Patrick W. Clifford, BiographyPorter County biographical sketches . . . .

Transcribed biography of Patrick W. Clifford

PATRICK Y. CLIFFORD. So closely identified with the civic and material history of Porter county has been the name of Clifford that those bearing it need no introduction to the people of the county. Representatives of the name have been prominent in connection with the furtherance of noteworthy public improvements and progressive measures, especially in the construction of the lines of the Pennsylvania Railroad in northern Indiana, and the family has ever stood exponent of the best American ideals of citizenship, so that there is all propriety in according specific recognition to its members in a history of the county to which this publication is devoted. Members of the Clifford family have gained high reputation in connection with extensive contract work in railroad construction in Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Illinois, Iowa, Pennsylvania and the Dominion of Canada, and in this, as in all other relations of life, the name has been a synonym of integrity and honor. He whose name initiates this review is the only surviving son of the immediate family, and in his home city of Valparaiso his circle of friends is coincident with that of his acquaintances, -- definite evidence that in character and services he has fully measured up to the discriminating gauge of popular approbation.

Mr. Clifford was born in Center township, Porter county, Indiana, on the 8th of October, 1859, and is the youngest of the nine children of Patrick T. and Mary (Bennett) Clifford, both of whom were natives of the Emerald Isle. Patrick T. Clifford was born on the 14th of March, 1823, and passed to the life eternal on the 12th of September, 1907. He was reared to adult age in his native land and there received the advantages of the excellent national schools. There also his marriage was solemnized, and about the year 1851 he and his young wife immigrated to America. They landed in the city of Quebec, Canada. From that port they forthwith made their way to the state of Vermont, where they remained about one year and where Mr. Clifford was identified with railroad work, -- a line of enterprise in which he was destined ultimately to achieve marked success and prestige. He began his career in America with scarcely a shilling in his pocket, and his advancement was due entirely to his own ability and well ordered endeavors. He finally came from New England to the middle west and located in northern Ohio, where he became a contractor in connection with the construction of Pittsburg, Fort Wayne and Columbus Railroad, which is now a part of the main line of the Pennsylvania Railroad. He built fifty miles of the line, through Wyandot county, Ohio, and in 1854 he made his advent in northern Indiana, by bringing to Valparaiso a passenger train, on which were five hundred men, women and children, and a freight train laden with the implements requisite in connection with the important contract which he had assumed for the construction of the line of the Pennsylvania Railroad through this section. He landed his men and their families at Chesterton, Porter county, and forthwith began the work on the line from Valparaiso westward to the city of Chicago. About 1855 or 1856 the corporation which originally projected this extension went into involuntary liquidation and Mr. Clifford thus met an incidental loss of about one hundred thousand dollars. Honest in purpose and with marked business acumen he commanded the confidence and respect of his creditors, with whom he was enabled to make satisfactory adjustment of his financial affairs. Before this unfortunate contretemps in his contracting work Mr. Clifford turned his attention to the great basic industry of agriculture, in which connection he became the owner of about fifteen hundred acres of land, in Center and Union townships, Porter county. He did much to further the development and upbuilding of the county through his activities in this line, but had realization of the opportunities for successful work in railroad contracting, in which he had already gained wide experience. Thus he again turned his attention to such contract work, in Indiana, .Michigan, Illinois and other states, and he was most successful in his efforts, which included the building of the line of the Nickle Plate Railroad through Porter county. He was in the most significant sense a self-made man, and he admirably trained his children in the lessons of industry and integrity. He himself ever held unassailable place in popular confidence and esteem and was a man who accounted well to the world and to himself. He manifested no proclivity for the activities of practical politics but was well fortified in his convictions concerning-matters of public polity. That he also had the courage of these convictions is shown by the fact that he finally transferred his allegiance from the Democratic to the Republican party and became an ardent supporter of Hon. James G. Blaine, when the "plumed knight" was chosen as the presidential standard-bearer of the latter organization. He passed the closing years of his life on his farm west of Valparaiso. He was one of the leading contributors to the erection of the first Roman Catholic church edifice, and his remains lie beside those of his noble and devoted wife in the parish cemetery of St. Paul's church. Mrs. Clifford was born in the year 1821 and passed to eternal rest in 1882. Hers was a gentle and gracious personality and her memory is revered by all who came within the sphere of her influence. Of the children only two are now living, Mary, who is the wife of Patrick T. O'Sullivan, of Windsor Park, a suburb of the city of Chicago; and Patrick W., who is the immediate subject of this review.

