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Ms. Susan Clayton - it all started in Hickman County

The Hickman County Historical & Genealogical Society is again recognizing that March is National Women in History month.

At a recent meeting of the Society, someone inquired about Ms. Susan Clayton, asking who she was and what was her connection to Clinton and Hickman County.

Ms. Susan, the former Susan Vaughan, was a native of Clinton. She grew up at Bellwood, her family home on the Old Springhill Road here in Hickman County. Her niece, Carolyn Bone, now owns that beautiful Southern residence.

Ms. Susan attended Marvin College here in Clinton and was a classmate of and at one point engaged to Alben W. Barkley, who later became the senior U.S. Senator from Kentucky and then Vice President of the United States.

But she married Mr. Will Clayton, a native of Jackson, TN. The couple eventually moved to Washington, D.C. where President Harry Truman appointed Mr. Clayton as the first Under Secretary of State for Economic Affairs. At that post, he served as an economic advisor to President Truman at the Potsdam Conference. Mr. Clayton also helped to write the European recovery plan called the Marshall Plan.

During that time period, Ms. Susan was busy with her own efforts. She was one of the first contributors to the United Negro College Fund and helped to finance the first low-cost housing while the couple lived in Texas. She fought for women's suffrage and in 1936, served as a delegate from Texas to the Democratic National Convention.

Ms. Susan made donations to Berea College in eastern Kentucky. They were used for scholarships for students. She bought Cave Hill Farm in Lexington where Carolyn remembers picking blackberries with her Uncle Will. Ms. Susan left the estate to the University of Kentucky as a retreat for UK medical students.

Back home in Clinton, Ms. Susan was instrumental in financing the construction of the Clinton-Hickman County Hospital. And through the years, her gift of stock and cash has continued to provide income for our hospital and later for the Intermediate Care Facility.

Ms. Susan willed twenty-five million dollars "to [her] beloved country, the United States of America, to be used in retirement of the national debt."

And it all started right here in Hickman County.


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