A tree for the Clague House

The Westlake Historical Society partnered with genealogists from Westlake's Mormon Church and a local artist to produce a Clague family tree.

When the new Westlake Historical Society president, Lysa Stanton, walked into the Clague House five years ago she surveyed the many curated items in every room and on every wall. “Sophronia Clague covered the walls with photographs,” says Lysa, but there was one wall with a missing photo or painting.

Lysa turned to her husband, Dave Pfister, and asked, “Who will be there?” She knew immediately it should not be one person but a collage of the Clagues – a family tree. After four years of searching herself, she enlisted the aid of “the sisters” as she calls them, actually family historians from the local Mormon Church.

In short order genealogists Sandy Gray and Betty Franklin together with Rocky River artist, illustrator and former greeting card designer, Val Lesiak, were on their way to what will be an incredible gift to the Westlake Historical society, the city of Westlake and certainly descendents of the Clague family, including those spirits that apparently reside in the House.

The presentation of the Clague family tree will occur at 8:30 a.m. on Saturday, April 25, at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Westlake and their 12th Annual Family History Conference. An open invitation is extended to everyone who would enjoy seeing the culmination of months of family research with 113 names, 24 families and 222 events.

Genealogist Betty Franklin remarked that “it was very rewarding to find the ancestors who contributed to the beginning of Dover/Westlake by taming and making the land productive with their fruit trees.” That farming profile led the artist to choose a family apple tree for Robert and Margret Clague with branches extending as far back as the 1600s; their children make up the roots of the tree. Ms. Lesiak has included a banner to identify the family name as well as used the Isle of Man's motto at the bottom of the tree since this family can count that as their homeland.

Genealogist Sandy Gray found the Isle didn't and still doesn't use addresses but then she found the marriage contract for Finlo and Isabelle Clague, dated 1685, which mentions BallaCregga – the name of the farm that Robert Clague's father owned – that gave her a place to anchor her research.

The “sisters” used FamilySearch, MyHeritage, Find A Grave and Dusty Docs for much of the information as well as the Manx National Heritage Museum for original images of documents. The challenges included non-standardized spelling of family names (e.g. Clague was Claige).

It took months and months to gather the family information and to piece the Clague family together for all time. Ms. Gray suggested “ignore the word 'no' when doing family history,” and Ms. Franklin said “not to worry if you do not have all of the information, just come to the Family History Center and volunteers will help you flesh it out.”

A good start is by attending the Family History Conference this Saturday beginning at 8:30 a.m. at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 25000 Westwood Road, Westlake. For more information call 440-777-1518.

Joyce Able Schroth

Currently Public Affairs Director for the Cleveland Ohio Stake, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

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Volume 7, Issue 8, Posted 9:39 AM, 04.21.2015