Thomas Lanier Clingman & Origin of the Clingmans in America

(originally posted Nov 3,2008)

This is genealogical stuff, information that most of you don’t know. This will not make you wealthy, may not even be of interest, but it is something that is unique to our family and perhaps to any family anywhere. Hear me out!
Our Clingman line began, within our knowledge, with Alexander Klingerman who emigrated to this country from Germany while we were still a British colony.

Somehow he entered a German colony in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, learned a smattering of English, travelled down the “old Philadelphia Road” which roughly followed the route I-95 now follows, into North Carolina, and then crossed the Yadkin River just south of the Virginia line by way of what was known as “the shallowford”, ending in what was then Surry County, part of which became Rowan County, and later Yadkin County. His name became Clingman sometime between the first U. S. census in 1790 and the second census in 1800.
Another ancestor, Peter Kizer, also from Germany, had apparently reached North Carolina earlier and had a daughter, Elizabeth.

Although Alexander Klingleman may have had an earlier wife who died, he and Elizabeth married and parented several children, three, Peter, Isaac Jacob, and Alexander Michael, being our ancestors. How those three became two of our ancestral lines is part of what you need to know. ( Or part of what I am going to tell you whether you need to know it or not.)
Another of our ancestors, Henry Pattillo, had emigrated to the British Colony from Scotland, became a Presbyterian minister, also ended up in North Carolina, became a rather noted figure in North Carolina history. A daughter, Jane, married another of our ancestors, Frances Poindexter, ( descended from the Poingdestres of the Isle of Jersey ). They had children, including two daughters, Jane (Jennie) and Anne, who became our ancestors.

I’m not a genealogist and am not trying to make genealogists of you. Much of the family history was gathered by my grandmother, Melinda Cubage, who passed it on to my cousin, Mary Jane McKinney, who died a couple of years ago after enlisting my assistance and passing on to me much information. As a consequence of all this I have copious records and am still trying to put a few things together. I have gone into this much detail as background for what I set out to tell you in the first place.

Here it comes:
Alexander Clingman’s son, Peter, married Anne Poindexter. Subsequently our ancestor, Alexander Brandon Clingman was born. Alexander Clingman’s son, Isaac Jacob, married Jane Poindexter. That marriage produced several children including Thomas Lanier Clingman. Because their fathers had married sisters, the children of Isaac Jacob were double first cousins of the children of Peter Clingman, and our ancestor, Alexander Brandon Clingman and Thomas Lanier Clingman were double first cousins. Hold that thought!

In the meanwhile, the third son of Alexander Clingman, Alexander Michael, lived in South Carolina, married, and had a daughter, Anne Martha Clingman, and a run of bad luck. First, his wife died. Second he became fatally ill. Before he died he and the daughter went to North Carolina where he then died. The daughter then lived with family members, uncertainty here, but during this time she came to know and love her first cousin, Alexander Brandon Clingman. The idea of two first cousins marrying was much against the wishes of the rest of the family. Although not unlawful it was frowned upon, but thus were two lines merged into one and we are descended from Alexander Clingman by two of his sons.

But, to make a long story even longer, what about double first cousin Thomas Lanier Clingman? Well, he (and double first cousin Alexander Brandon Clingman), were among the first students to attend the University of North Carolina, the oldest state university in the nation. Afterwards while A. B. was falling in love,. getting married, becoming a doctor, starting a family, and moving westward to Arkansas, Thomas Lanier was acquiring a name for himself, becoming a United States Senator, resigning to stay with the South, and serving as a Brigadier General in the Confederate Army. After the war he became a lawyer and ‘rode the circuit’ in the western part of the state, going with other lawyers and the presiding judge to hold court wherever the judge was assigned, in order to provide legal services wherever needed.

During those years he explored mountains across western North Carolina, acquiring fame for himself and bestowing his name upon what he believed to the the highest peak in the Blue Ridge Mountains, an honor ultimately denied him when Mount Mitchell proved to be a few feet higher. Thomas Lanier Clingman died in Morganton, North Carolina, twenty miles East of Marion, where I live. He is buried in Riverside Cemetery, a beautiful historic site, in Asheville, some thirty miles west of Marion. I have been to his impressive memorial!
If Thomas Lanier Clingman had descendants, his children would have been first cousins to the children of Alexander Brandon Clingman and the relationships would have become more remote with each passing generation. However he never married and had no descendants so his side of the line was never diluted and he remains forever the double first cousin of our ancestor, Alexander Brandon Clingman, and he is forever the double first cousin of all the descendants of Alexander Brandon Clingman, removed once for each generation.

