Claybourne Montgomery Elder and Mary Caroline Pratt

His name is found spelled many ways including Clayborne, Claybourn, Clayborn, Claiborn. So try all spellingsClaybourne and Mary Caroline Elder when searching for him. - cba

Claybourne Elder was born 2 June 1827 to David and Martha Louisa Montgomery Elder in Rutherford County, Tennessee. He was the middle child of three. His father died 26 April 1830 and his baby sister died four months later. His mother married Alfred Bell two years after her husband’s death. Brother Bell was a Mormon convert as was the Elder family.

The family joined the Saints in Nauvoo, Illinois. Claybourne had many interesting experiences as a young teen in Nauvoo. He told of being with other boys when the mobs would ride up and try to get information from them of the Prophet Joseph Smith’s whereabouts. The boys would not tell them anything. One time while they were flying kites, they were asked by several men if they had seen Joseph Smith, they answered, “Sure, we just saw him going to heaven on his white horse and we are sending his dinner up on our kites!”

Claybourne worked as a hod carrier in the building of the Prophet Joseph Smith’s Mansion House in Nauvoo.

When the Saints were driven out of Nauvoo by the mobs Claybourne was ready to leave with the first groups but was sent back to serve as a scout for the Saints. He arrived in Utah in 1850 where he became a carpenter. He was also an expert fiddler.

In 1853 he married a widow, Nancy Ott, she had a child named David. They settled in Grantsville, Tooele County.

In 1856 Claybourne served under LDS General Wells when Johnston’s Army came to Utah. He also helped escort a handcart company into the valley.

On 31 January 1858 Claybourne married Mary Caroline Pratt, a daughter of Jonathan and Susannah Halbert Pratt.

Claybourne and his families were also called to settle southern Utah in the 1861 LDS Conference. He first settled at Duncan’s Retreat along with his in-laws and other families. But they only stayed there a few years. They moved up the canyon towards Kolob to Mountain Dell where Claybourne owned and operated a sawmill. They also were in Virgin and later Parowan. Claybourne had taken several other wives and trying to provide for his large family was hard, besides dealing with the unpredictable, unstable Virgin River.

Claybourne and his older sons spent the winter of 1880 in Arizona where they had a contract to cut and saw ties for the Santa Fe Railroad. They were never paid for their work because the man with the contract left the country.

Mary Caroline was said to bear her burdens with cheerfulness and patience. She was a good wife and mother. Mary Caroline moved to Hinckley and Claybourne brought her two young children of her sister, Frances, to care for after Frances’ death. (Frances was also a wife of Claybourne’s.)

They lived in Hinckley until 1895 when Claybourne and Mary Caroline moved to Ferron, Emery County, Utah, where Mary later died of pneumonia on 11 February 1905. She was buried in the Ferron Town Cemetery.


Cindy Burgess Alldredge

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