Shirley Clay Bell

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Henry J Clay's Great (est) Grand Daughter
Article and research done by W. Darrell Miller


ShirleyClayBell.jpg (46812 bytes)

The late Shirley Clay Bell


Before Ought one the year marking one decade of her absence is its self gone there ought to be a word noted about Shirley Clay Bell 1951-1991.. As fabulous as are the folks to be met on this side of the digital divide none shine quite as bright as did she back on the other side .

In the pre wired days of the 1980's it was as a guide to the grave of Hiram Clay's grand daughter Almeda Kelly Tilley that brought first face to face contact . Near that cemetery the log walls of an 1800's built house still stood . She expressed a longing ( I'd always felt) for
fuller awareness of the lives its occupants lived . . A later comment recalled sums up her character . On the topic of fishing she said " the agreement with a boy friend is that I will bait the hooks & clean the catch which he cooks ". .

There can't be many that ever mastered the gender roles as well . None known have been as lady like & also one of the guys . One of her guys I soon became by being an early recruit to her '' Tombstone Squad"

Before meeting her I'd seen her name in the paper in connection with a Raleigh Co Organization (hers) . I don't recall the exact name but Preservation of Cemeteries was the purpose ... 

I had always noticed local V.A... grave markers for USA Civil War (mostly CO I 7th WV Cav) Veterans but had not seen any such for the CSA ; Therefore had assumed they were not available from the V. A. Now there are to found locally some CO G 22nd VA Inf CSA markers secured by Shirley . It was her enlightenment that dispelled said misinformation . During one installation I reminded her that she had advised that the only V.A.. requirement was documentation of the Veterans service & discharge from the CSA ; So then. I ask ''how is it that this marker was obtained for a known deserter" . She said that she didn't get around to providing that information to the V. A.

Every time you saw Shirley she had in the back of her S 10 Pick up one or two gravestones . She got them to their destinations by recruiting some cousins . We were all grand boys of the children of Shirley's gr gr Aunt "Betty' (Clay) Farley . Some each of Harris's , Henry's , Masten's & Sarah H (Farley) Brinegar's were found in the ranks of The Tombstone Squad . . .

One of the stalwarts made a cart to be pulled & pushed from the road to the hauled stones site . It had received a coat of left over gray paint . Shirley noting the color's appropriateness said it had a remaining need . On the next expedition she attached to it a Confederate flag . . . Now , it is a shame , you couldn't have seen that gravestone laden gurney glide through the woods with the Stars & Bars flying from its gunwales . . . .

Awhile after the installation for Hiram Clay 's there was a ceremony attended by the press ,American Legion Color Guard & RE Enactors who presented the folded CSA flag to Alphon Brinegar the only grandson . On the Saulsville web Site is Nancy Vaughn's well done article & photo of Hiram Clay . .. .

The Squad's all time most arduous task was the wrestle with the double stone for Henry J & Mary "Polly" Clay . Either it or the base at 400 lbs was too much for our CSA Caisson even without its flag . A snatch block (pulley) was tied to trees . Through it ran a cable from a tk to the sledded stones . The Block's tree had to be repeatedly changed in order to steer the sled around other standing stones . A big job but the squad felt obligated since Shirley at her own expense provided the marker for our grandpa . 

The Clay reunion (she organized in earlier years) on their last year 1990 all went up the "Jackson Curve" to see that just installed stone . Without her the group never again met . 

One of the many banters of hers with the ranks with to liken one of the members to Mayberry's Ernest T Bass .The next March she sent him a raucous card . Since they were all in March she knew the Farley's birthdays. That is no longer curious after you count back to the cardinal number . It will take you to that summer time lull when the corn has been laid by and the only demand on energies was celebration of the 4th .

The card recipient requested of me to spare no effort in learning her birthday . That turned out to be easy . Shirley started the Wyo Gen Soc . Some time afterwards I attended a meeting . Shirley was there said she might not make the next one as may not yet be through celebrating her 40th which would fall that week end . ....... Three weeks later & A few mornings before that week end awakening thoughts were '' better advise that today will be the latest for sending that pay back card " . The outside world's first news that morning was that she was dead from a cerebral hemorrhage

She was never able to connect the ancestry of Wyoming County's two Henry Clays . Of course she has known now for a long time . With the help of some of the later buddies I've gotten the two connected as well as ever its hope to be here . We'll have that info in a little sequel to this .

