The Life and Times of Esther Clark Short
By Hillary Brown
Copyright © Hillary Brown 2011
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History stays alive through family stories. I was told as a child that a grandmother was set adrift on a powerful river so that bad men could take her land. What we did not know then was that Esther Clark Short had been a Native American woman who went West. She was both a claim jumper and the founder of the town of Vancouver, Washington. She lived in a time when America and the West were places of danger and opportunity.
This story has taken over sixteen years to tell. Spending time on history is not unusual for people who love it. Genealogists like my dad’s friend Peggy spent decades pouring over records in sprawling 18th century handwriting and squinting at microfiche forever. I however, am an awkward historian. My eyes get tired from too much squinting. I get bogged down by dry facts. The first years of my research were often slow and complicated. Esther did not have a diary and did not leave letters. Yet, her history and the history of the early years of the American Pacific Northwest hold stories too interesting not to share. Where the information has been lacking on Esther and her family I have found other worthy stories surrounding her life and times. It is my honor to share them with you
Esther Lucy Clark Short. was born on December 24th, 1806. #Her parents remain unknown except her father is listed as “German” and her mother “Algonquin“. Her children have told the press and various authors, her birthplace was Tioga County, Pennsylvania. Why she would not say who her parents were by name is a mystery.To better understand her I had to look at the people and the place where she lived. It provided clues as to the remarkable woman she was to become.