Betty Jean Morrow

Highslide JSBetty Jean Morrow was born on 7 August 1931 in Hammond, Lake County, Indiana, to William Samuel Morrow and Lilyan Mable Wheeler. The family moved from Hammond to Evansville, Indiana, in about 1938. After William and Lilyan divorced in April 1939, Lilyan moved to Michigan, requiring Betty and her brother Billy to shuttle back and forth between Evansville and Michigan.

The constant juggling was hard on Betty, but she noted that it forced her and her brother to grow up fast and become relatively self-sufficient, both emotionally and financially. “Thank God I had my brother,” she said. Betty and her brother were so close, in fact, that unknowing observers often thought they were dating.

Betty also felt her mother’s propensity for wild behavior required early maturing on Betty’s and Billy’s part. Regarding her mother Lilyan, Betty said, “In many ways I felt like we were raising her, rather than her raising us.”

Lilyan’s work in psychiatric hospitals, and Lilyan’s own occasional mental health issues, gave Betty a lifelong interest in psychology and mental health issues.

Another lifelong interest borne out of this time was food. Later in life, when recounting how her day had gone, a particularly good meal would often find its way into the story. Betty attributed this interest to her upbringing in the Great Depression. “Growing up times were tight. I was always aware that food was precious.”

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Billy and Betty as children Betty at two years old

The Great Depression was a severe worldwide economic de-pression that started in the United States in about 1929 and lasted until about the beginning of U.S. involvement World War II in 1941. The Great Depression had a devastating effect on all economic classes.

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Billy Morrow, Edith Wheeler,
Lilyan Wheeler, and Betty Morrow

During Betty’s childhood personal income and international trade dropped by half to two-thirds. Unemployment rose to 25% and construction essentially stopped. The economy reached its bottom in the winter of 1932-33 and was met with numerous government programs designed to spur economic growth.

As a result, families valued frugality. Gift wrap was re-used, string and rubber bands were carefully saved, and, especially for Betty, good food was dearly cherished. This was the cultural and economic climate of Betty’s childhood and it would influence her for the remainder of her life.

For Kindergarten Betty attended Howard Roosa in Evansville. Later on in grammar school (today often called elementary school), Betty attended Chestnut-Walnut and Delaware Schools in Evansville. Occasionally when living with her mother in Michigan, Betty would attend school there.

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Clarice and Bill Morrow with
their children, Betty and Billy

Eventually Betty enrolled at F.J. Reitz High School in Evansville’s west side. At some point during her high school career Betty’s family moved to the 3800 block of Bergdolt Road in northern Vanderburgh County, which at the time was within Reitz’s school district.

The house was originally built as a summer home, but Betty’s father insulated it so that it would be suitable year-round. It was set far off the road with a large yard for the family to use. Betty recalled that the bus ride to and from school helped form the foundation of her high school friendships, some of which lasted well into adulthood. The rural area fostered a close-knit community.

In 1946 she met her future husband, James Frederick Claybourn, at a dance at the Eagle’s Nest in downtown Evansville. Jim had come with another date, and Betty with her father and step-mother. Upon seeing her that evening, Jim told a friend there with him, “I’m going to marry that girl.” At the time Betty was only a junior in high school and Jim was six years her senior. Although her parents had concerns over the difference in age, they decided they had little power to stop it, and so they consented to the couple dating.

Betty was “double-promoted” at least twice and was therefore the youngest member of her class when she graduated from Reitz High School in June 1948 at the age of sixteen. She frequently re-ceived academic awards and honor citations throughout her time in school.

The following fall, roughly two years after they began dating, Betty and Jim married on 14 October 1948 at Bethlehem Evangelical and Reformed Church (later Bethlehem United Church of Christ).

Betty wore a second-hand, white satin gown dress with a scalloped sweetheart neckline and similar scallops at the waist. The bodice was long and tightly fitted and the bouffant skirt extended into a full, sweeping train. The two-tiered veil of illusion was fastened by a tiara of seed pearls and beads. Her bouquet was of white chrysanthemums. Palms, white tapers in fourteen branched candelabra and two aisle baskets filled with white gladioli and chrysanthemums decorated the altar.

Immediately following the ceremony a reception was held in the church basement. For their honeymoon the couple traveled to Indianapolis to watch a Reitz football game.

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Betty on 5 April 1946 High school graduation in June 1948 Betty and Jim’s wedding picture

This era following the end of World War II brought thousands of young servicemen back to America to pick up their lives and start new families in new homes with new jobs. With unprecedented energy, American industry expanded and Americans began buying goods not available during the war, which created corporate expansion and jobs. Growth was everywhere, and Jim and Betty epitomized this energy and enthusiasm.

