composed a memoir that was probably handwritten,” says Paul. “One of my relatives, Aunt Kate, later typed it up and went to Hollywood to peddle it as a screenplay, but nothing ever came of it. In about 1973, when my father noticed my interest in local history, he showed me the typed manuscript. I recall spending most of the night reading it, it was so fascinating.”
With a master’s degree in history from Cal State Fullerton, Paul knew how to research and authenticate the stories. In the early 1990s, he retyped the entire document on his computer. It took him several years to visit places across the country that Mary Teegarden Clark had written about, such as the Wawona hotel in Yosemite where her name is written in a guest register.
Educated at Vasser, Mary Teegarden Clark was articulate and sophisticated. Her husband, Albert, was a Civil War veteran who moved to California for his health. Today, the old house would have been located east of the intersection of Palmyra and Clark near the railroad tracks.
“This is a slice of time that was written by a person of that time who had the educational background to write intelligently,” says Paul. “I’m pleased to have been a part of it as the editor and to have added my own memories.”
A must-read for anyone interested in Orange history, Paul’s book is available at HistoryPress.net and locally at A&P Antiques, Bowers Museum and Mother’s Market. The author will be presenting a program on the book at the Orange Public Library on October 19th and will serve on a panel of local authors at the Chapman University Big Orange Book Festival on October 13th.