James Thomas Clements (1843 - 1897)

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Nicknames: "Jim"
Birthdate:
Birthplace: Liberty City, Coleman, TX, USA
Death: Died in Karnes, Texas, USA
Cause of death: Killed and his body never found.
Occupation: Frontiersman, Private in 20th Texas Infantry (CSA), Rancher, Outlaw, Sutton - Taylor Feud
Managed by: Lizzie Keitel
Last Updated:

About James Thomas Clements

James Clements - A gunman, brother of Emanuel Sr. and cousin of John Wesley Hardin, he drove cattle with Hardin and helped him kill several Mexican herders near Newton, Kansas in 1871.

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Jim enlisted in the 20th Texas Infantry in Polk Co. TX on July 27,1862 and served in Co. E. He was detached to the Engineer Department.

His marriage to Ann Caroline Tennille produced eleven children but can best be described as a stormy marriage that resulted in his death. His in-laws intervened in the marriage several times because of his apparant abuse of his wife.

A climax of the family situation occurred when Ann's relatives went to their home in Sterling Co. TX in May, 1897 and removed Ann and the children and took them back to Gonzales Co., warning Jim not to follow. But Jim did follow them back to his former home.

How Jim actually died is not actually known. He was last seen alive on May 22, 1897 when he went to the Tennille home to try to see his wife. Gunshots were heard in the area but his body was never found.It was later learned that he was buried in an unmarked grave around Mound Creek, but the identity of his killer remains a mystery.

Source: http://worldconnect.rootsweb.ancestry.com/cgi-bin/igm.cgi?op=GET&db=lkcopelanier&id=I7720

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Thomas Conley Tennille had warned his brother-in-law James Clements, who was married to his sister Annie, to stop abusing her and their 11 children. James did not stop. Thomas and some of his other brothers-in-law, Frank Caffall, Fred Duderstadt, and Coke Griffin, approached James again about the abuse. A scuffle incurred and James Clements was killed by Thomas Conley Tennille. They buried James there on his property in an unmarked grave on 5/22/1897.

Source: http://familytreemaker.genealogy.com/users/k/u/c/Deanna-L-Kuckenmeister/BOOK-0001/0058-0001.html

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On January 8, 1872 James and Annie filed for a marriage license in Gonzales County, Texas. They were married three days later on January 11, 1872, in Gonzales. Annie grew up in Mounds Creek, Karnes County, Texas. Her parents George and Amanda Tennille had owned a large ranch there. Annie was just fourteen years old when she and Jim Clements were married. James and Annie had ten children but the marriage was not a happy one.

James Clements was the fourth son of Emanuel and Martha Balch Hardin Clements. His brothers were Mannen Clements, Joseph Hardin Clements, and Gyp Clements. Mannen was probably the best known of the four brothers as he had a reputation of being a gunfighter. If you noticed the Hardin name, it is because the famed outlaw John Wesley Hardin was their 1st cousin. James, Gyp and Mannen all rode with Hardin as well as Joe and James' father-in-law-George Tennille, Jr. All of them aligned themselves on the Taylor side during the worst feud in Texas History-The Taylor-Sutton Feud.

James was constantly on the run from the law and Sutton's allies. On August 12, 1873 Jim along with forty-one others of the Taylor faction signed a treaty calling for peace in the feud. The treaty did not last long as killing on both sides broke the pact. Annie's father, George Tennille, was one of those killed in the feud.

Jim and Annie spent the next eighteen years Annie and Jim in Kimble County, Texas ranching and watching over their growing family. In 1891 Jim made a $100.00 down payment on a twenty-three acre ranch in Kimble County. On January 13, 1891 Jim agreed to pay W. T and Martha Welch. a total of $500.00, at ten percent interest until the loan was paid in full. By May of 1897 Jim and Annie were living in Brady, McCulloch County, Texas.

According to family lore Annie had written her siblings that she was not happy in her marriage to Jim Clements. He apparently had been abusing her and the children and she wanted help in moving back to Mounds Creek. Tom Tennille, accompanied by Coke Griffin and Frank Caffall answered the call for help and made the hundred and fifty mile ride over to Brady, Texas to bring Annie and her children home. When they got there, the men found Jim had nearly beaten to Annie death. Apparently Annie was beaten so severely that she later lost sight in one eye.

Infuriated at the sight of his sister, Tom Tennille rode into Brady and confronted his brother-in-law. Tom warned Jim not to follow Annie and the children back to Mounds Creek and that if Jim showed his face in Karnes County then Tom would shoot him on sight. Soon after the group returned to Mounds Creek, it was decided that Tom Tennille, Wilson Elkins, Fred Caffall, and others would take turns staying in Annie's barn at night to keep a watchful eye out for Clements in case he did try to see Annie again. On May 22, 1897 Jim boldly showed up on the front door step of Annie's new home wanting her and the children back.

At the first sight of his father making his way to the porch, Jim. Jr. sneaked out the back and rode to the near by Tennille place for help. Tom Tennille, and his brother-in-laws, Frank Caffall, Fred Duderstadt, and Coke Griffin soon rode up and again confronted Jim. The men tried unsuccessfully to persuade Jim to leave Mounds Creek and not to try to take Annie or the children back to Brady. But Jim refused and also vowed the continued mistreatment of his family. Jim's last statement combined with his unwillingness to leave infuriated the men even more. A gun battle between Jim and Tom soon took place, leaving Jim dead in Franks Caffall's pasture. Afterwards Jim Clements' body was hidden in an unmarked grave near the school and covered over by some near by boulders, The body was never found by the authorities.

