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Susan Haines Clayton Nurses Civil War Wounded

Before she died in 1948 in Talent, Ore., Susan Haines Clayton had become one of, and maybe the last, Union Civil War nurses still alive. 
She was born in 1851 in Indiana to Quakers who moved several times before her father enlisted in the Civil War.  Susan’s mother cared for the sick and trained Susan, who at age 10 became a nurse at Camp Carrington in Indianapolis.  Wounded or ill soldiers, many of them on 100-day enlistments, lay on straw mattresses with blankets.  Many died of smallpox.

After the war, the family moved to Kansas, where Susan became a seamstress and milliner.  One day a military veteran, Tom Clayton, came into her shop and purchased a homemade shirt from her.  In September 1869, they married and homesteaded in Kansas, where they endured floods, tornadoes, and the great grasshopper blight of 1874.

They moved to Montana in 1874, where Susan made hats in a millinery shop in a room of their house.  While in Montana, she laid the cornerstone of the Montana Soldiers Home.

After living in Talent for a time, she moved near the end of her long life to the Parkview Convalescent Home in Ashland.


Source: Hoar, Jay S. “Susan Haines Clayton, American Lady, 1851-1948.” Oregon Historical Quarterly, vol. 84, no. 2, 1983, pp. 206–210. www.jstor.org/stable/20613906.

Maryann Mason has taught history and English in the U.S. Midwest and Northwest, and Bolivia. She has written history spots for local public radio, interviewed mystery writers for RVTV Noir, and edited personal and family histories.  Her poetry has appeared in Sweet Annie & Sweet Pea Review (1999), Rain Magazine (2007), and The Third Reader, an online Journal of Literary Fiction and Poetry. In 2008 she published her first chapbook, Ravelings.  She organized a History Day for Southern Oregon.