The Clopton Chronicles
A Project of the Clopton Family Genealogical Society
OF POSSUMS AND LAND BARONS
AND WONDERS OF THE SEA
William Henry Harrison Clopton & His Wife
Martha Isabel Lancaster
or that she would marry you.
It seems to me you could both do better.
Following the Civil War, the people of Putnam County, Georgia endured, survived, and overcame the destruction of their land and way of life. William Henry Harrison “Billy” Clopton and his wife, Martha Isabel “Mattie” Lancaster raised eight children in the little community called Pea Ridge. They faced daunting hardship with grace and a sense of humor, evident in the many delightful letters and stories which have survived the years. Their children had a rollicking good time, whether they were scandalizing the neighbors, entertaining the preacher, or exploring untamed Florida.
Martha Isabel Lancaster Clopton
The economy in the region was in ruins, and the young people soon sought adventure and riches elsewhere. Their eldest child, daughter Harriet Isabel “Hattie Belle,” was the first Putnam County Clopton to move to Florida. She became a school teacher in the frontier town of Kissimmee. There she met the handsome William Horne Girtman, and the family was absolutely horrified when Hattie Belle married this man from that rough and wooly town of Miami. It was bad enough she had to sashay down to Florida to teach school, but it was just about the last straw when she married a man who owned a saloon, my dear! The Pea Ridge folk were tee totaling Methodist, at least, officially. That is, they didn’t drink whiskey for fun. Not that whiskey didn’t have it’s place. It ranked supreme for medicinal purposes, which was good because some people were sick a lot. Some of the best ‘shine in the country was produced right there in Putnam County, and somebody had to drink it, but nobody admitted it.
And what kind of a name was Girtman? Putnam County folk married Americans, Americans with real American names. The Girtman’s were Germans, for goodness sakes. He probably wasn’t even a Methodist! It isn’t known whether the folk back home knew Will Girtman traded with the Seminole Indians. When they came to town to trade, his establishment was one of their first stops. They would trade feathers, hides, baby alligators, and fruits for his whiskey.
Despite the family’s dire predictions, the Girtman family became bonified members of Miami Society. Will became a member of the Miami Board of Trade, and most of his family was active in Miami city’s affairs. By 1945, his family was listed in Leaders and Pioneers of South Florida. Their only child, Zelma Belle “Rosebud,” was two when her mother died, and had just celebrated her fifth birthday, three days before her father’s death. Hattie Belle’s brother, Gabriel Harrison “Gabe” Clopton, and his wife Elizabeth Celine “Aunt Bet” Girtman, her husband’s sister, raised Rosebud.
The second child to go to Florida was third son, Gabe. In 1894 Mattie wrote her son a letter filled with delicious gossip. All the families were related in one way or another, of course. They all attended Concord Methodist Church and many mentioned in the letter are now buried there. Note how subtle the reference is to the birth process. Evidently she served as a midwife in the neighborhood.
Oct 12th 1894
Your last letter came yesterday. It found us well except colds. Jim Brown was right sick Sunday, Monday & Tuesday. He went back to the store Wednesday. Harvey has a cold & cough. I think I am taking it. I don’t feel very well. I got my feet went Wednesday morning. Biss got sick and they sent for me soon before sun up and I did not have a chance to warm my feet ‘til after twelve oclock. Biss has a fine son. I tell you the babies are coming fast and there is more to follow. I saw Mr. Callaway this morning. The are well. He told me that the Grimes folks were selling out making preparations to go to Fla, and Shug is going too. Jake Dennis is going to live at Uncle Blumers so I heard. Mr. Armour sold his mill to old Owens that use to keep Mr. Reddick’s mill some years ago, Jim Bickins wife’s father.
Tom Knight came home a day or two ago. He was sick had several chills in Macon [Georgia] will go back as soon as he gets well enough. Lou Brake & Hattie Reynolds came down last Sunday. Hattie went home today it rained nearly all the time she was here. I did not see her. It rained so much I could not get out of the house. Lou has just steped in here to see if your Papa was going to town tomorrow and if she could go with him. I don’t know what she is going for. Some say she is fixing to go to Fla with Shug & them. I heard that Shug said it would be cheaper for you to send Lou the money to go on than for you to come after her, some how I cant believe you would marry Lou or that she would marry you. It seems to me you could both do better. But I don’t reccon I ought to spend my opinion as I have not been consulted about the matter. If you should marry you have my blessing. I have no objection to Lou only the close blood relationship that’s between you. Now I want to know what Johnnie wants us to send him I cant imagine. So do write as soon as you get this and tell me or make him write. All send you much love, your loving Mother.
Since I wrote this letter I thought it must be the package that was sent [to] Johnnie that I sent him the card about. I will get Billie to attend to it tomorrow. Write soon. Tell Johnnie if he can to send that money to G---?ine he is grumbling about it. Boo has been hauling corn over a week has his crib full and is putting it in the long room now. May Clements & Lou Knight are going to Atlanta next Monday on an excursion. It will be one dollar & sixty cts round trip. Barnum & Baileys circus will be there.
Taken in Miami, Florida in 1923, Gabriel Harrison Clopton sits in the center with his nephew, Walter Johnston Clopton his left, and his cousin James Gabriel Callaway, on the right. Note the stuffed alligator at Gabe’s foot posed as if to bite his foot off.
A story appeared in the Miami Herald in 1945 celebrating that city’s founding. A photograph of Elizabeth Cilene Girtman, Gabe Clopton’s wife, was featured with the article. The caption reads Mrs. Elizabeth Clopton – Miami’s Second Birthday.
This is the day when those proverbially wise babes and sucklings can shut up and let the graybeards do the talking. And they are talking. Talking of the days of half a century ago when Miami was about to snap its umbilical cord and become a city. For today is the 49th birthday of the city of Miami. At least three formal events are on today’s program marking the anniversary, but the event will be celebrated in the homes of the city’s pioneers in salty recollection of those early days. First observance of the day was held in the Woman’s club at a 12:30 p.m. luncheon presided over by Mrs. Charles Enterline, club president. Commissioner James A. Dunn, representing the city, welcomed the city’s pioneers. Response was by J. K. Dorn, president of the Miami Pioneers, Inc. Robert Jordan Beckman spoke on “Why I Am Glad I Was Born In Miami” and Miss Christine Holt’s subject was “Why I Love Miami.” Benediction was to be said by William Mark Brown, 92-year-old Miamian, who was the city’s first alderman and claims any number of other firsts in the city’s life at the turn of the century. Miami Pioneers, Inc. will meet at 5:30 p.m. today on the mezzanine floor of the YMCA to swap yarns. A concert on “The History of Miami In Music,” under direction of Caesar La Monaca, will be presented at 8 p.m. in Bayfront Park bandshell to wind up the day’s observance.
Kittens and Possums and Preachers, Oh My!
Gabe looks like a buckeyed rabbit
but he was fat and fine.
Carrie Lou “Lucie” Clopton Callaway
Carrie Lou “Lucie,” the second daughter, stayed in Putnam County. Married to James Willis Callaway in 1887, she had ten children. By 1907, their ages ranged from the eldest, Annie Belle Callaway, nineteen years old, to little Martha Clopton Callaway, aged four months. Annie Belle had married and moved to Atlanta where he mother wrote her in 1907.