The unclaimed Clements' wagon, used to transport Annie and their children from Brady to Mounds Creek, was the first clue that led the investigation into Jim's disappearance. Jim Jr. had driven the wagon part way back to Brady and left it at a livery stable for his father to pick it up. Several weeks went by and Jim never went by to pick up the wagon. Rumors began to fly that Jim Clements had been killed in Karnes County.

Sheriff posses from Gonzales and Karnes Counties searched for a week and a half for clues to what might of happened to Jim Clements. Several neighbors that were interviewed by the deputies said they heard shots coming from the direction of the Caffall's pasture. The Gonzales Inquirer reported the following on the posse's investigation:

September 10, 1897--Tom Tennille, Coke Griffin, and Frank Caffall went to Brady in May to retrieve their sister and sister-in-law, Mrs. Annie Clements. Mrs Clements is the wife of Jim Clements who supposedly been reported to have been murdered in early May of this year. A short time later Mr. Clements was seen in the Karnes area and then suddenly disappeared and has not been seen since. Sheriff deputies led by Sheriff Morris of Karnes and Sheriff J. W. Glover of Gonzales who have been investigating the case have turned up Clements' horse and saddle. The deputies continued their search at Caffall's pasture where the murder supposedly took place. They have gathered enough evidence to put not only Caffall in jail but also arrested Tom Gary and Wilson Elkins for the murder of James Clements. The trial will take Monday at which time it is hoped more evidence will come to light as to what really happened to Mr. Clements.

Tom Tennille was never charged for the crime and the other three men were acquitted of the murder for lack of evidence. In the eyes of the law, the disappearance of Jim Clements remains a mystery. Annie never remarried.

Source: http://worldconnect.rootsweb.ancestry.com/cgi-bin/igm.cgi?op=GET&db=tobyglll&id=I0329

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Newspaper Column:

Secrets and more buried near Mound Creek Henry's Journal -- Henry Wolff Jr.

There is a long and complicated story that there is not just one person, but perhaps two people buried in old Doc Griffin's grave.

Known as "Doc" for assisting neighbors who were ailing and with the delivery of newborns when no regular doctor was available, Newton Cokely Griffin was buried a day after his death on May 25, 1897, at the age of 66.

That was just four days after Jim Clements disappeared following heated arguments with his estraged wife, the former Ann Tennille, and some of her relatives. Ann Clements was a daughter of George Tennille, her father having been killed in 1877 during the infamous Taylor-Sutton Feud.

Having once before visited the Griffin Cemetery in far southwestern Gonzales County in the Mound Creek community with a great-great grandson of old Doc Griffin, Robert Muschalek, we returned to the cemetery again recently. Muschalek brought along Griffin's old Winchester .44-40 rifle that was used to guard the grave when word got out that Clements' body might have been placed in the open grave before the old man was buried.

All that area out around Gonzales, De Witt and Karnes counties had continued to be pretty tough country even up until the end of the 19th century.

We had been to the dedication of an official state historical cemetery marker at the Salt Creek Cemetery near Old Davy, that cemetery being on the county line between Karnes and De Witt counties. We went on from there to Mound Creek to get a photograph of Muschalek at his great-grandfather's grave.

While growing up in the neighboring Davy Community, Muschalek had heard the stories.

"My Grandpa Dave Griffin died in 1963," he says, "and I can remember a few variations of the story the way he told it. I do know that it was three of old Doc Griffin's grandsons that stood watch over the grave. Grandpa Griffin was 16 years old and the oldest grandson. And, according to him, was kind of charge with first cousins Culver Griffin, son of Jasper Cokely Griffin, and Sidney Griffin, son of Quercus Griffin."

His grandfather had recalled that only one would stand guard during the daylight hours, while there would be two of them during the night. Dave Griffin's sister, Catherine, would bring them food and drinks.

The last time that Jim Clements had been seen alive was on May 22, with Griffin having been buried on May 26.

"As you know," Muschalek notes, "they dug graves with picks and shovels in those days and it usually took more than one day to dig. They could have started opening the grave on May 22."

With old Doc Griffin near death, he says it would not have been unusual for preparations to have begun three days before he died. Soon after his burial, word had gotten around that the law might want to dig up the grave, the sheriffs of both Karnes and Gonzales counties having some interest in finding Clements.

"Grandpa said his daddy, I.W. Griffin, told them to shoot anybody who came into the cemetery," Muschalek recalls. "What I do believe is that Grandpa Dave Griffin knew the mystery of Jim Clements' fate and took it to the grave with him."

Muschalek has been working on a book about the many historical happenings that occurred out that where Gonzales, Karnes and De Witt counties all come together.

The problems occurred after Ann Clements had been assisted by family members in leaving her husband in McCulloch County where they had been living. He had followed her to the Mound Creek area and had argued with her and other members of the family. Shots had later been heard, Clements' horse had been found crippled by a cactus with his saddle some distance away, and his gold watch supposedly showed up in the nest of a pack rat.

This all led to considerable speculation as to where he might have been killed and where some of the evidence could have been planted to lead away from where his body had been buried. Some arrests were made, but led nowhere and the mystery continues to this day.

Some secrets have definitely been buried out around Mound Creek.

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Jim Clements (CSA)'s Timeline

1843
May 30, 1843
Liberty City, Coleman, TX, USA
1872
January 11, 1872
Age 28
Gonzales, TX, USA
1897
May 22, 1897
Age 53
Karnes, Texas, USA