John C. Claybrook was born in Florence, Alabama, in 1872. After running away from home at thirteen to find work in Memphis, he worked on riverboats and then a Mississippi plantation before moving to Crittenden County, Arkansas. There he began a logging and farming business. By the mid-1930s he owned a reported 3,500 acres of land. The town of Claybrook, southwest of West Memphis, was testimony to his success. It boasted a boarding house, farm store, sawmill, and baseball stadium. Claybrook’s baseball team, the Claybrook Tigers, was renowned throughout the Negro Leagues.