William (Billy) Orson Clough was my great grand uncle. Born in Hamburg, Erie county, New York to Orson Clough and Julia Marsh, 23 November 1851.
In the 1855 New York State Census W. (Billy) Clough (4) was living or visiting his paternal grandparents B.J. and L. Clough in Hamburg, New York.
In the 1860 US Census William (9) is now living with or visiting an uncle and aunt, Benjamin and Lucinda Clough in DuPage, Illinois. he and his sister (Ida May) both spent much of their childhood with people other then their parents, at least when it came to the census time.
1876 finds William (25) registered to vote in Visalia, Tulare county, California where he is listed as a telephone operator. Then in 1878 before his 28 birthday he registered to vote and is listed as an Agent in Visalia.
The 1880 Census finds William O. Clough (28) listed as a Laborer. In Kaweah and Mineral King, Tulare, California.
It was during this time period that Billy Clough discovered a cave in the southwestern part of Sequoia National Park. Many articles have been written about the caves that became known as Clough’s Cave. And you will find it in Place Names of the Sierra Nevada by Peter Browning. Below an article about Clough’s Cave and four other caves found in the Sequoia National Park.
The 1890 Califoria voter registration we find William (37) in Tulare listed as a stock raiser.
In the 1896 California voter registration, William is shown as 44 years old, being 5′ 8 1/4″ tall, having a light complex, blue eyes and dark hair. His occupation is listed as miner.
In 1910 we find William (57) living/visiting with his mother, Julia (Marsh) and step father Ira Blossom in Lemon Cove, south fork of Kaweaha Road. William’s occupation is listed as a miner.
These newspaper clippings and the one above were found in Visalia at the Library in their Historical Record files.
From this article you can see that Billy was a colorful character. Billy was always the last to leave the mountains before winter set in and was the one to shut the gates on the Edison Power Dams.
In 1917 Uncle Billy, at 66 years old, did not come out of the mountains. My family story is that my grandfather (Ike Putnam) and his half brother Ed Bryant and my great Aunt Blanche rode in to search for Uncle Billy, but while a few of his things were found, he was not and it was speculated that a bear or a cougar got him. This article mentions that a diary was found that said he shut the gates on Nov. 2 and that was his last entry. I wonder what happened to that diary. What happened to Uncle Billy we will never know, either the winter storm caught him unaware or some mountain animal took him down. The mountains were his home and his final resting place.
3 thoughts on “52 Ancestors ~ #39 William Orson Clough – Eaten by a Cougar?”
As always Ada brings to life our ancestors, certainly tales of ” Uncle Billy” we’re some of the most colorful. He also was part of our family that has a complicated maze of marriages and half brothers and sisters and aunts and uncles. Good job Ada!
Thanks Madeleine, This is one character that was well documented and a pleasure to recount. Maybe with time some of the more recent characters with be viewed with the same pleasure by future generations.