August 18, 1907
My dear child:
Your letter came yesterday and I will get Jim Brown to go to town tomorrow and get the money and pay all your endebtedness and I thank you so so much for what you sent me I had not had any money in so long it certainly is a comfort to have a few dollars to spend as you like there is so many little things I need that I can get with them. There was quarterly meeting at Concord yesterday and the -?- meeting -?- today the presiding Elder is going to help bro. Pace. I wanted to go to church yesterday you know I am bad about quarterly meetings. We made Martha a little dress and petticoat and had everything ready but I did not have any hat. I sent by your father to get me a Sailor from Miss Pauline she said it was so late in the season she had sold all the nice ones she had but she sent two and was just like Aunt Charitys and the other one was just like Aunt Polly Pyes. I did not keep either one of them. I decided to wear my Mrs. McLeroy hat again but the next morning Gabe was a little sick and could not go so Martha and I staid at home with him. Jim B. took the children they had a small crowd they said and they brought lots of the dinner home. Jim B. has a bad foot has a rising and it [he] can hardly walk at all I don’t hear him say anything about getting home he seems to be satisfied I do wish there was something he could do and did not have to go back at all.
Stinson and Myrtle came out last Saturday and went back Sunday afternoon. I was not real well had a very bad cold he is at work now. I have not seen him since he started the -?-. Last Monday they are at your aunt Jessies and are well pleased I think. I expected to go in with your papa early one morning last week and spend the day and come back with him late that evening you know he took the mail last week for Johnnie and he spent the week at the springs and Kinderhook. I have not been to town because we have had a rain nearly every evening this week some as hard rains as I ever saw. Jim and I went to Florries a few days after you all left. I spent a very pleasent afternoon we went and came around by Mr. Wheelers. I don’t know when I ever had been over that piece of road from Mr. Wheelers down to Alex not since I married I don’t think. Miss Rosa and Johnson have just been by here (have not left). I cant know that the poor little baby is any better. She is the poorest little creature I ever saw. They say she is some better but I cant see any change.
Minnie is at the Springs she and Miss Minnie and all the boys I am afraid they will run all the boarders off. M. is no better. She is in a bad fix I don’t know what the trouble is. Sarah and L. are all ready they will get all their clothes soiled going to meeting and will have to iron them all again. We have made all your petticoats and I had forgotten all about the skirt till I saw it in the trunk the other day. We will make that tomorrow. May [arrived] home from Jamestown and Washington D.C. and staid at home a few days and she and Kizzie went to Lincoln County with Callie Montgomery and have been there about a week they are all coming home tomorrow I think. Well I will try and finish this letter after waiting over night. I will send the buttons by the children when they come you are welcome to them don’t think about paying for them they are as much yours as any of the others. I never would let you wear them you know how unfortunate you have always been with such things. I do wish you could see dear sweet little old Martha she is so smart crys for me and knows her name can almost sit alone she is the worst spoilt thing you ever saw and of the other children has to keep her out of doors all the time when it is not raining but I do know she is the sweetest thing I ever did see. The box of pencils and other things came alright and are much appreciated by us all. I never such a chance of them [I never get a chance to use them]. I will have to stop now and cook dinner as brother Pace and Sister Pace are coming here to dinner and I have got to get a dinner with -?- to cook the chickens and [the] garden is almost gone. Give my love to Florence and E. and Sallie and Mrs. Miller. I hope Sallie will have a fine time on her trip let me hear from you and soon I will have to stop now as it is mail time all send love to you and each and [every one of you] up there your loving Mama.
Several months later she wrote the following letter to her brother, James Brown “Boss,” who, along with brothers, Gabriel Harrison and Harvey Gordor, was living in Miami, Florida.
November 3, 1907
My dear Jim:
I will start a letter to you I don’t know when I will get it down. I am glad to say we are all well and that [Cuyler] is better. You know Cuyler has been sick with dyptheria … they thought at first he would be sure to die. I commenced this letter three days ago and have not had time to write any more on it. Johnnie told me when Cuyler was so sick that he would write you and Gabe a card and tell you about it. I asked him today if he wrote it he said I never did you surely can’t depend on him to do anything. Cuyler is up and about now they have fumigated the house and none of the other children have taken it. I hope none of them will. I can’t help but feel uneasy. They had Cuyler at Mrs. Pinkertons burial he was sick that day and had a fever at the church. Minnie told me he had croup mighty bad the night before he got worse from that day.
I left Martha at home with Sara and have been glad ever since that I did. I wish you could see the precious darling. She [Martha] gets prettier, fatter, smarter and sweeter everyday. [She] can sit alone now and she is just as bad as she can be. Annie Belle sent her a pair of little blue shoes. The children think they are the cutest things they ever saw. They talk about you every day. They sing, “have you seen my Jimmie Brown” and have your old white shoes that you had the sore foot in. Hattie says they look like you. There is no one at home now but Martha, Lucius and myself. The other day Lucius was right quiet for a long time and then he commenced smiling and said mama I love to see Jim Brown I wish he would come back home he “haffs” so “wunnie” just this way he shut one eye and tried to show how you laughed.
We have just finished digging the potatoes and making the syrup and a good crop of each one about 125 bushels of potatoes and 30 gallons of syrup that will be a plenty to last us all the year.
The last third Sunday Bro. and Sister Pace came home with us to dinner. I had a nice fat possum for dinner and when I began to put the dinner on the table I told Lucius to stay and keep the kittens. I was in the kitchen and heard such a commotion in the dining room I rushed in and Aunt Lou (Lucius’ kitten) had jumped on the table and garbed the possum by the leg and Lucius had her by the tail and pulling. They were making an awful racket. I took the kitten by the neck and threw her out of the door but she never turned the possum loose.
Mr. C. says tell you that George gets thinner as the weather gets colder. We are having some right cold weather now had a killing frost the middle of Oct. but have not had any ice yet. How is Rosebud tell her I say “Thank you I am well how are you” she will understand dont you reckon any of them ever will write to me anymore.
The school children are busying fixing for the fair they are very confident of the first prize which is fifty dollars. I hope they will get it. Everybody is in bed and asleep but me so I will have to stop and go to bed too. I got a picture of Gabe and Bettie the other day. I was so glad to get it I think they both look better than I ever saw them. Gab looks like a buckeyes rabbit but he was fat and fine. ….. send all the love you want please write some to your loving Lucie.
Lucie was a loving and affectionate mother. About 1910 she sent this poem to her daughter, Annie Belle.
Annie Belle Clopton Stanford
The curfew tells the knell of parting day,
The lowing herd winds slowly o’er the lea,
The cotton pickers homeward plod their weary way;
And leave the world to darkness and to me.
And while Tom milks the lowing herd,
I’ll write my darling child a word.
Martha’s asleep, the darling tot.
And Sarah cooks the supper hot.
Grandpa sits calmly under his tree,
With Lucius standing by his knee.
Hattie busily spreads the cloth for tea (Buttermilk)
Singing as merry as can be.
Miss Lucie feeds the little chicks,
And beats old Bill with many licks.
Gabe is bringing in some chips,
With very pouting, stuck out lips.
Papa comes tired from the lot,
Ready for his supper hot.
Now all this likes to be complete
Is you to fill your vacant sea.
Mr. Clopton was a confederate veteran
and was wounded in the service wearing
a silver plate as a protection to a part
of the skull for many years.
Before his death in 1915, William Henry Harrison Clopton visited three of his sons who were living in Miami and wrote the following letter to his Pea Ridge family.
February 25, 1905
My Dear Niece:
I received your most welcome letter a few days ago. Was glad to hear from you all (and) glad to hear that you was well. Sorry to hear that you had such cold weather. We have had some cold weather - for this country. Everything is green and more pretty flowers. I wish you was here to go around with me to see all the pretty flowers and boats and strange looking fis[h] and sea animals and -?-. Jim was very sick for two or three days so I had to stay with him and give him medicine. I have not seen much of Rosebud and the Girtmans. I spent one evening on the Ocean beach [and] it is a grand sight to see the great [waves] coming and brake on the beach. I am going to the house of -?- before many days then I can get some shells. Tell Mrs. Spivey I am getting her some shells. I have had a good time but I will be glad when the time comes for me to come home. I wrote Johnnie to see Terrell Wingfield and see if it made any difference if I was not sworn in until time for me to commence my work but he don’t seem to notice it. Give my love to all the family. Kiss all the children for me.
