(by Student #24 AMH 2010 1115)
My Case file was on a man named Clarence Blank who’s only big deed in his life was committing sodomy and being jailed for it. I picked him because I wanted a criminal who could be punished back then for his crime but not now, and Clarence fit that perfectly. I was hoping to find some juicy stories about his life outside of prison where he got so many scars, why was he arrested alone and what happened to his family. He was a hard-working guy who was down on his luck a lot of the time. Who knows what he could have turned out to be if he didn’t witness such harsh moments early on in his life. He was a typical guy who was always at the wrong place at the wrong time.
Clarence Blanck was born in McCarthy, Alaska, and was born to John Henry Blanck age 33, and his wife Mary Ann Eckhart age 30. Clarence wasn’t lonely for much long because his brother is born a year after him named Henry Blanck. The year after that in 1898 another brother popped out named Edwin but sadly he died only a year into his life in 1899 when Clarence was 3. He went on to have 6 brothers and 4 sisters all in a close knitted family. His father worked at a lumber mill at the time and the mother, Mary was a stay at home house wife taking care of all the kids they’ve been having. A boy
Clarence’s age at the time has no business being near a lumber mill today but back then children could work especially if its at a small mom and pop business like the one he was working at. Clarence had a poor but good enough childhood for kids in that area and he had to help the mom as he got older with the other babies she was having. Clarence never cared for girls instead he spent most of his time either working with his father or helping his mother. He had a good relationship with his family at a young age no police coming for domestic abuse, had a hard-working father and a loving mother. He lost his father in November 1, 1913, kind of ironic he would be convicted exactly 7 years later. When I first saw that I thought it was so funny it happened the exact same day to on a Sunday funny I thought 7 was supposed to be a lucky number. After his father died Clarence removed the c from his last name and went by
Clarence Blank. Looking back over it in ancestry really shows how big their family was, and only one person was working until Clarence did with his father later down the road.
The rest of the family went to Burlington Iowa after the sudden death of the father, but Clarence remained in McCarthy, Alaska and I’m sure that’s what got him into trouble. He was alone and was still working at the lumber mill where his dad did. He wanted to go out and do more, so he quit the lumber mill and started doing crazier things. He had a few mess ups with the cops during this time as a confused teenage kid who just wanted to make it on his own and got caught for theft a few times. The next thing that you find out about him is that in November 1rst, 1920 he was arrested in McCarthy, Alaska, for sodomy. It is not clear if it was anal or oral sodomy or to the extent but then he was relocated to Valdez, Alaska to be prosecuted. After a short 2-day trial they found that the defendant was guilty and sentenced him to 1 year in prison at McNeil Island Penitentiary, in Pierce, Washington. When going through and looking at the records of the prison I kept thinking why they would move him to a out of state prison for a small crime. Looking through the log of the inmates several of them were there for the same reason as Clarence. Several of these inmates had longer sentences then Clarence even up to 5 years in prison for sodomy. It led me to think that maybe this prison specialized in those sorts of cases and that Clarence was lucky to get the time he did instead of longer like his fellow inmates. Also goes to show how serious the United States at the time viewed sodomy, to them it was a punishable offense and can actually be thrown into jail for years. The records at McNeil Island Penitentiary was so helpful to see the high points of prisoners they came in and out of those gates. It also shocked me to see what people could be thrown in jail for back in the 1920s from murder all the way to defecating on to a
neighbor’s yard. Today with the more understanding and tolerate people of our country we welcome even praise for people living the way they want, with who they want. He was received at prison November 18th, 1920 and got out in less then a year at September 18th, 1921 for “good behavior, I’m sure the prisoners missed him. The records from the manifest that the warden did at the prison, go on
to say that they never had a problem with Clarence, but inmates had problems with him in the prison. It did say that the other inmates didn’t take kindly to him and that Clarence got sent to the infirmary after some other prisoners beat him.
After he got out no one was there to pick him up because no one from his family knew he was in jail, so he stayed in Washington and became a fisherman for years. After awhile of being alone he decided to move to Iowa for his family and connect back with them only to hear that his brother, Peter John died. He works with his family in their business they set up as a small grocery store, with Clarence taking the mothers place as the boss. It says a lot when they replace the women who started the store with her son who they haven’t seen in years and is a convicted felon. The store wasn’t doing so well so they strong armed him out and the mom became the boss again, while Clarence went somewhere else for work. The trail with jobs for Clarence ends there and I can’t find anything else between he got fired and his mother’s death.
Next thing chronologically I could find was his mother dying at the ripe age of 92 on July 5th, 1959. All the kids attended the funeral and got reunited over the death of their mother. 11 years go by and I can’t find anything until his older sister Myrtle suddenly died by a car hitting her on September 12th, 1970, and she was 74 at the time of death. It didn’t show Myrtle at first, it showed Clarence being the oldest, but later it showed her death certificate and when she was born was a year before Clarence. Not only 2 years later the youngest sister Marie died from an illness she was born with, it was January 18th, 1972, and she was 65. It was weird to see that Marie only got 6 years with her father before he died in 1913 but she was the one to do the most with her life going to college in Iowa at Parsons college, there was more information about her then there was for Clarence. Clarence the outcast of the family outlived his whole family, alone with no one taking care of him Clarence died in his sleep at the age of
84. That is the sad, sad story of Clarence Blank, a man who wanted independence from his family and suffered from it the rest of his life.
www.McNeil Island Penitentiary.gov www.Archives.gov/reserch/prisons www.bop.gov (federal Bureau of prisons)