Clayborne Montgomery Elder

While working at my Mom’s house, I remembered that she has a book on the history of Leamington, Utah, and wondered if it might have information about Claybourne Elder.

For those of you just joining us, Claybourne Montgomery Elder is my 3rd Great-Grandfather on my Father’s side.  He was just a name in a giant list of ancestors, until I found out he was buried in the small town that my mom’s ancestors helped settle.

I’ve been trying to find information about him ever since–but for some reason, forgot that people wrote things down in books.  And that Mom has a large collection of books detailing family history, and history of the area.

Anyway, I pulled out the Leamington book, and was thrilled to find a (albeit small) section on Claybourne Elder.   Best of all, it is complete with a picture!

This is what the book says about Claybourne Montgomery Elder

John Claybourne Montgomery Elder

John Clayebourne M. Elder was the son of David Elder and Louise Montgomery.

He was born June 2, 1827, in Bradford Tennessee.  His brother and sister both died at a young age.  His father also passed away, leaving he and his mother alone.   His mother took Claybourne and moved to Nauvoo.  He became acquainted with Joseph Smith, and they had many ball games together.   He was well acquainted with the Prophet Joseph, and heard the shot that killed him.

One day he and his friends were flying kites when the mob came looking for Joseph Smith.  They asked the boys if they had seen him, and they said, “Yes, we saw Joseph and Hyrum going to heaven yesterday on a white horse, and they[sic] were sending them their supper in a baskets tied to their kites.”  The mob left in discust [sic].

In 1850 at the age of 23, he crossed the plains with an ox team company, and upon his arrival in Utah, settled in Grantsville.  He served through the Echo Canyon episode of the Indian War and also served in the Walker and Black Hawk Indian Wars.

In Grantsville, he met and married Mary Caroline Pratt (random Cori note: my Grandmother) at the age of 31 in the year 1858.   To this union, five children were born.  In November 1860, he married Martinia Peterson of Denmark.  To this union seven children were born.

In 1862 he was called by Brigham Young to help quell the Indian disturbances in that section of the Territory.  He had two wives and three children.

In about 1863 he married Francis Elizabeth Pratt.  She was Mary’s sister.  She was 19 years younger than him.  To this union, eleven children were born.  A short time later he met and married Nancy Ott.  She was a widow with one son, David.

Claybourne moved 23 times in one year, and he said it was not a good time for moving either.

In about 1873 while living in Dixie, (random Cori note: the south-west corner of Utah.  Where my Dad’s family is from.) confusion developed, and Martina secured a divorce and took her children and left Dixie and went to Kingston, Utah and settled on a homestead.  She dited in about 1912, and is buried in Junction, Utah.

Claybourne stayed in St. George until 1888 where he sawed wood and lumber at his own saw mill.  He sawed all the lumber for the St. George Temple.  Claybourne then moved to Panguich where he lived for a while.

He then moved to Hinkley and lived there for five years.  He then moved to Ferron, Emery Co., and lived there until he was 80 years old. (Random Cori note:  This is where Mary Caroline died and is buried.)  While in Ferron, he met and married a Mrs. Plusfer in 1908 at the age of 81.  They didn’t live together very long.  (Random Cori note: This was after 1890 Official Deceleration, in which the Church banned all new polygamous marriages.  Claybourne had buried four of his wives, and was divorced from a fifth at the time he married Mrs. Plusfer.)  He then went to Leamington and lived with his son Parley for the last three years of his life.  He is buried in Leamington.

Claybourne was a very good musician and really made the fiddle talk.  He played for many a square dance in every community he lived in throughout his life.

He joined the Church when he was 17 years old, and retained a living testimony of the truthfulness of the gospel.  He always wore high top boots and a large hat.  He was also an excellent carpenter.  He helped build the prophet’s mansion, and he made the benches for the school house in Hinkley in 1878.  He also helped build the school house there.

He had 24 children in 28 years, his first being born in 1859 and the last in 1887.

Claybourne passed away at the home of his son in Leamington, Millard County, on January 9, 1912.


I don’t know who wrote this, or where they got their information.  I’ve also found evidence of as many as three additional wives–a Nancy Ott, a Nancy Williams and a Nancy Williams Ferguson who weren’t mentioned in the article.    Nancy Ott would have been his first wife.  Which makes sense, 31 is really old for a Mormon man to be getting married for the first time in those days.  Heck, 31 is still really old for a Mormon to be getting married for the first time.

I’m happy to have found this, and a little dismayed that it took me as long as it did to you know, actually pull out that particular book and look for it.

It’s good to get those reminders that the vast list of ancestors that other people have found and tied to my family tree are more than just names and dates.  They lived and died, had joys and heartbreaks, and had interesting stories of their own to tell.

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