Clatterbuck Narrative
      Clatterbuck Narrative

      Catherine Ann Clatterbuck

      This is my attempt at a narrative of the Clatterbuck family. I have tried to weave the information I have collected with with historical background and thrown in some speculation to keep it interesting. I hope you will enjoy it.

      The uniqueness of the Clatterbuck name evokes many questions: What nationality is it? What does it mean? A good deal of ribbing usually follows. A good sense of humor has always been a necessary attribute of being a Clatterbuck. The Clatterbuck story mirrors much of American history, and we can say with assurance and pride that the Clatterbucks were a part of the building of this great nation.

      Our story begins in the fifteenth century in Grooterbroek, a small fishing village in Holland. There the Clotterbookes, a family of weavers, were driven out of the lowlands by the Spanish inquisition. They sailed across the English Channel and settled in Gloucester County, England where the name transformed into “Clutterbuck,” which is said to mean “A dweller near a noisy brook, a loud person, a roisterer.” The Missouri Clatterbucks often have joked that our name meant “Noisy Dollar.”

      In the year 1660, John Clutterbuck set sail from Bartley, Hampshire, England and sailed to the shores of newly settled America. There he sought his fortune as a bondservant of William Freeman to work four years as a planter on a Tobacco plantation in Caroline County, Virginia. Captain John Smith had canoed up the Rappahannok River just fifty years prior to be the first white man to enter the County. Sometime in the first few American generations, the name became “Clatterbuck” and thus the Clatterbuck family was established in America.

      Captain John Smith

      John's grandson, Richard, married Alice Guy. Little is know about Richard and Alice except that they partook in several court actions against a Harry Beverly and were awarded seventy-five pounds of tobacco. Legend says that Alice was taken by Indians as a child and was later returned as an adult.

      Richard and Alice had several sons. Among them were William P., who was the progenitor of the Virginia Clatterbucks of today and Richard "Dick" Clatterbuck who married Betty Massey and lived in Port Royal, along the banks of the Rappahannock River, in Caroline County near the town of Mount Church. Dick and Betty's son, Reuben is the patriarch of the Missouri Clatterbucks.

      Colonial Virginia was dominated by rich plantation owners. Those who did not own land lived very hard lives. Class distinction was widespread and with little access to education, escaping poverty was difficult. The growing discontent with England sent the colonies into war, and Virginia was in the center of the conflict. At the tender age of seventeen, Dick's son, Reuben volunteered service as a soldier in the War of the Revolution. We believe that Reuben may have had younger brother, Henry, that at age 14 enlisted as a drummer boy, and died of pneumonia during the conflict. Reuben's cousin, James, also fought for American freedom.

      Reuben made six dollars a month and fought in at least three campaigns. He marched through Williamsburg and Cornwallis, and while in Glouchester, he stood guard over the French General, The Marquis De Lafayette. The Marquis was only a year or two older than Reuben, and later in life recognized him and extended him the hand of friendship when he was on a tour of Kentucky.

      The Marquis De Lafayette

      After the war, Reuben married Martha Griffin, the daughter of Leroy Griffin and Elizabeth Jeter. Martha's ancestry was much more refined than Reuben's, as her parents owned land and were of the Gentry class. Reuben and Martha were Anglican, as were most of the those living in Virginia. Reuben and Martha had at least nine children, seven of them who were born in Virginia.

      Poor, illiterate and owning no land, Reuben and his family set out for the opening wild frontier in 1810. Traveling down the Wilderness Road forged by Daniel Boone, and through the Cumberland Gap to Shelby County of the Blue Grass State, Kentucky. There they lived for fifteen years and had two more sons. Family legend says that their oldest daughter, Mary Elizabeth and her husband, John Allen Standley, were killed in house fire there, leaving several young children orphaned.

