Editor’s note: This is part three of an intermittently serialized memoir by Ed McClanahan that takes as its working title “Hatchling of the Chickasaw: A Kentucky waterways story.” Parts one and two can be found here and here.
By Ed McClanahan
My father’s mother, Stella Yelton McClanahan, lived to be 92, and I came to know her very well, and to love her very much; my father’s father, Claude McClanahan, died before I was two years old. Both the Yeltons and the McClanahans had been landowners and tobacco farmers in Bracken County, near the tiny community of Johnsville, for generations, and both families, I believe, eventually went into local commerce. “In 1884,” according to a local history, “Johnsville had a hotel, a tobacco warehouse, two wagon and blacksmith shops, a dry goods store, a general merchandise store, a doctor, a justice of the peace, and a constable.” My great grandfather Jonce Yelton and his business partner John Jackson (hence “Johnsville”) were proprietors of the general store and post office, and I have reason to suppose (see below) that the McClanahans had gone into the dry goods line, just down (or up, or across) the road from the two “Johns’” General Merchandise & US Post Office.
I don’t know much about my grandfather Claude, but I do have an 1890s-vintage formal studio photograph of the Johnsville McClanahans, featuring Claude with his identical twin Clifford—two dashing young blades as alike as department store mannequins, in matching cutaway coats and waistcoats and high, starched collars, handsome fellows with duplicate dark, upturned mustachios and longish sideburns and black hair parted precisely in the middle.