Cyrus Clark and Joseph Potts
Builders of that Grand Barn on the Boulevard, and the Missouri State Fair
CYRUS F. CLARK
Cyrus F. Clark- was born in the State of Vermont, but came to Mexico, Missouri, at an early age where he commenced farming and stock raising on a large scale in partnership with Joseph A. Potts. Mr. Clark later developed horses for himself after the partnership with Mr. Potts was dissolved.
He had a band of choice, well-bred brood mares from which it was his desire to breed better horses, thus advancing the interests of the saddle horse. To do this he patronized all the best stallions and his own exceptional ones. The result was that he bred high-class horses, many of which were winners in the best shows. He sold many of his produce to go into- all sections of the country.
Mr. Clark also bred and raced trotting horses, Robert Rysdyck 2:13 1/4 being his noted stallion. Later he turned his attention more to the saddle horse again so that he bought from Mr. Potts Lee Rose 832 who had won many prizes including first at the Chicago’s World’s Fair in 1893. He continued the breeding of show horses until age crept upon him and his health failed. Thus, one of the prime movers for the betterment of the saddle horse closed out his breeding stock.
Clark built the Grand Barn for housing his race horses. With Joseph Potts, he started combination horse sales for this area, and soon got a reputation for Mexico Missouri as being the only place to go if you wanted a quality horse.
Also a Missouri State Legislator, he is known as the “Father of the Missouri State Fair”, due to the legislation he introduced to establish this event for the state. As well, he introduced key legislation so that the state was prepared to meet and deal with hoof-and-mouth disease outbreak which swept the United States.
A personal story of Cyrus Clark’s generosity was recounted by Dr. F. M. Shoush, published in the Mexico Ledger of March 15, 1934:
“One of the next characters I think of was our C. F. Clark. I met him in the spring of 1881, and enjoyed the hospitality of his home. That was while his son, Charles, was just a baby in the home. I recall that was the spring that Cy Clark purchased the fine saddle horse, Moss Rose, in Kentucky, and brought him here. Moss Rose was one of Missouri’s finest saddle stallions, and as I remember, he paid $2500 for him. He made the first season at the Clark farm, near the Fox school. He lived to be of great age, though never taking the honors that came later to Rex McDonald.
“Among many near and dear friends, I think of Cy Clark as being among the best. I always found him affable, and gentlemanly, with his hand open to the poor and needy, and seldom, if ever, did a poor man go to him for labor that he didn’t get it. I remember, when in the ministry, I was badly in need of a driving and saddle horse. There was a horse sale here, and Cy Clark stepped up to me and said, ‘Frank, why don’t you buy that horse. It is going mighty cheap.’ I said, ‘I haven’t the money.’ He said, ‘Don’t let that worry you,’ so I bought it. The next day, at the bank, when I gave a 90 day note for the amount, he took it and wrote his own name below mine, an act of great kindness to a poor Baptist preacher. He was always active in and prominent in politics, and the activities of his town, county and state. His first wife was a daughter of old Buffalo Bill Sims and wife, and a sister of Joe Potts’ wife.”
JOSEPH A. POTTS
No man in Missouri gave more constructive thought and attention to the upbuilding of Saddle Horse interests than did the late Hon. Joseph Al Potts of Mexico. He was boon in 1843 on an Audrain County farm in the vicinity where the raising of live stock. especially saddle horses, was practiced extensively. As a youngster, he learned the art of teaching a horse the five gaits. This led Mr. Potts into developing horses for the market and the show rings. He derived great pleasure frown the developing of green horses into winning show horses and in doing such, he was a past master.
In the early 1880’s with his brother-in-law, Hon. Cyrus F. Clark. the breeding farm “Prairie Homey” five miles northwest of Mexico was established and they placed the great stallion Mossrose 839
at the head of their stud. In about 1886, with Mr. Clark he founded the Clark & Potts Combination Sales at Mexico. This annual event was conducted by them for many years, and gained international renown.
As Mr. Potts’ sons John, Joe and Sims, grew into young manhood, Mr. Potts withdrew from the partnership of the Clark & Potts firm and took his sons into partnership with himself; however, he continued to hold his interest in the Combination Sales Company.
Mr. Potts was one of the leading saddle horsemen of his day; no man was more devoted to the saddle horse’s interest than he. As early as 1883, he advocated a saddle horse registry so that the blood lines of horses might be accurately checked from the then existing records and from the older breeders who had personal knowledge of the founding of the breed. He said at that time, that such information would, in the future, be in demand, but that it might be too late to obtain much that was desired. Although his arguments fell upon deaf ears, he never yielded until there was a saddle horse association organized which began the registration of saddle horses.
The history of Missouri Saddle Horses could not be written with his name omitted, for he had a conspicuous part in all the notable events in connection with the development of the breed. He owned many horses and enjoyed a large Patronage from many states and foreign countries. Mr. Potts was an advocate of, and tireless in his efforts to establish a state fair for Missouri. Due to the activities of his brother-in-law and business associate, Hon. Cyrus F. Clarlk, who as a member of the Missouri Legislature secured the enactment of the law, the Missouri State Fair Was authorized, later located at Sedalia, and the first fair held in 1893.
Mr. Potts was a member of the Missouri State Board of Agriculture and was for many years its president. Due to Mr. Potts’ failing health, with his interesting family, he moved to San Antonio, Texas, in 1903, taking with him the good stallion, Mexianl, and a number of brood mares, establishing near Encinal, Texas, a saddle horse ranch. With his family, he continued to reside in San Antonio leaving the active management of his ranch to his eldest son, John. With characteristic energy his interest in saddle horses was maintained until his death in 1915.
(Except as noted, the above is sourced from the book “Famous Saddle Horses and Distinguished Horsemen” by Jack Harrison and edited by W. Rufus Jackson.)