Dead-ends and Twisty Roads

Pictured: May & Fred McClure

Nathaniel Manley McClure, born in Kentucky circa 1801, is my third great-grandfather through my mother’s paternal side. Twice over. His son Eli is my mother’s paternal grandfather’s father. And his daughter Hettie is my mother’s paternal grandmother’s great-grandmother. Make sense? This is why I cannot explain the family tree to other members of the family. It is too damn twisty.

Maybe a Helpful Chart?

Branch 1: CW McClure (my grandfather)—Clarence Fred McClure—Eli McClure—Nathaniel Manley McClure

Branch2: CW McClure—Mavis May Vaughn (married to Fred above)—Nellie Wilson Todd—Hettie Caroline McClure—Nathaniel Manley McClure

From the lists above Hettie and Eli are brother and sister. Each married into a family that led to the marriage of Fred and May which led to the birth of CW. My mother’s family tree continues to confound me. Not only the connections I keep finding, but the lack of information on several lines that are connected. If I could find that one key then doors would open across several lines. The McClure and Todd families are proving to be challenges that I cannot solve online. It is seeming more and more likely that local archives will be my best chance to break down current research barriers. Family lore has it that our Todd line is somehow connected to the Todd line of Mary Todd Lincoln. I haven’t found a single shred of proof to back that claim other than possible mental health issues and Southern Gothic tendencies.

All the above searching started with a newspaper article my mother sent to me detailing the death of my 2nd great-grandmother, Nellie Todd. The car she was in with her son and daughter was hit by a passenger train. She was killed instantly. Her son, Casey (who my grandfather CW was named after) also died. It was thought that her daughter would also die, but she survived and lived to be 82! In the article she is listed as Rochie Byers, but my research shows her name as Effie.

I cannot imagine how traumatic and shocking this event had to have been for the family. Maybe these early deaths and traumatic events made people less likely to remember earlier history? Or were the earlier family members lives just so simple they left no paper trail, kept fewer records…I will keep searching for the early McClure and Todd families and hope for fewer tragedies in their pasts.


  1. Anonymous June 29, 2017 at 7:37 am

    How are you going to find the answers in a situation like this? What kinds of records do you need to locate to fill in the holes?

    • Shannon June 29, 2017 at 9:36 am

      Great questions! At this point, I need to go back through all the sibling records and look for additional clues on names/locations that could help me. I can do that online for the most part. Ultimately, I think I will have to visit the local Archives in Henry Co. TN for non-digitized information and then plan a trip to the KY Archives for additional research. There is a good collection at Murray State that I haven’t looked into yet. Part of the problem is that there are 2 Nathaniel McClures in KY at this time and the one that isn’t mine is much better documented so in online searching I keep finding him and not ‘my guy’. I have considered they might be the same person just moving and having two families, but I can’t find any evidence to support that notion. I thought DNA testing might help but it really hasn’t provided much on that front. It would be great to find death or marriage records with the parents of Nathaniel listed or anything on the Todd family. I just need to save my vacation time for an extended Archives visit.


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