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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