San Francisco 1906 Earthquake Marriage Project

John Roberts CLARKE (1885 to 1948) and Ida Frederika Louisa GUNTHER (1875 to 1962)John Roberts CLARKE (1885 to 1948) and
Ida Frederika Louisa GUNTHER (1875 to 1962)
Married: 15 May 1906, San Francisco

Ida Frederika Louisa Gunther (Guenther) was a nurse when she left Dusseldorf Germany in the early 1900s for the United States. Unable to work in her chosen profession, she chose to be an au pair in Chicago before moving out west to San Francisco. John "Robert" Clarke was a sailor in the British Merchant Marine in 1900. He joined as a cabin boy when he was 14 years old. While he was in port at San Francisco, he jumped ship so he could stay in America. Both new immigrants eventually worked at the Palace Hotel. Whether they met there first is not known. But, Ida and Robert were courting by the time the 1906 disaster occurred.

Ida Gunther told her granddaughter, Myrna, that she remembered bed legs from the upstairs floor coming through the ceiling of her room at the hotel that morning of April 18th . The hotel burned down in the resulting fires. Ida and Robert both ended up residing in the Golden Gate Park camp after having lost everything. Ida remembered that her husband-to-be had fashioned knives, forks and spoons out of tin cans for the camper's use. They married soon after. According to Myrna's research, Ida was 31 and Robert was 21 even though their marriage license list their ages as 25 and 23 respectively. (The decade age difference between wife and husband must have been outrageous in those days.óMyrna Hampton)

After the disaster, Robert worked as a street car conductor. They moved to 71 Waller Street where daughters Elsie Ruth (1907-1987) and Beatrice Alice (1909-2001) were born.  Later, needing more room, they moved to 3973-25th street in Noe Valley. John Robert Clarke was an intellectual Fabian Socialist who later became a successful stockbroker.  Ida, a five-foot tall ball of fire, took care of their two little daughters. Together, they raised two terrific life-loving independent girls. (picture left: Elsie Ruth Clarke, San Francisco, 1910.)

The Clarke family moved to Oakland in the early 1920s where both girls were to meet their perspective husbands.  In 1936. Beatrice married Oakland policeman, Arthur Hansen.They had two handsome sons: Russ Hansen (1939) and Stan Hansen (1942) who now enjoy grown families of their own. Russ had become a lawyer and college professor; Stan, a successful civil engineer.

Ruth Clarke Hampton holding baby Myrna, Jacqueline, and Lt. Col. Henry J. Hampton, 1947Elsie married Henry John Hampton in June,1935. They had two daughters, Jacqueline Marlene Hampton and Myrna Clarke Hampton. "Hank" Hampton graduated from UC Berkeley in 1931, participated in ROTC, and became an Oakland  fireman. He joined the U.S Army in 1941 and ascended to a Lt. Colonel during his military career. He is well known for his planning and execution of the Tenth Mountain Division's successful nighttime assault of Italy's Riva Ridge at the close of World War II. (picture right: Ruth Clarke Hampton holding baby, Myrna, Jacqueline, and Lt. Col. Henry J. Hampton, 1947).

The Hampton family moved from Oakland to Sapporo, Japan during the Japanese Occupation. During that time, Hank was called back into action for the Korean War. Shortly after the war began, he was killed in action at the Inchon Landing near Suwon, Korea. He and his wife, Ruth, are buried at the National Cemetery in the San Francisco Presidio.

Myrna Clarke Hampton, like her father, graduated from UC Berkeley in 1968. She participated in and witnessed the lively social protests of the late 1960s. She went on to teach for twenty-five (25) years at various schools in California. She married, divorced, and has one daughter, Sierra Hampton-Eng, who is now grown and studying in Hawaii.

Elder Daughter, Jacqueline Marlene Hampton, is an artist and avid gardener in Monroe, Washington.

Credits: Information photographs provided by and used by permission of Myrna Hampton.

(picture left: Myrna Hampton and Sierra Hampton-Eng.)

04 April 2006 | copyright © 2006 Pamela Storm and Ron Filion. All rights reserved.