Family Stories

Manoah P. Clarkson Biography

Manoah P. Clarkson

Who Was Who In Hardin County, Kentucky

Manoah P. Clarkson was another of the young men who began life in the office of the veteran Clerk, Samuel Haycraft.  Here, like Jack Thomas and William Fairleigh, he acquired a smooth and legible handwriting, an art which went with him through life and which he retained in a remarkable degree even in old age.

He was born in Virginia, December 28, 1810, and when quite young came with his father and family to Kentucky.  He was a son of James Fielding Clarkson, a native of Virginia, born April 5, 1784, and who joined the westward migration and came to Louisville at an early date.  After a short period he journeyed on and upon arriving at the Big Spring Valley was so impressed with its beauty and prospect that he decided to make it his permanent home.

In this attractive spot Manoah spent the remainder of his boyhood, and having finished his apprenticeship in the Hardin County Court Clerk’s office, spent some years clerking in the city of Louisville.  Having decided to devote his attention to farming, he settled at the celebrated Grayson Springs.  In 1839 President Andrew Jackson’s Postmaster General, Amos Kendall, of Kentucky, appointed him postmaster, a position he held for half a century.  The town of Clarkson in Grayson County (once a part of Hardin) was named for him.  His first wife was Miss Zerilda, daughter of David and Mary (Moorman) Herndon.  Their children were Fannie Z. (Yates) and Oscar, who died in childhood.

His first wife having died, Manoah, on October 25, 1856, married Miss Sarah F., daughter of Jacob and Martha (Shrewsbury) VanMeter, of Bowling Green.

James Fielding Clarkson, father of Manoah, developed Grayson Springs, and in 1868 the VanMeters, of Bowling Green, began extensive improvements, which made it a noted and fashionable watering place.  William B. Allen, in his History of Kentucky, published in 1872, said:  “It is a watering place of considerable note.  With the hotel and cottages, some five or six hundred persons, perhaps a greater number, can be comfortably accommodated.  Within a little valley, less than half an acre in extent, are an immense number of springs, some of them more strongly impregnated with sulphur, it is said, than any other springs in the United States.  Some of them are very cold, and others very warm.  It is said that many remarkable cures have been effected by the use of the waters.”  William S. VanMeter died there in 1884, and soon afterwards the property sold for $100,000.

Manoah Clarkson died some fifty years ago at the home of his nephew, J. R. Clarkson, at Gaither’s, in Hardin County.  His children by the second wife were James VanMeter Clarkson, born April 14, 1858, and Clinton K., who died young.

James L. Clarkson, a brother of Manoah, also came with the family from Virginia.  He was born at Charlottesville, in Albemarle County, August 31, 1816.  He spent his life from early boyhood in the Big Spring Valley, where he was a large farmer and highly respected citizen.  This valley is of outstanding natural attraction, and is connected with many interesting incidents in the early settlement and development of the county.  The spring itself is of large volume, the stream flowing but a very short distance and disappearing underground after passing under a bridge or causeway of natural formation.  The village that grew up around it became an important center in the early days.  James L. Clarkson married Miss Martha S., daughter of Jesse P. and Martha (Stith) Moorman.  Their children were Ophelia, Ben S., James Richard, Jesse F., Martha E., Mary L. and Nancy L., and two died in infancy.

Of these children Ophelia became the wife of Jesse L. Talbott, a well known citizen of near Elizabethtown.  James Richard was a prominent farmer and substantial citizen and operated a farm at Gaithers, on the L. & N. Railroad in Hardin County, for some forty years.  His wife was Miss Molly S. Simmons, daughter of W. P. and Sophronia Mary Simmons.  He died in 1922.  Mary L. married Alex D. McCans, a native of Meade County, who entered the hotel business at Elizabethtown in 1888 at the old Stith House.  In 1894 he moved to the old Hill House, now the Brown-Pusey (Community) House, where he did a thriving business.  After the death of his first wife he married Mrs. Ada Meador.  Martha E. married William Adams of Bowling Green.  Nancy L. married James VanMeter Clarkson, son of Manoah Clarkson.

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