Claybourne Montgomery Elder and Mary
His name is found spelled many ways including Clayborne,
Claybourn, Clayborn, Claiborn. So try all spellings 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
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
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.