Daniel Clayton
Daniel Clayton
Biographical information
Date of birth1820
Physical description
Behind-the-scenes information

Daniel Clayton was the father of Clara Clayton. His brother was Ulysses S. Clayton and wife was Martha Clayton.


Daniel collected butterflies and discovered the rare species he named Lepidoptera martha, after his future wife, while crossing the Oregon Trail as part of a butterfly expedition in 1850.

Martha and Daniel were wed on March 3, 1850 in Wyoming. When the butterfly expedition had ended, Martha moved back east with her new husband.[1]

On October 25, 1855, they gave birth to Clara in New Jersey.[2] When Clara was 11, she was quarantined in her room with diphtheria for three months. In order to give his daughter something to do those three months, Daniel bought Clara a telescope which he put next to her bed so she could see out her window. This made him ultimately responsible for Clara's soon-after developed interest in science and astronomy, traits she shared with her future husband Dr. Emmett Brown.[3]

Daniel tried to set Clara up with nice men from good families, but her intense interest in Jules Verne novels meant that her head was always in a book, and the relationships never worked out. Clara was meek and introspective like her father, but she enjoyed the prospect of being an unmarried woman. Her desire to remain single was enhanced by seeing her mother, formerly a frontierswoman, struggling to ignore her rebellious nature to try to act like a proper 19th century housewife.

Clara therefore became a schoolteacher, which didn't surprise Daniel. Unmarried women were common in the profession, and she also enjoyed the fact that young minds were open to many new possibilities, and that they were truthful and imaginative, like herself.

Daniel died in 1879 and Martha died five years later. They had left Clara a modest amount of money and their house in New Jersey. A year after her mother's death, Clara took a teaching job in Hill Valley, California. She had hoped to find adventure, as well as love, as her parents did on the Oregon Trail. When she met Emmett Brown, she found both.[2]