Clyde James Newman was born in Racine, Wisconsin on May 13, 1873, according to several newspaper and magazine articles, and his birth date was on his World War I draft card.
In the 1880 U.S. Federal Census, Newman was the second of three children born to Seneca, a bookkeeper, and Frances. They lived in Racine on Superior Street.
A few Racine city directories listed Newman’s occupation and whereabouts. In 1890 he was a painter who resided at 1205 Grand Avenue. Two years later he was assistant secretary at the YMCA and resided at 920 Center, the same address found in the 1897 directory.
Newman’s profile in The Inland Printer, June 1901, revealed some aspects of his childhood and early career:
A Promising Chicago Cartoonist.
Considerable attention has been attracted to the work of Clyde J. Newman, of the Chicago Record-Herald, whose cartoons have appeared daily upon the front page of that paper for some time past. While his draftsmanship is of a high order, this talent is only secondary to his keen insight into the motives which govern men in political or social life, and his unique manner in delineating human frailties and making even the passions of men ridiculous. Thus his pen-drawings are more powerful than the word pictures of the writer could be, for they reach the humblest understanding and make their impression upon the minds of the wisest. It is in the talents of the cartoonists in modern journalism, among whom Mr. Newman has already won his spurs, that the greatest power of the press lies.
Mr. Newman was born at Racine, Wisconsin, May 13, 1873. His parents moved to South Dakota when he was about nine years of age, taking the lad with them. After an absence of nine years the family returned to Racine and young Newman obtained employment in the machine shop of J. I. Case Company of that city. He had shown some aptitude for drawing, but had never had any particular training. Before the callous hands had become softened, in 1896, he began work on the Chicago Journal, under Charles M. Peck. then, as now, the managing editor. In January, 1899, he accepted a position on the Chicago Record, continuing until its consolidation with the Times-Herald, where he now is. When with the Record, Mr. Newman undertook the making of cartoons during the absence of John T. McCutcheon in the Philippines, filling the position satisfactorily.
He has rare talent, but is one of those modest young men who does not desire to be “puffed.” He says he considers it a genuine misfortune to be overestimated. Simple, strong, and with meaning in every line, his cartoons are watched for each day with much interest. His work speaks for itself and no lengthy article concerning it is necessary. Inland Printer readers will be glad to have this opportunity of seeing a few miniature reproductions of some of his regular newspaper work, and a portrait of the young cartoonist.
The 1900 census recorded Newman, his wife, Edith, and two sons, Clyde and John, in Chicago, Illinois at 573 South Oakley Avenue. The Wisconsin Marriages records at Ancestry.com said he married in Racine on October 19, 1897.
American Newspaper Comics (2012) includes two works by Newman in the Chicago Daily News: New First Reader (started by Raymond Garman), from July 6, 1900 to September 30, 1901; and People We Know, from November 22 to December 1, 1900.
Around 1908, Newman settled in Wheaton, Illinois. The 1910 census said his address was 112 Chase Street where he now had six children. His occupation was newspaper artist.
Newman copyrighted some of his art as recorded in the Catalogue of Copyright Entries, Part 4: Works of Art, Etc. 1914, New Series, Volume 9, Number 3:
Newman (Clyde James) Wheaton, Ill. [15954, 15955Memoirs of an old master. Old musician seated with violin in hand while in background appear scenes of his past life. © 1 e. July 13. 1914; G 47219.
Spirit of the dance. Draped dancing girl in center, with man playing piano at left and dancers of various nations in background. © 1 c. July 13, 1914; G 47220.
Newman signed his World War I draft card on September 12, 1918. He resided at 501 Willow Avenue in Wheaton, and was an artist with the Meyer-Both Company, 2314 Indiana Avenue, Chicago, Illinois. The description on the card said he was of medium height and build with gray eyes and dark hair. From this point onward his address and employer remained the same throughout his life.
The Chicago Tribune profiled Newman on April 21, 1957. Halfway through his Civil War assignment he lost vision in his left eye. After some adjustment, he completed the 48 drawings. He rode a motorcycle for 23 years until he was 76. A motorcycle injury required him to use a cane. After his wife passed away in 1950, he lived alone, read the Bible and learned some Greek and Hebrew.
Newman passed away June 16, 1959, in Wheaton, Illinois. His obituary was published June 18, 1959 in a local newspaper which was found at an Ancestry.com family tree:
J. Clyde Newman, 86, of 501 E. Willow avenue, nationally known commercial and newspaper artist and resident of Wheaton for 51 years, died Tuesday in the Zace Retirement Home at Winfield.
Mr. Newman, born in Racine, Wis., on May 13, 1873, spent more than a half-century drawing news pictures for Chicago papers. His biggest assignment was the Iroquois fire, where he was one of the first reporters on the scene.
Mr. Newman is survived by seven children children, Clyde C., John F., C. Fred, Joseph H., Mrs. Dorothy Gauger, David W., and Mrs. Margaret Roeslem.
Services were to be held this afternoon (Thursday) from the Hanerhoff Funeral home, 304 N. Main street, with burial in Forest Home cemetery, Forest Park.
Mr. Newman taught himself Hebrew and Greek and read the Bible thoroughly. He was also a student of Sanskrit. Abraham Lincoln was his ideal and he took a great interest in the Civil War history, once being commissioned to paint pictures of generals involved in both sides of the civil conflict.
Motor cycling was one of his hobbies and he rode a cycle until he was 76. In 1938 he went by motor cycle through Wauchatchee Valley visiting the Civil War battlegrounds.