Clark, Badger.gif
Induction Category & YearArts and Entertainment 1978
Home TownDeadwood, SD
BirthJanuary 1, 1883
Albia, IA
Hot Springs, SD

   Charles Clark
Champion of Excellence

 Badger Clark was born in Albia, IA on New Year’s Day, 1883, the son of the Reverend Charles Badger Clark, a Methodist minister. Badger was named after his father, but in later years, perhaps as a mark of distinction, chose not to use his given first name.

Badger attended high school in Deadwood, S.D., and true to his Methodist heritage, college at Dakota Wesleyan in Mitchell, South Dakota. Dakota Wesleyan was founded with help from Charles Badger Clark Sr., Badger's father. After completing his education, Badger became connected with a colonizing enterprise in Cuba, and spent two years on that Caribbean Island. His adventures there included six months of toil on a sugar plantation and a two-week stretch in the local jail as a material witness to a shooting. Shortly after his release he moved back to South Dakota and his native Black Hills where he worked as a newspaperman in Lead and Deadwood. <p>In 1906, Badger was discovered to have tuberculoses, and was ordered by a doctor to move to the Southwestern United States where it was hoped that warm, dry climate would save his health. He worked on a ranch for four years as a cowboy, returning to the Black Hills in 1910 with not only his health restored but with a new career to pursue. While in Arizona Badger acquired a familiarity with the language and habits of the cowboys, which he made good use of in his later writings. <p>Clark, who was South Dakota’s first poet laureate, was best know for his poem, “A Cowboy’s Prayer,” written in 1906 during a four-year stint as an Arizona cowboy. The poem has been widely reproduced on souvenir items, post cards and in anthologies. <p>Three collections of poetry were published during Clark’s lifetime, all enjoying numerous editions: “Grass Grown Trails,” “Sun and Saddle Leather,” and “Skylines and Woodsmoke.” One posthumous collection of previously unpublished works, “Boots and Bylines,” was also put out. <p>Clark was appointed to the honorary post of poet laureate in 1937 by then Governor Leslie Jensen, and held the title until his death in 1957. His poetry reflects the spirit and flavor of the Old West. <p>In 1924, Clark settled on Custer State Park in the Black Hills as his permanent home and built a cabin there, which he called the Badger Hole. Today it is open to the public during the summer tourism season. The Badger Clark Memorial Society, formed during the 100th anniversary of Badger's death in 1983, is dedicated to maintaining his home and to perpetuating his works by reprinting his poetry books. <p>Badger Clark became a popular speaker for commencement addresses and is today fondly remembered by many South Dakotans for his role in their graduation exercises.For more information visit

Home Town (Deadwood, SD)
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