      The Wilderness Road

      In 1826, Reuben, now well into his sixties, and his family followed the promise of free government land and became some of the early pioneers who lived along the banks of the Missouri River, in the newly founded County of Callaway, Missouri. Lewis and Clark first explored this area and later Daniel Boone forged the trail. Many of Boone's ancestors still reside there, including some who married into collateral lines of the Clatterbuck family.


      In Callaway, they received forty acres of land. It was a time of "self -reliance and brave persevering toil. They had to subsist on what they would grow, find in the woods or happen to find for sale. They had few neighbors, but they were on the best terms with those they had. They helped one another as if they were all bold relations. They knew they had to live this way for protection."

      As the years passed Reuben developed a productive farm and his estate expanded it into nearly three hundred acres. It was located about seven miles west of the present village of New Bloomfield. Reuben was known as one of the sterling pioneers of Callaway County.

      Reuben and Martha's children were: Mary Elizabeth, Caroline, Nancy, John, Leroy, James, Cageby, Richard , and William Getter. All but one settled in Callaway and its surrounding counties.

      Most of the Callaway Clatterbucks were farmers. Mule raising was one of the prime farming activities. The mules in the area were well known across the state and in great demand. My Grandfather likes to tell us "Your great grandfather was a mule trader", thinking that may explain some of the Clatterbuck tendancies toward a good bargain.

      During the Civil War, Callaway County abstained from taking a position, as the county was divided in its loyalties. It became known as "The Kingdom of Callaway". Although the county may have been neutral, the Clatterbucks who fought in the war were far from it. Their Virginia roots beckoned and three Grandsons of Reuben Clatterbuck joined the Confederate cause, including William Samuel Clatterbuck, and John J. Clatterbuck, who lost his life to his battle injuries. William Payne Clatterbuck served as a quarter master in East Texas. The husband of Isabelle Jane Clatterbuck, John Martin Wilson, also fought as a Confederate Soldier.

      Patricia Hardin in her book "The Accidental Apperance of a Crime, Mob Rule in Fulton Missouri in 1873" describes an infamous Callaway incident.

            "During the Civil War, virtually every landholder in the area was from
            Virginia or Kentucky and sanctified the Cause. On July 17, 1861,
            According to colloquial accounts, rumors reached Guthrie that federal
            troops were to pass through that area on the way to Fulton where they
            intended to have a presence. An assortment of neighbors, Bennetts, Holts,
            Moores, Reynolds, Brandons, Vaughns, Brooks and Clatterbucks,
            took up squirrel rifles and muskets, and set out to block the advance.
            When Union troops marched upon them, a few shots were exchanged
            and the vastly outnumbered rebels held their foudn long enough for John
            Bennett to cry "Run!" And so they did. Federal troops continued on to
            Fulton, derisively deciding they had just fought the "Battle of Overton's

      The majority of the early Clatterbucks lived in the Cedar Township, in the New Bloomfield and Guthrie areas. The Cedar Creek is the dividing line between Callaway County and Boone County. The Clatterbuck's settled on both sides of the creek. Cageby's clan seems to have fallen mostly on the Boone County side. A 1910 Callaway article about the children of William Getter Clatterbuck says:

            "So numerous are the descendants of Reuben Clatterbuck that it is said
            that enough of them live west of the railroad in Cedar township to Control
            the affairs of that part of the township on any one subject which is put to
            a vote."

      The Callaway Clatterbuck population continued to grown until the early part of the 20th century, when the call of industrial life, and later the devastation of the depression, began to spread the Clatterbucks throughout the mid-west and the west; some to St. Louis, others to Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, and others went on to California and Oregon. There are only a very small handful of people with the Clatterbuck name now living in Central Missouri, but there are still many who are relations. Although the name is still known in Callaway, elsewhere it is unusual to run into another Clatterbuck that is not an immediate family member. And although Clatterbucks throughout history have endured the ribbing of holding such an unusual name, they should hold their head up high and be proud of a family that helped to build this nation. Thus is the legacy of Reuben Clatterbuck of Old Dominion.