Since we are all descendants of Alexander Brandon we all are also double first cousins of Thomas Lanier, removed by the number of generations which separate us from Alexander Brandon, in my case, five. Moreover, our descendants, no matter how numerous, will also be his double first cousins. More remotely removed, certainly, but with that relationship forever.
I told you it wouldn’t make you rich, but isn’t that interesting!

(Edit by Gil Jones) Here is a cite to a nice article about Thomas.

1 thought on “Thomas Lanier Clingman & Origin of the Clingmans in America

  1. Here is a piece I dug up in 2005 with more details on Thomas Lanier Clingman and his family:

    From (July 14, 2005)


    Manuscripts Department
    Library of the University of North Carolina
    at Chapel Hill



    Abstract: Family, political, and business papers of several
    prominent western North Carolinians. Included is
    correspondence of Jane Poindexter Clingman of
    Huntsville, Surry (later Yadkin) County with
    Poindexter relatives in Hardin County, Tenn., and
    others in Mississippi and New Mexico; her son-in-law,
    Richard Clauselle Puryear (1801-1867), Yadkin County
    planter, Whig U.S. representative, 1853-1857, and
    member of the Confederate Congress; and her son,
    Thomas Lanier Clingman (1812-1897), U.S. senator and
    Confederate general. Richard Clauselle Puryear’s
    papers include bills, receipts, accounts, letters
    written from Washington, D.C., letters written and
    received at Richmond, Va., during the Civil War, and
    an account book for blacksmith and wagon-body work.
    Thomas Lanier Clingman’s papers, 1828-1890, chiefly
    concern his mining and mineral interests, including
    gold mines in Georgia, the Chestatee Hydraulic Company
    of New York and Georgia, the Yahoola River and Cane
    Creek Hydraulic Hose Mining Company of Boston, and
    lands and minerals in western North Carolina. Also
    included is political correspondence relating to
    1830s-1850s national and North Carolina politics,
    including an 1831 letter from Henry Clay about his
    reluctance to return to Congress. There is also an
    account of General George Stoneman’s April 1865 raid
    on the Puryear family home in Yadkin County.

    Online Catalog Terms:
    Blacksmithing–North Carolina–History–19th century.
    Carriage industry–North Carolina–History–19th century.
    Clay, Henry 1777-1852.
    Clingman family.
    Clingman, Jane Poindexter, fl. 1810-1864.
    Clingman, T. L. (Thomas Lanier), 1812-1897.
    Chestatee Hydraulic Company.
    Confederate States of America–Politics and government.
    Family–North Carolina–Social life and customs–19th century.
    Gold mines and mining–Georgia–History–19th century.
    Mines and mineral industries–Georgia–History–19th century.
    Mines and mineral industries–North Carolina–History–19th
    North Carolina–Politics and government–1775-1865.
    Puryear family.
    Puryear, R. C. (Richard Clauselle), 1801-1867.
    Stoneman’s Raid, 1865.
    Yadkin County (N.C.)–History–19th century.
    Yahoola River and Cane Creek Hydraulic Hose Mining Company.

    Size: About 400 items (0.5 linear feet).

    Provenance: Received from Elizabeth Gibson in 1944, Mrs.
    Cameron MacRae in 1958, Mrs. Isaac Thomas Avery in
    1975, J. Bruce Jarratt in 1979 and 1980, and
    purchased from Walter R. Benjamin in 1986.

    Access: No restrictions.

    Processing Note: This collection was rehoused under the
    sponsorship of a grant from the National
    Endowment for the Humanities, Office of
    Preservation, Washington, D.C., 1990-1992.

    Related Collections: Thomas Lanier Clingman Papers (#157);
    Isaac Jarratt Papers (#3514);
    Isaac Jarratt Papers and Tyre Glenn
    Papers, Manuscripts Department, Duke

    Copyright: Retained by the authors of items in these papers, or
    their descendants, as stipulated by United States
    copyright law.


