Clark, William H. (1861–1931)

By: Brian Hart

Type: Biography

Published: 1952

Updated: December 1, 1994

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William H. Clark, attorney, was born to William H. and Mary (McDowell) Clark near Brandon, Mississippi, on May 2, 1861. He attended Brandon Academy and graduated from the University of Mississippi in 1882. He returned to his hometown as principal of Brandon Academy immediately after receiving his college degree. He continued to study law in his spare time and resigned from the academy in 1883 to enter the law school at Cumberland University, Lebanon, Tennessee. He completed his legal education in 1885 and moved with his mother to Dallas, Texas. He worked in a series of positions-in the office of Seth Shepard, in the United States Court of Appeals in Washington, and subsequently in a number of other firms-before establishing a private practice in 1905. He married Virginia Maxey Falls of Brandon, Mississippi, on June 9, 1886. The couple raised seven children.

Clark was elected president of the Texas State Bar Association (see STATE BAR OF TEXAS) in 1897. At the time, he was the youngest attorney ever to hold this position. In a practice limited to civil law he successfully argued a number of cases before the United States Supreme Court, including Brown Cracker and Candy Company v. City of Dallas, in which he convinced the justices that a local ordinance reserving a portion of the city for bawdy houses violated the state constitution and state laws. Clark frequently advised committees of the state legislature in the framing of statutes. He was a Democrat and frequently served as a Dallas County delegate to the party's state conventions. He died in Dallas of a heart attack on September 17, 1931.

Dallas Morning News, September 18, 1931. Frank W. Johnson, A History of Texas and Texans (5 vols., ed. E. C. Barker and E. W. Winkler [Chicago and New York: American Historical Society, 1914; rpt. 1916]).


  • Law, Law Enforcement, and Outlaws
  • Lawyers
  • Civil Rights, Civil, and Constitutional Law


  • North Texas
  • Dallas/Fort Worth Region
  • Dallas

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Brian Hart, “Clark, William H.,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed September 17, 2021,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

December 1, 1994

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