David Clutts, A Vintage Vignette

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David Clutts
A Vintage Vignette by John P. Rankin
September 21, 2009

Cluttsville is a community shown on local maps as being centered at the intersection of Yarbrough Road with Wall-Triana Highway. Land on the western side of the highway at that site was in the 1800s owned by David Clutts. Exactly how he came to possess the land is not clear, since he was not found in Margaret Matthews Cowart’s book “Old Land Records of Madison County, Alabama”. Likewise, his acquisition of the land was not found in the deed listings of G. W. Jones’ “Index To Lands” for that part of Madison County. When Clutts died his estate included the property immediately north and south of Yarbrough Road on the west side of the intersection, totaling 80 acres in all. Clutts passed away in December of 1873. In 1876 Ferdinand Hammond purchased the land of the Clutts estate. Hammond was a neighbor, and he had become Administrator of Clutts’ estate. In 1877 Hammond sold the land to Joshua B. Sanderson, another neighbor, who had purchased adjacent land from Clutts in 1868.

The original purchasers of the Clutts estate parcels were Thomas Grey (or Gray or Guy, depending upon the spelling in different records) in 1818 and Abdallah Brunsun in 1831. Thomas Guy was recorded as selling his part of the land to Harry Tompkins & Co. in 1825. The 1830 census shows David Clutts living among several Sanderson families and near David Capshaw and Abdallah Brunsun. Other known pioneers of the area included Henry Dedman (purchased nearby land in 1817) and Eli Hammond living a few houses away from Clutts.

The original landowners and neighbors were not known to be related to Clutts by either blood or marriage. Data found in Ancestry.com postings shows that David Clutts married Margaret “Peggy” Bullock in Madison County in 1818. No Bullock family was found in the 1830 listings of the area, and the Madison County marriage record index does not show a Clutts-Bullock marriage. Both Margaret and David were born in Tennessee per census records, so quite possibly their marriage occurred there. They are reported in various records as producing about six girls and six or seven boys. The known names of their boys were John Tillman (“Tilford” in the probate records, born 1821), James B. (born 1823), Henry (born 1827), Graves (probably born about 1851), and William (born 1831 or 1833, depending upon which record is used). The known names of their girls were Mary (1827), Jane (1829), Susan (1834), Nancy (1836), Martha (1838), and Tabitha (1845). The probate records list 21 heirs of David Clutts. Six of the heirs were children of David, while the rest were grandchildren. The surviving children were Henry, Mary, Susan, Nancy, Tabitha, and Graves. The latter two lived outside Alabama when the estate was probated.

Ancestry.com data provides David Clutts’ family history into the early 1600s, connecting to Melchior (Melker) Klotz in Germany. According to the “Archko Volume” (archeological writings of the Sanhedrim and Talmuds of the Jews) Melchior or Melker was the name of the village priest of Bethlehem when Christ was born there. The use of the name may indicate a Jewish connection of the Clutts family. Melchior is also traditionally the name of one of the magi who brought gifts to Bethlehem following Christ’s birth. However, the name is similarly associated with early 1500s German church reformer Melchior Hoffman, whose followers and fellow adherents eventually became known as Melchiorites, “Covenanters”, Anabaptists, Mennonites, Amish, and Hutterites.

As with other names, the spelling of the Clutts family surname takes many forms through time. The most common variant spellings are Klutts, Klotz, and Klutz or Clutz. Klotz is a Yiddish term. The guttural German pronunciation is probably the reason for the different phonetic spellings in American records. My favorite childhood source of great milkshakes was Klotz Pharmacy in Natchez, Mississippi. Now that I have become a “klutz” myself due to myasthenia gravis, and because of my Clutts research, I can’t help but wonder if there is a link to the Madison County Clutts family from the owner of the Natchez pharmacy. It can be a small world when one is aware of name histories.

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