Arthur Smith Claiborne
Seventh Child of John B. Claiborne
3 February 1847 - 8 September 1936
|Front: Arthur Smith Claiborne (the 1st), his daughter Gertrude (Trudy) Claiborne, his wife Martha Jane (Hale) Claiborne, and another unknown daughter. Those in the back rows have not been identitifed.|
Arthur Smith Claiborne (called "Smith") was born on 3 February 1847 in DeKalb County, Tennessee . He is listed in the 1850 census as living at home with his family in Tennessee , and in the 1860 census with them in Prairie County, Arkansas . Although he would have been old enough to fight in the Civil War, at least toward its conclusion, he stated in the 1930 census that he did not fight .
A story passed down through his descendants is that when Smith was a child during the Civil War, he would hide the family white mare in a cane field every day and put a sack around her muzzle so that she would not be stolen by the armies; Union soldiers took all of the horses except this one on the farm because it was hidden . Thus, the family had one horse with which to farm after the war.
Smith was "educated in the subscription schools of his native county, but it must be acknowledged that his advantages were very meager, and at the time he had attained his twenty-first birthday he had only received three months' schooling. He immediately began business for himself upon attaining his majority, and for two years raised crops of cotton and corn on shares" .
Smith settled near Lonoke, Arkansas and on 2 December 1869 he married Martha Jane Hale.
Martha Jane's Pedigree 
Martha Jane was born on 17 January 1852 in Mississippi as the oldest child to Francis Marion and Louisa (White) Hale. Martha Jane's parents had moved to Arkansas in 1859. Her father Francis was born on 25 July 1828 to Andrew W. Hale and Sarah Smith. Andrew's date of birth is unknown but his date of death was 5 August 1847. It has been suggested that Andrew may be related to Nathan Hale of the Revolutionary War, but this has not been confirmed. The birth date of Francis's mother, Sarah Smith, is unknown but we do know that she died on 5 August 1852. Sarah Smith's mother's name was Sally and her father's name was Zachariah Smith. The birth date and date of death of Sally and Zachariah is unknown. Zachariah's father was Peter Smith, and the date of his birth and death are unknown. There is no mention of Zachariah's mother's name.
Francis Marion Hale enlisted in the Confederate Army on 24 June 1862, soon after the battle of Shiloh. Francis was 38 years old at the time he fought in Company A of the 36th Arkansas Infantry Regiment and was detailed to special duty on 31 July 1862. Thereafter Francis was never seen or heard from again. He was likely killed while on duty and never identified. In January of 1863 Francis was presumed dead.
Martha Jane's mother, Louisa White, was born on 3 March 1834 and died on 17 May 1900. After Francis was declared dead Louisa remarried and had two more children. Louisa's mother was Sara Jane; her date of birth and date of death is unknown. Her father's name was S. C. White, born on 25 December 1809, and died on 8 August 1876.
Life After Marriage
Smith has been described as a man who was always very neatly dressed. He would often wear a shirt and tie and all of the available pictures of him show this to be true . A church going man, "Uncle Smith," as he was nicknamed by some , would assist in the building of Lebanon Church in McRae, Arkansas. Smith was also known for telling jokes and tales. He would tell newcomers to McRae that he could remember when the trees were so large there was only three feet between them. He would then relay that in the old days the deer were so large that their antlers were four feet across. The obvious question that would be asked is "How did they get through the woods?" Smith would reply, "Well that was the deer's problem." 
Smith was a successful farmer and stockman of White County for all of his adult life. Goodspeed states, "After their marriage Mr. and Mrs. Claiborn settled on eighty acres of land belonging to the latter, and in 1876 Mr. Claiborn became able to purchase 116 acres of wild land, which he has improved and to which he has added eighty acres. He now has seventy-five acres under cultivation, a good frame house, good barns and one tenant house. He rented his land on shares until this year (1889) but now rents for cash. Mr. and Mrs. Claiborn and two of their children, Elnora and William, hold memberships in the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, and Mr. Claiborn is a Democrat in his political views. He has always been a liberal contributor to the advancement of religious, social and educational institutions, and has also given generously to all enterprises which he deemed worthy of support." 
Smith's son said Smith had 360 acres in all, and Goodspeed states that he rented out his land on shares until 1889, after which he rented for cash .
