The McClendon Letters
~ ca-1818 ~
Henderson County Kentucky
Copyright © 1999, TNGenNet, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

       In 1992 I had the pleasure of corresponding on Prodigy with Henderson County and Webster County Researchers. Robert W. Wallace of Rocky Mount, N.C. at that time shared letters of his McClendon Ancestors. Ora B. Chandler was the orginal source of these marvelous letters. These letters tell not only of the family, but their joy and sorrow. A special ‘thank you’ to Bob and Mrs. Chandler for sharing these letters once again with the Henderson County families. - Betty Sellers

       Letter from Sarah McClendon, wife of Benjamin McClendon, to her sons, Joel It appears to be her attempt to convey to them a number of facts about their life during the early years the family spent in Kentucky; and to give them her view of their father’s character and personality, as well as his physical traits. It is obvious that Sarah was not a highly educated woman, but was very capable of making her point on a number of social, family, and political issues of her day. Her sense of humor is apparent as she describes several events from that era.

       Sarah McClendon, wife of Benjamin
       Henderson County, Ky which is now Webster Co., Ky.
       Joel Mc Clendon her son


Joel :
       Yore Daddy had lots of land with tall big trees and they with help of Rok and them that come with us and our nebbors put up a church after we bilt our houses we new we was going to have a baby and other kids there, Benjamin, Dunn, and others tole Benjamin, Red Banks was to colse to River, it was swampy marshy low wet land and later on the path betten oute to here would be betten out further throw the woods so Benjamin said, here is my land near our house, to bild the school so we all settled here can protect the children, our Indans like to protect people - I can see everybody out there kutting down the trees, falling with a bang, stripping off other limbs, it was getting late so they just put the logs together, without cutting them in to peaces, putting one on the other, and the woman making up mud to dobbed in the holes -one room with one winder and one door - the roof was whabby-gobby covered with logs, tree limbs and dobbed with mud, one side was longer than the other, but they pushed out one end and met them - but bilding the stick chimley, draging all size and shaped from everywhere - what a pull and push it was getting one on top of the other, one that fell mashed Russel big toe flat and it never did get in shape again - we had linment made out egg betten up with turpentine got out of drippin of trees and paked, but left no fealin in his toe.
       Soon the stick chimney was up bove the roof. Mr. Dunn said now walls roof and chimney up, lets split the logs half way into for seats and we will rush the buffalows by in groves, plug them down skin and dry the hides to make seats for our children to Set on; cover window and door with buffalo skins when it gets cold and use candles when too dark. We put a stove in it like the one your daddy’s picture is made by.
       They got it all bilt and reddy for a teacher, we watted, none or even a preacher come by so before winter set we wanted to open it - we set a day. All gathered in best klothes with little one to start to school and big ones to - we put the Bible on a made out of a high log, table with picture of Christ on back wall, everybody that had sacks or scrap of paper brought them along ink and pencil brush out of goose quills ink made out of Elderyberry.
       So Benjamin was to be the teacher until one come along, he dressed up in best suit, beard hanging to shoe toe, shoes shining, white shirt, we all got there first and was seated, in come Benjamin, my he looked beautiful, blue eyes shining with always a big smile, gracefully walking through the door to the high log table with the Bible on it, and Christ picture behind him - “he looked like Christ’s desciple” -He asked us to stand and say the Lord’s prayer next we sung Our National Anthem - Yankee Doodle Dandy our people in Revolutionary War, drummed it before and after battle and...he taught her to read and awl our slaves children that wood take it, ours and our slaves children went to school with all the children that wood take it.
       We soon saw a twinkle in Our Teacher’s eye of wandering-and learned he had a Suzy Jane back home, he water was coming up and a hard winter was to be had so he left us for his Suzy Jane. It was swampy there rainy sickness taken hold of us, so I told you about Benjamin having land along the way to Madisonville bilding it up and a good price for this here, we like others pulled up stake Łor there and other places.
       Your daddy finished out the school. A very good road had been padded out on below us too Shanetown. We went back to see our neghbors but Our beloved teacher never returned with Suzy Jane, I have told you about our new home, will tell you more about our church and school there if I stay in this place longer.
       I can see my handsom husband walking in that school house and never forget that sun shinny day Aug, fiftenth 1793. Benjamin and others set up a Board of Trustees same as ones we left to help plan and see everything was in fit, the children liked for Benjamin not to wear his long beard plated on Fri. so they could tug at it and giggle as on Fri. after a long week everybody was tired, he never had much trouble there as most children had been taught at home, but one day Bill Upp put cockleburs in his beard Benjamin had Bill to pick them out, he platted his beard and gave Bill a good laching with it, one kid always if out, rest wood be good I just keep huming Yankee Doodle Dandy while writing

