Sunday, February 16, 2014


James Clyde Clemmer

Scanned image from Personal Collection

Born July 18, 1875 [1] in Staunton, Augusta County, Virginia James Clyde Clemmer was the third child of Joseph Henry Clemmer and Sarah Jane Snyder. He was a true middle child with two older sisters and two younger brothers—Katherine Hannah, Addie, Emmett Joseph and William Spiegel. James Clyde lived at home with his parents until at least June 1, 1900 according to federal census records when he worked as a laborer in a pulp mill and lived in the Middlebrook Precinct. [2]

The following newspaper gives a peek about James Clyde’s social outing on a September evening when he was a young man.

Staunton Spectator and Vindicator, Thursday, September 16, 1897

        Croquet Party

Arbor Hill, Sept. 11--A few evenings ago Mr. and Mrs. T. C. Craig gave a croquet party in honor of Miss Daisy Caffrey of Ohio, who is visiting at their home. They played croquet until quite late; then they had an elegant supper and ice cream, after which they played various games until the hour of departure. The young people spent a delightful evening and enjoyed themselves immensely. Among those present were Misses Daisy Caffrey of Marietta, Ohio, Albena Cale, Effie Spitler, and Annie Hopkins of Arbor Hill, and Miss Oakey of Clifton Forge. The gentlemen were J. J. Bowman, Clyde Clemmer, Harry Baylor, and David Cale of Arbor Hill, and Alex. Caffrey of Staunton.

Ella & James’ Wedding Picture

Scanned Image from Personal Collection

James Clyde married Ella Virginia White June 7, 1905 [3]. Great-grandmother Ella was the daughter of John William White and Mary Agnes Brown. Ten children were born to James and Ella—Janie, my grandmother Lucy, Linwood, Helen, Elsie, Alice, Lewis, William, Eugene and Ray.

By 1910 Great-grandfather was employed as a store proprietor in Staunton with his home also in Staunton on Richardson Street. [4]

World War I began July 1914 in Europe. The United States remained neutral until April 6, 1917 when they declared war on Germany and entered World War I. As a result, James Clyde was required to register for the ‘draft’. His draft registration card was dated Sept. 12, 1918. At that time he was a farmer with his permanent residence and place of employment being RDF 7, Staunton, Virginia--age 43 years. [5] James Clyde was described as medium height, stout build, brown eyes and brown hair. Fortunately for his family, it wasn’t necessary for him to serve.

I found James, Ella and the children on a farm in the Hebron and Arbor Hill neighborhood Feb. 2, 1920. James held a mortgage and was farming the property. [6]

The Clemmer family was shaken when James Clyde died Dec. 7, 1928. [7] James Clyde became ill with appendicitis and surgery was performed at King’s Daughter Hospital. All expected him to recover but two days later Great-grandfather passed.  His death certificate states the cause of death was acute suppuratine appendicitis. Peritonitis septia was named a secondary cause in his death.

Staunton News Leader, Staunton, Augusta County, Virginia; Saturday, December 8, 1928

     James Clyde Clemmer, of the county, died Friday about 10:15 a.m. at the King’s Daughters’ hospital, where he underwent an appendix operation Wednesday night. His age was 53 years, 4 months and 18 days.
      Funeral services will be conducted Sunday at 2:30 p.m. from Hebron Presbyterian church, of which he was a member.
     Mr. Clemmer is survived by his widow, Mrs. Ella White Clemmer, and the following sons and daughters: Miss Janie and Lynwood Clemmer of Middletown, N.Y.; Mrs. James Joseph of Andover, N.J., Helen, Elsie, Louis, William, Eugene, and Ray at home.

Many years later a son-in-law, Casper Garber, recalled the family’s loss in a history he prepared for the Clemmer reunion:

     “The second week of December, tragedy struck—the happiness they had known was turned to blackness immediately. The father took appendicitis and 3 days later passed away. It was so sudden that it was stunning.”
     “The funeral took place on Sunday afternoon. There at the grave stood a 47 year-old mother and her 9 children, also a son-in-law, a baby grandson, many relatives and friends. Of those 9 children, 6 were less than 18 years old.”

The baby grandson was James Clyde’s 1st grandchild. That baby was my father who was only a few months old.

[1], World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918 Database online. Registration Location: Augusta County, Virginia; Roll: 1984209
[2], 1900 United States Federal Census; Database online. Year: 1900; Census Place: Middlebrook, Augusta, Virginia; Roll: T623_1700; Page: 11A; Enumeration District: 36
[3] Marriage date provided by daughter, Lucy Clemmer Joseph
[4], 1910 United States Federal Census), Database online. Year: 1910; Census Place: Staunton Ward 1, Staunton (Independent City), Virginia; Page 40; Sheet No. 28A, Enumeration District 119, Ward 1
[5], World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918 Database online. Registration Location: Augusta County, Virginia; Roll: 1984209
[6], 1920 United States Federal Census Operations Inc., 2010. Images reproduced by (NARA microfilm publication T625, 2076 rolls). Year: 1920; Census Place: Beverley Manor, Augusta, Virginia; Roll: T625_1880; Page: 8B; Enumeration District: 28
[7] Death Certificate  James Clyde Clemmer

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