Son of Joshua and Sarah Clyburn
7 December 1788 - 11 May 1850
Ephraim Claybourn - probably named after his uncle Ephraim - was born on 7 December 1788, and because we know his father Joshua lived in North Carolina at the time, it is likely that Ephraim was born there as well. Either way, Ephraim lived in Knox County, Tennessee (eastern Tennessee) at the time of his marriage on 21 December 1809, to Mary (called Polly) Browning.[Mary Browning ("Polly") was born on 11 November 1792.] We know the marriage date from a pension record attested by the Rev. John McCampbell of Maryville, Blount County, who married them. Ephraim was twenty-one and Polly seventeen. Click here to learn more about the historical and cultural context in which this young couple lived.
The Browning and Lones Families
The Browning and Lones familes frequently interacted with Claybourns and they probably moved to Liberty at around the same time. Examples of their interactions include Sally Browning, Polly's sister, who is believed to have married a Claybourn relative named Milander (or Milder) Claybourn (this connection is only suspected; no solid proof currently exists). Also, a Luticia (or Lutecia) Browning[Luticia Browning was born on 22 April 1802 and died on 22 May 1872.] married David Lones[David Lones was born on 13 March 1801 and died on 22 may 1872.] and their son James married Martha Claiborne, daughter of Ephraim and Polly. David and Luticia (or Lutecia) are buried and have gravestones marking their spot on a farm Ephraim would later own in Allen County, Kentucky, and where Ephraim and Polly are also buried. David Lones and Lutecia Browning, discussed above, had at least four children:
DeKalb County was formed around 1837-1838 from land in Cannon, Warren and White Counties. Historian Will T. Hale believes that the first settlers in the county were at Liberty and came from Maryland in 1797.[Will T. Hale, History of Dekalb County, TN (Nashville: P. Hunter, 1915; repr., McMinnville: B. Lomond Press, 1969), 254.] If so, Adam Dale was the first settler. He may have come over the Cumberland Mountains, although some sources claim he came down the Ohio, up the Cumberland to Nashville, and then overland about 56 miles.[Ibid.] It was almost primeval forest. A middle Tennessee land office was opened in 1783.
An early settler was Lemual H. Bethel and later a Dr. Tilman Bethel. Bethel appears as a family name among the Claybourns so it may have been because of this early day doctor. Jim Crook is named as a wagon maker, and a John Parker of Dismal Creek is named in describing the unusually large men of the county. Men of those names married Claybourn women. Dismal appears as a surname, and in a visit to Liberty in 1936 Harriette Threlkeld passed through a crossroads store settlement named Dismal.
Liberty had a Methodist Church around the time of the Claybourn's arrival in 1825, and the earliest school in DeKalb County was probably in Liberty. Nevertheless, the town was mostly log cabins and there were only about 30 houses in the town as late as 1850. Hale describes the Liberty area in these words:
"Between Dowelltown and Liberty one of the noisiest of streams issues from the Gin Bluff Cave and finds silence in the Crowder Hole of Smith Fork. On Dry Creek the stream cast out of a cave has for 75 years furnished the power to run Crisp's Mill. [That would be since 1840.] Then you arrive at Liberty, resting like a sleeping hound at the feet of a dozen lofty hills - the Barger and Evans Hills to the east; the Gin Bluff and Dismal Hills to the north; to the west the Bethel and Lamberton Hills; and to the south the Bratten, Givan and Clarke Hills - cultivated to the tops and hazy in summer, in winter drowsing to the wind's singing. And in their embrace this: Smith Fork Creek, forming a silver horseshoe, great bottom fields, the pioneer graveyard on a rise covered with pennyroyal and gashed with gullies; the battleground where General Winchester fought the Cherokees, . . . and a village so queerly arranged that the son of a pioneer once described it as being three miles long and thirty feet wide." [Ibid.]
In the 1840 census of DeKalb County, Tennessee, Ephraim and Polly were still listed as living there along with their four youngest children.[1840 United States Census, DeKalb County, Tennessee, accessed through Ancestry.com.] Not long before that census was taken William Divine Claybourn, the second son, left Tennessee for Illinois.