    Jane Poindexter Clingman was the wife of Jacob Clingman,
    planter of Huntsville, Surry, later Yadkin, County, N.C. Their
    daughter Rose married Richard Clauselle Puryear (1801-1867), who
    was born in Mecklenburg County, Va., but later lived in Surry
    County, N.C. Richard was a planter; colonel in the militia;
    North Carolina legislator, 1838, 1844, 1846, and 1852; and Whig
    member of Congress, 1853-1857. He was also a member of the
    Confederate Provisional Congress at Richmond in 1861 and a
    delegate to the Peace Convention at Philadelphia after the Civil
    War. He died at Shallow Ford, his plantation in Yadkin County.
    One of Jacob and Jane Poindexter Clingman’s sons was Thomas
    Lanier Clingman (1812-1897). Jacob died when Thomas was about
    four years old, and the boy’s early training was directed by his
    uncle Francis Alexander Poindexter. Thomas was graduated from
    the University of North Carolina in 1832, studied law under
    William A. Graham, represented Surry County in the North Carolina
    legislature in 1835, moved to Buncombe County, and represented
    that county in the legislature in 1840.
    Thomas served in the U.S. House of Representatives, 1843-1845
    and 1847-1858, and in the Senate from 1858 to 1861. He began his
    political career as a Whig, began to doubt the northern Whigs
    around 1849, and officially became a Democrat in 1852, taking his
    district with him. He was a delegate to the Confederate States
    convention in Montgomery in 1861 and served in the army of the
    Confederate States of America as a brigadier general. After the
    war, he tried unsuccessfully to regain his seat in the U.S.
    Senate. He was a delegate to the National Democratic Convention
    in 1868 and to the North Carolina Constitutional Convention in
    In addition to his political activities, Thomas Lanier
    Clingman was heavily involved in mining enterprises in Georgia
    and western North Carolina.


    Series 1. Loose Papers
    1810-1908. About 400 items.
    Arrangement: chronological.

    Correspondence, financial and legal papers, and other items of
    Jane Poindexter Clingman, Richard Clauselle Puryear, Thomas
    Lanier Clingman, and other members of the Poindexter, Clingman,
    and Puryear families.
    Early correspondence relates chiefly to family and household
    matters, with a few business letters about selling cotton and
    whiskey and other plantation activities. Some early letters also
    mention politics and issues leading up to the Civil War.
    Included is an 1831 letter from Henry Clay about his reluctance
    to return to Congress. Most letters were written from North
    Carolina, but there are also some from Richard Clauselle Puryear
    while he served in the U.S. Congress and from Poindexter
    relatives in Hardin County, Tenn., and other family members in
    Mississippi and New Mexico. Jane Poindexter Clingman’s papers
    are chiefly letters to and from family members. Also included is
    a letter to her, dated 17 January 1845, about Thomas Lanier
    Poindexter’s duel with W. L. Yancey. There is also a letter from
    Thomas Ruffin, dated 21 July 1832, to H. P. Poindexter declining
    to tutor Thomas Lanier Clingman in law.
    Papers relating to Richard Clauselle Puryear begin around 1841
    and include business communications about cotton sales, notes and
    credits, dog and horse sales, and a contract for carrying mail.
    Thomas Lanier Clingman papers beginning around 1839 relate
    chiefly to politics. After 1856, most items relate to Thomas’s
    mineral and mining interests in Georgia and western North
    Carolina. The few items from the Civil War and postbellum eras
    are chiefly about mining interests and family matters. A letter
    of 23 May 1874 is from Jennie P. Kerr to Charles c. Jones,
    answering his questions about Richard Clauselle Puryear’s service
    as a North Carolina member of the Confederate Provisional
    Other items include an account, 13 pp., written in 1926 by
    Bettie Pattillo Puryear Gibson (d. 1927), daughter of Richard
    Clauselle and Rose Clingman Puryear, about General George
    Stoneman’s raid on Shallow Ford, the family home in Yadkin
    County, in April 1865.
    There are few items after 1868. Letters dated 1890 are
    chiefly to Thomas Lanier Clingman from business associates.

    Folder 1 1810-1832
    2 1834-1844
    3 1845-1849
    4 1850-1853
    5 1854-1857
    6 1858-1859
    7 1860
    8 1861
    9 1862-1867
    10 1868-1887; 1890; 1926
    11 Undated

    Series 2. Volumes
    1835-1848. 2 items.

    Folder 12 Volume 1: Ledger, ca. 107 pp., containing
    accounts, 1835, for blacksmith work and wagon
    body-work (pp. 1-73) and accounts for provisions,
    1837-1841, pp. 74-107. “R. C. Puryear, Jr.”
    appears on the flyleaf.

    Folder 13 Volume 2: Account book, ca. 54 pp., 1844-1848, of
    John Francis Locke, whose relation to the Clingman
    and Puryear families is unclear.

    Series 3. Pictures
    1861-1940 and undated. 7 items.

    P-2661/1 Photograph of Thomas Lanier Clingman in
    Confederate Army general’s uniform, ca. 1861-1865.
    Verso: “From photographic negative in Brady’s
    National Portrait Gallery.”

    P-2661/2 Photograph of Thomas Lanier Clingman in civilian
    dress, ca. 1865-1870. Verso: “Brady’s National
    Photographic Portrait Galleries.”

    P-2661/3-6 Photographs of unidentified family member
    (probably Thomas Lanier Clingman in later life).

    P-2661/7 Photographic negative of handwritten family tree,
    dated 1940. Location of original unknown.

    Shelf List

    Box 1 (only)

    Items separated:

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