Your Grandpa W.H.C.
P.S. When you write … the number of the box is No. 85
DIED FRIDAY NIGHT
On last Friday night, at the home of his daughter, Mrs. J. W. Callaway, near Eatonton, occurred the death of Mr. William Clopton, “Uncle Billy,” as he was known to all our people.
Probably no citizen of the county was more widely known or more universally respected and highly esteemed. He had lived to a ripe old age, filling the years with useful service, and many there are who have been the recipients of numerous kindnesses at his hands.
Mr. Clopton was a confederate veteran and was wounded in the service, wearing a silver plate as a protection to a part of the skull for many years; and this, it is thought, was largely responsible for severe spells of nervousness from which he had been a sufferer, and which was probably the indirect cause of his death. He was, however, sick only a day or so previous to his death, which came as quite a surprise and a severe blow to his relatives and hosts of friends.
Mrs. Clopton, his wife, preceded him to the grave many years, and also one daughter. He is survived by his daughter, Mrs. Callaway, at whose home he died, and by six sons, two of whom, Messrs, John and Tom Clopton, reside in Putnam, one in Atlanta, and three in Miami, Fla. The sympathy of the town and county is extended to these in their sorrow.
For many years Mr. Clopton was Tax Receiver of Putnam, always being regarded as one of her best officers; courteous and kind, but businesslike and efficient at all times. The funeral services were held at Concord church Saturday afternoon and the interment made in the cemetery at that place.
At that moment about six hands grabbed
The 300 pound conductor. They raised him
High in the air and set him down on a hot stove.
All these letters were lovingly picked up by the mailman, fourth child, John Godkin Clopton, known universally as Uncle Johnnie. He never bothered to point out to his sisters and nieces that postage was required, and for years he quietly affixed stamps to their missives. Uncle Johnnie’s nephew, Henry King Stanford, remembered him well.
Johnnie carried the US mail on at least two RFD routes in Putnam County. I got a tremendous kick out of sitting with Uncle Johnnie in the buggy drawn by a mule. I still remember how he would bring the families along the way not only the US mail, but various items of groceries and household goods. The customers had given him the money the previous day and specified what they would like for him to bring out from town!
Once, he tried to cross the ford on swollen Crooked Creek, but obviously did not notice the depth of the water, because the buggy and mail were washed away; but he and the mule escaped.
My mother’s sister, Sara Elizabeth Callaway, told me once how she came back from Eatonton in a buggy and noticed all along the way that some letters had been blown by the wind out of Johnnie’s buggy. She picked them all up, she said, and gave them to Uncle Johnnie the next day.
He never learned to drive a car; so when the U. S. government ordered all carriers to drive automobiles, Uncle Johnnie had to employ a driver to take him around.
One memory of Uncle Johnnie has remained vivid all down through the years. We were walking through the dog trot of the home in which his brother and sister-in-law lived. He turned and pointed to a framed certificate on the wall and blurted out: “You will never get a diploma from high school or from a college when you go that will be worth as much as this one!” When I asked him what it was, he said proudly: “It is the certificate I received from the government when I retired from my mail-carrier route, and it pays me $100.00 per month the rest of my life!”
Uncle Johnnie preparing to deliver the mail in rural Putnam County, Georgia
Uncle Johnnie enjoyed having a drink or two from time to time. In an undated article appearing in The Eatonton Messenger, fellow Pea Ridger, Benjamin Arnold Bustin recounted one memorable event involving Uncle Johnnie.
Dr. J. A. Knight had a half brother named William, but Pea Ridge called him Bill, and the name was so familiar that if you had called him anything but Bill Knight the oldest inhabitant would not have known who you were talking about.
Bill Knight cultivated a farm on the head waters of Blue Branch, one of the most celebrated streams of Pea Ridge, celebrated as the haunts of Brer Possum and Brer Coon, but chiefly because in its swampy recesses stands a large granite rock behind which Wiley Arnold, David Hitchcock, Louis Yancey and Rev. James A. Baugh hid when Sherman’s Army was hiking through Pea Ridge.
Having so much cotton in the field Bill Knight concluded to have a cotton picking one Saturday afternoon, so he secured about three gallons or so of John Barley Corn, and invited all of his neighbors, white and black, but Bill found out to his sorrow after it was too late that he had too much juice, and the result was disastrous.
When Sunday morning dawned, there were so many headaches [none of the men were] able to go to Sunday School. Dr. Knight went down in the field and said he found shoes, socks, hats, breeches and other human paraphernalia scattered over about three acres of ground. One acre of cotton in different sections had been pulled up by the roots, and the cotton scattered in all directions; he said the ground looked like it had been the battle field of all the “Scrub Bulls” on Pea Ridge, and when he weighed the cotton he found they had picked exactly one hundred and seventy-six pounds!
Uncle Johnnie Clopton is about the only known survivor, ask him but I know he will shut up like a clam.
He and his fellow merry makers did not limit their well lubricated exploits to Putnam County. Tom Gregory shared his Uncle Johnnie story with the readers of The Eatonton Messenger 1998.
During the prime days of railroads, the Central and Georgia ran through Eatonton and had excursions every summer. For a small price a person could ride to Tybee near Savannah, spend all day on the beach, and return Sunday night. The price was exceedingly low, so people would fill the coaches every weekend. It was a fun thing to do.
I have pictures in my files of Uncle Bill Gregory and Uncle Johnny Clopton, dressed in the latest in men’s swimwear, standing on the beach at Tybee. One Sunday afternoon, the cars were filled with young folks from Middle Georgia. They were all in the mood for fun. They had boxes and boxes of good food and some had bottles of beverages. The beverages made the trip memorable since the atmosphere became merrier as the riders began sharing their drinks.
[They said] the coaches became the scene of one great party as the train moved northward. The conductor did not protest as the excursionists moved from one car to the other, singing and talking real loud.
Soon it was obvious that the party was getting out of hand and the conductor felt that order had to be restored. He walked through several times begging the crowd to take it easy. His pleas fell on deaf ears, so he soon walked in and in a loud voice demanded that they get quiet or he would stop the train.
At that moment about six hands grabbed the 300-pound conductor. They raised him high in the air and then set him down on a hot stove in the corner. Some people still wonder if that incident had any part in the railroad’s decision to stop passenger service to Eatonton. Most people said it didn’t.
Uncle Johnnie died in 1947 and was laid to rest in Concord Methodist Church’s cemetery. A memorial appeared in The Eatonton Messenger, highlighting his good works, but, alas, devoid of any reference to his best remembered exploits.
I do not know how old he is; I do not know how many brothers and sisters he had; I do not know even who his Father and Mother were, or where he was born; but there is one thing we all know, and that is, HE WAS UNCLE JOHNNIE!
John G. Clopton lived such a life as to make himself known and loved by as many different people as any man that ever lived in a County, and he wore, and still wears, such a diadem because he lived the beautiful example of real service by sharing his substance and thinking of others! If all the apples and oranges and ice cream cones that he so willingly bought for little children as he casually passed them by could be turned into pansies, the road that leads from his house to his now last resting place would be lined on either side by ribbons of these lovely flowers; if all of the writing tablets and pencils and schoolbooks that he bought little children that he knew needed them could be turned into stoneblocks, they would furnish stepping stones that would form an unbroken pathway from his home to the quiet little cemetery in his beloved Concord; if the dollars that he so lavishly gave to young girls and boys that he felt deserving could be turned into marble, his body could now be resting in a mausoleum that would adorn and beautify the cemetery at Arlington; if all of the spools of thread and the dress-goods that he bought and sent to homes where he felt little children were in dire need could be turned into ribbons, there would be enough to enclose a wall around the plot of ground which marks Concord as Church property.
