Let’s Talk Clovis: Early Years of the Potter Family, Section Two

The Potter Memorial Methodist Church, completed in December 1920. (Courtesy of Clovis Museum)

We continue to share portions of Kate Potter Clark’s (1874-1969) article that was written on February 8, 1956.

In the early years of our schooling before the school was relocated and a new building erected, because it was too far for us to walk, my father bought us a cart. We hitched our gray mare to it and mother and father felt we would get to school safely.

In that cart with ‘Old Bet’, mother and the three of us visited our neighbors and made a weekly visit to a neighborhood store and Big Dry Creek Post Office for our mail.

On Sundays and when we made a trip to Fresno to shop, we traveled first in a two horse farm wagon, later in a two seated spring wagon. Still later we had a carriage and then a surrey.

Mother was able in later years to have a one horse buggy; her buggy horse for many years was faithful ‘Old Hatrack’.

After automobiles were first on the market, she bought a T model Ford coupe and was brave enough to learn to operate it. She drove it all about Clovis visiting the sick and strangers.

During the horse and buggy days, when people seldom traveled long distances, one of the events of the year, for the Christian people of this area, was the camp meeting. It was held on the Jess Musick ranch, a few miles above Academy, on the creek south east of the quarry. There was a good water supply, a spring of cold water in the creek which always had a running stream of water.

Many of the families from the valley and hill country gathered there and camped under the trees for ten days of religious services. There was preaching, praying and singing together, morning, afternoon and evening. It was led by our Pastor, who made his home at Academy. Pastors from neighboring towns assisted. The meetings were held in an outdoor arbor, we called it. It had a good roof, with a raised platform at one end and homemade bench, some with backs. Father hauled a load of straw up there every year to be used in our one room cabin for a floor and to help carpet the auditorium. The camp meeting was held every year in September, just before the schools opened. It was a wonderful time of fellowship. As children we got to know children from other communities whom we otherwise would never have known. There were always those who made decisions for Christ and joined the church.

For some reason, the open auditorium was finally moved to the Academy and people stopped coming to camp out. Big Dry Creek camp meeting soon became a thing of the past.

In 1892, my father decided he was getting too old for the hard trips to the mountains. He sold the sheep and rented his acreage to grain farmers.

Early in the eighteen nineties (1893), soon after the town of Clovis started to be built, he and his friend, J.W. Cate, decided to build a church. This was the first church building in Clovis. Four lots were bought, lumber purchased, and Church South held the first church service in Clovis and it is the site of the present Methodist church (south west corner of 5th & Woodworth).

A Sunday School was organized with twelve children in attendance. In this same building, the Baptists organized their congregation.

A few years before his death, my father sold off part of his acreage to the Cobbs and it was planted to fig trees.

Kate married C. Todd Clark (1977-1967) an ordained Methodist Minister in 1898. C. Todd served as Fresno County Supervisor and as State Assemblyman. Clark Intermediate School (902 Fifth Street) is named in his honor.

The Potter and Clark family provided us a rich heritage.

Peg Bos
Peg Bos is the president of the Clovis Museum on 4th and Pollasky avenues in Old Town Clovis. She not only manages the museum but she also writes her Let's Talk Clovis column in our publication which features and highlight the amazing history of our city and culture. One fun fact about Peg Bos, she was the first female mayor of Clovis from 1984-86.