Murder Trial of Clayton Columbus Nation, 1913

Today’s post is about a difficult family situation that happened over a hundred years ago. The family members who first shared this story are now all gone.

Clayton Columbus Nation, or Clay as he was known, was born 18 September 1872 in Cumberland County, Kentucky to Joseph Michael Nation and his wife, Christianna (Annie) Riddle. He was the 7th of their eight children.

He married Matilda Jane Dulworth – yes, part of yesterday’s brick wall Dulworth-Broadway story – on 20 June 1896 in Clay County, Tennessee. Matilda Jane, or Tilda as she was known,  was the daughter of Abraham Dulworth and Mary Jane Adams.  She was also a bit older than husband Clay, having been born in July, about 1869, in Cumberland County, Kentucky. She was also the great granddaughter of John Dulworth and Mary Broadway, the subjects of yesterday’s post.

Matilda had several siblings, but her brother Jacob is the other piece of this sad story. Jake’s age varies slightly in the records, with his birth being noted as anywhere from 1889 to 1891.

On 13 June 1913, near Mangum, Greer County, Oklahoma, Clay Nation went to George Thompson’s home about 5:30 a.m. He was looking for his brother-in-law, Jake Dulworth, and he found him asleep outside on the porch. Clay aimed his gun, fired and killed him, hitting him in the lower stomach area. Jake died instantly and Clay went to the sheriff, told him what he and done and surrendered.

My husband’s aunt and I had heard this story from elderly family members, but instead of details, all they would say is “Those sure were hard times.” We decided to seek out the details on our own. First, I wrote to the Greer County Clerk, asking for copies of the court records of the trial that followed.  I received a quick reply back, with regrets that the trial record itself was missing. The folder where it should have been only had one record, the court docket:

Clay Nation, Court Docket Record 1913
Greer Co., OK County Clerk’s Office

The docket had no details of the court trial so I next looked to the Greer County Genealogical and Historical Society, hoping that there might be newspaper accounts of the trial. I received transcriptions of three newspaper articles. The Mangum Weekly Star carried the first news story of the murder on 19 June 1913:

Court proceedings certainly didn’t have the delays that happen today. Exactly one week later, on 26 June 1913, the newspaper reported that a jury had been selected, both sides had rested their cases and that the jury would be asked to deliver a verdict.


On 24 July 1913, the last article about the trial appeared in the paper and noted that the week before, many were surprised that Clay Nation had been acquitted of murder.

One short sentence in the first article may have been the reason that Clay was acquitted:  “From all appearances, this is one of the worst murder cases to come up in this community in several years, and it appears that not only was booze a contributing factor, but it seems that family affairs had much to do with it.”

The back story, which one elderly relative was willing to share, was that Clay Nation had found that Jake was romantically pursuing Clay’s daughter Ethel. Not only was Jake Ethel’s uncle, but she was only thirteen years old. Clay told him to keep away from her and the family and said if he caught him near her again, he would kill him. Apparently, Jake didn’t think Clay meant it, but he obviously did.

I don’t know if it is just chance or family intent, but there are no relatives that have a single photograph of either Clayton Nation or his wife, Matilda Jane. Clay died on 30 June 1922 in Granite, Greer, Oklahoma. Matilda survived him by nine years, passing away in 1931, also in Granite. They are buried side by side in the Granite City Cemetery.

10 thoughts on “Murder Trial of Clayton Columbus Nation, 1913”

  1. I am a descendant of John Dulwit/Dulworth. My line is:

    John Dulwit/Dulworth and Mary Broadway
    James Dulworth and Elizabeth Guinn Spear
    Mathias Tice Dulworth and Nancy Jane Brewington
    John Robert Dulworth and Texanna Grogan
    Guy Franklin “Don” Dulworth and Alma Westmoreland
    Joe Carson Dulworth and Ina Coe Jones- (These are my parents)
    My name is Myla Dulworth Beach and I might have some info that you don’t have that we could help each other with concerning piecing together some of the Dulworth info. Please email me if still looking for answers.
    I have lived less than an hour from the Cumberland Co., KY home place for 50 years (all my life). I have tons of information.
    Thank you, and happy hunting! P.S. I LOVE all the info you have shared!!!!
    Myla Dulworth Beach

    1. I also descended from Mathias tice Dulworth 3rd great gpa, John Robert Dulworth 2nd great gpa, Joe Franklin Dulworth great gpa, and Hubert Dulworth is my GPA.

  2. Hi,
    I have a photo of Clay. It is one in which he is with his parents and sister.

  3. Should have reported that Clay is my 2nd great uncle. Joseph Michael Nation is my 2nd great grandfather.

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