Why all this about this humble man? It’s because he proved himself a man who “Lived by the side of the road” and was a friend to man.
He loved people; he loved his county; he loved the old Songs of Zion and he loved his Church. He loved the traditions of the Old South and his heart and his eyes would often swell with pride and tears as he would recount the valiant deeds of heroes that he loved and whose memories he cherished.
Yes, Uncle Johnnie was a gentleman. He was always kind and thoughtful of others; he gave to every man the right to his own opinion tho’ he was always true to his own. He was a humble man and made no pretense at show or lamour(sp) and admired the gentle virtures(sp) as he construed them in others. And now that he has gone to his Heavenly reward, we will think of him as one of God’s hand men in making little children happy and in comforting and helping those spirits who now and then come to some melancholy moments. And may soft winds blow over his last resting place and may gentle rains and a mild Sun ever keep green the lonely spot that marks his untimely grave.
By his friend,
The fifth Clopton, Gabriel Harrison Clopton, also moved to Florida. Gabe, and his brother, “Boss,” worked on a tomato farm. The main industry in Florida at that time was growing fruits and vegetables for the winter markets, especially organs, grapefruit, pineapples, guavas, mangoes, limes, avocados, peppers, tomatoes, beans and eggplants They traveled mostly on foot. Prior to the Spanish-American War, they walked to Miami from Bartow, Florida. At first they returned home each Spring to help out at home. Eventually they decided to make Florida their home.
The message on the back of this post card, date and author unknown, reads: “This is the way they pick oranges those sack you see on there backs hold one half of a box of oranges These boxes are drawed to the packing houses by mules and oxen and there they are washed and dried and packed in other boxes. They use small ripers to pack oranges if they didn’t when you would pull it would tare the hide on them”
When Gabe returned to Putnam County toward the end of his life, he was “taken into” the home of his brother, William Thomas “Boo” Clopton. He loved to reminisce about his experiences in South Florida. Of all these he was proudest of the fact he was one of the carpenters who worked on Viscaya, the multi-million-dollar home on Biscayne Bay of James Deering, a member of the very wealthy mid-Western farm machinery manufacturing company.
BOSS BECOMES A LAND BARON
This worked very well, or perhaps I should just say
it worked, for two months.
James Brown Clopton, the sixth child, was called “Boss,” by the family, and “Uncle Boss,” by nieces and nephews who loved him dearly. When he was a little boy he used to follow his older brothers out to the fields. Too small to work, he would sit on a stump while they hoed the crops. Thus, they dubbed him, “the boss,” and it stuck. He had a marvelous sense of humor and was a first rate raconteur. He was one of the early Florida pioneers. Happily, Clopton Cousin, Wallace Theodore Jones, wrote an account of Boss’ one and only attempt to find fame and fortune in the rich virgin soil of south Florida.
Early in 1904 [my brother] Watt and Cousin Jim Clopton read or heard of a fast-growing little town named Miami, in South Florida, and, in a spirit of adventure, went down to join in with what promised to be something quite different and exciting. They found something different and exciting to be sure, in fact too much so at first. Homesteads were available free, the only requirement for a deed being to live on the homestead for one year. These were all some distance south of Miami. I don’t know how much acreage each one contained but the land was covered with a thick growth of palmettos and a scattering of pine trees, and inhabited by scores of rattlesnakes and millions of mosquitoes. The first job was to build a little rough lumber shack to live in.
Now if they were going to develop the land, as many others did, all they had to do was to cut away the palmettos with machetes, pile them up to dry while, with grub-hoes, they dug up all the tough and stubborn palmetto roots. Then they’d have to burn all of this, after which they must plow the land and plant vegetables. Of course they’d have to buy lumber and screens, a cook stove and a water pump to sink into the ground, and tools, and mosquito repellent, and liniment and other medicines and, of course, food. They could, instead of buying beds, chairs, table, cabinets, etc., - they could make these out of rough lumber, all the above mentioned for sale by an old-timer who had already established a store and supply house. And they could make mattresses out of pine straw. They could, maybe, but would they?
But there was an alternative. They could apply for the homestead and just hold it as an investment to sell years later. All they’d have to do was just live on it for a year. They, not surprisingly, elected the latter alternative, unanimously. They took with them on bicycles their homestead assignment paper, a few small carpentry tools, extra clothing and as much canned food as they could, all in baskets attached to handle bars. They had money enough to buy lumber, screens, tools, etc., and they built a shack, with the advice and help of the “Old Timer.” Now two overwhelming obstacles loomed before them. They had to have food for a whole year; and could they really bear to stay there 365 days? Jim came up with an idea to solve both obstacles at once. They had already got acquainted with Mr. E. L. Brady, Miami’s leading grocer, and Jim had worked for him for a while before he decided on the homestead. He’d ask Mr. Brady to give them a job to earn money for food, and also ask to let them both work alternate weeks to relieve the loneliness, boredom and inconveniences. Mr. Brady agreed. Jim worked the first week, having planned with Watt that they’d both leave at the same time after breakfast on Sunday on bicycles. When they met half-way each would inform the other of the situation ahead of him, what work was to be done and how to do it. This worked very well, or perhaps I should just say it worked, for two months.
Now the “Old Timers” store and supply house also served as a gathering place for homesteaders within two or three miles radius. Any time they wanted fellowship they could ride or walk the sand trails to the store, usually in the evening, build a bonfire surrounded by smoke screen fires against mosquitoes, swap stories, play cards, and drink drams. One evening Watt decided to walk to the store. When he was a few hundred yards from his planned destination, he became aware that he was being followed by a wild beast. He ran the rest of the way as fast as he could and just as he got within range of the light from the bonfire, he heard a growl and something big ran off into the bushes. The “Old Timer” said it was a panther, so all the men spent the night around that fire, sleeping on the ground and taking turns tending the fire, for the panther would not come near fire. Watt immediately lost all interest in the homestead, which interest had already undergone considerable deterioration. When he met Jim Sunday they both went to the “Old Timer,” accepted what he would pay them for their meager possessions, returned to Miami in time for supper and a day or two later returned their paper to the land office.
There were wild tales told about this homestead. Since the grand hotel in Florida was called the “Royal Poinciana,” they named their hovel the “Poince Clopton.” It was said they could cook breakfast lying in bed! In the final months of 1904, a telephone company was organized, and the first city directory was published. At that time, there were 144 telephones, 16 of them in nearby communities from Hallandale to Cutler, and Uncle Boss had one! Possibly because the city wanted the directory of “The Magic City,” to be of an impressive size, the book boasted lists of everything from the entire memberships of social organizations to everything anyone could possibly want to know about Florida’s game laws. Uncle Boss was listed as a Clerk and as a Free and Accepted Mason.
All the Clopton boys wound up working at E. L. Brady’s store, Miami’s first grocery store. It was located at the corner of Avenue “D” and 12th Street (now Flagler Street and Miami Avenue). This photograph, circa 1901, was taken in front of the store showing, from left to right, Charles Buckner, E. L. Brady, George Romph, Frank Wharton, Jim Hawkins, James Brown “Boss” Clopton, John Gardner, R. E. McDonald, and B. A. Rutherford.
So many Clopton relatives spent their retirement and declining years with his nephew James Cuyler and Petrona Clopton, in Putnam County. Uncle Boss was a wiry, almost diminutive, gentleman, and he, too lived with them during his last years. A number of years before his death he was afflicted with glaucoma. As his vision became dimmer and dimmer, everybody just attributed the condition to old age. There was no ophthalmologist in the county.
