This being Peoria, home of the Sherlockian society called "The Hansoms of John Clayton," some attention must occasionally be paid to Mr. John Clayton, who drove a hansom cab in The Hound of the Baskervilles. He's a minor character to most readers, but to an old Sherlockian hand in Peoria, he's something much, much more.
John Clayton figures prominently in Peoria author Philip Jose Farmer's Tarzan Alive, an important biography of that ape-man of an earlier era, but as with so many histories written by men, it tends to focus on the men involved and leave out many a sister or girl cousin. So it's not surprising that John's cousin Clara is never mentioned in all the hooplah of tying that cabdriver who visited 221B Baker Street to Tarzan of the Apes.
In fact, when you get into the weeds of it, Clara Clayton's father may have been the actual reason that John Clayton wound up driving a fake Sherlock around London and was later interviewed by the real Sherlock. Clara's father, Daniel Clayton, was the Clayton family lepidopterist, a naturalist specializing in the study of moths and butterflies. As in any field of focus like lepidoptery, societies form, correspondence between experts in the field occurs, and connections are made.
So when Jack Stapleton, another naturalist from that period specializing in lepidoptery, just happens to hire John Clayton for an important day's work, we have to wonder if it is just coincidence at work here, or if Stapleton hadn't heard of the cabman's skills from Clayton's uncle.
The connection of Jack Stapleton to Daniel Clayton to John Clayton may cause you to wonder why I'm focusing on Clara here, if that name didn't ring a bell with you at first glance. Even though The Hound of the Baskervilles has been adapted for the big and small screens many a time, the character of John Clayton depicted therein has never had quite the fame and popularity of his cousin Clara in her cinematic portrayal. But then "Clayton" is probably not the name most remember her by.
For Clara Clayton is probably better known by her married name after she made a very unusual marital connection with the ancestor of another character from the cases of Sherlock Holmes. Remember Silas Brown, the race-horse trainer from "Silver Blaze?" Even though he was actually a contemporary to Clara, his grandson Emmett managed to find his way back to the California of 1885 to fall in love with John Clayton's girl cousin.
Of course, the romance between Emmett "Doc" Brown and Clara Clayton is pretty well known at this point, so I won't dwell further on it here. You can Google it, if you're still lost.
I doubt that John Clayton and Silas Brown were able to cross paths at the wedding of their respective cousin and grandson, but I'm sure they would have made excellent table-mates at the reception, both having a great familiarity with horses to connect on. What was it Sherlock Holmes once said?
"If we could fly out of that window hand in hand, hover over this great city, gently remove the roofs, and peep in at the queer things which are going on, the strange coincidences, the plannings, the cross-purposes, the wonderful chains of events, working through generations, and leading to the most outre results, it would make all fiction with its conventionalities and foreseen conclusions most stale and unprofitable."
And Clara Clayton, were Holmes and Watson took take that magical flight, would be a revelation they would find most fascinating.