This yarn & a photo of Shirley with Henry & Mary's Tombstone will be with the Clay Newsletter Site .{:_:} -. W D M
During the ten days Since this yarn's first reel a couple of takes returned that took this one ever so slightly by surprise . The greater one warned that the allusion to Shirley as Henry J Clay's ''Greatest" grand daughter might be challenged . First off I hadn't considered how far tales told here traveled . Guess the listeners were expected to be all local and in the locality 10 years ago .Actually the allusion was a echo of that groups often expressed sentiments .

Another aspect of this in actuality unassailable ''Greatestness " is don't reckon I'll ever know another Great Grand Daughter . While Shirley was except for a couple , younger in years than her Tombstone Squad cousins only she was a third generation descendant .
Us grunts are mostly 5th & a couple 4th & one 6th generation in descent from Henry & "Polly"..

Their son Masten b 1845c was Shirley's grandpa . Masten Clay is reported to have had the first house in now Pineville that wasn't built from logs . The lumber was sawn by his brother Hiram's water powered Mill . These Clays lived near present Pineville where now only one known descendant with the surname remains . The greater number of Clays now living at Saulsville are not descendants of the same Henry . Their ancestor was a brother in law of Capt Ralph Stewart & a son of Mercer Co's Mitchell Clay . Here he is designated by the middle initial "T" .

Shirley's gr grandfather is assigned "J" to distinguish them , however accurately . . . In the 1860 Wyo Census Saulsville Clay
progenitor Henry T was 78 : Shirley's g g/f Henry J was 50 .

Despite many efforts Shirley never found the relationship between the two Henrys . She did learn that Henry J's father was Masten Greenville And that his father was Masten Sr. (original spelling was 'Marston' ) . . .

Awhile back here on this side of the digital divide there was carolled some additional data on Henry J's forebears . From it the
relationship calculated is that Henry J was a second cousin once remove to Henry T . Henry J's farther Masten Greenville was Henry T's
second Cousin. Henry J's grandpa Masten Sr. was Mitchell's first cousin . . .

In addition to the details of the data permitting these calculation , the gathering of it is a worthwhile story . We'll have both next
. W D M

Its now next year & one month since Shirley's Story was left off . The information she sought has in three days been here for one year .
While this would be her post humous part of the tale , couldn't help wondering whether she also had a hand in the data carolling about which is to have been spoken .

Would have been over a year ago that the notion struck to seek that sought after unknown in cyber space . The most presentable plan called for the commissioning of a cyber sailor with the greater degree of internettedness . The obvious choice accepted the
mission & never returned from his many ports of call empty handed .

None of his shipments had shed light on the unseen until the one awaited but not really expected arrived . Meandering Mike had affixed the following label " believe we've got a winner " . . . It sure as hootin was ! It was from Fran Daniel forever to be known as Super Fran .
From that jewel ( her & the file ) I'll paste the ascendancy info on Shirley's great grandpa below ;

E-mail message
From: Date: Thu, Jan 25, 2001,Hi Darrell,
Here is Henry's line going backwards, which I believe is what you wanted. Hope you don't find too many errors in it (gasp!)

1. Henry J. CLAY was born about 1810. He died about 1890 in Wyoming Co., WV. He was buried in Wyoming Co., WV. He was married to Mary (Polly) ANDERSON (daughter of Charles ANDERSON) on 2 AUG 1838 in Pike Co., KY. Mary (Polly) ANDERSON died on 1 DEC 1885 in Wyoming Co., VA.

2. Marston Grenville CLAY Jr. was born about 1772. He died after 1815. He was married to Jane. 3. Jane. Marston Grenville CLAY Jr. and Jane had the following children:

    1 i. Henry J. CLAY.
    ii. Marston Green CLAY was born about 1812. He died after 1849. 

4. Marston CLAY was born on 4 JAN 1749 in Cumberland Co., VA. He died in 1807 in Henderson Co., KY. He was married to Elizabeth WILLIAMS on 29 MAR 1771 in Halifax Co., VA.

