Melvin and Dottie Clark family (photo courtesy porpauline, "A Day's Journey",

This section of the website presents what I know about the families of Melvin Keeter Clark and his wife, Clara "Dottie" May Laughary. An index of all persons included in this section can be found here.

Melvin and Dottie lived in Hopkins County in the coal and farming region of Western Kentucky. During their 54 years of marriage, they raised a farm family of ten children. Their children have spread across the United States as far away as Texas, Illinois and Colorado and have numerous children, grand-children, and great-grandchildren of their own.

Melvin and Dottie both came from families with long backgrounds in Western Kentucky and North Carolina. In many cases, it is possible to identify their ancestors back to the late 1700's. What I know of Melvin's family tree is shown below (Dottie's tree is shown further down this page).

Below are short histories of some of the people in Melvin's and Dottie's family trees. Clicking on a Blue name in the histories or a name in any chart will take you to that person's Individual Info Page where you will find more information about the person. To return to this page, click the Clark tab at the top of any page (or use your browser's Back button). For help with moving around in the web site, click the Help tab at the top of any page.

The Clarks

The name Clark is almost certainly English in origin. It is thought to be derived from the same word as "clerk" and to be associated with a person who was literate. In the Middle Ages, most of the people who could read and write were clergy, so there might also be a religious connotation.

Hopkins Webster Union Henderson Counties
Evolution of counties in the Hopkins County area

The area occupied today by Hopkins, Webster, Union, and Henderson Counties is part of "The Western Coal Fields" region of West-Central Kentucky. Since the 1800's, this has been one of the nation's primary coal-mining regions. Between the state's founding in 1792 and 1799, this area became part of several large counties including Lincoln, Logan, and Christian county. The overall shape of the area was established in 1799 when Henderson County was formed. As the population grew, the Southern half of Henderson County was sectioned off to form Hopkins. In 1811, Henderson was further divided to form Union County. The county borders stayed relatively stable until 1860 when parts of Union, Henderson, and Hopkins were combined to form Webster County.
The most distant Clark ancestors I've found are William and Sarah Clark. I know very little about them. They were probably born in the late 1700's, possibly in South Carolina where they were living in 1807. But by 1810, they had headed west and had moved to Western Kentucky to the area that became Union County. It seems likely that William worked as a carpenter since he made special mention of his tools in his will. William died in Union County in 1824. I haven't found any records of Sarah after that, but it's said that after William's death, some of his children moved to Carroll County, Mississippi. There is some evidence that supports this, as the first two children of William's son Aquilla were born in Mississippi. William and Sarah had numerous descendants. The ones I know are shown in this chart: Descendants of William and Sarah Clark.

William and Sarah's son Aquilla C. Clark was born about 1807, probably in South Carolina. He was fairly young when his family moved to Kentucky and he probably spent most of his younger years there. When he was 19, he married Helen (or Ellen) Hedges, an Ohio girl who was also 19. They spent the late 1820's living in Mississippi, but about 1830, they moved back to the area of Union, Hopkins, and Webster Counties in Kentucky, where they spent the rest of their lives together. They had eleven children that I know of, the fifth of whom was Melvin Clark's ancestor John F. Clark. Rachel died in 1860 and Aquilla moved to the town of Fairfield in Wayne County, Illinois where one of his sons was living. He probably died between 1880 and 1900. Aquilla spent most of his life as a farmer, although in 1870, he was working as a carpenter -- a trade he might have picked up from his father.

John F. Clark was a farmer and physician. He was born about 1836, after his parents had moved from Mississippi back to Union County, Kentucky. When John was a child, his parents moved to Hopkins County and that's where he spent his youth. When he was 20, he married Jane S. Thompkins there. Jane was born about 1836, the youngest of the children of William W. Thompkins and Temperance B. Cox of Hopkins County. Jane's maternal grandfather was Samuel Cox, said to be a Revolutionary War veteran from North Carolina. Samuel and his wife, also named Temperance, came to Hopkins County in the early 1800's.

Jane and John Clark spent their lives in the Hopkins/Webster County area and raised seven children there. John worked most of his life as a farmer, but in 1900, he stated that he was working as a physician in the village of Barnsley (just North of Morton's Gap in Hopkins County). I haven't found any record that shows he had formal training as a medical doctor so he may have been simply serving the townspeople with medical knowledge that he gained from his lifetime of experience in helping his family and neighbors with their health problems.

