The Gordon-Lee Mansion
Clark was born to a fifteen year old enslaved African woman named Emeline in January, 1848. He was born and grew up in one of the six two-room brick slave houses on the Gordon Plantation in what is now the town of Chickamauga. James Gordon came to this area shortly after Cherokee removal, and built the magnificent house that is still here today. James Gordon had a son named James Clark Gordon. Clark Lee was probably named for the master's son, and may have grown up as the companion and personal slave of the older white boy. The last name "Lee" came from James Lee, who was married to Gordon's daughter and later inherited the slaves.
At the start of the Civil War the first local Confederate unit was organized above Crawfish Spring. James Clark Gordon, the son of James Gordon, was elected Captain of the company that later became the 2nd Company D, 1st Confederate Infantry Regiment. Major James Clark Gordon was in command when the unit came back for the Battle of Chickamauga. Clark Lee joined the regiment for the rest of the war. Clark Lee fought at Chickamauga, September 19, 20, 1863; at Missionary Ridge November 23-25, 1863; the Atlanta Campaign May September 1864; Peachtree Creek July 20, 1864; Atlanta July 22, 1864; Jonesborough August 31 September 1, 1864; Franklin November 30, 1864; Nashville December 15-16, 1864; Bentonville, N.C. March 18-21, 1865. Captain James Clark Gordon led 158 men when he left to go to war in 1861. After the surrender in North Carolina in 1865 there were only eight men left for him, as Colonel James Clark Gordon, to bring back to Walker County, and one of these was Clark Lee.
Before the 1890's, Gordon Lee, son of Clark's former owner, James Lee, took a position as secretary for the Chattanooga & Lookout Mountain Railway Company and also helped some of the former slaves to find work in the city of Chattanooga. Clark Lee had a successful career in the iron industry, working at the Chattanooga Roofing and Foundry Company and the U.S. Cast Iron Pipe & and Foundry Company that produced some items used in the construction of the Panama Canal. Clark Lee, in 1889, purchased an entire lot, Lot 60, in Section 5 of the prestigious Forest Hills Cemetery. He buried his mother, a brother and sister and other relatives in this lot.
Clark lived more than 40 years in Chattanooga. In his old age he applied for, and received, a well-deserved Confederate Military Pension from the State of Tennessee (Pension No. 107), enabling him to spend his final years in retirement. Clark had a full life, being a soldier in one of the bloodiest wars the world has ever seen, and then skilled iron worker in a most demanding industrial environment. He died on January 14, 1928, and a few days later he was buried at Forest Hills Cemetery.