We all have brick-wall ancestors, and often they are the women in our family tree. In this 52 ancestors post, I share more about Clemsy Cline, one of my third great-grandmothers without a well-documented trail leading to her parents. When I first started researching Clemsy, other researchers attributed John Cline and Mrs. John Cline as her parents, so I added them to my tree. I’ve looked at Clemsy through the years but not known exactly how to tackle this brick wall. However, a complete project analyzing her timeline and doing new research opened up some new doors for research. Interestingly, a good candidate to explore for her father is John C. Cline!
Like many of our ancestors, Clemsy was born in either 1817, 1820, or 1825 according to the three censuses that list her by name. Since she headed her household as a widow in 1880, I gave the 1817 reporting of her birth in Alabama the most credence. Where Clemsy lived from her birth in Alabama to her appearance in Izard County, Arkansas, as a married woman is a mystery.
Izard County, Arkansas
Izard County, located in the north of Arkansas, is part of the area known as the Ozarks. The map below shows the various physiographic sections of the Ozarks, and Izard County is located on the southern tip of the Salem Plateau (green section). 1 This area of small mountains and rolling hills was mostly uninhabited until after the War of 1812. Soldiers marching south to New Orleans discovered the land that was largely the hunting ground of the native Osage tribe.
Perhaps Clemsy’s father participated in the march south and saw the land for himself, or like so many others, he heard reports of new land to patent and moved his family west.
Somehow Clemsy made it to Izard County, where she married Henderson Weatherford about 1839 before the birth of her first child, Eliza Jane, in 1840. Henderson paid taxes in Izard County in 1839 – putting the family in this place and time.2 Unfortunately, Izard County suffered severe record loss during the Civil War, and no records survive that could show Clemsy and Henderson’s marriage.
Two of Clemsy’s youngest children lived long enough to have a Texas death certificate and both of those named their mother as a Cline. Otherwise, we’d have no record of her maiden name.3
Morgan County, Missouri
The family’s time in Izard County was limited. Clemsy had three more children in Arkansas, but by 1850 the Weatherford household had moved roughly two hundred miles north to Morgan County, Missouri – on the northern end of the Salem Plateau. The household had grown to Henderson, Clemsy, their four children, and two Cline children.4
Henderson Wetherford 35 Tennessee, farmer, $300 real estate
Clemsy Wetherford 30 Alabama
Eliza Jane Wetherford 10 Arkansas
Mary Ann Wetherford 6 Arkansas
John W Wetherford 4 Arkansas
Clemsy D Wetherford 2 Arkansas
Telitha Cline 10 Arkansas
John Cline 8 Arkansas
If the surname of Cline caught your attention for the two children listed last in the 1850 Weatherford household, Telitha and John, it did mine as well! I’ve looked at this census many times, wondering how they connected.
Another interesting connection on that same census page of Morgan County, Missouri, is the family of Jacob and Telitha Cline. At first glance, I thought perhaps the Cline children belong to them, but in comparing the households, the birthplaces didn’t play out. The Jacob Cline household also had a Jacob Cline, age 7. It wouldn’t make sense for a family to name two boys Jacob so close together if both lived beyond infancy. Another interesting Cline group is Mahala and Robert, who were listed after the Jacob and Telitha Cline family. These have the same Alabama/Arkansas birthplaces as Clemsy and her children.
Jacob Cline 39 Virginia, farmer, $300 real estate
Telitha Cline 43 Kentucky
Reuben Cline 13 Kentucky
John M Cline 12 Kentucky
Elizabeth Cline 11 Missouri
Jacob Cline 7 Missouri
Basil Cline 2 Missouri
Mahala Cline 22 Alabama
Robert Cline 5 Arkansas
Finding a Father Candidate
Moving the research to Izard County, Arkansas, did find a possible father for Clemsy (and Mahala and Jacob Cline if they were her siblings) – John C. Cline, who patented land and was taxed in Izard County, Arkansas, during the 1840s. The 1850 census found him in neighboring Fulton County, with the identifying information of age 65 and born in Pennsylvania. He was old enough to be Clemsy’s father, a prime candidate.5
The next step in the research for finding the origins of Clemsy Cline is working with the DNA to find connections through these identified Clines, who are her FANs (friends, family, associates, and neighbors). Learn more about the complete project in my 3 part series: Using the Fan Methodology to Find a Female’s Father. Part 3 – Research Logging and Report Writing has links to the first two blog posts and the full research report.