There was a thousand men
As rick as Square David
And what they wasted every day
I wish it could be saved
Yankee Doodle Dandy
Mind the music and the step
And with the girls be hand

The ladies they eat every day
Would keep a house a winter
They have so much that I’II be bound
They eat it when theyre a mind to

       Benjamin had a long way to go to first criminal court in Red Banks a hot day July 1, 1799 and there he saw Gen. Sam’l Hopkins, Hugh Knox, Bill Blackburn elected Common Attorney for the County. It had not been to long since he saw them as the Governor met in our school house and pointed some men to be justices and quarter court in 1798 soon after Red Banks and all land was made a County in that year, it was so little the court that day gave us people there $50 to make it better the first thing they did there was to start making longer and better roads - Mammy and everybody else cooked there best and brought it to our house,and this bunch of men make a feast of it and they talked about Isaac Dunn swearing on Sunday on his way back from church living close to us. They said people living around had to help bild the road,

Love me forever Your Mamma

Benjamin F. McClendon-6
(Joel-5; Dennis D. Sr.-4; Thomas-3; Dennis-2; John-1)

       Benjamin F. McClendon was born ca. 1768 in North Carolina to Joel McClendon and Frances Lilly. He died in 1808 in Henderson Co. (now Webster), Kentucky. He is buried there in the McClendon/Chandler Cemetery. He married ca. 1797/1798 probably in North Carolina to Sarah (surname unknown). She was born ca. 1780 probably in North Carolina. She died after 1818 in Henderson Co. (now Webster), Kentucky, and is buried there in the McClendon/Chandler Cemetery. She married 2) on 23 Apr 1808 to Joseph Windell.
       In 1782 Benjamin witnessed a deed from Dennis McClendon to James Ray. Then on 19 Jan 1878, he received a deed from his father, Dennis McClendon (Book H, p. 54).

Benjamin was listed in the 1790 Anson Co., North Carolina, census in the Fayette District. He is listed as a free white male over 16 yrs. of age. He was probably living on the property that was either given or sold to him by Dennis D. McClendon, Sr. on 19 Jan 1787. In 1792 he took a land grant on Jack’s Creek, adjoining his father and his brother Dennis McClendon, Jr. In 1793 he witnessed a deed from Frederick McClendon to Larkin INGRAM (Book C, p. 339). On 20 Jan 1794 he conveyed land on Brown’s Creek to James Hough, 50 acres (Book C, p. 220). In 1796 he witnessed a deed from Ezekiel McClendon and John Kimbrough, Jr., two tracts of land in Anson Co. on Gold’s Fork of Brown’s Creek. In October of 1797 he conveyed land to Roland Williams (Book D, p. 398). At that time he was living in Anson Co. near his brothers Jesse, Frederick, Joel, and Ezekiel and his sisters Elizabeth and Semilia.
       Benjamin moved to Kentucky sometime in 1797 or 1798 and settled first in Christian Co. He appeared in the 1799 Christian Co. Tax List. In 1800 he and Frederick McClendon appeared in the Christian Co. Tax List. In 1801 he is listed as 1 male over 21 with 200 acres of land on Little River. On 28 Jan 1801 he witnessed a bill of sale from Lemuel Sugg to V. Dillingham, covering a Negro boy named Harry (Book A, p. 135). Sugg was shown as a resident of Robertson Co., Tennessee. In Dec 1801 he appraised the estate of Leaftus. On 28 Mar 1803 he served as a Christian Co. Grand Juror. On 17 Oct 1803 he had a survey of 400 acres of land in Christian Co.
       It has been said that Benjamin removed to Mississippi along with his first cousin, Frederick, son of Ezekiel and Mary Dunn McClendon; however, no records have been found to prove that Benjamin ever went to Mississippi. This is, in my opinion, the Benjamin McClendon who came to Henderson Co., Kentucky, ca. 1797, and is the father of William, Joel, and Jesse and the grandfather of Clarinda McClendon. A picture taken in the early 1800s is in my possession. - Robert Wallace

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