Born Richard Brinsley Sheridan Clark, April 15, 1838 in Cayuga, New York. Late in 1858 and now living in Saginaw, Michigan with his parents he decides it's time to leave home and seek his fortune on the Western Frontier.
Reaching Denver, Colorado in early 1859 he wastes little time making tracks for the mining camps and the fortunes lying on the ground or just below the surface. It doesn't take long for Clark to realize that becoming wealthy is going to takes lots of work.
Like most young men his after work hours were spent in town at the saloons and gambling dens. There he became fascinated with the "Sports" turning the cards and running the games.
Now at age 21, he has decided to pursue the life of a gambler. But, like so many other people with plans for their life, his plan gets side tracked by the outbreak of the Civil War. Clark joins Company "H" in 1861 and does not find himself a free man again until 1865.
His 4 years as a member of the 1st Colorado Infantry were not wasted years though for he managed to keep his eyes on his goal of becoming a gambler. Like most soldiers he spent his idle time gambling but unlike most men he worked at perfecting his skills.
His first stop after the war was Kansas City, Missouri in late 1865. This bustling frontier town offered a man all he could want. Two well known gambling hells were Bob Potee's Faro Number Three and Joe Bassett's, brother of famous lawman Charlie Bassett, Marble Hall. This is just to name two of many.
As with most gamblers, Clark did not stay put long and was again on the move, next turning up in Abilene. There he banked a faro game from 1867 through the 1871 cattle seasons. During the off season he traveled the "circuit" making stops in all the hot spots.
Sometime in 1871 Clark was again on the move. He picked up stakes and headed for greener pastures in Newton, Kansas. Newton was a town full of saloons and gambling dens and Clark found work at the "Gold Rooms", Newton's largest gambling hall, situated in the middle of town on Main Street.
In addition to Newton, Clark spent time in Ellsworth and Wichita. In Ellsworth he dealt cards for Joe Brennan.
Clark continued to make trips throughout the southwest with journeys to Denver, Kansas City and St. Louis when the promise of high-stakes presented itself. He even acquired a San Pedro Valley ranch just outside of Tombstone in order to qualify for cattlemen's conventions and the easy money to be had. After all, many of the areas most prominent men fancied themselves accomplished gamblers and welcomed the chase to match their skills with the likes of Clark's abilities.
Clark increased his winnings on more than one occasion and in one particular game he took Horace Tabor, who saw himself as quit the gambler, for all the money he had on him and a train car load of ore.
Dodge City, founded in 1872, sat at the end of the Atchinson, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad line which made it a major shipping point and stopping off point. As word of this spread around the country "Sporting Men" made tracks for the " Queen of cowtowns". Dick Clark was just one of many professional gamblers that showed up and began working their magic.
|Allen St. Tombstone, A.T.
Then next came Tombstone. Mike Joyce, owner of the Oriental Saloon and buddy to Sheriff John Behan, walked a tight rope by leasing out the gambling concessions to Clark and his buddies; Wyatt Earp, Bill Harris and Lou Rickabaugh. That balancing act came to an end the night Doc Holliday got into a dust-up with Joyce and shot him and one of his bartenders. When the lease came up for renewal at the end of 1881 Joyce ousted the foursome and leased the gaming to Behan.
Clark and his partners left but they were not happy about the turn of events. When it came to Clark's attention that Behan had taken over their gambling operations he and Wyatt joined forces to bust Behan's bank.
The two sauntered up to Behan's faro table one night with Clark working the "Case" and Wyatt bucking the tiger. Wyatt bought a $1000.00 in chips and went to work. For over an hour the play went back and forth with neither the player nor the dealer gaining an advantage. Then lady luck joined the team of Clark and Earp. Wyatt took ten straight turns and then announced he was ready to cash in. In front of Wyatt sat a stack of chips worth $6,000.00. Behan's bank had just been busted and Wyatt made a point he wanted his winnings in cash. Behan was forced to empty all his cash drawers and his safe. Behan's venture into the business side of gambling got off to a very rocky start and never really recovered. Behan forever blamed Wyatt for this and was just one more reason for him to dislike Earp.
Before the big O.K. Corral blowup Luke Short and Bat Masterson left town. And after the shootout when Wyatt, his brothers and Doc Holliday moved on, Dick Clark remained. He eventually became the undisputed King of Gamblers. He had settled in and became the owner of the Alhambra Saloon & Gambling Hall.
By 1888, Clark had spent nearly 30 years gambling. He was known throughout the country and well liked among Sporting Men. But now at 50 and feeling the toll from the long hours spent at the tables he longed for a family of his own.
In spite of suffering from the same ailment that claimed Doc Holliday, Tuberculosis, he married Louise d' Argentcourt, a French Canadian who was 33 years his junior. Together they bought a home in Tombstone and even adopted a little girl. His family was complete and he distanced himself from the games.
Over the next five years the T.B. wrecked his once strong and sound physique. He had become a changed man in body and in mine. Now addicted to the drugs of the time which had been prescribed to help him deal with his constant pain, he found himself in need of treatment for his addiction. A doctor was located in Chicago and by October Clark, his wife and daughter were off to Chicago. While Clark underwent treatment his wife and daughter attended the Chicago's Worlds Fair.
Their stay was brief and all returned to Tombstone to wait the inevitable. Richard "Dick" Clark died in 1893 and is buried in the Tombstone City Cemetery.