Betty’s first job was in 1948 as a secretary for Evansville attorney Tom Trimble. That same year she left and went to work, until 1952, with the law firm Fine, Hatfield, Sparrenberger & Fine as the personal secretary of Charles Sparrenberger. Isadore Fine founded this firm and his grandson, Marc Fine, would later hire Betty’s grandson, Joshua, in his first job as an attorney.

In 1952 the couple gave birth to their first child, James William Claybourn. Two years later in 1954 they gave birth to their second child, Douglas Frederick Claybourn. However, at the time the family was living with Jim’s mother Jennie Mae at 1615 Delmar Avenue in Howell on Evansville’s west side. Betty often remarked that there was no room for two women under one roof and so the young family began looking for a home of their own. Therefore, in early 1955 the family moved to their first home at 3808 Claremont.

From 1953 to March 1959, while rearing her family, Betty worked for various offices, on a freelance basis, on temporary assignments while office staff was on vacation, ill, or when they experienced unusually heavy workloads. During this period she worked for a number of local law firms.

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Christmas 1960

In March 1959 Betty began working at Mead Johnson in the secretarial pool of the marketing division. Three months later she was promoted to secretary to the Director of Trade Relations. Three months thereafter she was promoted to Executive Secretary reporting to the Executive Vice President in charge of the nutritional/pharmaceutical division.

In 1960, while she was still working with Mead Johnson, Betty gave birth to her last child, a daughter named Jennie Lou Claybourn. At that time it was uncommon for a “mother with child” to work in a public office setting once her pregnancy was evident. Her boss, future 8th District Congressman Roger Zion, was ahead of his time in this respect and allowed Betty to continue working well into her pregnancy.

After taking some time off when Jennie was young, Betty returned to the workforce. From 1964 to 1970 she worked as an office manager for J.M. Foster Company, an industrial contractor, as it worked on a new Alcoa plant.

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Betty in July 1955

In 1966, following the death of Jim’s brother, Bill, and sister-in-law, Susie, the family purchased and moved into Bill and Susie’s former home at 2901 Igleheart Avenue. After her children had moved out on their own (and providing rental rooms to college students for several years), Betty moved to a condo in Belle Manor on Evansville’s east side in December 1989 (her first condo was a one bedroom and, in June 1999, she moved to a two bedroom there). Betty lived in Belle Manor for nearly twenty years until moving to assisted living in 2007 and then eventually a nursing home.

Jim and Betty were married for over twenty years and had three children together. But eventually their relationship soured. As Jim would often put it, “We were married for twenty years, and happily married for eighteen.” Betty put it this way: “I know I needed a lot of attention. It seemed like he always had projects . . . and I was very needy. I think growing up in a divorced family you feel like you need attention. I just felt like he didn’t pay enough attention to me.” They divorced in 1969. In an interview in 2009, Betty tearfully noted, “Looking back, the divorce was wrong. Jim was a good guy.”

In December 1978 Betty entered the insurance business and would remain in the field for the rest of her professional career. From 1978 to 1981 she worked for Lincoln National Life Insurance Company as an office manager and executive secretary. But later in about 1982 she gained her license and actually began selling insurance for Met Life. She remained working with Met Life in some capacity until cutting back and eventually retiring around 2005.

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Betty was very active in professional secretary organizations during her legal office career. After becoming a member of St Paul’s Lutheran Church she helped organize and facilitate a group for single adults, called the Helpmates. The group received several write-ups in local newspapers and was an important ministry to Christian singles in Evansville.

She later helped begin St. Paul’s seniors’ group which she named The Encouragers. She was the driving force in the group until health problems triggered by a broken hip in July 2007 forced her to hand over the reins to others.

Highslide JSDuring her twilight years a longtime family friend, George Kitzinger, was Betty’s constant companion. George also knew Betty’s first husband, Jim, through various community activities, particularly softball leagues. George faithfully looked after Betty as she struggled with dementia or Alzheimer’s in the final years of her life. What began as occasional forgetfulness eventually morphed into a virtual complete loss of basic memory.

These twilight years were spent in various nursing homes, but through it all she had the regular and faithful support and visits from family – especially her three children – and her friend, George. He died on 5 July 2015.

Betty passed away peacefully in Evansville on 12 April 2016 surrounded by her family.

