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Wednesday, June 20, 2012

First Cousins: Thomas Clingman West and Thomas Harvey West

Thomas Clingman West

Thomas Harvey West
America McNeil West
There isn’t any doubt that these two men are not related!  Their pictures are “worth a thousand words!”

In order to put this narrative in perspective, let’s go back a couple of generations from these cousins.  John Balus West and Mary Ann “Polly” Swanson, my 3rd great grandparents, were the parents of Franklin W. West and Alexander Balus West.  Thomas Clingman West (1856-1944) was the son of Franklin W. West and Cynthia Adeline Holder.  Thomas Harvey West (1858-1949), my great grandfather, was the only child of Alexander Balus West and Nancy E. Land.  Therefore, they were the grandchildren of John Balus and Polly West and were 1st cousins.  Not only did Thomas Clingman West and Thomas Harvey West share the same first name, only two years separated them in age, both lived in the same area of Wilkes County, and they were likely playmates.

T. C. West's Homesite, Beaver Creek

Thomas Clingman and Bethanie
Triplett West's Tombstone
Thomas Clingman West married Bethanie Triplett on February 5, 1880, in Elk Township, Wilkes County, North Carolina.  They had six children: Junius Roby, Dicia Albertha, Mary Anna, Jesse, Joel Franklin, and John Carter.  Apparently, Joel Franklin died at the age of 4.  Thomas Clingman and Bethanie moved to the Beaver Creek area of Wilkes County sometime prior to the 1895 U. S. Federal Census and remained there until they passed away.  They are buried in the Beaver Creek Baptist Church Cemetery.

America McNeil and T.H. West's

My great grandparents, Thomas Harvey West and America Ann McNeil, were married on January 5, 1882, in Mt. Zion, Wilkes County, North Carolina. They had 13 children: Nannie Lou, A. Judson, Martha Alice, Milton McNeil, Rosa Belle, William Charles, Sallie Jane, Robert Leonard, Ethel Elizabeth, Willard A., Flora Annie, Guy Harvey, and Viola N.  Two of the sons, A. Judson West and Willard A. West, died at early ages, Judson at approximately 2 months and Willard between the ages of 1 to 3 years old.  Judson and Willard are buried in the Land Family plot at Stony Fork in Wilkes County.  Viola passed away at the age of 15 and is buried in the Banner Elk Cemetery on the campus of Lees-McRae College.  Thomas Harvey and America Ann McNeil and Thomas Harvey’s mother, Nancy E. Land, are buried there as well. The family moved from Stony Fork in Wilkes County to Banner Elk about 1902.
Nancy E. Land West's Tombstone

When I first saw the photograph of Thomas Clingman West, I was astounded by the resemblance that he and my great grandfather shared.  They could have been brothers!  Thanks to my 4th cousins, Jeanette and Joanne, the great granddaughters of Thomas Clingman West, for giving me a copy of his picture.
As I look back on my past, about which I have known so little until I began researching my West family, I have become so appreciative of my heritage and of my newly discovered cousins.  I am so thankful that we are able to share information and stories about our common heritage.  Furthermore, I experience a certain fulfillment knowing that their stories are being recorded.  Isn’t this partly what genealogical research is all about?

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