Thursday, January 3, 2013

From Smithland to England

Life with its twists and turns often takes us far from home. This is what happened to a young lady from Livingston County, Kentucky. Ben Adaline McGraw  was born in Smithland on the 26th of January 1841. Her parents were John C. McGraw  and Lucy Jane VanAllen. These names may not be familiar to you, but you will recognize the name of Ben Adaline's great-grandfather, Stanley P. Gower, one-time owner of the Gower House.  Gower's daughter, Adaline Gower VanAllen, was the mother of Lucy Jane and the grandmother of Ben Adaline.  The Gower family had a story to tell, but this story is about Adaline McGraw. We'll save the Gower story for another day.

Adaline, her parents  and siblings appear on the 1850 Livingston County census. Not all of the McGraw children survived infancy. Tombstones in Smithland Cemetery mark the graves of  three McGraw children -  J.C. Jr., VanAllen and Ella. Ben Adaline's father, John C. McGraw,  was a hotel keeper at the Gordon House in Smithland in 1855. Perhaps hoping to provide a better life for his family, McGraw moved his family to Arkansas

The family is found on the 1860 Phillips County, Arkansas census and it was there that Adaline met  and married her husband, Powell Clayton, on 14 December 1865.  Clayton was born in Bethel County, Pennsylvania in 1833 and studied civil engineering in Delaware. He later moved to Kansas and during the Civil War, he joined the Union Army and rose to the rank of brigadier general.

After the Civil War, Clayton moved to Arkansas, where he met Ben Adaline McGraw and they had five children, with one dying in infancy. In 1868, Clayton ran unopposed for Governor of Arkansas and was sworn into office in July 1868. He was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1871 and served six years.  He was Ambassador to Mexico from 1897 to 1905. Powell Clayton died 25 August 1914 in Washington, DC and was laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery.

In July 1916, Adaline McGraw Clayton sailed for England to visit a daughter.  The New York Times of 18 January 1917, reported the following: "Washington, Jan. 17 - A cablegram received today announces the death in Oxted, England of Mrs. Adaline Clayton, widow of General Powell Clayton, who was Governor of Arkansas and Ambassador to Mexico."  It is assumed Adaline was buried in England.

Adaline had traveled far from her birthplace of Smithland, Kentucky.

Published 3 Jan 2013 on Western Kentucky Genealogy Blog,

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