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Mr. Clancy / Chauncey Clayson

Early De Smet merchant, Chauncey L. Clayson.

C.L. Clayson has decided to remove from De Smet to Minneapolis, and expects to go sometime this month. – 1888 De Smet newspaper.

In Little Town on the Prairie, Laura Ingalls takes a job sewing for Mrs. White in Clancy’s drygoods and millinery store. Mr. Clancy is said to be Mrs. White’s son-in-law, and business has been so brisk in selling shirts to bachelors in town, that Mrs. White needed someone to help her with the hand-sewing. Laura’s job is making buttonholes, a process explained in detail in Chapter 5, “Working in Town.” Laura earned twenty-five cents per day.

In Pioneer Girl, Mr. Clancy’s real name is used; he was Chauncey L. Clayson. His mother-in-law was Martha White. On March 3, 1937, Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote to daughter Rose, saying that at age 14, she worked for Mrs. White for only three weeks because the family quarreled and Pa didn’t want her working there. She was paid seventy-five cents the first week (boarding with the family in town), her salary doubled the next two weeks because she was such a good worker. In Little Town on the Prairie, fictional Laura worked six weeks for $1.50 per week and earned nine dollars. Wilder kept her account book with Mrs. White, recording in her letter to Rose that in addition to the $3.75 earned, she made a number of purchases from Mrs. White (a thimble, cloth shoes, four yards of calico, 1/2 yard silk, a plume and a charm, totaling $2.66 (Laura added incorrectly; her total was a dime off). This means that Laura’s pocket earnings were only $1.09.

Chauncey L. Clayson was born July 4, 1847, in Dodge County, Wisconsin, the son of Emeline and Isaac Clayson. The family moved to Rice County, Minnesota, where Chauncey was a schoolteacher. Around 1875, he married Ellen “Ella” C. White, daughter of Martha and Horace White, born August 1856, in Iowa. They had one daughter, Nettie, born April 11, 1877, in Rice County.

In April 1888, Clayson decided to move to Minneapolis, where Ella Clayson died December 24, 1929. Chauncey Clayson moved west to live with a brother. He died at age 89 in Portland, Oregon, on November 10, 1936.

In July 1880, Horace White and Chauncey Clayson filed on homesteads in Kingsbury County. White filed on the NW 30-111-56 (he commuted it to cash in March 1883) and Clayson filed on the NE 30-111-56, making final proof in November 1886. Clayson also purchased Lot 13, Block 2 in De Smet, where he opened a drygoods and millinery store. Horace White died in October 1885 and was buried in the Iroquois cemetery. Martha White married widower Oliver D. Perry in August 1887. He was the father of Delos Perry (director of the Perry School board) and Ernest Perry (he escorted Laura Ingalls to parties), and the grandfather of Clyde Perry (one of Laura’s students in the Perry School). The couple later moved to Idaho, where Mrs. Perry died in 1907. Oliver Perry moved in with his son Delos, then living in Clarkson, Washington. He died in 1912.


Clancy family
     Mr. (LTP 5, 7, 9, 18)
     Mrs. Clancy (LTP 5)
     Clancy’s store / drygoods (LTP 5, 7; THGY 12)
     Mr. Clancy’s wife’s mother (LTP 5, 7)
     “no flies on Clancy” (LTP 5) – This phrase is used to show that Mr. Clancy was busy and industrious, because flies do not land on people or animals who are in motion.

Clayson family
     Chauncey Clayson (PG)
     Martha Clayson (PG)
     Mrs. White, Mr. Clayson’s mother-in-law (PG)