To enable Uncle Boss to get some exercise, Cuyler, his nephew, strung a rope from the front porch out to the mailbox at the road. Uncle Boss would do his daily exercise by holding on to that rope and walking down to the mailbox and back. One day when he got close to the mailbox, he heard the snorting of a bull close by, which, of course, he could not see. Immediately he changed hands on the rope and scurried back up to the porch. Everybody in the family got a great kick out of that antic.
James Brown “Boss” Clopton
Word was received here Wednesday of the death of James B. Clopton, 79, a Miami pioneer, in Eatonton, Ga. Mr. Clopton came to Miami at the time of the Spanish-American war, at which time he contracted yellow fever. He was a member of the Miami Pioneers and operated Miami’s first grocery store west of the bridge on Flagler street. Burial will be in the Eatonton churchyard.
the miami herald 1956
An Undying Faith
There wasn’t a house over there,
And the mosquitoes met you 50 yards
From the shore in swarms like bees.
Harvey Gordon Clopton was the youngest of the brood. He moved to Miami to join his brothers and attended Miami High School. He was to remember those days with great fondness.
Colorful Miami of 1905 Recalled
Teacher Sped Her Bicycle Past Panther
By HOITE AGEY
Herald Staff Writer
Imagine – if you can – a town where the police chief spanked drunks he couldn’t arrest, where a Negro woman preserved law and order in her section, and the high school teacher had to race her bicycle past a stalking panther to get to school!
That was Miami, 1905.
It all came back in a rush of memory the other day when a member of that 1905 high school class (10 students) chanced across a photograph made that year at the old Royal Palm Hotel dock – at about where the city now plans to build a bridge from the end of Biscayne blvd.
So Harvey Clopton, now in the advertising business in Atlanta, mailed the picture to The Miami Herald – along with a letter that belies the saying, “a picture is worth a thousand words.”
“There were some colorful characters in Miami in those days,” Clopton wrote. “Chief of Police Flanagan-who would spank the Seminole Indians when they got drunk. He could not arrest them, as they were not citizens of the United States.”
Clopton remembered Peanut Johnson, who made a fortune selling peanuts, then wrote a book, “The Florida Cracker.”
“Aunt Hester – an old colored woman. Always immaculately dressed. Lived alone in colored town. Owned her home and sufficient property to make her financially independent. She knew personally every prominent business person and official in the town. A great talker – and a guardian of law and order in her section. She had the respect of everybody in the town. The mayor would stop and talk with her right on the main street.”
‘High School’ in those days was a room in the grammar school. Students were evenly divided – five boys, five girls. Rodney E. Burdine and Florence Stephens were the only ‘Floridians’ in the class. Ethel Clancy and B. Frank Davis were from Ohio, Ralph and Grace Rader from Ohio or Indiana, Clopton wasn’t sure which; Clopton himself was Georgia’s only representative, Wade Mather was from Massachusetts, Lottie Maynard was from “some eastern state,” and Alice Ellis had come all the way from Oregon to pioneer in Miami.
Professor Willis Hall was principal of both high and grammar schools.
“We had a very fine teacher, Miss Hattie Carpenter, who was from Columbus, Ohio,” Clopton wrote. “She lived in Coconut Grove, and rode a bicycle to school.
“One day she had a beefsteak in the basket on her bicycle, riding home late in the evening. Suddenly she saw a panther ahead, crouched beside the road. He had smelled the steak and became interested. This was in Brickell’s Hammock, about a mile south of [the] Miami river. Instead of tossing him the steak, she speeded up the wheel and dashed past him. (Steak must have been a bit scarce in those times, too.)
The Miami pioneers were plenty touch, when it came to hardships. They had to be. Mosquitoes swarmed everywhere. In the homes, each bed had a mosquito net, hung from the ceiling and enshrouding the bed. Also, everybody, everywhere, burned yellow powder (smudge) that filled the rooms with smoke. All stores used this powder, too – no electric fans or air conditioning then.
No transportation, either, except bicycles (everybody owned one) and horse and buggy. No bridge across [the] Miami river on Flagler st. No bridge to Miami Beach. When you wanted to go to the beach, you crossed in a boat. But why go? There wasn’t a house over there, and the mosquitoes met you 50 yards from the shore in swarms like bees.
When Carl Fisher started his first promotion at Miami Beach, years later, he would give you a lot, if you would build a house on it. Any kind of a livable house.
No picture shows in Miami, or entertainment of any kind. But you couldn’t down the spirit of those early settlers. They seemed to have a vision of a great city. You couldn’t really put your finger on [any reason to build there] – EXCEPT climate, air, sunshine.
Those people had plenty of courage, an unlimited amount of civic pride, and an undying faith.”
His obituary highlighted his days as a Miami pioneer and underscored the “undying faith” of he and his brothers who first braved the wild and lush land.
Harvey Gordon Clopton
. . . the death in Atlanta of Harvey Gordon Clopton, a former advertising executive of Burdine’s.
Mr. Clopton, who was one of the organizers of the First Church of Christ, Scientist, of Miami, came here in 1904, one of six brothers who left their native Eatonton, Ga., to migrate to Miami.
One of the brothers, James B. Clopton, is still living here at 567 SW Third St. He and another brother, Gabe, walked to Miami from Bartow, Fla., in 1896, the year of the city’s incorporation. Another brother, Stinson, now dead but whose widow lives at 157 Whitehorn Dr., Miami Springs, was a former City of Miami director of civil service.
Mr. Clopton was graduated from Miami’s first high school, the old wooden Central High. His first job was measuring alligator skins brought to Jim Girtman’s old general store by the Seminoles.
He later was employed by the Miami Shoe Co., and subsequently became shoe department manager at Burdine’s. His next position Advertising Manager. He was the first president of the Miami Advertising Club.
In later years he was advertising director for stores in Atlanta and Macon, Ga., Louisville, Ky., and Orlando. He retired in 1944 because of ill health.
Local survivors are the brother, James; a son, James S., 7205 SW 21st Ct., and a nephew, Wilson C. McGee, 5878 SW 29th St.
Christian Science services and burial were in Atlanta.
From left to right, Harvey Gordon Clopton, James Brown “Boss” Clopton, Gabriel Harrison Clopton, John Godkin “Johnnie” Clopton, and William Thomas “Boo” Clopton. The photograph was taken at the old Clopton home in Putnam County, Georgia. The date is unknown but it was before Johnnie’s death in 1947. On the back, Harvey has written that Mildred, his wife, said “We look like the Hatfield Mountain Feudist Gang.”
1. William Henry Harrison "Billy"21 Clopton, C.S.A. (Thomas B.20, Waldegrave19, Waldegrave18, William17, William16, William15, Walter14, William13, Richard12, William11, John10, William9, Thomas8, Walter7, William6, Walter5, William4, Walter3, William2, Guillaume1 Peche, Lord Of Cloptunna and Dalham)1 was born March 4, 1839 in Eatonton, Putnam County, Georgia2, and died October 14, 1916 in Eatonton, Putnam County, Georgia and buried Concord United Methodist Church3. He married Martha Isabel Lancaster January 26, 1860 in Eatonton, Putnam County, Georgia by Blumer White, J.P.4, daughter of Lemuel Lancaster and Isabella Stinson. She was born Bet. 1840 and 1845 in Eatonton, Putnam County, Georgia5, and died October 26, 1895 in Eatonton, Putnam County, Georgia and buried Concord United Methodist Church6.
Children of William Clopton and Martha Lancaster are:
2 i. Harriet Isabel22 Clopton, born December 7, 1860 in Eatonton, Putnam County, Georgia; died October 21, 1891 in Miami, Dade County, Florida and buried Concord United Methodist Church7. She married William Horne Girtman December 1888 in Kissimmee, Florida; born August 15, 1867 in Eufaula, Alabama; died December 18, 1904 in Miami, Dade County, Florida.
