Residence of Ansel Clark, Portage, Wisconsin, ca. 1902
Ansel Clark was a long-time African-American resident of Portage with an intriguing biography. Born into slavery in Mississippi, Clark served in the Civil War, first for the South and later for the North. While working as a military nurse at Vicksburg, he tended Captain Alexander Christie of the 11th Wisconsin Infantry Regiment.
After the Civil War, Clark headed to Wisconsin to work for Lieutenant Eli H. Mix, who owned a farm in central Wisconsin. While visiting Captain Christie in Portage, he decided to settle there and found work as a coachman, first for county judge John T. Clark and later for local merchant W. W. Coring.
Following Corning’s death, Clark purchased his employer’s home, which remained his residence until his death in 1932. Clark spent decades as a civil servant in Portage, serving as deputy sheriff, town constable and county humane officer as well as a member of the Wisconsin National Guard and a volunteer fireman.
In 1967, 35 years after his death, the city of Portage observed “Ansel Clark Day” to pay tribute to Clark’s life and service to the community.
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