Another Relative from Wisconsin, B'gosh!
I recently rediscovered the following article in the WA state archives. It chronicles John J. Clark, brother of my great-grandfather Frank Alexander (Alex) Clark, and lists the rest of the family members. I had not previously made an interesting connection.

I'd been looking for evidence of a connection to James G. Clark, co-founder of the clothing manufacturer that later became Oshkosh B'gosh and had a 100-year run making overalls and other garments for men and children before being merged into a nameless, faceless conglomerate whose corporate relations department does not know the names of the founders. That James is relatively undocumented; I've also tried to get information from libraries and historical societies in Oshkosh, which unfortunately seem to have better things to do.

On an earlier research foray I did find a death certificate in the Niagara Falls area of Ontario for one John Clark (tailor, age recorded as 77, born in Scotland, and namesake of my great-great-grandfather), whose son James Clark, merchant of Oshkosh, WI, is identified as next of kin.

The article also mentions other brothers William, Daniel, Robert and sister Margaret, all of Wisconsin. My understanding is that one of the other brothers briefly joined the Everett enterprise but later returned to Wisconsin.

So since my great-great-grandfather John Clark, born in Scotland in 1805, was reputedly a tailor or clothing merchant, had a son named James, lived in Niagara Falls, and died around the time my grandfather Perry Clark was born (1883), I'm claiming James G. as a great-great-uncle until proven wrong.

Here is the text of the WA archive article. As always, this knowledge and a dollar will get me a cup of coffee somewhere (though perhaps not in Oshkosh).

In commercial circles in Everett, John Judson Clark is well known and has developed a business of considerable extent, adding to the general prosperity of the community as well as to his individual success...

John Clark, the father, was a native of Scotland, and when about thirty years of age left the land of the hills and. heather, crossing the broad Atlantic to Canada, where he engaged in business as a clothing merchant. He died at the age of seventy-six years. The mother of our subject bore the name of Catherine MacDonald (missp. Catharine McDonald in original) before she gave her hand in marriage to John Clark, and she, too, was a native of Scotland. They were married while still in the land of their nativity, and with her husband she came to the new world. Her death occurred when she was sixty years of age. She became the mother of six sons and one daughter.

One brother of our subject, F. A. (Frank Alexander) Clark: is now living in Everett. The others are James, William, Daniel, Robert and Margaret, all in Wisconsin.

(The balance of the article appears elsewhere on the site.)

From A History of the Puget Sound Country
By William Farrand Prosser
Published 1903
The Lewis Publishing Company Puget Sound (Wash.)
Original from Harvard University
Digitized Sep 18, 2006
Parenthesis: RC
twill cloth with stitched or woven logo
J&C logo, ca. 1869.

Oshkosh, B'gosh: Jenkins and Clark

From the history page of Oshkosh, B'Gosh...

1895 - Frank E. Grove, James G. Clark, J. Howard Jenkins, and George M. Jones incorporated the Grove Manufacturing Company on July 13 in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. Its business is making hickory-striped denim bib overalls for railroad workers and farmers.

1896 - The company's name changes to Oshkosh Clothing Manufacturing Company. Jenkins and Clark control the company. (The stitched or woven "J&C" in the fabric of clothes becomes a workplace icon.)

1910 - The company beings making child-size overalls as a novelty item for proud parents. Its early advertising slogan for the brand is: "Work Clothes for Dad, Play Clothes for Sonny."

1911 - William Pollock become company general manager and changes the name to Oshkosh Overall Company on January 25. While on a buying trip to New York, Pollock hears the phrase "Oshkosh B'Gosh" in a vaudeville skit. In the fall, the company adopts OshKosh B'Gosh as its garment brand name, replacing J & C (Jenkins and Clark).

Canada Death Certificate of John Clark, b. Scotland

scanned document
Death certificate of John Clark 1883.

OshKosh B'Gosh - Oshkosh Overall - Grove Manufacturing

(After Oshkosh Municipal Library. The James Clark mentioned herein was the oldest brother of my paternal great-grandfather F.A. Clark.)

The Grove Manufacturing Co. was organized in July 1895 by Frank E. Grove, J. Howard Jenkins, and James Clark. Jenkins and Clark bought out Grove and the company name was changed to the Oshkosh Clothing and Manufacturing Co. in December 1896; that same year, the plant was organized by the United Garment Workers. The company named their work overalls "J & C" after the owners.

In 1901, the business moved to larger headquarters at 33 Otter St. and William E. Pollack became a partner in the firm. Pollack changed the company name to the Oshkosh Overall Co. and began the brand name OshKosh B'Gosh.

The company was restructured as a public stock company in 1929 under the laws of Delaware to take advantage of that state's pro-business tax laws and regulations. In 1934, a majority of the stock was owned by Sam Pickard and Earl Wyman. In 1937, the company once again changed its name, this time to OshKosh B'Gosh Inc. The company began using promotional red bandanas in the 1951.

In 1954, the company built a manufacturing plant in Celina, Tenn. and ten years later, opened a third plant in Columbia, Ky. As the company expanded, plants were opened in Liberty and Albany, both in Kentucky; Byrdstown, Jamestown, White House and Gainesboro, Tenn.; and in the country of Honduras. Retail and outlet stores were opened in the 1980s and 1990s.

In 1997, the company announced all men's overalls would be made outside the United States and closed the Oshkosh manufacturing plant. The Oshkosh distribution center closed in June 2000 as services were consolidated at the White House, Tenn., plant.