3 ii. William Thomas "Boo" Clopton8, born April 25, 1863 in Eatonton, Putnam County, Georgia9; died September 6, 1955 in Eatonton, Putnam County, Georgia and buried Concord United Methodist Church10. He married Minnie Flora King11 November 15, 1893 in Eatonton, Putnam County, Georgia12; born January 7, 1869 in Eatonton, Putnam County, Georgia13; died April 10, 1942 in Eatonton, Putnam County, Georgia and buried Concord United Methodist Church14.
A childhood friend of Minnie's Boys, remembered their father many years later:
"Cousin Tommy was more lenient with children regarding play, particularly on Sunday and concerning activities that other parents were rather squeamish about. He bought roller skates for his boys and permitted them to skate in the hall of their home, even though skates left prints on the floor. But isn't the primary purpose of a home a place where a family can live, grow, learn and love in an atmosphere of freedom and happiness?" See Minnie’s Boys
4 iii. Carrie Lou Clopton15, born December 17, 1865 in Eatonton, Putnam County, Georgia16; died February 27, 1918 in Eatonton, Putnam County, Georgia and buried Concord United Methodist Church17. She married James Willis Callaway February 23, 1887 in Eatonton, Putnam County, Georgia18; born January 12, 185119; died June 14, 1920 in Eatonton, Putnam County, Georgia and buried Concord United Methodist Church20.
5 iv. John Godkin Clopton, born August 3, 1867 in Eatonton, Putnam County, Georgia21; died April 18, 1947 in Eatonton, Putnam County, Georgia and buried Concord United Methodist Church22.
6 v. Gabriel Harrison Clopton, born September 14, 1870 in Eatonton, Putnam County, Georgia23; died October 1, 1950 in Eatonton, Putnam County, Georgia and buried Concord United Methodist Church24. He married Elizabeth Celine Girtman July 3, 1907 in Miami, Dade County, Florida; died Bef. October 1950 in probably Miami, Dade County, Florida.
7 vi. James Brown "Boss" Clopton, born February 14, 1876 in Eatonton, Putnam County, Georgia25; died February 6, 1956 in Eatonton, Putnam County, Georgia and buried Concord United Methodist Church26.
8 vii. Lemuel Stinson Clopton, born July 7, 1881 in Eatonton, Putnam County, Georgia2728. He married Annie Myrtle Palmer29 July 17, 1907 in Union Springs, Alabama.
9 viii. Harvey Gordon Clopton, born August 9, 1886 in Eatonton, Putnam County, Georgia30; died January 27, 1952 in Atlanta, Fulton County, Georgia and buried Concord United Methodist Church31. He married Mildred Lucille Chandler May 2, 1916; born October 24, 189932; died March 11, 1983 in Atlanta, Fulton County, Georgia and buried Concord United Methodist Church33.
1. Thomas B. Clopton, M.D. Collection, Contains 26 Civil War Records relating to William Henry Harrison Clopton, courtesy Jean Holloman Daniels, from his enlistment at Eatonton, June 1, 1861 until his final discharge approved by General Robert E. Lee, December 13, 1863.
2. Thomas B. Clopton, M.D., Holy Bible, (Courtesy Thaddeus Lamar Aycock).
3. Concord United Methodist Church Register, (Courtesy William Purcell Clopton), Gives year of death as 1916.
4. Putnam County, Georgia, Marriage Book, Book F, page 177., License dated January 24, 1860, signed by Wm. B. Carter, Ordinary. Certification dated January 26, 1860, signed by Blumer White, J.P. Blumer White was the husband of Mary Claiborne, "Billy" Clopton's uncle. Located Clopton Family Archives and Research Library. Special thanks to Pauline S. Carter, Deputy Clerk, Probate Court of Putnam County, for supplying this document, July 30, 1998.
5. Clopton Holy Bible (New York, 1823), owned in 1997 by Thad L. Aycock, Evanston, Illinois. Grandson of Thomas B. Clopton and Cornelia Harrison Palmer Clopton.
6. Tombstone, loc. cit, His death in 1916 is noted in Concord Church's Register of Members.
7. Tombstone, loc. cit.
8. William Thomas Clopton & Minnie Flora King Holy Bible, (Courtesy Frank Campbell Clopton), The Bible as a whole is in terrible condition. The cover is plain cardboard with no embossing. All of the first pages are missing through a portion of Genesis. Four pages of the Family Register are intact and in good condition. The first eight names on the Birth page were entered at the same time by the same hand. In 1998 the Bible was in the possession of Frank Campbell Clopton, Eatonton, Putnam County, Georgia.
9. William Thomas Clopton & Minnie Flora King Holy Bible, (The Thomas B. Clopton, M.D. Collection, courtesy Frank Campbell Clopton), tombstone, Loc. cit.
10. Tombstone, loc. cit, On July 2, 1998, the Georgia Department of Human Resources, prepared a certified notification that a search of the state death index for the years 1954 through 1956, had located no death certificate. Concord Church's Register of Members notes he is deceased. Letter located Clopton Family Archives and Research Library.
11. Suellen (Clopton) DeLoach Blanton provided the information regarding this family unless otherwise noted.
12. William Thomas Clopton & Minnie Flora King Holy Bible, (Courtesy Frank Campbell Clopton), Also Marriage License, dated November 13, 1893, signed by ---Adams, Jr, Ordinary. Certification dated November 15, 1893, signed by S. B. Ledbetter, minister. According to Concord United Methodist Church records, S. B. Ledbetter was the minister at that church from 1893 until 1896. Special thanks to Pauline S. Carter, Deputy Clerk, Probate Court of Putnam County, for providing a copy of the marriage certificate, July 30, 1998.
13. William Thomas Clopton & Minnie Flora King Holy Bible, (Courtesy Frank Campbell Clopton).
14. Georgia Death Certificate, (From the Clopton Family Archives and Resource Library), No. 8866, from the Thomas B. Clopton, M.D. Collection, courtesy Suellen (Clopton) DeLoach Blanton. Tombstone, loc. cit.. Also Family Bible. Concord Church's Register of Members notes her death as April 10, 1942
15. As was so common, the spelling of her name in the Family Bible changed through the years. Her marriage license stated her name was Carrie Luce, Concord Church's Register of Members, notes, simply Carrie L. She signed letters written after her marriage as Lucie. The Family Bible gives her name as Carrielu. There is no evidence that she ever called herself Caroline Louise as stated in some previously published Clopton genealogies.
16. Carrielu Clopton & James Willis Callaway Bible, (Courtesy of Suellen (Clopton) DeLoach Blanton).
17. Concord United Methodist Church Register, (Courtesy William Purcell Clopton), Gives her date of death as March 27, 1918, however, the typed transcript of the Bible states she died February 28, 1918.
18. Georgia Marriage Certificate, Marriage License dated February 23, 1887, signed by Frank Leverett, Ordinary, certification dated February 23, 1887, signed by W. T. Hamilton. W. T. Hamilton was the minister of Concord Methodist Church in 1887. Special thanks to Pauline S. Carter, Deputy Clerk, Probate Court of Putnam County, who provided this document August 4, 1998.
19. Carrielu Clopton & James Willis Callaway Bible, (Courtesy of Suellen (Clopton) DeLoach Blanton).
20. Ibid. and, Concord Register of Members notes his death in 1920. Tombstone, loc. cit.
21. Tombstone, loc. cit.
22. Tombstone, loc. cit, His death in 1947 is noted in Concord Church's Register of Members.
23. Tombstone, loc. cit.
24. Tombstone, loc. cit, Concord Church's Register of Members notes only that he is deceased.
25. World War I Civilian Draft Registrations, He is residing at Dade County, Florida at the time of registration.
26. Tombstone, loc. cit.
27. World War I Civilian Draft Registrations, He is residing at Dade County, Florida at the time of registration.
28. Concord United Methodist Church Register, (Courtesy William Purcell Clopton), Notes he was removed by Certificate and he is dead.