A memorial to him written, and presumably published, one year after his death tells of an all day meeting held at the church he attended some time before his death at which he was honored and songs he particularly liked were sung. It stated that he was converted when he was 23 and became a member of the Methodist Church and that he testified daily for 40 years. Martha Jane died on 13 November 1928. Smith died roughly eight years later on 8 September 1936, in Little Rock, Arkansas, and is buried at Lebanon Cemetery in White Co., Arkansas .
His obituary states that he and Martha had 13 children, 4 boys and 9 girls, and that Martha Jane Claiborne died 8 years before her husband. When Smith Claiborne died, he had 29 grandchildren and 33 great grandchildren.
The children to Arthur Smith and Martha Jane Claiborne were:
- Elnora Claiborne was born on 7 October 1870 in White County, Arkansas. She married Will ("Willie") Clay Thompson on 4 March 1894. Willie was born on 4 March 1874 ; his mother hailed from Arkansas but his father was from Indiana . The couple was still living in White County during the 1900 census with their children Lester (5 years old) and Mattie (3 years old) . But by about 1917, they were living in Little Rock, Pulaski County, Arkansas, and appear to have remained there the rest of their lives. Willie would lose his fingers in a cotton gin accident, and Elnora's father, Arthur Smith, died at their home in Little Rock in 1936. Elnora died on 4 June 1944 and Willie followed over a decade later on 6 August 1957. The couple had at least two children, and possibly as many as four:
- Lester C. Thompson was born in about 1895 in White County, Arkansas . Presumably he moved to Little Rock with his parents because the 1930 census lists him there, married to Floy T. Thompson (born about 1900) and with an eight-year-old son, Floyd . Nothing more is known about the family.
- Mattie C. Thompson was born on 11 October 1896 in Arkansas . She married James Ralph Fisher, who was born on 10 January 1895 in Arkansas . James descended from Canadian born James J. Fisher (born about 1866) and Dora S. Fisher (born about 1875) . The 1920 census lists Mattie and James as married and living with James' parents, but by the 1930 census the couple were living in their own house with four children, though James' 64 year old father was also living with them . The family may have moved to San Francisco, California, because that is where Mattie died on 1 June 1962 . Sometime thereafter James moved to Junction City, Kansas, and died there on 22 February 1968 . Mattie and James are buried together at Lebanon Cemetery at McRae, Arkansas . They had four children:
- Carry Evelyn Fisher was born on 1 July 1921.
- Gordon E. Fisher was born on 8 July 1923. He would have at least one son named James Fisher.
- Mary V. Fisher was born in about 1924.
- James R. Fisher, Jr. was born on 14 January 1927.
- Leslie Thompson
- Mary Thompson was born in about 1905 .
- William Britton Claiborne (click name for separate biographical sketch) was born on 20 August 1872 and died on 11 January 1946.
- James Marion Claiborne ("Jim") was born on 25 July 1874 in Arkansas . He lived in the McRae and Beebe vicinity and worked as a farmer . He married Margaret ("Maggie") Rogers, who was born on 4 February 1880 in Arkansas . Jim died on 29 March 1956 at the age of 81, and Maggie followed some years later on 10 March 1962. Jim and Maggie's children were:
- Bessie Claiborne (1897 - 1900)
- Reece Elmer Claiborne
- Martha Claiborne (1902 - 1902)
- Mable Nettie Claiborne
- Erma C. Claiborne (1907 - 1909)
- Ollie S. Claiborne
- Hattie M. Claiborne
- Willie A. Claiborne
- Jim Lee Claiborne
- Dewey Vernon Claiborne
- Mattie Melvina J. Claiborne was born on 6 October 1876, but died roughly one year later on 20 August 1877. She is buried in the Cheek-Vinity Cemetery.
- Annie Eliza Claiborne was born on 9 August 1878. She married Thomas Nelson Liles (17 September 1881 - 3 November 1951) on 8 December 1901. The two were Methodist. Annie died on 28 February 1956 and her services were held on 1 March 1955 at Antioch Church (White Co.) where she was a member. Her children were :
- Thomas N. Liles of Jacksonville, Ark.
- Mrs. M. F. Harlan of Searcy, Ark.
- W. B. Liles of Searcy, Ark.
- Mrs. W.L. Harrell of Searcy, Ark.
- Mrs. V. O. Washburn of Searcy, Ark.