Hopkins County
Locations in Hopkins and Webster Counties
John and Jane Clark named their first son Aquilla after John's father. The younger Aquilla was born about 1860, probably near Vanderburg in Webster County. He seems to have grown up in neighboring Hopkins County, where his family moved when he was a boy. He was 21 when he married Susan Alice Cox of Hopkins County. Susan Alice was the daughter of Charles T Cox and Sarah Royster. Susan was born in 1859 in Hopkins County, the sixth of Charles and Sarah's seven children who lived to be adults. Charles and Sarah were born in Virginia in the early 1820's and were married in 1845 in Mecklenburg County on the Virginia-North Carolina border. They moved to Kentucky almost immediately after their marriage and by 1848, were farming in Hopkins County. They were living there until 1880, but I have found no record of them after that. (It's possible that Charles' family was related to the family of Temperance B. Cox, but I have not found any evidence of that.)

Aquilla and Susan settled in Hopkins County and had seven children, six of whom lived to be adults. I haven't found records that show Aquilla's occupation, but his great-grand-daughter remembers being shown his medical bag; perhaps he followed his father as a physician. Aquilla died at the young age of 33, leaving Susan as the sole parent of six children under the age of thirteen. With the help of her sons, she continued to operate the family farm until after 1910 when the children were old enough to live on their own. Sometime between 1910 and 1920, she moved in with one of her sons; later, she resided with one of her daughters who lived near Hanson in Hopkins County. She died in 1940 at the age of 81.
Keet and Ina Clark - 1963

Aquilla and Susan apparently enjoyed unusual first names -- Among their children were "Larice", "Minerva", "Manin", "Minis", and Melvin Clark's father, "Keet." Keet C. Clark was born in 1887 in Hopkins County. He was only five when his father died, and as he grew, he must have taken on his share of supporting the family. By 1910, he was working independently, probably as a farm hand in Hopkins County. Two years later, he married Ina Hobgood Day, another Hopkins County native (see "The Days"). Keet and Ina settled near Manitou and by 1920, they owned their own farm. They raised four children there and farmed until late in life. They eventually retired and moved into the city of Madisonville where Keet died in 1976 and Ina, in 1983.

The Days

The name "Day" is usually thought of as having an origin in the British Isles. It is related to the Irish "O'Day" and the Welsh "Dee". One possible origin of the name is as a shortened form of "David", a very popular name throughout Britain during the Middle Ages.
Person County, North Carolina (1800)

If you're studying the families who came to Hopkins and Webster Counties in the 1800's, it doesn't take long to notice how of them came from Person and Granville Counties in North Carolina. Of the families related to the Clarks, these include the Days, the Hobgoods, the Parkers, the Tapps, and probably some others. There was a huge flow of people from Person and Granville Counties to Western Kentucky that started in the late 1700's and lasted for many years. Many people have noted this and have tried to understand the reason it happened, but there doesn't yet appear to be a theory that explains everything. My best guess is that it's somehow related to the Transylvania Colony effort of the 1770's in which speculators pushed to make most of what is now Kentucky a 14th Colony (see Wikipedia article). The leader of this effort, Richard Henderson, had lived in Granville County and, when his plan failed, ended up owning just a small area at what is now Henderson County, Kentucky. Henderson and his successors were highly motivated to develop the area, and it's reasonable to suppose that they tried to draw immigrants from Henderson's home area. But that's only a guess and the truth behind the great migration remains hidden, at least to me.

Melvin Clark's Day ancestors descend from William Day and his wife, Mary, both born around 1800 in North Carolina. Many believe that William was the son of Francis Day and Jane Farmer of Person County in the North Carolina Piedmont. Mary's birth name was probably Hargit and she might have been the daughter of Abraham Hargit. As far as I can tell, William and Mary lived their whole lives as a farm family in Person County and they raised six children there. They were in Person County as late as 1860, but I lose track of them after that. I assume they died between 1860 and 1870. Their descendants are shown in this chart: Descendants of William and Mary Day.

