CGS Happenings

Leland Meitzler of the GenealogyBlog has penned a flattering post about the Claybourn Genealogical Society. Be sure to check it out.

Such kind words about the quality and uniqueness of this website provide a good opportunity to recognize two recent members who help make it possible:

  1. William Freddy Curtis, grandson of William H. and Matilda Clayborn and great-grandson of James Thompson and Melinda Clayborn, has recently become a member and continues to provide invaluable assistance in researching his line.
  2. Jennifer Claybourne-Torkelson, great-granddaughter of Mourten Franklin and Nellie Claybourne and great-great-granddaughter of John Bethel and Mary Ellen Claybourn, has also become a member and provided helpful information about her family.

Membership with CGS allows the Society to continue its work in researching, gathering and archiving data and artifacts of the family. Membership fees help pay for, among other things, web hosting expenses (which are $10 a month) and fees for researching tools such as Ancestry.com which are integral to ongoing research. Click here for more on becoming a member.

John H. Claiborne

A new page has been added for John H. Claiborne and his descendants in light of a number of census record discoveries and other data which warranted an expansion of space.

John’s biography is notable for a number of reasons. John fought in the Civil War on the side of the Confederacy, but was captured and brought North. After being released from prison he spent some time at his uncle’s house, whose family was fighting on the side of the Union. After returning to Arkansas John would go on to marry three times and have fifteen children. Shockingly, his third marriage occurred at the age of 64 years old when he married a 24 year old woman named Ethel. His last child with Ethel was born and conceived when he was 70 years old.

Claybourn Coat of Arms

The coat of arms previously featured on the front page, pictured to the right, has been replaced by the more commonly accepted version on the left. The coat of arms on the right was the original coat of arms granted to the family of Cliburn, of the City of Cliburn in the County of Westmorland, in c. 1584-1585. This is the family from which our ancestor Joshua Clyburn descended.

The arms were argent, three chevronels interlaced in base and a chief sable. The crest features a demi wolf proper, rampant and regardant. Click here for descriptions and definitions of these heraldry terms.

According to the ancient English rules of heraldry, only one person could use the arms at a time, usually the father as the head of the family. Other members of the family would have to use slightly modified versions until the father died, at which point the original arms would be inherited. Typically the modifications would involve a slight color change or the addition of a new “charge” or field.

Over time, due to these modifications, a new “charge” of an “engrailed cross” was added to the Cliburn shield and eventually became the more commonly used version. The word engrailed is distantly related to grill, implying protection. The feature of the engrailed cross for Christians is its spikes, which represent the thorns piercing Jesus’ head during His crucifixion. The engrailed crosses in the newer version were drawn by Harriette Pinnell Threlkeld, one of the original researchers of Claybourn family history.

The motto in Saxon is “Lofe clibbor na sceame”, which means “Tenacious of what is right, not of what is shameful.” The motto in Latin is “Confide recti agens”, which means roughly the same thing.

As an aside, William Claiborne – the Secretary of Virginia born c. 1600 – used the Cliburn coat of arms on his official documents, and the Cliburn heraldic emblem is on numerous Claiborne family gravestones, especially in Virginia. Descendants of this William include fashion designer Liz Claiborne and William C.C. Claiborne, first governor of Louisiana, as well as a number of political figures from Tennessee and Virginia.

Given the similarities in name and coat of arms, it was long suspected that the Claybourn family was related to this William. But in the 1940s, a Virginia genealogical researcher dispelled Claiborne’s Westmorland lineage after determining that Claiborne was the son of Thomas Clebourne, a Kent, England, native who once served as mayor, alderman and justice of the peace in King’s Lynn, a Norfolk, England, village. More recent DNA studies have confirmed that William is not related to the Claybourns and did not descend from the Cliburn family of Westmorland. Thus, William’s use of the coat of arms is a mystery.

Nevertheless, descendants of the Claybourn family can rest assured that this coat of arms is their own.

The Barack Obama Connection

It’s been said that if you go back far enough in your genealogy, everyone on the planet is related. Of course, that’s true, but 99.99% of the time you have to go back further than records allow. For the Claybourn family and President-elect Barack Obama, that is not a concern. We have been able to determine that, through marriage, all Claybourns are related to the 44th President of the United States.

James Verner Marvin Claybourn (known simply as “Vern”) had a daughter named Mary Adelais. She married a Herbert Edward Allred. Herbert is a direct descendant John Allred, who was born in 1772 in Richmond County, North Carolina and died in 1850 in Newton County, Arkansas. This John Allred is also a direct ancestor (on his maternal grandmother’s side) of Barack Obama, the 44th president of the United States.