Thomas Lanier Clingman born in Huntsville became an eminent resident and well-respected scholar within the state. He attended University of North Carolina and upon graduation in 1832 held the distinction of being first in every class he had ever attended. He studied law independently under Mr. W. A. Graham of Hillsboro. In 1840 he was elected to the North Carolina Senate followed by appointment in 1843 to the U.S. Congress. He and Thomas Bragg became U.S. Senators in 1857 and served until the Civil War. Clingman earned a respectable war record and was wounded in several engagements. Beyond his civic career, Clingman studied geology and meteorology.