- Martha Claiborne ("Mattie Jane") was born on 30 November 1880 and died on 21 July 1882. Mattie Melvina and Mattie Jane are both buried in Cheek-Vinity Cemetery. The headstones had both been broken off and were propped up against a tree.
- Alcora Love Claiborne was born on 28 March 1882 and married Edwin Morris Edwards (born in 1876) on 12 October 1902. Alcora died on 31 October 1934 and Edwin followed many years later on 19 April 1946. The couple had three children:
- Paul Edwards
- Thelma A. Edwards
- Dewey Curtis Edwards
- Arthur Smith Claiborne (called "Arthur") was born on 26 March 1885. Twenty-four years later on 27 October 1909 he married Minnie King (born 12 January 1889). Minnie taught second grade in Little Rock, Arkansas and planned to retire in 1960 after 45 years of teaching . The couple lived in McRae, Arkansas. In the 1950s they sold 200 acres of White County land, but still retained 60 acres on which they raised strawberries, cotton, and a few cattle. Allegedly, Arthur initially cleared the land by hand with an ax and saw and built a house on it .
|Arthur Smith Claiborne (2nd) as a young man.|
Arthur's son Harry was known for telling a story about Arthur standing up to the Klu Klux Klan. Harry said the KKK's grand wizard criticized his father for being the only white farmer in the valley who was not a member of the organization, to which Arthur responded, "I won't join any organization whose members need to wear hoods over their faces" . Days later he saved an immigrant farmer from a lynching. He put the man and his family up in his house, then went to the man's farm armed with a shotgun, where he sat and waited. When the KKK rode in that night, Arthur stopped them at gunpoint and fired a round of buckshot into one of the nightriders who had bolted toward the barn with a lit torch, knocking him from his horse. "Never again was a man lynched by the KKK in his community because they knew they would have to answer to [Arthur] Claiborne" .
|Minnie (King) Claiborne as a young women.|
Victor Claybourn and Harriette Threlkeld visited Arthur one evening in McRae in October of 1959. It was, as far as was known, the only contact between the Illinois and Arkansas branches of the family in 93 years. They said they were cordially received and noted Arthur's physical resemblance to other members of the clan. He had just completed and moved into a beautiful brick home with large oak trees in front, built on the spot where about 30 years ago his home burned (after which he moved to the farm) and with it a trunk of his father's containing family records.
|Arthur Smith Claiborne (2nd) near the end of his life.|
Arthur died on 13 April 1962 and Minnie followed years later on 11 July 1984 at the ripe old age of 94. Arthur and Minnie's children are as follows:
- Mildred Kathlyen Claiborne was born on 19 July 1910 and died on 2 August 1925 at the age of 15 in an automobile accident.
- Walter Warren Claiborne ("Buster") was born on 8 January 1913. He married Pauline Gage and lived on his father's farm, two miles from McRae. Walter died on 4 December 1974. He and Pauline had two children:
- Mary Lynn Claiborne was born on 9 March 1937 and worked as a secretary. At one time her address was 1612 Booker Street, Little Rock, Arkansas.
- Glen Claiborne was born on 18 June 1940. He attended A & M College in Beebe.
- Harry Eugene Claiborne (2 July 1917 - 19 January 2004): Click name for separate biographical sketch.
- Aver Claiborne was born on 26 February 1886, but died as an infant.
- Dell Claiborne (called "Idell") was born on 28 February 1887 and married Benjamin Holland Jenkins on 28 July 1907. Benjamin had been born on 26 November 1885 . Both were born in White County, Arkansas and lived their entire lives there. Benjamin died on 14 December 1947 and Dell died years later on 24 March 1961. The couple had at least four children :
- Merl Jenkins was born in about 1908.
- Lavern Jenkins was born in about 1910.
- Clarence Jenkins was born in about 1915.
- Bernice (pronounced Burnis) C. Jenkins was born in about 1925.
Sarah Kathrine Claiborne Gammill (b. 15 February 1890): Click name for separate biographical sketch.
|Gertrude ("Trudy") Claiborne|
- Kineth C. Claiborne was born on 14 November 1892 and died on 16 November 1892. Kineth is buried in Lebanon Cemetery.
- Mary Ella Claiborne was born on 22 October 1894 and died on 30 October 1898.
- Ethel Gertrude Claiborne ("Trudy") was born on 4 February 1898 and died on 11 September 1917 of tuberculosis. She is buried in Lebanon Cemetery.