29. Concord United Methodist Church Register, (Courtesy William Purcell Clopton), Notes she was removed from membership by certificate December 8, 1920 to Miami, Florida. She is entered as Mrs. L. S. Clopton.
30. World War I Civilian Draft Registrations, He is residing at Dade County, Florida at the time of registration.
31. Tombstone, loc. cit. Also obituary notice from the “Miami Herald,” dated Sunday, February 10, 1952. Copy located Clopton Family Archives, (Courtesy Wright Clopton).
32. Social Security Birth and Death Records, courtesy of Suellen (Clopton) DeLoach Blanton, 254-32-8687.
33. Social Security Birth and Death Records, courtesy of Suellen (Clopton) DeLoach Blanton, 254-32-8687, Tombstone loc. cit.
1. Lemuel1 Lancaster was born February 12, 1795 in North Carolina1, and died March 8, 1873 in Eatonton, Putnam County, Georgia and buried Concord United Methodist Church2. He married Isabella Stinson. She was born Abt. 1805 in North Carolina3, and died June 22, 1871 in Eatonton, Putnam County, Georgia and buried Concord United Methodist Church4.
Children of Lemuel Lancaster and Isabella Stinson are:
2 i. James M.2 Lancaster5, born October 25, 1833 in Eatonton, Putnam County, Georgia, probably6; died August 9, 1909 in Eatonton, Putnam County, Georgia, and buried at the Old Bullard Cemetery in Western Putnam7. He married Kittie; born November 6, 18378; died June 14, 1897 in Eatonton, Putnam County, Georgia, and buried at the Old Bullard Cemetery in Western Putnam9.
3 ii. Sarah Lancaster, born Abt. 1834 in Eatonton, Putnam County, Georgia, probably10. She married Leveritt Bachelor January 20, 1851 in Eatonton, Putnam County, Georgia11.
4 iii. Caroline Lancaster12, born Abt. 1838 in Eatonton, Putnam County, Georgia, probably.
5 iv. Martha Isabel Lancaster, born Bet. 1840 and 1845 in Eatonton, Putnam County, Georgia13; died October 26, 1895 in Eatonton, Putnam County, Georgia and buried Concord United Methodist Church14. She married William Henry Harrison "Billy" Clopton, C.S.A.15 January 26, 1860 in Eatonton, Putnam County, Georgia by Blumer White, J.P.16; born March 4, 1839 in Eatonton, Putnam County, Georgia17; died October 14, 1916 in Eatonton, Putnam County, Georgia and buried Concord United Methodist Church18.
6 v. Lemuel Lancaster, Jr., C.S.A.19, born Abt. 1845 in Eatonton, Putnam County, Georgia, probably20.
1. Otto, 1850 Census of Putnam County, Georgia, p. 17, He is aged 55 and born at North Carolina.
2. Tombstone, loc. cit.
3. Otto, 1850 Census of Putnam County, Georgia, p. 17, She was born at North Carolina and is 45 years old.
4. Tombstone, loc. cit.
5. Otto, 1850 Census of Putnam County, Georgia, p. 17, He is aged 17.
6. Tombstone, loc. cit.
7. Tombstone, loc. cit, The Old Bullard Cemetery is located at the intersection of Glades Road and Shady Dale Road (142) in Western Putnam County.
8. Tombstone, loc. cit.
9. Tombstone, loc. cit, Cemetery located near the intersection of Glades Road and Shady Dale Road (142) in West Putnam.
10. Otto, 1850 Census of Putnam County, Georgia, p. 17, She is aged 16.
11. Putnam County, Georgia, Marriage Book.
12. Otto, 1850 Census of Putnam County, Georgia, p. 17, She is aged 12.
13. Clopton Holy Bible (New York, 1823), owned in 1997 by Thad L. Aycock, Evanston, Illinois. Grandson of Thomas B. Clopton and Cornelia Harrison Palmer Clopton.
14. Tombstone, loc. cit, His death in 1916 is noted in Concord Church's Register of Members.
15. Thomas B. Clopton, M.D. Collection, Contains 26 Civil War Records relating to William Henry Harrison Clopton, courtesy Jean Holloman Daniels, from his enlistment at Eatonton, June 1, 1861 until his final discharge approved by General Robert E. Lee, December 13, 1863.
16. Putnam County, Georgia, Marriage Book, Book F, page 177., License dated January 24, 1860, signed by Wm. B. Carter, Ordinary. Certification dated January 26, 1860, signed by Blumer White, J.P. Blumer White was the husband of Mary Claiborne, "Billy" Clopton's uncle. Located Clopton Family Archives and Research Library. Special thanks to Pauline S. Carter, Deputy Clerk, Probate Court of Putnam County, for supplying this document, July 30, 1998.
17. Thomas B. Clopton, M.D., Holy Bible, (Courtesy Thaddeus Lamar Aycock).
18. Concord United Methodist Church Register, (Courtesy William Purcell Clopton), Gives year of death as 1916.
19. "Union Recorder," Milledgeville, Baldwin County, Georgia, Tuesday, December 31, 1861, The muster roll of the Calhoun Greys from Putnam County lists L. Lancaster as a private.
20. Otto, 1850 Census of Putnam County, Georgia, p. 17, Gives his age as 5.
Comments? Questions? Corrections?
Contact [email protected]
 Of Possums and Land Barons and Wonders of the Sea is an excerpt from The Clopton Chronicles, Ancestors and Descendants of Sir Thomas Clopton, Knt., & Katherine Mylde, and is the property of the Clopton Family Genealogical Society which holds the copyright on this material. Permission is granted to quote or reprint articles for noncommercial use provided credit is given to the CFGS and to the author. Prior written permission must be obtained from the Society for commercial use.
Suellen (Clopton) DeLoach Blanton is Founder and Executive Director of The Clopton Family Genealogical Society & Clopton Family Archives. She is the g-g-granddaughter of William Henry Harrison Clopton and his wife, Martha Isabel Lancaster.
The Society wished to thank Pauline S. Carter, Deputy Clerk, Probate Court of Putnam County, Georgia; Martha Alice (Bailey) Clopton; Peggy Charlotte (Schleucher) Clopton; Linda Carol (Wright) Clopton; Michael Flanagan; The Florida Panther Society; James Penick Marshall, Jr., President, Eatonton-Putnam County Historical Society; and, Vonnie S. Zullo, The Horse Soldier Research Service.
Also special thanks to Clopton descendants Thaddeus Lamar Aycock; Frank Campbell Clopton; James Stanley Clopton; Richard Eugene Clopton; Wallace Chandler Clopton; William Purcell Clopton; Ida Mae (Brake) Crane; Jean Holloman Daniels, Alice James; Mildred (Knight) McLeroy; Henry King Stanford, Ph.D.; and, Isabel Lancaster (Clopton) Steiner.
 The son of Dr. Thomas B. Clopton and his second wife, Harriet B. Claiborne, “Grandpa Billy” served during the American Civil War. He served as County Tax Receiver for Putnam County for 35 years following his service in the C.F.A. He also taught school and farmed. He was Secretary of the first encampment of the Confederate Army Veterans held June 7, 1888 at Aberdeen, Mississippi. For an account of his service, see Dr. Thom. An abbreviated genealogy follows. For a complete genealogy of this Clopton line, see William Clopton of St. Paul’s Parish & His Wife Joyce Wilkinson of Black Creek
 She was the daughter of Lemuel Lancaster and his wife Isabelle Stinson, an abbreviated genealogy follows.