Melvin Clark's great-grandfather Isaac Thomas Day was William and Mary Day's third child. He was born about 1834 in North Carolina, probably in Person County. He was a farm boy and spent his youth working on his father's farm there. Sometime between 1850 and 1860, he moved West, probably in search of good farm land. He settled in Hopkins County, Kentucky (I don't know the reason he decided to settle there, but there were already North Carolina Days in the area and it's possible that Isaac settled near relatives). In 1860, he married Avarilla Hobgood (see "The Hobgoods"). Over the next 15 years, they had eight children, the oldest being Melvin Clark's grandfather, Thomas B. Day. Avarilla died in 1877 and Isaac remarried and had four additional children. Isaac lived to be 73 years old and was buried in the Hobgood Cemetery near Manitou, Hopkins County.

Thomas B Day c 1912 (photo courtesy porpauline, "A Day's Journey",
Ina Hobgood Day (photo provoded by porpauline, "A Day's Journey",
Isaac and Avarilla Day's first child was Thomas B. "Bury" Day, born in 1861 in Hopkins County. Like most of his family, Thomas grew up as a farm boy and spent his life farming. His family also remembers him as a shopkeeper and a prominent member of the community. He was 23 when he married Ruthie Alice Hobgood (see "The Hobgoods") and they settled near the town of Hanson in Hopkins County. They had at least ten children including Melvin Clark's mother, Ina Hobgood Day. Thomas died in 1914 at the early age of 53. Ruthie Alice lived until 1944. They are buried together in the Hobgood Cemetery near Manitou in Hopkins County.

The Hobgoods

"Hobgood" is an ancient Anglo/Saxon name that was common in Southern England. Some think it derives from an old blessing or greeting like "Have God" or "Have good." There are numerous spellings of the name in use including "Habgood", "Hapgood", "Hopgood", and "Apgood", but most of Melvin Clark's family appears to have used "Hobgood", and I have chosen to use that spelling in this research.

The earliest Hobgood ancestor I've been able to find is Thomas G. Hobgood, born about 1797 in North Carolina, probably in the Piedmont region near the Virginia border. Thomas was 22 when he married 18-year-old Sarah "Sallie" Parker in Person County. She was born in North Carolina about 1802 to P. Parker (he was probably Powell Parker) and his wife Nancy (she may have been Nancy Lumpkin). Between 1820 and 1834, they had nine of what would eventually be eleven children. The fourth of these children was Melvin Clark's great-grandfather, Thomas Ellis Hobgood, born in 1827.

Sometime between 1834 and 1839, Thomas and Sarah Hobgood decided to leave North Carolina. They headed West and settled on a 150-acre farm on Pond Creek in Hopkins County, Kentucky. Soon after arriving in Kentucky, they had a daughter, Melvin Clark's great-grandmother Avarilla. They lived together in Hopkins County until Sarah died in 1858. Thomas married twice more before he died at the age of 85. They are both buried in the Hobgood Cemetery near Manitou, Kentucky. Their descendants are listed in this chart: Descendants of Thomas and Sallie Hobgood.

Thomas Ellis Hobgood was born about 1827 while his parents were living around Person County, North Carolina and he spent his childhood there. He was probably in his early teens when the family moved to Hopkins County. There, when he was 22 or 23, he married Mary Ann Parker, the 19-year-old daughter of Jonas Parker and Ruth Tapp.

Like Thomas, Mary Ann came from the Person County, North Carolina area, and it's possible that the two young people had known each other as children. It is said that her father Jonas was born in Virginia and migrated to North Carolina as a young man. He and Ruth Tapp married in 1816 in Person County and they are said to have had five sons and five daughters before 1837 when they migrated to Hopkins County. At the time the family moved, Mary Ann was about seven years old, and she spent most of her youth in Kentucky.

Thomas and Mary Ann had at least ten children, one of whom was Ruthie Alice Hobgood, born about 1866. After Mary Ann died in 1874, Thomas remarried and had two more children. In 1900, he was living with his second wife in Webster County, Kentucky. I have not found a record of him after that.