Betty has eight surviving grandchildren, J.P. Claybourn (Katie), Brian Claybourn (Keri), Josh Claybourn (Allyson), Kelli Zabel (Tony), Cole Claybourn, Betsy Kohut, Jamie Brewer (Josh) and Matt Jackson; and seven surviving great-grandchildren, Parker Claybourn, Prudence Claybourn, Rowan Zabel, Louisa Zabel, Mary Grace Zabel, Lilyana Claire Trinoskey and Violet Brewer. Betty was preceded in death by her parents; the father of her children, Jim Claybourn; and her brother, Billy Morrow.

Funeral services will be held at 11 a.m. Friday, 15 April 2016, at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, 100 E. Michigan St., Evansville, IN, 47711, with Pastors Matthew Schilling and Chad Eckels officiating. Burial will follow at Sunset Memorial Park Cemetery.

Friends may visit from 2 until 8 p.m. Thursday, 14 April 2016, at Browning Funeral Home, 738 E. Diamond Ave., Evansville, IN, 47711, and again from 10 a.m. until time of service Friday at the church.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Evansville Lutheran School, 120 E. Michigan St., Evansville, IN 47711, to St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, or to the Alzheimer’s Association, 701 N Weinbach Ave #510, Evansville, IN 47711.

Born of Clay

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We are pleased to announce the publication of Born of Clay: The Story of the Claiborne · Claybourn · Clayborn Families in the United States. Clocking in at over 500 pages with detailed biographical information on thousands of individuals, this is an unparalleled history of the Claiborne – Claybourn – Clayborn families in the United States.

Beginning with Joshua Clyburn in the late 1790s, this history gets progressively more detailed as the generations progress toward modernity.

As early as 1906, Verner Marvin Claybourn began collecting data on the Claybourn Family, and on the English family from whom he believed the family descended. In about 1935 Harriette Pinnell Threlkeld became interested, did some research, and with Verner collected data on the hundreds of descendants of William Divine Claybourn, her great-grandfather. From their foundational core the Claybourn Genealogical Society published this one-of-a-kind book on thousands of individuals connected to the family.

The book is printed on demand resulting in a purchase price of $115. There is no markup so it is sold at-cost. Click here to get your copy today!

Family Updates

We have several exciting family updates to offer. Jo Marie Claybourn (born on 2 April 1984), the daughter of Michael and Michelle Claybourn and the great-granddaughter of Guy Raymond Claybourn, married on 20 June 2015 to Ricky Paul Salter of Rincon, Georgia.

Jason Scott Arnold (born on 29 April 1986), the son of John and Lori Arnold and the great-great-grandson of John H. Claiborne, married on 10 July 2015 to Christine Halbert.

Finally, Brian Claybourn (born on 21 October 1981), the son of Jim and Carol Claybourn and the grandson of James F. Claybourn, announced with his wife Keri that they are expecting a son this November.

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Jo Marie and Ricky Paul Salter Jason and Christine Arnold Brian and Keri’s dog Maverick

Headstone Restoration Complete!

This year the Claybourn Genealogical Society (CGS) embarked on a project to repair and restore the headstone of James Thompson Clayborn (1822-1900) and Belinda/Malinda Clayborn (1827-1907), the ancestors of a massive branch of the family primarily residing in middle Tennessee. Despite living in a Confederate state, this couple stayed loyal to the Union during the Civil War and worked to scrape by a living for their large family.

Their headstone had fallen apart in a terribly disrespectful state. Thanks to the donations of CGS members and supporters, we’ve been able to restore the headstone to its original state. The restoration involved a new footer of level concrete slab, the base on the footer, and concrete adhesive to secure the base, pedestal, and obelisk. Moss and lichen growth were also removed during the process. The inscription at the bottom of James’s side of the obelisk states:

“Be ye ready for
in such an hour
as ye think not the
Son of Man cometh.”

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The headstone broken and in disrespectful state Headstone after restoration (James’s side with inscription) Headstone after restoration (Belinda’s side with inscription)

Headstone Restoration Project

James Thompson Clayborn (1822-1900) and Belinda/Malinda Clayborn (1827-1907) are the ancestors of a massive branch of the family primarily residing in middle Tennessee. Despite living in a Confederate state, this couple stayed loyal to the Union during the Civil War and worked to scrape by a living for their large family. Now, sadly, the only physical memorial left of them is in disrepair. The Claybourn Genealogical Society – with your help – is looking to properly restore these patriots’ headstone.

