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Moses A. Clark came to Arkansas from Germantown, Tennessee, where he was born a slave on August 15, 1834. He was brought to Helena (Phillips County), Arkansas, in 1849.  In1856, he was taught barbering in Helena, Arkansas. At some point, he left Arkansas and lived in Nashville, Tennessee, and St. Louis, Missouri. He returned to Helena after the Civil War a free man.

Clark began studying law in the 1870s, after having taught himself to read. He was successful as a lawyer and was elected a justice of the peace in Helena for nine years.  He became a Mason and was a member of a Missouri Lodge.  He was a founding member of Arkansas’ Masonic Lodge, where he served in most official positions. He was Grand Master for 24 years (1881-1905), and during his administration the membership grew to 20 times its original number.  He apparently began the efforts to erect a Grand Masonic Temple in Pine Bluff, Arkansas. The Masonic Benefit Fund became an important charitable activity of the order during his reign. Clark also was active in the national Masonic group, serving in a variety of offices.

He was a Justice of the Peace (Marianna, Arkansas) for nine years, a Deputy United States Marshall, and Chairman of a National Masonic Convention in Chicago.

In 1870, Clark married Georgia A. Coursey of Helena, who had attended Berea College in Kentucky. During their 40 years of marriage, they produced 23 children. In 1879, the family moved to Marianna (Lee County, Arkansas). Clark owned stock in the Arizona and Arkansas Mining Company and also substantial real estate in the Marianna area. In 1907, he began the Opinion-Enterprise, which became one of the leading Black newspapers in Arkansas. He died in Lee County on April 10, 1924.

Sources:  112th Communication, 112 Years of Freemasonry 1872-1984, M.W. Prince Hall Grand Lodge, Jurisdiction of Arkansas, 8/5-8/1984 (program); photo, Arkansas History Commission;


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