Thomas S. Clarkson

Last updated

Thomas S. Clarkson
Thomas Streatfeild Clarkson III.jpg
Thomas Streatfeild Clarkson III

(1837-11-30)November 30, 1837
DiedAugust 19, 1894(1894-08-19) (aged 56)
EducationSt. Lawrence Academy
Known forNamesake of Clarkson University
Parent(s)Thomas Streatfeild Clarkson II
Elizabeth Clarkson

Thomas Streatfeild Clarkson III (November 30, 1837 – August 19, 1894) was an American businessman and philanthropist who was the namesake of Clarkson University.


Early life

Thomas Streatfeild Clarkson was born in 1837 to Thomas Streatfeild Clarkson II (1799–1873) and Elizabeth Clarkson (1810–1883), who were first cousins. [1] He had one brother, Levinus Clarkson (1835–1876), and three sisters, Elizabeth (1833–1918), Frederica (1846–1909), and Lavinia Clarkson (1842–1926). [2]

His paternal grandparents were Thomas Streatfeild Clarkson (1763-1844) and Elizabeth Van Horne (1771-1852). [3] [4] His uncle, David Augustus Clarkson, was married to the former Margaret Livingston (the daughter of Edward Philip Livingston, the Lt. Governor of New York from 1831 to 1832). His cousins included Elizabeth (née Clarkson) Barnwell and Thomas Streatfeild Clarkson. [4] [5]

He attended the St. Lawrence Academy and then received private tutoring.


While the Clarkson family was wealthy from stock investments and real estate holdings, but required all of the sons to learn a trade, so Clarkson and his brother Levinus operated the family's farm until Levinus' death.

At this time, Clarkson engaged in other business endeavors in Potsdam, New York including developing local electrical power plants and the first sewer system in the area and operating large sandstone quarries on the Raquette River in 1877. Clarkson and a cousin founded the Potsdam Public Library and Reading Room and a tuition-free night school teaching mechanical drawing. Clarkson made a large donation to Trinity Episcopal Church in Potsdam in honor of his father. [6]


Clarkson was accidentally killed while working in his sandstone quarry not far from Potsdam. When a worker was in danger of being crushed by a loose pump, Clarkson pushed him out of the way risking his own life. Clarkson was crushed against a wall by the swinging pump, sunstaining severe internal injuries. He died five days later. The Clarkson family realized great wealth in the development of such quarries, and Potsdam sandstone was highly sought after by developers of townhouses in New York City and elsewhere. The family were important benefactors in the Potsdam area.

After his death, Clarkson's three sisters decided to fund a school, which would be named after their brother. The school was founded in 1896 and was called the Thomas S. Clarkson Memorial School of Technology before it later became Clarkson University. [7] [2] Upon his niece, Annie Clarkson's, death in 1929, [8] she made the College her chief beneficiary. [9]

Related Research Articles

Robert R. Livingston (chancellor) American judge

Robert Robert Livingston was an American lawyer, politician, diplomat from New York, and a Founding Father of the United States. He was known as "The Chancellor", after the high New York state legal office he held for 25 years. He was a member of the Committee of Five that drafted the Declaration of Independence, along with Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, and Roger Sherman. Livingston administered the Oath of Office to George Washington when he assumed the presidency in 1789.

Potsdam (village), New York Village in New York, United States

Potsdam is a village located in the Town of Potsdam in St. Lawrence County, New York, United States. The population was 9,428 at the 2010 census. The Village of Potsdam is in the eastern part of the town and is northeast of Canton, the county seat. The village is the locale of the State University of New York at Potsdam and Clarkson University.

Potsdam, New York Town in New York, United States

Potsdam is a town in St. Lawrence County, New York, United States. The town population was 17,029 at the 2010 census. The ZIP Code is 13676. Potsdam is a cultural and educational hub of Northern New York. When SUNY Potsdam and Clarkson University are in session, the population increases by approximately 8,000 students. The town is named after the city of Potsdam in Germany. The Town of Potsdam also contains a village named Potsdam. Potsdam is centrally located within the county and northeast of Canton, the county seat.

Edward Philip Livingston American politician

Edward Philip Livingston was an American politician.

