Documentary History of American Water-works

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Biography Patrick Clark

Patrick Clark

Patrick Clark was born in Roscommon, Ireland on April 2, 1818.  He and his family came to America in 1827 and settled in New Jersey.  His father died soon thereafter, and his mother moved the family to New York City  There Patrick's siblings and mothers all died, and he went back to the young community of Rahway.  He found employment and became sole proprietor of the Rahway Manufacturing Company that manufactured his patented blowers.   His inventive mind secured several patents, he he was involved with the local gas company before being hired as the engineer of the Rahway Water Board in 1878.  He designed and built a mechanical filter that he let the Water Board use at no charge, and he later secured a patent for his design.  In late 1880 he was one of the founders of the Newark Filtering Company, where he remained until his death..  .

Pillsbury died on March 5, 1887 in Rahway, New Jersey.

Patrick Clark's Water Works Experience
City State Years Projects
Rahway NJ
1849; 1879-1880
Incorporator of the Rahway Water Company; Engineer for the Rahway Water Board.

Patent Number
Patentee Description
U.S. Patent 243,212 June 21, 1881 Patrick Clark Process of Cleaning Filtering Beds

Scientific American 32:175 (March 13, 1875)

1859 An act to incorporate the Rahway Water Company.  March 8, 1859.
Incorporated by Joseph T. Crowell, Thomas H. Shafer, Joseph S. Smith, Patrick Clark, and Samuel Williams "to supply the city of Rahway with good and wholesome water, in quantities sufficient for all the purposes which may conduct to the safety of said city, and to the health and comfort of the citizens."  This company did not build anything.

1870 An act to incorporate the Rahway Manufacturing Company.  March 8, 1870.

1879 Rahway Weekly Advocate and Times, December 20, 1879, Page 2.
Our ingenious townsman, P. Clark, Esq., has constructed a water filter, one of which he has introduced into the City Water Works, which is a great improvement on any heretofore made. Most persons who have employed a filter for domestic use, have found its value lessened by the deposition of sedimentary matter on its inner surface. Unless frequently cleansed the filter becomes clogged or the silt, unable otherwise to escape, is forced through the filter, thus destroying the value of the appliance.  For these reasons many persons have discontinued the use of such articles entirely, and prefer accepting the water in its natural state to the care and trouble of keeping a filter in good working order.
Tho improvements made by Mr. Clark obviate all the above-mentioned objections.  His new filter clears itself of all impurities, as it separates them from the water. By an ingenious arrangement the silt and sediment which accumulate in ordinary filter», are carried away by a separate flow of water, and thus tho instrument never becomes foul and cannot become clogged. We believe Mr. Clark thinks of securing a patent for his filter, though he proposes to allow the city tho free use of its advantages, having, as we said, already introduced one into our Water Works, at which place he would be pleased to explain its workings to any one interested in such matters.

1880 Rahway Weekly Advocate and Times, November 13, 1880, Page 3.
We are informed that a patent has been granted to our townsman, Patrick Clark, Esq., for an improvement in filters similar to the one built by him for our Water Works about sixteen months ago, and which during that time has furnished the city with unobjectionable water.  The improvement being fundamental is considered valuable by by those who are competent judges.  [Clark had filed an application for a patent on October 18, 1880, which was granted the following June.]

1881 "Water," by Patrick Clark, Rahway Weekly Advocate and Times, May 7, 1881, Page 1.
It's various relations to animal and vegetable life, and especially to mankind when living in large numbers on limited areas of the Earth's surface.
The writer took charge of the Rahway water-works on the first of June, 1879. The pumping station is on the north branch of the Rahway river, which furnishes a minimum supply of ten million gallons of water every twenty-four hours. The works have no reservoir or stand pipe, but pump directly against the mains. Two duplex compound engines are used alternately month about each engine being capable of pumping one and one-half millions every twenty-four hours.  The daily consumption of the city is about five hundred thousand, but the amount for short periods occasionally runs up to on million gallons. The water remaining in the reserve pumps and mains always became grossly offensive at the end of three or four days after the stoppage of the pumps. In June, 1880, a sand filter was placed between the works and the river. The result was that the water remaining in the idle pumps and mains at the end of a month was sweet and palatable.

1881 "Water," by Patrick Clark of Rahway N.J., Morning Journal and Courier (New Haven, Connecticut), May 13, 1881, Page 1. | also here |

1882 "The Water-Supply of Certain Cities and Towns of the United States," by Walter G. Elliot, C. E., Ph. D., June 1, 1882, Special Agent, from Statistics of power and machinery employed in manufactures: reports on the water-power of the United States, Part 2, by W. P. Trowbridge, Chief Special Agent, United States. Census Office. 10th census, 1880 (1887).
Page 226:  New Jersey.  Rahway: Filtering apparatus:  Clark filter, 16 feet square; sand, 6 inches deep, on fine-wire cloth; cleaned once in 24 hours.