5. Elizabeth WILLIAMS was born about 1747 in Halifax Co., VA. Marston CLAY and Elizabeth WILLIAMS had the following children:
    2 i. Marston Grenville CLAY Jr..

8. Henry CLAY II. was born on 3 SEP 1711 in Chesterfield Co., VA. He died before 19 MAY 1764 in Cumberland Co., VA. He was married to Lucy GREEN in 1735 in Cumberland Co., VA.

9. Lucy GREEN was born on 19 JUL 1717 in Cumberland Co., VA. She died in 1805 in Powhatan Co., VA. Henry CLAY II. and Lucy GREEN had the following children:

    i. Henry CLAY III. was born on 19 SEP 1736 in Cumberland Co., VA. He was christened in 1787. He died on 17 JAN 1820 in Bourbon Co., KY. He was a Doctor.

    ii. Charles CLAY was born on 3 JUL 1740 in Cumberland Co., VA. 

    iii. Samuel Green CLAY was born on 16 MAY 1743 in Cumberland Co., VA. He was christened in 1789. He died in 1809 in Granville Co., NC. He was a Legislator.

    iv. Thomas CLAY was born on 17 JAN 1745 in Cumberland Co., VA. He died on 24 APR 1770 in Cumberland Co., VA. He was a Capt. in Amer. Rev..

    v. Abia CLAY was born on 17 MAR 1747 in Cumberland Co., VA. He died in JAN 1792.

    4 vi. Marston CLAY.

    vii. Rebecca CLAY was born on 14 NOV 1752 in Cumberland Co., VA.

    viii. John CLAY Rev. was born on 14 DEC 1754 in Cumberland Co., VA. He was christened in 1777. He died in 1835. He was a Capt. in Rev. War in 1777.

    ix. Lucy CLAY was born on 13 SEP 1756 in Cumberland Co., VA. She died before 1804.

    x. Elijah CLAY was born on 27 AUG 1759 in Cumberland Co., VA.

16. Henry CLAY was born on 3 AUG 1672 in Henrico Co., VA. He died on 3 AUG 1760 in Chesterfield Co., VA. He was married to Mary MITCHELL about 1708 in Henrico Co., VA.

17. Mary MITCHELL was born in JUL 1693 in Chesterfield Co., VA. She died on 7 AUG 1777 in Chesterfield Co., VA. Henry CLAY and Mary MITCHELL had the following children:

    i. William Mitchell CLAY Sr. was born about 1710 in Henrico Co., VA. He died on 6 SEP 1774 in Virginia.

    8 ii. Henry CLAY II..
Accordingly , Shirley's g g/f Henry J was a great grandson of Henry II ( ancestor #8) . Henry II was a brother of Wm Mitchell (first Rev War Casualty ?) the ancestor of Wyoming County's other Henry Clays .

Henry & Rhoda Solesbury 's son was omitted here earlier .Henry T Clay , Jr was 35 in the 1860 census & the RBOWCH says was in
the Mexican War . He married Ann Cook whose first husband was Owen Sizemore ( recently learned spent later life in Lincoln Co ) .
Henry T Jr has been confused with Henry J . There are Cook descendant lists that erroneously include Polly Anderson & Henry J's
children . These two Henrys were third cousins . They share a gr gr grandpa who was another Henry . who married Mary Mitchell .

So finally in a firm grasp is that slippery answer about Henry J's connection to Mitchell. Rather than the customary not in concrete caveat this info is hereby set in cement ( which would be amenable to a pavement breaker ) . The "greatest grand daughter " assignation would be amenable to nothing less than a nuclear device ( fusion not fission) .

A photo of Shirley was taken of her & her just installed grave marker at the Jackson Curve Cemetery . Below it & above Pineville was the vicinity of Henry J's residence . The photo along with a small inscription identifying the tombstone's sole purchaser was submitted to the publisher of the Wyo Co Heritage book . They used the photo ; declined the inscription. So am glad to get this told here on the 22nd day the 2nd year of the 21st century .

Viewers might not realize that Shirley had to kneel to permit a close up to also include the lettering . She was as tall as most men & once mentioned that her height was inherited from the Clays . The 1990 photograph is at ;

. W D M

Note: Please direct any questions regarding this article and lineage to  W. D. Miller at .


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