Triplets time: A local family boasts 4 sets

Denise Hartse
Star Staff Writer

Multiple births are in the news this year. Several Hollywood celebrities have welcomed twins and even triplets into their families.

While Hollywood families may be growing by adding a set of twins or triplets here and there, one Miles City woman can boast that her family has been blessed with four sets of triplets, one identical. She said that the family also has several sets of twins, but she feels the amount of triplets is really unique. 

Phyllis Jacobson Clauson said her father, James Jacobson, moved his family to Miles City from North Dakota in 1948, when she was 13 years of age.

“And he is behind this story,” she added.

Clauson said she comes from a large family — she has four brothers and four sisters.

“My folks both came from large families in North Dakota,” said Clauson. “We also have twins in the family.”

Those multiple births were on her father’s side.

Clauson said she graduated from Custer County District High School in 1952. She and her husband, Bill Clauson, were married in 1953. Bill, who died on June 9, 2009, served as president of the Southeastern Montana Fiddlers for more than 20 years, was a director of the Range Riders and served as director for Farm Credit Service in Miles City for 30 years. He also was on the five states board of directors for FCS headquartered in Spokane, Washington, for another three years. He retired in 1991.

The Clausons shared a love of music. He played the fiddle and guitar and she played the piano.

“We played for country dances,” Clauson said. “We loved it.” 

She still plays once a month at the Friendship Villa and Holy Rosary Healthcare. “I just get a big kick out of those old people,” she added. 

Clauson said, “I was busy raising kids and being a ranch wife. I was a telegrapher and worked at the Milligan Hotel for many years. I loved that. My job was really interesting. We had two boys and a girl. Our son Tim, has no children. Our son David has two boys and our daughter Judy has two girls.” None of the Clauson grandchildren are multiple births.

However, that is not the case for the rest of the family.

“My sister, Betty Scheid, has a daughter, Sandra Kinsey, who lives in Miles City. She has a son, Jase, and he and his wife, Jodi Kinsey, have identical triplets, three little boys, Milo, Ian and Cade,” said Clauson. “They were born in Billings on Dec. 4, 2014, and made national news.”

The couple also has a 9-year-old son, Jax.

Identical twins are formed when a mother’s fertilized egg splits in two. In the case of identical triplets, the fertilized egg must split twice. The babies share the same DNA and this is unusual. Fraternal twins and triplets, are formed when two or three fertilized eggs become embryos. 

Identical triplets are very rare. The babies are all boys or all girls and they are very difficult to tell apart, even for the parents. It is estimated that between one in 60,000 and one in 200 million births are identical triplets. One study says that the numbers are closer to one in 20 to 30 million. Because they are so rare, it’s hard to measure the statics of the number of births of identical triplets accurately and their births are news worthy.

“They [the boys] are identical, nothing is different,” said Clauson with a smile. “Their teachers are going to have a fine time when they start school.”

Clauson explained, “When the identical triplets were born, I started thinking about the other triplets in our family. Nobody else had put it together, but I thought it was a little bit unusual we had four sets of triplets and I decided to share.

“My dad’s baby sister, Borgny, who is deceased, had a daughter, Virginia, whose husband is Ernie Oster. Their daughter, Joan, and her husband, Ted Chiarello, had triplets, Allie, Nick and Briana. They live in North Dakota and are teenagers now.

“My brother, Wayne, has a daughter, Joan, and she and her husband, C.R. Fleming, live in Wyoming. They had triplets in 1984, son Jesse, and daughters Lyndsay and Shannon. They’re around 32 now and they all live in Casper.”

She added, “My dad’s sister, Julia, who is deceased, has a son, Dr. Russell Leach, and he and his wife, Pearl, lived in Miles City for many years, but have moved to Spokane. They have a son, Jordan, and he and his wife, Karen, have triplets, two boys and a girl, who were born in 2005 in Spokane. Their names are Jesse, Jake and Stephanie.”

Clauson said that she has shared her information about the triplets with other members of her family and they appreciated her research.

“We’re very proud of our family and feel very blessed to have so many sets of multiples in it, said Clauson. “Every family is unique, but we feel ours is especially so.”

(Contact Denise Hartse at or 406-234-0450.)

(EDITOR'S NOTE: Please see the the photo gallery Triplets for more photos)