1882 History of Union and Middlesex Counties, New Jersey: With Biographical Sketches of Many of Their Pioneers and Prominent Men, by W. Woodford Clayton
Page 253:  The water is filtered by an improved filter (a very ingenious contrivance), invented by Patrick Clark, engineer of the Rahway gas-works.

1882 Industries of New Jersey: Middlesex, Somerset and Union counties, by Richards Edwards
Page 580:  Patrick Clark, Proprietor, Rahway Manufacturing Company, Manufacturers of Clark‘s Patent Single, Double and Quadruple Pressure Blowers and Exhausters.--The shops of the Rahway Manufacturing Company, of which Mr. Patrick Clark is the sole proprietor, were established by that gentleman in 1873 for the exclusive manufacture of his patent single, double and quadruple pressure blowers and exhausters. They are adapted to cupola furnaces. Smith’s forges and jeweler‘s fires, rolling-mills, steam boiler fires and for metalurgical purposes generally. Exhaust fans for removing dust from emery wheels, dry grind-stones and shavings from planing-machines, etc. Also, for ventilating buildings and mines, and for drying wool, cotton, paper, leather, oakum, glue. hair, fruit, and for all purposes where a current of air is required. Years of experience has enabled Mr. Clark to eliminate many defects of construction and design, and he now offers perfect blowers to the manufacturing community confident of their durability and efficiency, and they are guaranteed in every respect in accordance with representations. Fully two thousand of them are now in use throughout the United States. They are constructed of the best materials, the shafts being made of the best steel; the journals run in Babbitt metal, and are self-oiling, and the fans are too strong and light to be broken at the highest speeds. These blowers are noiseless and are universally commended by those who have them in use. Prices range from $20.00 to $700.00. The factory is 40x50 feet in size, built of brick, and is two stories in height. The most approved machinery is used in their manufacture and competent workmen are employed. A six-horse engine furnishes the motive power for the machinery. Mr. Clark, the patentee and manufacturer of Clark’s patent blowers and exhausters, is a native of Ireland, but came to this country in his boyhood.

1887 Patrick Clark (1818-1887) grave

1887 Morning Journal and Courier (New Haven, Connecticut), March 7, 1887, Page 2.
Died at Rahway, New Jersey, On Saturday, March 5, of pneumonia, Patrick Clark, in the eightieth year of his age.  Newark Filtering Company.

1887 "Patrick Clark," National Democrat (Rahway, New Jersey), March 11, 1887, Page 2.

1939 "New Jersey Birthplace of the Filter," by M. N. Baker. Engineering News-Record 122:777 (June 8, 1939)
In a crude way the water filter took form at Rahway under the hand of Patrick Clark.
Called on in March, 1876, to find a  remedy for  the "almost constant turbid condition" of the water supply of  Rahway, Patrick Clark, the  city engineer, reported that instead of fur­nishing "spring water" from an infil­tration basin built  in  1871, a  large part  of  the supply was  drawn from the  North  Branch of  the  Rahway River, made turbid by every rain. He advised the  construction of  "a large settling reserroir and filtering apparatus." The board engaged for this purpose George H. Bailey, who designed filter basins for Newark and Rahway. Almost immediately, the water board abandoned the  project.
Clark became chief engineer of the Rahway Water Board on May 8, 1878.  On October 21, 1880, he resigned his position and  the board voted that the filter constructed by  P. Clark at the works be allowed to  remain there." When and under what conditions it  was  put  in,  its  nature and how long it remained in service is unknown. In  a  special report of the Tenth Census of  the  United States, transmitted to the director on June 1, 1882, these words appear in  a  description of the Rahway waterworks: "Filtering Apparatus: Clark filter, 16 ft. sq.;  5and, 6 in. deep on fine wire cloth; cleaned once in 24 hours. Con­sumption, 0.5  mgd." This indicates a filtration rate of 85 mgd per acre.
Four days before his resignation, Clark applied for a patent on his filter.

1948 The quest for pure water; the history of water purification from the earliest records to the twentieth century, by Moses Nelson Baker
Chapter VII. Inception and Widespread Adoption of Rapid Filtration in America includes substantial information on Hyatt filters | pdf with references |
Page 183:  Clark's contribution to the art of mechanical filtration was the ap­plication of  vertical jets of  water to  aid in cleaning filter media sup­ported on  a  false bottom. He built a  filter at  Rahway, N.J., in  or just before 1880. In  October  1880, he  applied for a  paLent. In December, he,  John W.  Hyatt and Albert C.  Westervelt incorporated the Newark Filtering Co. 

© 2018 Morris A. Pierce