Patrick Ronayne Cleburne, the son of Dr. Joseph and
Mary Anne Ronayne Cleburne, was born March 17,
1828. At the age of twenty-one he immigrated to the
United States. He settled in Helena in 1850.
The Son of Privilege
Patrick Ronayne Cleburne was born into an Irish Protestant
family of high social standing. His father was a prosperous
doctor in County Cork and young Patrick received an
When Patrick was fifteen, his father died. Against his wishes,
Patrick was apprenticed to a doctor. He cared little for
medicine and in 1846, he failed the exam for entrance to the
Apothecaries' Hall. Humiliated, Patrick joined the British
army. For three years he suffered the miserable life it afforded
The 1840s were years of political and social unrest in Ireland.
The situation worsened after the Irish potato crop failed in
1846. Patrick's brother, William, wrote in July 1849,
"It is the
wish of all my brothers and sister, to quit this country for
America." On November 2, Patrick Cleburne and his siblings
William, Joseph and Anne, left Ireland. They arrived in New
Orleans on Christmas Day. Patrick Cleburne made his way to
Cincinnati, Ohio, where his medical training enabled him to
secure a job in a drugstore.
Cleburne Settles in Helena
In 1850, twenty-two year-old Patrick Cleburne moved to
Helena, Arkansas, where he found a job with the Grant and
Nash Drugstore. As store manager he received $50 a month,
a room at the rear of the shop, and his meals, which he took
with Dr. Grant. To Patrick Cleburne, the move probably
seemed like a simple chance for advancement, but it changed
the course of his life.
Top right: This is the first known photograph of Patrick Cleburne. It was taken in Helena in 1850.
Bottom left: In 1850, roads were often impassable and railroads were few and far between. Patrick Cleburne traveled from Cincinnati to Helena, a prosperous
port and shipping center, via steamboat.
Bottom right: Dr. Charles Edward Nash, left, and Dr. Hector M. Grant below. Grant owned the
drugstore on First Street where Patrick Cleburne lived and worked.