Clayton’s balloon ascension

There is an inci­dent that occurred many years ago, while not direct Gra­ham his­tory, nev­er­the­less sev­eral Gra­ham names are men­tioned in the trans­ac­tion. In April 1835 a gen­tle­man by the name of Richard Clay­ton made a bal­loon ascen­sion at Cincin­nati at 5 o’clock p.m. and landed next morn­ing at 2 o’clock on a spur of Keeney’s Knob known in the neigh­bor­hood as Stevenson’s or Stinson’s Knob, near a chaly­beate spring known as the Mossy Spring, then Mon­roe Co., Va., now Sum­mers Co., W. Va. Mr. Clayton’s bal­loon lodged in the limbs of a tree. He had some ropes with him, with which he let him­self to the ground. [118] He then cast about to know where he was. He soon found a dim path which led to a house some two miles dis­tant where lived Samuel and James Gill, whom he got to go with him to look for his bal­loon, but as they were not suc­cess­ful at first to find it, they directed Mr. Clay­ton so he could find the house of Joseph Gra­ham. The Gills found the bal­loon that evening and brought word that night to Mr. Clay­ton at Joseph Graham’s (who was the writer’s father). The next day, Fri­day, the Gills, two of my older broth­ers, John and James Gra­ham, and Mr. Clay­ton went to get the bal­loon and came back to Joseph Graham’s about dark with it. In those days the mili­tia was required to train twice a year, in April and Octo­ber. The next day, Sat­ur­day, was the mili­tia day, and my before-mentioned broth­ers went to the train­ing and there told the news of the land­ing of the bal­loon on Keeney’s Knob, about two miles from Joseph Graham’s. This was strange news in those days, for a man to come from Cincin­nati in nine hours. Of course, there [119] were doubt­ing Thomases. My broth­ers made arrange­ments with their cousin, Hiram Gra­ham, to con­vey Mr. Clay­ton to Charleston, Va., now W. Va., and to start next day, Sun­day. So on Sun­day morn­ing bright and early, the doubt­ing Thom­ses put in their appear­ances and almost every­body else. And just such an excite­ment never occurred in the writer’s rec­ol­lec­tion. The bal­loon was torn in the tree. Mr. Clay­ton left per­haps a yard square of the bal­loon at Joseph Graham’s, which he dis­trib­uted in small pieces, some of them not larger than bul­let patches. The present post office was named Clay­ton in mem­ory of Richard Clay­ton, the bal­loon man, and the loca­tion is at the old Joseph Gra­ham home­stead house.

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