Claywell Woman Celebrates 100th Birthday

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“She has lived an unusually long and useful life and has battled against many difficulties, winning over them all.” — words written about Sarah Vincent Claywell at the time of her death.


I’ve decided to write more posts about my lineage — and some of the posts will include distant relatives — like this one about Sarah Vincent Claywell. When Sarah passed away at the age of 100 in Mexico, Missouri on December 15, 1919, she was Audrain County’s oldest resident and had outlived seven of her children (one died as an infant). A few newspapers also stated Sarah was the oldest resident in the state of Missouri.

Near the end of her life, Sarah became something of a minor celebrity in the Mexico, Missouri region. Newspapers would run tidbits about “Grandma Claywell” reporting on both her 99th and 100th birthdays. Some of the reports would be minor events — like how she was “strong and well,” and visiting a grandson. But others were more detailed — like when Mrs. A. H. Barnes, of Winchester, Illinois wrote Sarah a letter after reading about Sarah’s 100th birthday.

Barnes knew her mother was a Claywell, but Mrs. Barnes did not know if she was related to Sarah. When Sarah received the letter, she figured out that Mrs. Barnes’ mother was the daughter of Job Claywell, from Cumberland County, Kentucky. Job was the half-brother of Milton — Sarah’s husband. This meant Mrs. Barnes was Sarah’s great-niece.

From Kentucky to Missouri

Sarah was a widow when she moved from Cumberland County to Missouri in 1888 with her nine of her children. Her husband, Milton H. Claywell, died of fever in 1864 after serving in the Union Army.

According to the December 18, 1919 Mexico Weekly Ledger announcing her death (it was a front page story), Sarah was buried at Thompson Cemetery where a sister, daughter and son were also buried. At the time of her death her oldest surviving child, Elijah, was 80.

Military Tradition

Three of Sarah’s grandsons, as well as Elijah, served in the military during war time. Elijah fought during the Civil War in the same unit as his father. One of Sarah’s grandchildren, Joe Claywell, fought in the Spanish-American War. Two others served in WWI: Lee Roe, of Mexico, MO and Tom McGraw of Centralia. Lee was in the U.S. Army while Tom was a member of the Canadian military — who accepted Tom after his offer to serve in the U.S. Army was denied.

Two-For-One Party

Although hitting the century mark should ensure a person their own party, Sarah actually shared her big day with her grandson Lee. Lee had recently returned from fighting in France. About 45 people attended the party and during the celebration Rev. John S. Jesse gave a “glowing tribute” of Sarah and her life — and photos were taken.

Living Off A Military Pension

As the article closes, it discusses the military widow pension Sarah started receiving in 1863 (when Milton was dismissed from the Army for illness — he died in Feb. 1864). In 1863, her pension was $8 a month, but at the time of her 100th birthday it was $25.

Sarah passed away at her daughter’s home — Mrs. Mary Jane Roe. Mary Jane, 64, was her second youngest child. Sarah’s youngest son, James Claywell, 68, lived nearby.

Elijah, though, had moved back to Kentucky.

Her Will

Despite her somewhat limited income, Sarah left behind more than one hundred dollars to be divvied out among children and grandchildren. The Mexico Ledger reports on the settling of Sarah’s estate:

  • She wills that after her just debts and funeral expenses are paid $1 be given her sons James and Elijah Claywell, both of whom have heretofore received more from her than her other children.
  • To her daughter Mrs. Martha Johnson she leaves $50, and to the children of her deceased daughter, Mrs. Belle Curry, she wills the following amounts: Nora Curry, $20, Cora Curry, $25, Sanford Curry $1, and James Curry $1. Provision is made that, should either of these granddaughters be dead the other receive both shares.
  • Mrs. Claywell wills that $1 be given to each of the following grandchildren, who are children of her deceased son, Joseph Claywell: Joseph II, Clauddus, Columbus and Sallie E. Claywell.
  • To her daughter, Mrs. Mary Jane Roe, she leaves the remainder of her estate, this daughter having taken tare of her in the last years of her life. After Mrs. Roe’s death the amount willed her shall be divided among her children.

1860 Census

The 1860 Census records the family unit before Milton dies:

The family lived in Cumberland County and everyone was born in Kentucky.

Click on the links above to view the gravesite of each family member.

Military Records

  • Milton H. Claywell, Co. D – 5th KY Cavalry
  • Elijah W. Claywell, Co. D – 5th KY Cavalry

Connection to Me

Milton H. Claywell is the son of Shadrach Claywell Jr. and the brother of John Anderson Claywell. John Anderson is my great-great-great-grandfather. If you use the cousin calculator, that would make Milton my 3rd Great Grand Uncle.

Milton’s Lineage My Lineage
Shadrach Claywell Shadrach Claywell
Shadrach Claywell Jr. Shadrach Claywell Jr.
Milton H. Claywell John Anderson Claywell
Ed Claywell
Joe Lee Claywell
Charlie L. Claywell
Billy D. Claywell
Me
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Categories: American History, Civil War History, Family History

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