Patrick William Clifford gained his preliminary education in the parochial school of St. Paul's church in Valparaiso, and thereafter completed his classical studies in St. Viateur College, at Bourbonais Grove, Kankakee county, Illinois, one of the important institutions of the Catholic church in the middle west. He next entered the Union College of Law, the law department of Northwestern University, of Evanston, Illinois, and in the same was graduated as a member of the class of 1884. He defrayed through his own exertions the expenses of his professional education and duly received his well earned degree of Bachelor of Laws. For two years he was a successful and popular teacher in the public schools of Porter county, Indiana, and his first experience in the pedagogic line was gained when he was seventeen years of age, prior to his entering the law school. He also passed one year as timekeeper in his father's office, and his salary in this capacity likewise aided him in prosecuting his law studies. He passed the year 1879 at the Standing Rock Indian agency, in North Dakota, where he was in the employ of the United States government.

About the year 1890 Mr. Clifford became associated with his father in the latter's railroad contracting business, and the enterprise has since been continued under the original firm name of P.T. Clifford & Son. Since the death of his honored father Mr. Clifford has successfully continued the business, in which he has admirably upheld the high prestige of the family name and also been concerned with many important contracts in heavy railway construction work, which has extended over the north-middle Mississippi valley and which has involved the expenditures or many millions of dollars. Mr. Clifford has held the contracts for all the elevation work of the Pennsylvania Railroad tracks in Chicago except in the matter of concrete construction. He is now the only interested principal in the extensive contracting business which was founded by his father and which has done much to further the precedence and reputation of Valparaiso. He is known as a man of fine initiative and executive powers and his professional education and broad practical experience have combined to make him one of the leading railroad contractors of the middle west. Indomitable energy and close application have characterized his career and his buoyant and genial personality has not only enabled him to bear lightly the manifold responsibilities placed upon him but also to win and retain to him the high regard of those with whom he has come in contact in the varied relations of life. Besides his prosperous business as a contractor Mr. Clifford is the owner of a valuable landed estate of eleven hundred and forty acres in Porter county, and is vice-president of the Farmers' State Bank of Valparaiso. He takes a vital interest in all that touches the welfare of his home city and county and is known as a liberal and progressive citizen of broad economic views.

In politics, though never a seeker of official preferment, Mr. Clifford gives a staunch allegiance to the Republican party, and his civic loyalty has prompted him to give efficient and timely service as a member of the board of education or Valparaiso, of which body he is president at the time of this writing, in 1912. He is affiliated with the local organization of the Knights of Columbus, and both he and his wife are earnest communicants of St. Paul's Catholic church, in which he was confirmed by Rt. Rev. Leuers, bishop of the diocese of Fort Wayne.

On the 13th of November, 1888, was solemnized the marriage of Mr. Clifford to Miss Catherine M. Howe, and of their three children a son died in infancy. Walter H., elder of the two surviving sons, gained his education in the parochial schools, St. Viateur College, at Bourbonnais Grove, Illinois, and the law school of Valparaiso University, and he is now associated with his father. He was confirmed in St. Paul's church, by Bishop Alerding. Paul B., the younger son, is a member of the class of 1913 in the Valparaiso high school and likewise received confirmation at the hands of Bishop Alerding.

Mrs. Clifford is a popular factor in the social activities of Valparaiso, in which city she was born in the year 1865 and in which she was reared and educated. She was graduated in the Catholic Academy and is a talented musician, besides which she is a popular member of the Providence Reading Circle and the Ladies' Sodality of St. Paul's Church. She is the gracious chatelaine of one of the many beautiful homes of Valparaiso and has made the same a center of refined hospitality. This attractive residence, of the bungalow type of architecture, was completed in 1912 and is one of the most beautiful in Valparaiso, the same being located on North Washington street. With home relations of ideal order, Mr. and Mrs. Clifford are enjoying the gracious amenities of social life and unqualified regard of their wide circle of friends. Genial and companionable, they believe in and appreciate the best in life and are ever tolerant and kindly in their judgment of others, so that loyal friendship comes to them as a natural result.

Source: Lewis Publishing Company. 1912. History of Porter County, Indiana: A Narrative Account of its Historical Progress, its People and its Principal Interests. Chicago, Illinois: Lewis Publishing Company. 881 p.
Page(s) in Source: 421-424

This biography has been transcribed exactly as it was originally published in the source. Please note that we do not provide photocopies or digital scans of biographies appearing on this website.

Biography transcribed by Steven R. Shook


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