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The original headstone standing upright over their grave The headstone now broken and in disrespectful state

Freddy Curtis, a descendant of the couple, has worked with a stonemason from Woodbury, Tennessee, for plans to restore the headstone to its proper state in Dismal Cemetery in Liberty, Tennessee. The stonemason has proposed to dig a footer about 8 to 10 inches deep and pour a concrete slab that is level. He will then let that cure for several days. After that, he will place the base on the pad and use concrete adhesive to secure the base, pedestal, and obelisk. He will then clean it up from all the moss and lichen growth during the process too.

Headstone Restoration Project

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This restoration will cost $300.00 and should hopefully last another hundred years or more. The Claybourn Genealogical Society and its president, Joshua Claybourn, have committed $200.00 to the project and now need your help to close the gap and secure the remaining $100. To donate please use the PayPal feature below or mail your check c/o of Claybourn Genealogical Society to 100 E Jennings St., Newburgh, IN 47630. After making your donation please email [email protected] so that it can be properly allocated. All contributions are tax deductible. Help us perpetuate the memory of these patriots.

Update: Thanks to the generosity of a relative and their contribution of $100, this restoration project can proceed. We really appreciate such help! You are still welcome to donate to help with future restoration projects.

Big Changes at the Indiana State Library and Archives

Indiana House Bill 1001 (the State Budget Bill) includes a proposed 24% cut in funding to the Indiana State Library. According to State Librarian Jacob Speer, the proposal includes elimination of the Genealogy Department at the State Library and a 10% reduction in ISL staff.

The Genealogy Department at the Indiana State Library has more than 100,000 items devoted to Indiana and almost half (49%) of the reference questions that come to the Indiana State Library are for research from the Genealogy collection.

The cuts are likely related to an announcement from October 2014 that the Indiana Commission on Public Records had approved a contract with Ancestry.com. The contract would involve digitizing more than 13 million birth certificates, death certificates, and marriage records. With such records soon available through a private entity, the state presumably saw no need to continue staffing for the data through the state library.

The digitized versions of records older than 75 years will start becoming available to Hoosiers in 2015, according to a release from the governor’s office, with completion expected by 2016. Gov. Pence estimates the partnership saves state taxpayers more than $3.2 million in indexing, scanning, and online access costs. The online records will be available free through the State Archives but not initially. There is a three-year embargo so Ancestry.com can recoup its costs. However, the State Archives will be able to provide public access to the records at its Indianapolis location once the records are digitized.

The digitization of older records presumably influenced the decision to propose staffing cuts, but questions remain about whether the reduced staff will be able to manage and index current and future records for digitization.

Indiana House Bill 1001 was not all gloom and doom for the Indiana State Library. Gov. Mike Pence’s proposed budget includes $50 million from long-term cell tower leases in order to help finance Indiana’s 2016 bicentennial plans. Those plans include the construction of a new state archives building ($25 million) and the creation of an education center at the Indiana State Library ($2.5 million). Some of the $2.5 million would also be allocated to repair a tunnel that connects the building with other downtown facilities.

According to a state “request for information” issued in August 2014, the state will seek to renovate an existing four-story landmark at 777 N. Meridian Street and a build a similar structure to the south that would serve as a state-of-the-art storage space. The Neoclassical limestone building at 777 N. Meridian Street was vacated in 2014 by the Indiana office of the American Legion and officials have identified it and adjacent land as the primary option to house the archives. The existing building and the new addition to the south would each be 36,000 square feet.

The state’s archives – including thousands of documents from the state’s founding – are currently stored in a dilapidated building at 6440 E. 30th Street. They have been there since 2001 as a temporary measure but ended up remaining at the site. The current facility has no climate control.

The new additions would house the original 1816 and 1851 state constitutions, all laws passed by the legislature, as well as other official state documents. The total number of documents number more than 300 million pages.

Renew Your Membership

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With a new year coming on us, please consider renewing membership with the Claybourn Genealogical Society (CGS). Anyone who is interested in genealogy and history can become a member. Dues for a yearly membership is $20 and permanent Membership is available for a one-time payment of $100 (click here for a list of permanent members). Easy online payment through PayPal is available here to the right. All donations and memberships are tax deductible.

Each year CGS requires about $320 to cover website hosting and research fees (click here for the most recent operating statement). Therefore donations in addition to, or in lieu of, membership dues are welcome and help a great deal.

In 2015 we plan to complete and publish a magnificent single volume history of the family in book format. The final product will include all of the information currently on the website plus additional never before seen photos. Your donations will help with publishing costs.

