When people learned I was tracing my family tree, many let me know they were related to someone famous — like Daniel Boone or Ben Franklin.
For the most part, I’ve found, that although I am connected to interesting regions of the country and intriguing eras of history — I’m not really related to the famous.
Both of my family lines were early American pioneers. The Claywells forged out an existence in Cumberland County, Kentucky in the early 1800s laying claim to land earned for Shadrach Claywell’s Revolutionary War service. My maternal line, who also served in the War, ended up in the same region possibily because the land resembled the homeland of their Scottish-Irish youth.
- On the maternal side, the Beatys lived in the same region as a few famous people, like the Clemens — as in Mark Twain’s family. His father, John practiced law in Fentress County, TN and served in various official capacities like: Country Commissioner, Court Clerk, acting Attorney General and Postmaster of Pall Mall. The Clemens moved onto Missouri before Mark was born.
- In, History of Fentress County, Tennessee: The Old Home of Mark Twain’s Ancestors, by Albert Ross Hogue, Hogue tells a story about Jim Crockett — Davy Crockett’s first cousin. When Hogue relays the story, he casually mentions that Jim’s father, William Crockett (Davy’s uncle), lived ‘in the pioneer days’ on what is now (early 1900s) the Jerry Beaty farm. Hogue adds, (without explaining how he verified this fact):
- The Beaty’s, who are related to Crockett, also moved into this very neighborhood.
- Probably the most famous man in the modern era from the Fentress County region is Alvin C. York. His WWI exploits were immortalized in a film starring Gary Cooper, which won two Oscars. York’s name is still very prominent in the region a century after his actions. My mother picked beans on York’s farm in her youth.
- Jamestown, Tennessee — the county seat for Fentress County — is birthplace of the World’s Longest Yard Sale — which every August passes through my hometown in southwest Ohio.