William Jefferson Clark, farmer, soldier, merchant, and railroad promoter, was born on October 10, 1828, in Tipton County, Tennessee. He moved with his family to Harrison County, Texas, where he met and married his wife Loucinda Jane, a recent arrival in Texas from Georgia, around 1850. Clark farmed alongside his family and John H. Bryan, a family friend who had emigrated from Tennessee with the Clarks. By 1860 William Clark had become a wealthy farmer with large property holdings, including fourteen slaves.
In March 1862 Clark helped raise Company A of the Nineteenth Texas Infantry in Jefferson, Texas. He was initially elected lieutenant and replaced the company commander, William L. Crawford, upon Crawford’s promotion to major in May 1863. Following the war, Clark returned home and moved his family to Dallas County where he invested in Keyes, Clarke, and Company, a dry goods mercantile, with his friend, John H. Bryan. The two quickly renamed their store, Clark & Bryan Dry Goods. This partnership resulted in a highly successful Dallas retail establishment and provided Clark with capital that he invested in real estate and railroads. Clark became the president of the Dallas and Wichita Railway and built the W. J. Clark Cedar Springs addition in Dallas on a road that bore his name. On October 30, 1901, he died in Dallas and was buried in Greenwood Cemetery. Clark, a Methodist, was survived by his wife and four children.