By 3 July 1848 Ephraim and Polly had also left Tennessee and bought 58 acres of land in Allen County, Kentucky, near Puncheon Camp Creek for $60 cash from Joseph Stinson. This creek empties into the Barren River a short distance from the Tennessee state line. The nearest post office is Fountain Run in Monroe County, but the nearest larger town is Scottsville, Kentucky.
Harriette Threlkeld (and other relatives) visited Ephraim and Polly's farm in 1936 and made the acquaintance of Letcher Oscar ("L.O.") Cliburn (1860-1942) of Scottsville, who had been county surveyor beginning in 1905 and had surveyed the entire county for an oil company. L.O.'s father was George Cliburn (1820-1892) and his grandfather was Joel Cliburn (c. 1794 - c. 1830), both descendants of John "of Dale Parish" Cliborn, proven by DNA to be a distant relative of Ephraim.[Letcher Oscar "L.O." Cliburn (1860-1942) was born and died in Allen County, Kentucky. In addition to being a surveyor, he was also a reverend. He was a son of George Cliburn (1820-1892), who was born in Sumner County, Tennessee, and died in Allen County, Kentucky. George was a son of Joel Cliburn (c. 1794 - c. 1830), born in Franklin County, Virginia. Joel was a son of George R. Cliburn (c. 1770 - c. 1840), born in Virginia, a son of John Cliburn (c. 1735 - c. 1782) who was a son of John "of Dale Parish" Cliborn.] Harriette described him as "a very pelasant and accommodating man of 75" who helped them locate the farm and graves, and who furnished them with a graphic description of the farm.[Claybourn, The Claybourn Family, citing a letter to William Divine Claybourn.]
Cliburn wrote: "Beginning at a beech tree, shown on the plat by index finger, running thence S. 40 W. 47 and 1/4 poles to a poplar, S. 70 W. 62 poles to a red oak, N. 26 W. 111 and 1/2 poles, N. and 1/2 E. 39 poles to a poplar, S. 57 and 1/2 E. 142 poles to the beginning, containing 58 acres."
To reach this farm by automobile, one must go south from Scottsville, Kentucky, to Haysville, Tennessee. Going east from there you would take every turn to the left up towards Roark Graveyard - back up into Kentucky. It is very hilly and the roads were not good in 1936, but the place is known locally as the Claybourn farm, and a James Claybourn lived on it then. His father was Alfred; his grandfather was Andy.
Although the land apparently stayed with the family, Ephraim and Polly did not own it long. In 1849, roughly a year after buying the land, Ephraim sold the farm in Kentucky and went to Illinois to visit his son William Divine Claybourn. Polly returned to visit in DeKalb County several times after she and Ephraim had left it, but it is not known whether Ephraim did as well. Ephraim died on 11 May 1850 in Allen County, Kentucky. Since he is buried on this same Kentucky farm, it was presumably owned by relatives. The James Claybourn whom Harriette met in 1936 referred to "Aunt Polly" living on the farm, and she too was buried there. Harriette later relocated the farm and the grave in 1976, owned then by Arnold Stinson.
On 14 November 1871, Polly applied for a pension for Ephraim's service in the War of 1812. She was granted $8 a month on 13 July 1872. She cashed her last pension check on 16 December 1874. The pension paper is headed, "Claiborne, Polly".[Ibid.] The first line reads, "Polly Claibourn declares herself to be the widow of Ephraim Claybourn." His death and burial are attested by Milender and Sally Claiborn, citizens of Macon County, Tennessee, which is just over the county line. The last line says, "Ephraim Clayborne died 11 May 1850, in Allen County, Kentucky." Note the various spellings of the name used even in the same document.
Polly visited William Divine Claybourn in Illinois after the Civil War. William Divine remembered her as "a very tidy, sprightly woman".[Ibid.] She would have been 73 in 1865. Polly died in 1874.
References and Notes