Some Clarksons of Kentucky


Some Clarksons of Kentucky

By Neil Allen Bristow

The Clarksons seemed to have settled first in the central Bluegrass (Fayette, Bourbon and neighboring counties). Another, smaller group is found south of the Kentucky River (in Mercer, Boyle, and Washington), and a third cluster, coming later, is found west of Louisville (in Meade, Breckinridge, and Grayson). A few other families are scattered elsewhere throughout the Commonwealth, as were descendants of the early settlers who had left the nest.

Bluegrass Settlers

The Bourbon settlers were mostly descendants of Anselm of Louisa and David of Amherst, although the connections are not always clear.

William Clarkson was an early member of the Baptist congregation at Bryans Station (number 29 on the membership list), along with several members of the Julius Clarkson family.1

In 1790 a letter for "David Clarkson of Fayette" was noted as being held at the office of the Kentucky Gazette in Lexington, and in 1796 William Clarkson reported finding a stray mare in Bourbon County, and in 1800 he served as an administrator for Harmonius Alkin, according to items in the Kentucky Gazette.2 In March of 1797 he was appointed as a Justice of the Peace by Governor James Garrard.3

In January 1798 David Clarkson witnessed depositions.4

A compilation of Kentucky tax lists from around 1800 (to replace the missing census returns) finds six Clarkson families in Bourbon county: Anselm, Charles, David, John, Julius, and William. Elsewhere in Kentucky were Drury, John, Joseph, Thomas, and William in Mercer County; another John in Jefferson; and Edward Clarkston in Washington.5

The 1810 Federal Census lists 12 Clarksons in Kentucky, nine of whom were found in Bourbon county: Agnes [widow of John], Anselm, Anselm Sr., David, David Sr., Julius, Julius, Peter, and Reuben. Charles was counted in Breckinridge, and Edward and Henry in Washington.6

The 1820 Census included eight Clarksons in Bourbon:7 Anselm, Charles, David, H. B., James M., Julius, Julius W., and Peter. (David and Peter may have been Julius' brothers.) Mary Beckley Bristow many years later recalled an elderly and senile uncle David.8

Elsewhere were Thomas in Casey, James F. In Hardin, Drury in Mercer, David in Pendleton, John and William in Shelby, Joshua (Julius?) in Woodford, and three "Clarkstons": William in Daviess, Ansalem in Madison, and Edward in Washington.9

By 1830 many of the families had moved north from the Bluegrass to the Ohio River. In the Boone County tally, David Clarkson had two adult women sharing his home, together with five children and an equal number of slaves. James Clarkson had five children below 15 and a score of slaves.10

Remaining in Bourbon were Julius (and some of his children, including Reuben L.), and Peter. In nearby Pendleton were Julius W., David, and David J. [Jr.?]. Anselm and Manoah were in Breckinridge, and James F. in Meade. Drury and Thomas were in Mercer, Andrew in Owen, and William Jr. in Shelby (twice).11

Counted in Boone and nearby Campbell in 1840 were: Peter, Elijah Smith, and Ansalem [Anselm] Clarkson, John, William C., and several of Julius' descendants. In Breckinridge were Manoah, Anselm, and Julius. David S., Isaac and "Ancel" were in Pendleton. A group in Meade included James F., William, Rheuben, James, Thomas, and R.M. J.M. was in Hardin.12

The western cluster

Thomas J. Clarkson came from Virginia before 1840 to Meade, where he died in 1854. A mortality report gives his age as 59 and his parents as "A and M Clarkson".13 His widow Elizabeth lived on until after 1880. His son, Dewitt Clinton Clarkson, became a Methodist minister.

Also in the area were descendants of Manoah Clarkson of Albemarle (1741-1829), including James Fielding Clarkson (1777?-1864). There are multiple connections with the Goodman and Moorman families of the Virginia Piedmont. Many of this group later moved to central Missouri. Somewhere in this line belong Julius Fielding Clarkson (1799-1867) and his many descendants. One of his sons, James Fielding Clarkson (1824-1911), married a cousin (Lucy Jane Clarkson), returned to Kentucky and settled in Louisville.14

Other Clarksons in Kentucky

The descendants of Drury Clarkson of Mercer/Boyle, believed that his father Nathan came from England after the Revolution. Since there were other Nathans in the Albemarle group, Drury's line instead might come from David of Amherst. Associated with Drury in tax lists were Thomas and William. A John also appears on tax lists until 1810 when he died, leaving a will (but not identifying his heirs by name). This John would have been of an age to have been the son of John of Goochland, but no connection has been established.15

