News From 1876

The Vinton Eagle
April 5, 1876


On Monday morning last this community was saddened by the death of Rev. O. Clarke, Superintendent of the College for the Blind. Mr. Clarke had been ill only about ten days, but the attack was very severe and the suffering was very great, he being deranged a considerable portion of the time. We understand that he was entirely unconscious from Saturday morning until death.

A brother from Indiana arrived on Saturday morning only to learn that he must witness the closing scene without a recognition. The funeral services were held at the College on Monday afternoon at three o’clock, and the remains were taken to Des Moines for burial. A large number of friends were present at the services, considering the condition of the roads.

The pupils of the College took very much to heart the death of their Superintendent. Shortly before his death many of them visited his room and one by one they placed their hands upon his forehead as a last farewell. The last scene at the coffin was quite touching. The pupils gathered about the bier, and with sightless eyes stood over the coffin sobbing and pressing their hands upon the death-cold brow.

Rev. S. Phelps conducted the funeral services, in his remarks giving the following sketch of Mr. Clarke’s life:

Rev. Orlando Clarke was born Nov. 6, 1825, at Geneva, Jennings county, Indiana. His parents died, one when he was two, and the other when he was three years old. At the age of seventeen he entered college at Hanover, Ind., intending to prepare himself for the legal profession. While there he accepted Christ as his Savior, and chase the gospel ministry, instead of the practice of law, as his life work. After a farther course at Hanover, he sought the advantages of the State University at Bloomington, Ind., where he graduated. His professional studies were then commenced at Princeton, N. J., and concluded at Yale College, New Haven Conn. He and his now widowed companion were married in 1854, in the Presbyterian church of Edinburg, Ind., of which, at the time, he had charge as pastor. They moved to Iowa in 1857, since which time he has endeared himself to several Congregational churches of our state, as their able and affectionate pastor, and held a high place in the ministry of Iowa.

He took charge of the Iowa College for the Blind at Iowa City, in 1863, about ten years after its establishment. He was instrumental in its removal to Vinton, and had charge of the erection of its original buildings.

After returning to the work of the ministry in 1864, he preached with marked success for nearly twelve years, and then again assumed the duties of Superintendent of the College for the Blind, at the opening of the present collegiate year, June, 1875. His administration was characterized by impartiality, kindness, and a deep, heartfelt interest in those committed to his charge. It has been to the entire satisfaction of the Trustees, the community and the state authorities, as well as to the prosperity of the institution. He was greatly endeared to all the pupils and assistants. The institution, the community, and the church, are sadly bereaved in his death.

He died on Sabbath evening, April 2, 1876, at the age of 50 years, 4 months and 25 days. Six children await their father’s coming to the other shore, and one is left to comfort the bereaved mother here.

Mr. Clarke was very much respected and esteemed by all who knew him in Vinton, as an intelligent, modest, consistent christian, devoted to whatever object he gave his attention. He will be greatly missed here, especially in the school where he seems to have won the high esteem and affection of his pupils.



Vinton Eagle
April 5, 1876

The Board of Trustees of the College for the Blind held a meeting yesterday, and, as we are informed by S. H. Watson, a member of the Board, Prof. Parmelee was appointed to superintendent during the remainder of the year; Mrs. Clarke to remain matron. This is probably the best thing that could be done under the circumstances. Mr. Parmelee has been in the college since the opening of the present year, and has become familiar with its workings.