Founded in 2009, CGS is the world’s leading resource for Clyburn / Claybourn / Claiborne / Clayborn / Claybourne family history research. Although our name says Claybourn, we provide expertise and research for numerous family lines, from eighteenth-century colonial Virginia through twentieth-first-century biographical research. We maintain an award-winning website, Claybourn.org, as the online repository for more than 5,000 searchable names. CGS is a 501(c)(3) non-profit charity that is open to the public.

Lloyd Claiborne Weir

We are excited to announce the addition of information concerning Lloyd Claiborne Weir (known as “George”). He was born to Sarah Frances Claiborne and DeWitt Franklin Weir on 15 December 1920 in White County, Arkansas. In World War II he served as crew chief and master sergeant of the B-24 Liberator Hot Stuff, the first heavy bomber in the 8th Air Force to complete twenty-five missions in Europe in World War II and, after completing thirty-one missions, was selected to return to the United States on 3 May 1943 to tour the country and help sell war bands. That spring of 1943 Lt. Gen. Frank M. Andrews needed to get back to Washington, D.C. He was Commander of the European Theater of Operations and known as the father of the Air Force. General Andrews knew Hot Stuff’s pilot Capt. “Shine” Shannon and chose to fly back to the United States with him.

Hot Stuff had a scheduled refueling stop in Iceland but crashed into a mountain in bad weather that day on 3 May 1943. All onboard, including George Weir, were killed except the tail gunner. The real purpose of General Andrews’ travel was that he was going back to Washington, D.C., to be blessed by Congress and the president, awarded his fourth star, and formally named Supreme Allied Commander in Europe to lead an assault across the English Channel. Because of his death, the job was assigned to Gen. Dwight David Eisenhower nine months later in February 1944.

In a subsequent diary entry a fellow soldier wrote, “I don’t see how anyone could have been a better crew chief than George. He went beyond the call of duty in working on his plane. Time meant nothing when things needed to be done. The plane was a living thing to him and long after the most severed inspector would pronounce the plane fit, George would still be out there tinkering around making little adjustments, polishing the interior, and looking things over. . . . He was everything a good soldier should be — loyal, capable, and industrious.”

The Hot Stuff crew and those on the flight with Gen. Andrews are memorialized online here with stories and several videos. Jim Lux, a friend of a surviving member who had missed the flight the day it crashed, worked hard to memorialize the crew and their history. He led an effort to dedicate a plaque at the site with plans and hopes of a future memorial monument by the wreckage near Grindavik, Iceland.

Preserve the Pensions

The Pension Records from the War of 1812 are among the most requested documents at the National Archives. Unfortunately, these fragile documents are in urgent need of digitization. In support of this monumental task of digitizing 7.2 million pages, Ancestry.com has provided a dollar for dollar matching grant, so every dollar you contribute will make four more pages accessible and free for everyone. Click here to donate or learn more.

Battle of Perryville

On this day 152 years ago our ancestors took part on both sides of the Battle of Perryville in Kentucky in the American Civil War. Over twenty percent of those engaged in the battle were either killed, wounded, or went missing, making it one of the bloodiest battles of the Civil War.

On the Union side was James H. Claybourn, William P. Claybourn, Joe Boggs, and Jasper B. Scott, each with Company H of the 80th Illinois Volunteer Infantry Regiment.

Fighting with Confederates against them was Pleasant T. Claiborne. Although Pleasant and his father John opposed secession, Pleasant had been conscripted into Confederate service against his will. In fact, Union soldier Jasper Scott was Pleasant’s brother-in-law, married to his sister Millie Claiborne. Not long after the battle Pleasant was captured and taken prisoner. Given the deplorable conditions for prisoners on both sides, those captured often died of disease, malnutrition, and abuse. Such was the case for Pleasant who died on January 9, 1863. He is buried at the Soldiers’ Rest C.S.A. Cemetery in Vicksburg, Mississippi.

One great irony is that had any of Pleasant’s Confederate compatriots succeeded in killing James, the family’s genealogical information might never have been compiled. Thus, Pleasant would have survived the battle, but most historical evidence of his very existence would have died.

The Union victory at Perryville marked a turning point in the War. Confederate forces retreated into Tennessee, and Kentucky remained in Union possession for the remainder of the War. Just as important, the victory stalled Europeans from recognizing the Confederacy and rejuvenated Northerners enough to continue supporting the War in the 1862 elections.

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James Harrison Claybourn
(1843-1920)
William P. Claybourn’s
headstone in Butte, Montana
Pleasant Claiborne’s headstone with erroneous spelling