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Jane Lampton Clemens and her link to Adair County

Jane Lampton Clemens and her link to Adair County Sometimes we all need a little refresher on our local history, even those bits that everyone should know, but may have forgotten...

By Mike Watson, Adair County Historian

Some components of local history should be known to every citizen, but often this is not so. Many in this county know that Colonel William Casey was a founder of the first settlements in the area and that he is buried on his farm in the Casey-Johnston Cemetery. Some know that after his death several members of the family, including his widow, Jane Montgomery Casey, and his only son, Green Casey, migrated west and settled in Iowa. Mrs. Casey, along with others of the family, were interred at West Point, Iowa, where they lived out their lives.


Some know that William and Jane Casey's daughter, Peggy, married Benjamin Lampton in Green County in 1801, before the creation of Adair, and that their children grew to adulthood in Columbia. Some may have noticed the Kentucky Historical Marker on the corner of the Public Square and Greensburg Street, that honors Jane Lampton, daughter of Ben and Peggy Lampton, and that she lived on this corner in her early years.

Many may know that Jane Lampton married in this town to a young attorney, John Marshall Clemens, who was born in Virginia and came to Adair, studied the law, and was admitted to the bar here. A few may know that John M. Clemens, at the time of his marriage, was living in the John Field House on now Reed Street, behind the Chamber of Commerce and Walker's Realty. This house was built for John Field and his wife, Martitia Stapp Field, about 1812, and is one of the three oldest residences in Columbia. In the years following 1819 John Field fell on hard financial times and was forced to sell off more and more of his property, which was substantial, and by the time Clemens was in Columbia, the Field's were renting out a room or two of their large home.

In Rachel Varbel's book, Jane Clemens, she recounts that Mrs. Field would allow Clemens to take his clients up the front stairs to the room he used as an office, next to his sleeping room. When John and Jane married in 1823 it was in this house they lived for a time before leaving Columbia for Tennessee, then Missouri, where John died in 1847. Their progeny, seven in number, included four who lived longer than their father and three survived their mother: Orion, Pamela, Samuel, and Henry. When Jane Clemens died in October 1890 the following obituary was printed in the Davenport, Iowa's Daily Times:
"Mark Twain's Mother Dead--Mrs. Jane Clemens, mother of Samuel Clemens, better known as Mark Twain, the celebrated humorist, died at her home in Keokuk Monday night. Her maiden name was Jane Lampton. She was born in Columbia, Kentucky, June 18, 1803. Her sparkling wit attracted attention to the last year of her life. In 1823 she was married in Columbia to John Marshall Clemens. Shortly afterward they moved to Tennessee, and, in 1835, to Florida, Mo., thirty-five miles back of Hannibal. In 1839 they changed their residence to Hannibal, where her husband died in 1847. Since then she has lived with her children, of whom three survive her: Orion Clemens, Keokuk; Samuel L. Clemens, 'Mark Twain', Hartford, Conn.; and Mrs. P.A. Moffett, Oakland, Cal. The funeral services were held this afternoon. The interment will be at Hannibal Thursday."--The Davenport Daily Times, Davenport, Iowa, 29 October 1890, Wednesday, p3.
We all need to know our history, for those who do not learn from the past are destined to repeat it. Much of our past is worth remembering for the positive influences. And some parts of history must be remembered so we shall not repeat it.


This story was posted on 2018-10-29 07:56:56
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