Joshua Elliott Clayton and his Family

Joshua, you may recall was the oldest son of Rev. James Clayton and his second wife, Sarah Mixon. He was born in 1820 in N.C. and died 1889 in Helena Montana. Joshua had an older half brother, James Clayton (1809), your writer's gg grandfather.

Joshua appears to have been a precocious child. In 1842 he was listed in the Carroll Co. GA tax list as J.E.Clayton, near his father, James, his brother-in-law, William M. Harper, and his uncle, Dempsey Clayton. He appears to have worked as an engineer in the gold fields of North Georgia and around Goldville, AL. He was closely associated in the gold mining industry with his cousin, Nelson Clayton, of Chambers Co. GA, and appears several times in Nelson's day journal (Cf. Margaret Clayton Russell, James Clayton of North Carolina and his Descendants in the Old South-West).

Joshua married a girl named Naomi and on Jan 2, 1850 he began a voyage of exploration to the west. He has left a detailed account of this trip in the form of a letter to Naomi. He had apparently organized a diverse group of 10 men to make the trip. Beginning at Montgomery AL they went by water to New Orleans where they took ship for Panama. Of course they had to walk across the isthumus, but the rest of the trip was entirely by water: from Montgomery, AL to Sacramento, CA. Joshua gave a detailed description of the scene wherever they happened to be at the time. They took a sailing ship up the Pacific, transhipped at San Francisco to a schooner which took them to Sacramento.

From there they entered the gold fields. One of the interesting things about this trip is that one by one this group of ten separated themselves from the others to go out on their own. Joshua was finally left on his own. He worked for some 18 months as an engineer in the gold fields. His journal ends in Oct. 1851. (This account of Joshua's exploration of California is on file in the State Archives at Montgomery, AL. He always referred to himself as J.E.Clayton.)

Some time thereafter Joshua returned to the south for his wife. Margaret Clayton Russell states in her book that J.E.Clayton and Wm and Johanna Clayton Buckalew went to California in 1850. Through the years Joshua Elliott Clayton achieved a high reputation as an honest and competent mining engineer. He prospected and pioneered mining fields in CA, Nevada, Montana, and probably some other states. He was killed near Helena Montana in 1889 when a stage coach in which he was traveling became involved in a foolish race and turned over. He is buried in Portland Oregon.

Joshua was married twice. His first wife, Naomi died in Nevada. Their children were:
Jessie C. "Kate" CLAYTON, md Dr. N.S. Trowbridge of Berkeley, California.
Georgie N. Clayton md L.H. Burton of Bonanza, Klamath County, Oregon.
Mary Jessie CLAYTON md Dr. John Gunn of Butte City, Montana.
Thomas W. Clayton "artist, professional penman, bookkeeper and assayer"; we have no record of his marriage.

Joshua's second marriage was to Mrs. Helen H. Hampton. After his death she and her children became involved in litigation with Joshua's children over his estate. However Naomi (decd) and his children were listed as beneficiaries of his life insurance, and Joshua appeared to be living apart at his death; his residence at the time was the Territory of Utah.

Your writer is deeply indebted to Susan Guhm for the details of Joshua Clayton's life in the west. Although not related, Susan is an amateur historian and archealogist. She has taken an interest in my uncle, visited the places where he worked, researched his papers at Berkeley and at Yale, and hopefully may write for us all about his life.

For corrections, comment, or inquiry e-mail Larry Clayton