The Laugharys

The Laugharys were Clara May "Dottie" Laughary's paternal family. The Laughary name is probably Irish or Scots-Irish in origin. Some believe that the name derives from the same root as "Loch" (meaning lake, as in Loch Ness) and may have arisen from a geographical connection. There are numerous spellings in use ("Loughary", "Loughry", "Lawry", and many others), and as many pronunciations (ranging from "Loo-gary" to "Law-hair") making it somewhat hard to determine linkages between the various families. It appears that in the U.S., "Loughary" is the most common spelling. However, Dottie's family uses "Laughary", so I take that spelling here.

The earliest Laughary ancestors I've been able to find are William C. Laughary and his wife, Stasa Todd. William C. was born about 1825 in Tennessee and Stasa was born about 1830 in Kentucky. They married in 1845 in Hopkins County when Stasa was just fifteen. They moved a good deal during their marriage, living in Hopkins (1850), Union (1860), and Webster (1870) Counties of Kentucky and in Missouri (1880). Their frequent moves might be explained by a legend that William was a travelling preacher. However, he gave his occupation as farmer and blacksmith in the censuses and I haven't found any evidence that he was a minister. William and Stasa had eleven children that I know of, all born in Kentucky. The last record I have found of them is from 1880 when they were living in Dent County in South Central Missouri. What I know about William and Stasa's descendants is shown in this chart: Descendants of William and Stasa Laughary.

William C. and Stasa Laughary's son John M. Laughary was born in 1849, probably in Hopkins County, Kentucky. John's wife was Susan A. Parks, daughter of John E. Parks and Harriett O. Johnson. John Parks was born about 1827. It isn't clear just where he was born, since every census he is listed in gives a different birth state (1850 has Kentucky, 1860 has South Carolina, and 1870 has Tennessee). Wherever he was actually born, by 1850, he had settled in Hopkins County where he married Harriett Johnson. Harriett was born about 1832 in Virginia and may have been a daughter of Albert and Elizabeth Carnel Johnson. John and Harriett had four children including Susan A. who was born in 1858. Harriett died when Susan was a young child and John died not many years later, probably in 1872.

In 1870, the families of John Laughary and Susan Parks were both living in Webster County and that was probably where the two young people met. They married there in 1874. Over the next 25 years, they had seven children, the third being Delbert, Dottie Laughary's father. John M. worked as a farmer until he died at the age of 59. Susan lived to be 70. They are buried at Mount Gilead Cemetery in Webster County.

Delbert Daniel Laughary was born in 1887 in Webster County, probably near the Slaughtersville Community (now called Slaughters). In 1906, he married 16-year-old Lillie Elizabeth Adams (see "The Adams Family"). Delbert was a farmer, primarily working rented farms in Hopkins and Webster Counties. They had at least seven children, but only one -- Dottie -- lived to adulthood. Lillie died in 1930. Delbert remarried five years later and lived until 1974. Lillie and Delbert are buried in Mount Gilead Cemetery in Webster County.

The Adams Family

Dottie Laughary's mother's family descends from Thomas Adams. Thomas was an early settler of the Hopkins County area and served as a Justice of the Peace in the first court held in the county in 1807. Some researchers think that Thomas came from Virginia and that his wife's name was Elizabeth Ashby, but I have not been able to verify either of those ideas. It's likely that Thomas had multiple children, but the only one I know of is Dottie's ancestor William Adams, born about 1811.

William Adams, a farmer, lived his entire life in Hopkins County. He married Susan F. Slaton there in 1834 and they had nine children. When William died in 1854 at the young age of 43, Susan was left with the burden of raising the children who at that time ranged in age from nineteen to two years. It appears that the older boys helped take up the work of running the family farm and the family managed to survive. Susan lived to the age of 95, dying in 1905. William and Susan are buried in Mount Zion Cemetery, Madisonville, Kentucky.

William and Susan's son Aaron K. Adams was born in 1845 or '46. He was just eight when his father died and he probably spent most of his youth and early adult years working with his brothers to keep up the family farm. He was 27 when he married Emaline Ashby, daughter of Kentucky natives Thomas H. Ashby and Mary E. Davis. Aaron and Emaline had five children. Their fifth child, born in 1890, was Lilly Elizabeth Adams, mother of Dottie Laughary. Emaline remarried in 1900 and it's probable that Aaron died sometime in the 1890's. I have not found any records of Emaline after 1900.