 Thelma Peters, Miami 1909. Banyan Books, Inc., Miami, Florida, 1984
 In the first Official Directory of the City of Miami and Nearby Towns, 1904, Will was listed as a wine merchant, Avenue D and Boundary. Copy located Clopton Family Archives courtesy of Peggy Charlotte (Schleucher) Clopton.
 Leaders and Pioneers of South Florida, 1945, Published by Tropicana Publishers, Miami, Florida 1945. Copy located Clopton Family Archives, courtesy of Suellen (Clopton) DeLoach Blanton.
The script is very difficult to read. To conserve space, she added some addition thoughts in the margins. All letters appearing in this essay were transcribed by Suellen (Clopton) DeLoach Blanton unless otherwise noted. Paragraphs have been added to assist the reader. Copies of all letters are located Clopton Family Archives, courtesy of William Purcell Clopton, unless otherwise noted.
 Her son, James Brown “Boss” Clopton.
 Her son, Harvey Gordon Clopton.
 Blumer White, the husband of Mary Claiborne, sister of Harriet B. Claiborne, second wife of Dr. Thomas B. Clopton, William Henry Harrison Clopton’s father.
 According to an undated article written by Benjamin Arnold Bustin in The Eatonton Messenger, a grist mill and saw mill, built many years before the Civil War by Mike Dennis, later became the property of W. G. Armour. The mills were built on Rooty Creek at Flat Rock, several miles from the Clopton home.
 Probably Clopton kinsman, Thomas Pierce Knight, the husband of Carrie Lucy Holloman.
 Gabe’s first cousin, Lou Forte Brake, was the daughter of Mattie’s sister-in-law, Maria Louisa “Lou” Clopton and her husband, John R. Brake, C.S.A. See Dr. Thom.. Hattie Reynolds is Lou’s sister, Hattie Brake who was at that time married to Will Reynolds.
 They were first cousins. Marriage between first cousins was not encouraged but was not unheard of. A spouse was usually chosen from within the immediate community, and absolutely everyone was related through blood or marriage to each other. Alas, Lou and Gabe were not destined to marry. Lou married William Samuel Eskew, and Gabe entered into a marriage that proved to be unhappy and childless.
 Her son, John Godkin Clopton who eventually returned to live and work in Putnam County.
 Her husband.
 Son William Thomas “Boo” Clopton.
 May E. Knight, wife of Arthur Clements, and Carrie Lucy Holloman, wife of Thomas Pierce Knight.
 Her brother, James Brown “Boss” Clopton.
 The Rev. J. H. Pace, who was the minister at Concord Methodist Church.
 Her youngest child, Martha Clopton Callaway. She was four months old at the time of this letter.
 Possibly Charity Jenkins.
 Probably Matilda (Waggoner) McLeroy.
 Her son James Gabriel Callaway.
 He had come back to Putnam County for a visit but was living in Miami at the time.
 Her brother Lemuel Stinson Clopton and his wife, Annie Myrtle Palmer.
 Possibly Rosa Harper who married Edmund Johnston King. In the cemetery at Concord Methodist Church there is a grave for Julia Clyde King, their daughter, who died in 1901, too early to be this child. There is no other marker for any other infant born to this couple. Despite her fears, the baby must have lived.
 Her sister-in-law Minnie Flora (King) Clopton who married her brother, William Thomas “Boo” Clopton. See Minnie’s Boys. Oconee Springs was run by Boo’s aunt, Sarah Elizabeth “Lizzie” (Clopton) Godkin. See Dr. Thom.
 Daughters Sarah Elizabeth Callaway and Lucy Willis Callaway.
 Possibly May E. (Knight) Clements.
 A copy of the letter is located Clopton Family Archives courtesy of Peggy Charlotte (Schleucher) Clopton.
 Her nephew, James Cuyler Clopton.
 Her brother, John Godkin “Johnnie” Clopton. He was visiting in Miami with his brothers, Jim, Gabe and Harvey.
 Mary Francis Harrison, the daughter of Clopton kinswoman, Lucy Wright Claiborne and her husband, Alexander Brown Harrison. She was the wife of James Pinkerton. She is buried at Concord United Methodist Church, where Uncle Billy’s family worshipped. See O Worship the King.
 Minnie Flora King, the wife of her brother, William Thomas “Boo” Clopton and the mother of Cuyler. See Minnie’s Boys.
 Her young daughters, Sarah Elizabeth Callaway and Martha Clopton Callaway
 Her eldest child, Annie Belle (Callaway) Stanford)
 Her son Lucius DuBose Callaway
 The Rev. J. H. Pace, who was the minister at Concord Methodist Church.
 Gabe’s wife, Elizabeth Celine Girtman, the sister of Hattie Belle’s husband.
 A copy of the poem is located Clopton Family Archives courtesy of Henry King Stanford, Ph.D., a son of Annie Belle (Callaway) Stanford. The poem is reproduced with apologies to Thomas Gray from whom she shamelessly plagiarized his “Eulogy Written in a Country Churchyard.”.
 His son, James Brown “Boss” Clopton, suffered from Yellow Fever
 The Eatonton Messenger, Friday, October 22, 1915. Copy located Clopton Family Archives, courtesy of Linda Carol (Wright) Clopton.
 William Thomas “Boo” Clopton and Minnie Flora (King) Clopton, with whom Uncle Johnnie lived.
 Dr. Stanford serves as the President Emeritus of the University of Miami and the University of Georgia.
 A copy is located Clopton Family Archives courtesy of James Penick Marshall, Jr.
 James Asbury Knight, M.D., the son of John Wesley Knight and his first wife, Eliza Curry. His father married also Amanda V., and one son was named William.
 Wiley W. Arnold.
 James Anderson Baugh.
 A copy is located Clopton Family Archives courtesy of Suellen (Clopton) DeLoach Blanton.
 June 19, 1947. A copy is located Clopton Family Archives courtesy of Suellen (Clopton) DeLoach Blanton.
 Wallace Theodore Jones (The Rev.) (April 3, 1899-August 19, 1980), Memoirs of W. T. Jones, Typescript of Personal Memoirs. Copy located Clopton Family Archives. See Kith and Kin and Kissin’ Kousins.
 The Florida Panther, Felis concolor coryi, once numerous, numbered less than 50 by 1999. This magnificent animal once roamed throughout the southeastern United States, however, what remains of their number is now limited to a small section of southwest Florida. The Florida Panther Society, an organization dedicated to the preservation of this species maintains a site at http://www.atlantic.net/~oldfla/panther/panther.html
 Official Directory of the City of Miami and Nearby Towns, Miami, Florida, 1904. Copy located Clopton Family Archives courtesy of Suellen (Clopton) DeLoach Blanton.
 The Miami Herald, Sunday, September 1, 1946, p. 15-A. “Colorful Miami of 1905 Recalled: Teacher Sped Her Bicycle Past Panther,” Copy located Clopton Family Archives courtesy of Linda Carol (Wright) Clopton. The accompanying photograph is titled “Where Has The Old Gang Gone? The text reads: “Back in 1905, the Royal Palm hotel dock at the mouth of the Miami river across from Brickell Point was a favorite gathering spot. Left to right, Jesse Waters, bookkeeper at E. L. Brady Grocery, at Flagler st. and Miami ave.; Preston H. Lee, clerk at J. D. Girtman’s Grocery, Flagler st. near Miami ave.; B. Frank Davis, student at Miami High who now lives at 3435 S. W. First ave.; Harvey Clopton, Miami High student, classmate of Roddey Burdine and later advertising manager at Burdine’s (now of Atlanta); Youel Pope, salesman at Whaler Jewelry store on Flagler st., and now at the information desk in the courthouse lobby and living at 1024 S. W. 19th ave; J. B. (Boss) Clopton, salesman at E. L. Brady Grocery and now at the 12th ave. market.”
 The Miami Herald, Sunday, Sunday, February 10, 1952.
 James Stanley Clopton.