On to Texas
Clemsy and Henderson Weatherford continued their pattern of westward migration with their move from Morgan County, Missouri, to Dallas County, Texas, where Henderson worked as a blacksmith.6 This move brought them closer to the Weatherford extended family. Henderson’s mother and siblings also had moved to Dallas County. It appears Clemsy left behind her Cline family in Missouri.
The years following the 1860 census enumeration were filled with war and reconstruction. Life in Texas was not easy, and by 1880, Clemsy found herself a widow.7 She headed the household that consisted of only herself, age 63 and her youngest son, Samuel H. Weatherford. Sam was born in 1862, after the family’s move to Texas. He farmed, and Clemsy kept house. As the head of household, she almost certainly gave the household information and identified a birthplace for her father as Virginia and her mother as Georgia – the only direct evidence we have of their identities.
Clemez Weatherford 63, head, widowed, keeping house, Alabama, Virginia, Georgia
Samuel H. Weatherford 18 son, farming Texas, Tennessee, Alabama
When did Clemsy die? Where is she buried? These are questions as yet unanswered. She remains a brick-wall ancestor, but with each research project, I come one step closer to discovering her origins.
- Ozarks. (2022, September 18). In Wikipedia. https://simple.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ozarks
- Desmond Walls Allen, comp., Izard County, Arkansas Tax Records 1829-1866, (Conway, Arkansas: Arkansas Research, 1886), 165.
- “Texas, Death Certificates, 1903-1982,” for S.H. Weatherford, #10895 Haskell County, 1929 Jan-Mar, database with images, Ancestry (https://ancstry.me/2rZrmuG : accessed 1 Jan 2019); citing Texas Dept of State Health Services. New Mexico Department of Public Health, death certificate 3682 (1942), Isabelle Royston; Vital Records Unit, New Mexico Health and Social Services Department, Santa Fe; image uploaded on FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/tree/person/sources/2ZS7-V16 : accessed 1 Jan 2019).
- “1850 U.S. Census, Morgan County, Missouri, population schedule, Buffalo, p. 270 (stamped), dwelling 726, family 726, Henderson Weatherford household; digital image, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 1 Jan 2019); citing NARA microfilm publication M432, roll 408.”
- See the Clemsy Cline research report for details.
- 1860 U.S. Census, Dallas County, Texas, population schedule, Scyene post office, page 120 (penned), dwelling 834, family 835, H. Weatherford household; digital image, Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com: accessed 1 Jan 2019); citing NARA microfilm publication M653 roll 1292.
- 1880 U.S. Census, Wise County, Texas, population schedule, precinct 3, enumeration district (ED) 127, sheet 164B (stamped), p.30 (penned), dwelling 215, family, 226, Clemsy Weatherford household; digital image, Ancestry (https://familysearch.org : accessed 1 Jan 2019); citing NARA microfilm publication T9, roll 1333. here
The early to mid-1800s are also an interest to me in tracing my Nicholas Helms born 1789 in Maryland and wife Rachel Sarah Enlow who married in Knox County, Ohio in 1814. They resided from 1812 in Coshocton Co., Ohio and departed their farm property from Knox County, Ohio to Vandalia, Fayette Co, Illinois in 1838/39 and finally to Dallas Township in Marion Co., Iowa by 1846. This family search has led me to explore pathways, trails, river crossings, river travel, and my Helms family selected path of the Cumberland Pike from near Zanesville Ohio. Modes of land travel generally allowed up to 15-miles per day, so most dedicated routes probably took 6 to 10 weeks or more. The Cumberland Pike or First National Historic Highway was a toll road with stops about every 15 miles. This time period also brought the construction of the Erie Canal and the Ohio Canal Systems to the forefront of a travel route of the westward movement out of the northern states. There are also interesting references of the types of wagons uses (farm wagons, conestoga wagons…etc), the types and number of horses or oxen are found in some of the tax records that may be helpful to see the amount of belongings that a family chose to cary with them as well as probate records. I have also found township records that list ear marks and ownership for cattle references, as fences were not a common occurrence of the time.
River crossings and the barter systems used are also of interest as many people didn’t have “money” as we know it, so relied on the equivalent money value of bartered goods.
Fortunately for me, Nicholas served in the War of 1812 and acquired land patents at each of their home destination spots. It appears they may have been poor and illiterate though, given indications of their early frontier status at each of their home locations and supporting references of the 1850 census and forward.
There are always more questions to ask to learn of their lives.
Thanks for the blog.
Thanks for writing. This is a great example of researching the migration of an ancestor! I agree that there is more we can learn about the context of their lives.