Jeff Harvey

hope you had a wonderful holiday season and want to extend my best wishes to you for 2020.

Before continuing with our look at William Sanders’ “A New River Heritage, Part IV,” I want to acknowledge David Griffin, who has asked for my help in tracing the McClaughtery family heritage going back to the old Judge McClaughtery. If any one can help us, send any info to me and I’ll forward it to him.

On Page 276 of “Heritage,” towards the bottom, there was an excerpt from the Brown papers about Lowammi “Low” Brown, who was buried in Bluefield, Va., just east of and adjacent to the Maple Grove cemetery. The carver apparently did not know Lowammi was his given name and made the stone “L.A.B.” on property he once owned.

Pages 277-79 of “Heritage” are largely a reprint of an article done by Judge Hugh Woods, a lineal descendant of Mitchell Clay, Sr., on the date of the dedication of the Clay monument at Clover Bottom. Sanders, as a child knew Judge Woods as a neighbor. Woods lived on Low Gap Road on a farm which had a Holstein cow he milked twice a day, before and after his work at the old bank building across from the Courthouse, which he walked to every day. Woods would give candy or chewing gum out to the kids who he’d stop and talk with. Woods was the men’s Bible class teacher at the First United Methodist Church for many years, followed by Sanders’ old school teacher Charley Justice and then, Sanders himself until the 1960s.

Woods said Clay was a descendant of Cavaliers from England and was born in Henrico County, Va. An ancestor of his, Charles Clay, was very influential in Henrico County and possessed the finest library in 17th Century, Va.

In 1760, Mitchell Clay married Phoebe Belcher in Bedford County, Va. On April 23,1774, Virginia Colonial Governor Lord Dunmore gave him a grant for 803 acres of land situated on both sides of the Bluestone River known as Clover Bottom. He moved there in 1775.

For the next eight years, Clay and his family busied themselves with clearing the land and other duties as would naturally devolve with a wilderness tract. It wasn’t until 1783, that tragedy struck the family.

I’ll pick up from there next time.

Jeff Harvey is a freelance reporter for the Princeton Times. Contact him at

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