Lillian Exum Clement finally outed for trimming her age

John Boyle’s Asheville Citizen-Times column on a Confederate colonel  being stripped of his highway historic marker included a second instance of roadside revisionism:

“The [marker] for Lillian Exum Clement will be coming down for a clarification. Unlike the [Col. Stephen] Lee sign, Clement’s will go back up….

“It seems Clement, the first woman elected to the North Carolina General Assembly and the first woman to serve in any state legislature in the American South, fudged her age.”

Credit for righting the record belongs to Zoe Rhine, special collections librarian at Pack Memorial. Here’s what she wrote for the library’s excellent online exhibit on Clement:

“Close research of the federal census records, the Asheville City Directories, the All Souls’ Parish Yearbook and early newspaper articles leads this writer to believe that Exum [as she is often referred to] changed her birth year from 1886 to 1894. Given the times, as well as her public life at the time, she may have believed that there would have been a negative reaction to her marriage to a man nine years younger than herself….”

Clement was a woman of numerous accomplishments, but none could have been more challenging than whacking eight years off her supposed age — and getting away with it for close to a century.

 

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