Philip J. Clark was a 23 year old bachelor, in August, 1872, when he sat for photographer, Samuel Montague Fassett, at 501 Wabash Avenue, in Chicago, Illinois. His birthday was in August, and I wonder if this photo was taken to mark the occasion. Seven years later, Philip wed Miss Sarah E. Fletcher, and the couple raised two children, Fred and Earl.
Interestingly, Samuel Fassett is the photographer behind the famous 1864 carte de visite of Frederick Douglass, used for the 1995 USPS stamp. Fassett worked in Chicago from 1855 to 1875. Learn more about Frederick Douglass!
Without the middle initial, and date of the photograph, Phil would have been impossible to identify. Even with this information, I can’t say I’m 100% certain. There are three Philip Clarks, and three P. Clarks, listed in the 1872 Chicago city directory. However, I found only one Philip using the middle initial of J, in the Chicago area during this time period, and I feel that’s enough to make an educated guess.
Chicago death records
Chicago city directories
Picturing Frederick Douglass: An Illustrated Biography of the Nineteenth Century’s Most Photographed American, by John Stauffer, Zoe Trodd, Celeste-Marie Bernier, publ. 2015
Museum of African American History