Another Thomas Clarkson in Warren County by 1840 may come from the Mercer group.16

Edward Knotley Clarkson and his wife Lucy Edelin came from Maryland to Washington County before 1830. Many of their descendants were Catholic, and included at least two who took holy orders.17

The merchant Achilles M. Clarkson (1805? -?) passed through Kentucky en route to Linn County, Missouri from Virginia long enough for the birth of a son, Henry Clay, about 1843.18

Jabez Clarkson was born in Mercer County about 1805 and moved to southeastern Missouri (Mississippi County). Tradition says his father William came from England to central Kentucky via Goochland, but there is probably confusion with some of the several other William Clarksons.19

Another William Clarkson, born in Virginia about 1797, moved to Sullivan County in northern Missouri before 1860 and may have stopped in Kentucky before crossing the Mississippi.20

By mid century there were three dozen Clarkson families in Kentucky. Some were newcomers, and some of those who had been found in the Commonwealth in earlier enumerations had moved on to other states, especially Missouri.


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1 See "Bryan's Station Church Book" [Typescript by unknown hand of membership roster and minutes of meetings, 1786-1901], Kentucky Historical Society files, s.v. Churches - Bryants Station Baptist.

2 Karen Mauer Green, Kentucky Gazette: Genealogical and Historical Abstracts (Baltimore: Gateway Press, v 1 1787-1800, 1983), 142, 263; 28. William was later (1804) reported as living "on the road from Paris to Cleveland's." Ibid. (v 2 1801-1820, 1985), 38.

3 Kentucky Ancestors, 28: 150.

4 Bourbon County Court Order Book B, January 1798. Transcript on

5 G. Gordon Clift, "Second Census" of Kentucky (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1976), 55.

6 AIS abstract of the 1810 Federal Census.

7 AIS abstract of the 1820 Federal Census.

8 Bristow, Aunt Mary's Diary, 35. Letter 8 Jan 1854 to Sarah Jane Clarkson.

9 1820 Federal Census, Kentucky. Index at

10 1830 Federal Census, Boone County, Kentucky.

11 AIS index of the 1830 Federal Census.

12 1840 Federal Census, Kentucky. Index at

13 Vital Statistics index, Kentucky Historical Society.

14 Manoah's descendants have sketches in W. H. Perrin, et al., Kentucky: A History of the State (Easley, SC: Southern Historical Press, 1978-1979 [1885]), Edition 3: 1131, "Benjamin S. Clarkson"; and in Edtion 6: 792, "Rev J. W. Goodman". For sketches of Julius Fielding's descendants see T. Berry Smith and Pearl Sims Gehrig, History of Chariton and Howard Counties, Missouri (Topeka: Historical Publishing, 1923), 826-827. Also Historical Pictorial and Biographical Record of Chariton County, Missouri (Salisbury, MO: Pictorial and Biographical Publishing, 1896 [1976]), 92-93. The family of James Fielding and Lucy appear in census enumerations through 1910.

15 Karl Taylor Clarkson (1911-1999), in The Clarksons of Mississippi County, Missouri and Related Families (La Mesa, CA: Karl Taylor Clarkson, 1974[?]) Karl was diligent in gathering original sources (tax lists, wills, etc.) but lumped together different persons who happened to have the same names. See also posting by Grace Painter on Clarkson Genforum, 2 Aug 2001. Message 595. John's will, dated 22 Mar 1810, was probated at the April court.

16 'Thomas Clarkston'. 1840 Census Warren County (139); 1850 Census (30).

17 Olive Lewis Kolb, Wilfrid V. Worland & Rev T. Vincent Worland, One Man's Family: History & Genealogy of the Worland Family in America 1662-1962 (Shelbyville, IN: The Authors, 1968), Supplement on Clarkson, 881-929.

18 Census data from Linn County, Missouri 1860 (688), 1870 (321), 1880 (504).

19 Karl Taylor Clarkson The Clarksons of Mississippi County. See also History of Southeast Missouri (Chicago: Goodspeed Publishing, 1888), 936.

20 Although he might be from the Albemarle group, I suspect William's origins may lie elsewhere. His moving to northern Missouri, far removed from Little Dixie where most of the Piedmont Clarksons settled, argues against a close kinship. (On the other hand, he may just have been contrary.) Two sons, Rice and Edward, are known. Descendants moved south to Kansas and Oklahoma, and to the Pacific Northwest. Thanks to Donna Clarkson and Rayna Stevenson for drawing my attention to this line.


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Copyright © 2003-2005 Neil Allen Bristow. All rights reserved.
This page updated 19 February 2005.