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Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Old Houses Tell Stories: The Clayton Home in Fort Smith, AR

I love old houses and the stories they tell. I want to know about the children that grew up within their walls, who the parents were and what they dreamt about. I wonder what life was like for a daughter of the family or for a servant girl.

Fort Smith’s Clayton Home offers a glimpse into the life of a 19th-century family.  Appointed by President Grant, William H. H. Clayton served as prosecutor in Judge Parker’s federal courtroom.


The house, built in the 1850s, became the home of the Clayton family in 1882. While the Claytons raised their seven children (six daughters and one son), Clayton handled thousands of cases. In a 14-year period, he set a record for the number of murder convictions.

Touring the home is a trip back in time. As you enter the house, a beautiful wood staircase draws your eye and takes your breath away. The home, restored to its original glory, is a study in elegance. From the candelabras and kerosene lamps to the dining tables set in fine china, one can imagine Mrs Clayton bustling around, directing servants in their duties.

I imagined days filled with lessons and evenings with music, and children sliding down the banister when no adults were in sight. Then I pictured the family dressing for a formal dinner or the children being hustled to bed while the parents entertained.

I tried to imagine the servants' thoughts as they stood behind the guests at dinner. 

Wherever your imagination takes you, the home gives you insight into the lives of a well-to-do family of the late 1800s.

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