William C. Clopton was born in Holly Springs, MS, the son of John “Jack” Hoggatt Clopton (1805-1856) and his wife, Matilda Caroline Drake (1813-1865). Jack Clopton had been born in Virginia, moved west, and died at his plantation near Helena, AR. In early 1865, though he was under legal age, William Clopton enlisted as a private in Company K, Dobbin’s Arkansas Cavalry. He was paroled in May 1865 at Wittsburg, AR.
After the war, Clopton attended the University of Tennessee, and sessions 44-47 (1869-1871) at the University of Virginia. Afterwards, he studied at Columbia University in New York and at Friedrich Wilhelm University in Berlin. Clopton returned to the United States and practiced law from 1877 until 1898 in New York City. In 1893, Judge Clopton was offered the position of Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, but declined the post.
Clopton married twice, first to Mary Frances Garth (d. 1895), by whom he had two children, William Garth Clopton and Waldegrave Wythe Clopton. His second wife was Louise Espenschied (d. after 1926), by whom he had no children. In addition to his outstanding legal career, Clopton was well known for his collection of violins, which was valued at $500,000 at the time of his death.
W. C. Clopton died in Baltimore, MD, where he and his family had lived for the last ten years of his life, and was buried at Belfontaine Cemetery, St. Louis, MO.
- Blanton, Suellen Clopton, “An honorable and contrite heart; regarding the Honorable William Capers Clopton.” in The Clopton Chronicles [website]. http://homepages.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~clopton/contents.htm (accessed 5/27/2011).
- “Judge W. C. Clopton Dead.” New York Times (1923-Current file); Mar 13, 1926; ProQuest Historical Newspapers, p. 17.
- National Park Service. Civil War Soldiers and Sailors System [website]. http://www.itd.nps.gov/cwss/ (Accessed 5/27/2011).