Margaret Goff Clark – “A Friend of Niagara” Niagara County was fortunate indeed to be the home of noted children’s author, Margaret Goff Clark. Born in Buffalo, she was a Town of Niagara resident for 30 years. Margaret Clark was a prolific author who penned and published over 200 short stories, 50 poems, 25 one-act plays, and 24 mysteries, biographies and books on endangered species.
Margaret began writing children’s stories at the age of seven and wrote consistently thereafter. She received the Distinguished Alumnus Award from Buffalo State Teachers College and was one of the first two teachers at the Military Road School in the Town of Niagara. She received $2.80 in 1942 for a poem, her first payment from writing. Although she did earn much more for her later works, Clark remembered that she didn’t get rich from writing, but the income came in handy for putting her son and daughter through school.
Her first book, “The Mystery of Seneca Hill,” led to her adoption by the Seneca Indians on the Tonawanda Indian Reservation in 1962. She received the name, “Deh-yish-sto-est,” or “She Who Writes and Publishes.” Clark’s now famous book, “Freedom Crossing,” about the Underground Railroad in the area, has sold hundreds of thousands of copies.
Researching her stories led Margaret Goff Clark into many exciting and even dangerous areas. Her research took her to the Adirondack peaks, canoeing in Algonquin Park, sifting through dirt with archaeologists, studying the manatee in Florida and even shrimping in Texas. She spoke to hundreds of groups throughout her career and always enjoyed encouraging children to follow their own passion to write. She counted among her friends, H.S. Rey, creator of the “Curious George” books. Clark lived 91 meaningful and fun filled years and passed away in 2004. Her legacy in writing will live on forever.
Douglas Farley, Director
Ann Marie Linnabery
Erie Canal Discover Center
24 Church St.
Lockport NY 14094