Unraveling the Clouse Family’s Rich History

by | Jul 2023

IF YOU were to ask what a family quilt and education have in common, the Clouse family would offer a simple answer: family history. The Clouse family’s history symbolizes resilience and triumph, a testament to the power of education and the bonds of kinship. Their handcrafted quilt and passion for education weaves together the threads of their history, revealing the challenges they faced and the dreams they pursued.

Jane Clouse Lusk’s father, Mr. Clouse’s determination to learn, despite walking to school barefoot in the snow, laid the foundation for the family’s commitment to education. From age 5 1/2, he defied the odds while battling an injury that affected him in his infancy to obtain an eighth grade education.

Riding horseback or bicycles for 5 miles to attend high school, he continued his quest for knowledge, graduating in 3 1/2 years with the class of 1925 at 23 years old. With his high school degree, he embarked on a teaching career, all while juggling farming and other responsibilities.

Jane said, “It was very difficult for my daddy to get his degree, but he got it. And he was so proud.”

Photographed by Ashleigh Newnes.

Jane’s mother, “Mama,” and the backbone of the family, had to sacrifice her own education to care for her siblings. Yet, her desire for her children to achieve their academic potential remained unwavering. She made clothes out of flour sacks, cooked three meals a day for nine family members, and nurtured their spirits with her steadfast love. Jane lovingly compares her mother to the “virtuous woman,” famously discussed in the bible.

As the years passed, the Clouse family persevered. They moved, worked, and strived to create a better future. Their father, who eventually returned to the teaching profession, continued his education alongside his teaching duties, eventually earning his degree, at the remarkable age of 56, from Middle Tennessee State University. The pursuit of knowledge became ingrained in their family’s fabric.

The Clouse family’s commitment to education did not end with their parents. Their children carried the torch, supporting one another through college. They earned their degrees with their uncle’s financial aid and the determination their father instilled.

Out of nine children, one passed away at birth and another at age 3 due to leukemia. However, the remaining siblings flourished, achieving undergraduate degrees. Four worked toward post-graduate studies. The girls embraced teaching careers while the boys pursued math. One graduated and pursued a successful engineering career.

Photographed by Ashleigh Newnes.

After receiving her degree, Jane spent a few years teaching in England on the Air Force base. Though, her experience teaching in England compared to America was completely different.

“It was very different. I remember having anything I needed to teach with. When I got back to the States, I didn’t have that. I struggled. I had to buy things myself. Back when I started, we had no planning time at all. I started out teaching first grade, and you go from 8 [a.m.] to 3 [p.m.] without a break at all. You’re worn out.”

Nevertheless, Jane pressed on, much like her father, and the family treasured their story so much that they decided to create something that symbolized their journeys.

At that point, their quilt came to life — a physical manifestation of their shared journey. Each square tells a different story, depicting their humble home, the birth of their children, and their educational endeavors. It encapsulates their father’s teaching career, their mother’s talent for painting, and the unity that carried them through their struggles.

“This is 50 years of family memories stitched in a quilt,” Jane said.

Photographed by Ashleigh Newnes.

This quilt, painstakingly crafted over two years, serves as a living testament to their journey, and Jane Clouse Lusk, one of the many Clouse siblings, keeps her family’s legacy burning bright.

Along with the special quilt to commemorate their family’s legacy, Jane wrote a book called, “Mama Said, ‘Don’t Y’all Forget…’” with each chapter starting with something “Mama” always said to her children.

She explained, “It tells about our upbringing. I have one chapter about our education, one about school games we played together and all that, and how we took a bath at Floyd’s Creek. We’d go down there and wash off. It’s all in that book, and it’s history. But the quilt also has a lot of history.”

The Clouse family’s story is one of strength, determination, and the transformative power of education. It serves as an inspiration to all who encounter it — a reminder that with unwavering belief, the support of loved ones, and the pursuit of knowledge, even the most challenging obstacles can be overcome.

Much like their educational history, the quilt symbolizes their legacy — a legacy of academic excellence, familial bonds, and the unyielding spirit that defined the Clouse family. GN

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