Monday, July 25, 2016

James Franklin Jollett's Kids: Sallie Clift

As part of my “Genealogy Do-Over” efforts AND to force myself to get crackin’ on my James Franklin Jollett book, Jollett Reunion, I will be researching and writing brief biographies of James Franklin, his wives, and his children.

Sallie Jollett
Sallie Jollett
In May 11, 1872, James Franklin and Lucy Ann Jollett welcomed their sixth child, another girl, and named her Sallie Catherine. She attended school near Swift Run and learned to read and write.

At age 19, she married George Thomas Clift of Page County and moved to Shenandoah where George worked for the Norfolk & Western Railroad. They started a family right away. Within two years, they were the perfect American family with a little boy and a little girl. In five years, though, their perfect life was no more. Their two precious children died due to injuries from a house fire. Little Vernon died just 2 weeks after his 5th birthday, and Daisey followed a week later.

George and Sallie Clift, Vernon Clift, Daisey Clift
George and Sallie Clift
Vernon and Daisey
about 1894 or 1895

Although Sallie and George had 3 more children, their marriage was never the same. George’s work with the railroad required quite a bit of travel allowing him to explore a number of relationships with other women over a period of many years. In 1913, Sallie discovered love letters hidden in various places around their house and property.

There was no reason for Sallie to whimper and beg George to remain faithful. There was no reason to profess her love anymore. His treatment of her had become abusive over time, both verbally and physically. When Sallie found the letters, she also found some inner strength to take action.

Sallie tracked down the latest girlfriend and knocked on her door. Sallie demanded she hand over George’s love letters or she would tell the girl’s parents.

Over 35 letters and postcards were entered into evidence in the divorce case of Sallie C. Clift vs. George T. Clift. All Sallie wanted was sole custody of their three children and money to help take care of them. Although George tried to blame Sallie, claiming SHE was the abusive one, SHE was the one who lost interest in their marriage, SHE was the one who abandoned him by refusing to cook his meals, the Court sided with her, granted a divorce, and awarded her $7 in monthly alimony.

The two younger children had nothing to do with George Clift after that, but the oldest son and his wife kept in contact, perhaps out of pity or obligation.
Sallie Jollett Clift about 1942 or 1943
Sallie Clift about 1942 or 1943
used by permission of great-grandchildren
The children obviously understood what their mother had endured for so many years, and they sympathized with her plight. They appreciated all she had done to take care of them. After she died, her daughter Alda and Alda’s daughters wrote poems for the newspaper in memory of Sallie.

Sallie Catherine JOLLETT (11 May 1872 Greene Co, VA – 7 Jul 1944 Washington D.C.) and George Thomas CLIFT (Sep 1865 Page Co, VA - ?) married 30 Mar 1891 Luray, Page Co, VA
  1. Vernon F. CLIFT (15 Mar 1892 Shenandoah, VA – 30 Mar 1897 Shenandoah, VA)
  2. Daisey L. CLIFT (8 Aug 1893 Shenandoah, VA – 8 Apr 1897 Shenandoah, VA)
  3. Leonard Jennings CLIFT (29 May 1899 Shenandoah, VA – 18 Dec 1977 Calvert Co, MD) and Lena Mae SECRIST (8 Mar 1900 Roanoke, VA – 3 Jan 1980 Prince Georges, MD) married 31 Aug 1918 Hagerstown, MD
  4. Raymond Bertram CLIFT (27 Sep 1900 Shenandoah, VA – 14 Jun 1985 Arlington, VA) and Jessie Rebecca Oliver LLOYD (26 Aug 1908 Augusta Co, VA – 19 Mar 1991 Alexandria, VA) married 21 May 1927 Baltimore, MD
  5. Alda Beatrice CLIFT (5 Jun 1905 Shenandoah, VA – Jun 1982 Prince Georges, MD) and 1) Leon Dewey Monger (25 Jul 1899 Page Co, VA – 15 Apr 1953 Norfolk, VA) married 15 Jan 1920 Hagerstown, MD; 2) Wilson SUITE (1905 St Marys Co, MD – Jul 1960 Washington D. C.)  married after 1930

© 2016, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.


  1. A brave lady to take control of her life. I hope she managed to find some happiness.

  2. I would have liked to have had afternoon tea with Sallie. What a strong person. I don't think I could have done what she did. Thank you for sharing another fascinating post, Wendy.

  3. Good for her. It is still a sad story but I'm happy she was able to win in court. Those memorials are a great keepsake.

  4. What sweet poems written. Even all she had been through (and it was a lot she had been through) I liked the picture of her shared here. She had a touch of a smile on her face. Such sad situations. Heart breaking too with the loss of the children so close together!


  5. Way to go, Sallie! I'm so glad she was awarded custody of her children and that the youngest two had nothing to do with their father after that.

  6. I doubt it's possible for anyone to get over such a tragedy. I'm glad Sallie found so much love in the years after her marriage.