The Schuyler family was a prominent Dutch family in New York and New Jersey in the 18th and 19th centuries, whose descendants played a critical role in the formation of the United States, in leading government and business in North America and served as leaders in business, military, politics, and society in the United Kingdom.

Phillip French II was the 27th Mayor of New York City from 1702 to 1703.

Matthew Clarkson Soldier and politician

Matthew Clarkson was a colonial soldier and politician. Clarkson Street in Greenwich Village and the town of Clarkson in Western New York were both named after him.

Livingston family

The Livingston family of New York is a prominent family that migrated from Scotland to the Dutch Republic, and then to the Province of New York in the 17th century. Descended from the 4th Lord Livingston, its members included signers of the United States Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution. Several members were Lords of Livingston Manor and Clermont Manor, located along the Hudson River in 18th-century eastern New York.

Clarkson Chapel United States historic place

Clarkson Chapel is located on New York State Route 9G in Clermont, New York, United States, just across from the Coons House. It is a mid-19th century wooden building in the Carpenter Gothic style.

Peter Augustus Jay (lawyer) American lawyer and politician

Peter Augustus Jay was a prominent New York lawyer, politician and the eldest son of Founding Father and first United States Chief Justice, John Jay.

Beatrice Forbes, Countess of Granard American heiress

Jane Beatrice Forbes, Countess of Granard was an American-born heiress and thoroughbred horse racer.

Potsdam Sandstone

The Potsdam Sandstone, more formally known as the Potsdam Group, is a geologic unit of mid-to-late Cambrian age found in Northern New York and northern Vermont and Quebec and Ontario. A well-cemented sandstone of nearly pure quartz, in the 19th century it was widely used in construction and in refractory linings for iron furnaces.

Frederick Van Cortlandt was an American merchant and landowner.

J. Hooker Hamersley

J. Hooker Hamersley was an American heir, lawyer and poet from New York City during the Gilded Age.

Joseph Reade (politician) man in Colonial New York

Joseph Reade was a merchant, vestryman, and politician from New York.

Stuyvesant family

The Stuyvesant family is a family of American politicians and landowners in New York City. The family is of Dutch origin and is descended from Peter Stuyvesant (1610–1672), who was born in Peperga, Friesland, Netherlands and served as the last Dutch Director-General of New Netherland.

James Otis was a Republican member of the New York State Senate and a society leader during the Gilded Age.

John Henry Livingston was an American lawyer, proprietor of Clermont Manor, and prominent member of the Livingston family of New York.

David Augustus Clarkson was a Hudson River valley landowner and member of several prominent families.

David Clarkson an American banker who was president of the New York Stock Exchange from 1837 to 1851.


  1. "BEQUEST TO A CHURCH IN POTSDAM". The New York Times . November 30, 1883. Retrieved July 14, 2017.
  2. 1 2 "History & Facts". Clarkson University. Archived from the original on July 18, 2017. Retrieved July 14, 2017.
  3. "Elizabeth Van Horne Clarkson | Honeycomb Quilt | American | The Met". The Metropolitan Museum of Art . Retrieved July 14, 2017.
  4. 1 2 Reynolds, Cuyler (1914). Genealogical and Family History of Southern New York and the Hudson River Valley: A Record of the Achievements of Her People in the Making of a Commonwealth and the Building of a Nation. Lewis Historical Publishing Company. p.  1331 . Retrieved July 14, 2017.
  5. "Obituary 1 -- No Title". The New York Times . December 14, 1898. Retrieved April 18, 2017.
  6. Curtis, Gates (1894). "History of Potsdam, NY Religious Societies". The Boston History Company. Retrieved July 14, 2017.
  7. "Potsdam People". Potsdam Public Museum. Retrieved July 14, 2017.
  8. "MISS ANNIE CLARKSON.; Benefactress of Clarkson College in Potsdam, N.Y., Dies at 73". The New York Times . October 3, 1929. Retrieved July 14, 2017.
  9. "FOUNDERS' NIECE AIDS CLARKSON COLLEGE; Miss Annie Clarkson Made It Chief Beneficiary of Her Estate of More Than $300,000". The New York Times . October 8, 1929. Retrieved July 14, 2017.