Thomas S. Clarkson
Thomas S. Clarkson III (1837-1894) was an American businessman and philanthropist who was the namesake of Clarkson University.
Thomas S. Clarkson was born in 1837 and attended the St. Lawrence Academy and then received private tutoring. The Clarkson family was wealthy from stock investments and real estate holdings, but required all of the sons to learn a trade, so Clarkson and his brother Levinus (1835-1876) operated the family's farm until Levinus' death in 1877. At this time, Clarkson engaged in other business endeavors in Potsdam, including developing local electrical power plants and the first sewer system in the area and operating large sandstone quarries on the Raquette River in 1877. Clarkson and a cousin founded the Potsdam Public Library and Reading Room and a tuition-free night school teaching mechanical drawing. Clarkson made a large donation to Trinity Episcopal Church in Potsdam in honor of his father. Clarkson was accidentally killed while working in his sandstone quarry not far from Potsdam. When a worker was in danger of being crushed by a loose pump, Clarkson pushed him out of the way risking his own life. Clarkson was crushed against a wall by the swinging pump, sunstaining severe internal injuries. He died five days later. The Clarkson family realized great wealth in the development of such quarries, and Potsdam sandstone was highly sought after by developers of townhouses in New York City and elsewhere. The family were important benefactors in the Potsdam area. After his death, Clarkson's sister decided to fund a school, which would be named after their brother. The school was founded in 1896 and was called the Thomas S. Clarkson Memorial School of Technology before it later became Clarkson University.