Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Nathaniel M. Clayton

Oh boy, this is a good picture: Nathaniel M. Clayton standing in front of his log cabin south of Fulton, in the Tilden community of Itawamba County. If you have been following the Clayton genealogy, you will remember that Nathan was the son of Thompson and Patience Malinda Clayton.

Nathan was married first to Martha Bowen, daughter of John Henderson Bowen and Zinny Putman. They were married August 24, 1873 by W. A. Smith and had twelve children together before Martha's untimely death at the age of 44. One of those twelve children was my great-grandmother Queenie Victoria Clayton, who was born in 1883 and obviously named after Queen Victoria, reigning monarch of England. After Martha's death in 1892, Nathan remarried to Mattie Elizabeth Reed, daughter of William Washington Reed and Mary Jane Tallant, and they had two daughters, Elzora and Jennette. By all accounts, Mattie was a much beloved step-mother to Queenie and her siblings.

Nathan started out farming on land he purchased near his father, land located today just off the Tilden-Nita Lake Road. Within a few years however, he moved a bit further west when he bought land along the Tombigbee River between Beans Ferry and Tilden. Some of this land is under the Tenn-Tom Waterway, but some of the Clayton property remains in the possession of Nathan's descendants today. It was here that Nathan and Martha made their home and built a typical dwelling for that time, a log cabin dog-trot that Queenie and some of her brothers and sisters were born in. The log cabin is still standing, in fairly good condition considering it is over 120 years old.

Nathan and his brother Daniel were both woodworkers, famous for their straight-back chairs with cane bottoms. The Claytons were also known for their watermelons.

Nathan died September 30, 1908. He worked in the cotton fields during the day and died in his sleep during the night. Mattie got up as usual to cook breakfast, and when he didn't get up from bed, she went back to check and found him "sleeping the blessed sleep from which none ever wakes." Nathan was just 60 years old, and his death was a surprise to his family. The following notice appeared in the Itawamba County News:

"Mr. Nathan Clayton, who lived near Tilden, was found dead in bed Wednesday morning. It is said that he had not been subject to heart trouble and had not been complaining, having done a good day's work the day before he died. He was about 60 years of age, had done a great deal of hard work during his life, was very much admired by a large circle of friends, and his death a shock to the entire community. The News deeply sympathizes with the bereaved family."

Nathan's middle name has been found as Merida and also as Meredith. This name puzzled me a bit until some research turned up a probable source for this name. It is believed that Nathan's mother was the daughter of Meredith Brashears. Land records in Spartanburg County reveal that Meredith Brashears is found variously as Merida, Meriday and Meredith. Nathan's middle name could have come from his supposed grandfather.

Don Clayton, great-grandson of Nathan, shared this photograph of Nathan with me and my mother. Thank you, Don, for the hospitality, pictures and information!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Wonder what his grandchildren called him,bet it was Pa.