Clay County, Tennessee Genealogy
Clay County, Tennessee genealogy and family history research page. Guide to Clay County (established 1870) genealogy, history, and courthouse sources including birth records, marriage records, death records, census records, wills, deeds and land records, Civil War records, Revolutionary War records, family histories, cemeteries, churches, tax records, newspapers, and obituaries.
|Clay County, Tennessee|
Location in the state of Tennessee
Location of Tennessee in the U.S.
|Founded:||June 24, 1870|
- 1 Quick Dates
- 2 County Courthouse
- 3 History
- 4 Places / Localities
- 5 Resources
- 5.1 Research Guides
- 5.2 African American
- 5.3 Cemeteries
- 5.4 Census
- 5.5 Church
- 5.6 Court
- 5.7 DNA
- 5.8 Family Histories
- 5.9 Land
- 5.10 Local Histories
- 5.11 Maps
- 5.12 Military
- 5.13 Newspapers
- 5.14 Occupations
- 5.15 Periodicals
- 5.16 Probate
- 5.17 Taxation
- 5.18 Vital Records
- 6 Libraries
- 7 Societies
- 8 Web Sites
- 9 References
Clay County's civil records start the following years:
Clay County Courthouse
100 Courthouse Square
Celina, TN 38551
County Clerk has marriage records from 1870.
Clerk has probate records from 1870.
County Assorr has land records.
Clerk Circuit Court has divorce and court records from 1870. 
Clay County Courthouse
139 East Lake Ave.
Celina, TN 38551
Clay County Clerk
P.O. Box 218
139 East Lake Ave., Suite E
Celina, TN 38551
Clay County Clerk and Master
P.O. Box 332
Celina, TN 38551
Clay County Assessor
P.O. Box 430
Celina, TN 38551
Clay County Clerk of Circuit Court
P.O. Box 156
Celina, TN 38551
Mon.-Tues. and Thurs.- Fri.8 a.m.-4 p.m. (Closed Wed.)
|Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness has found volunteers available to do lookups at this courthouse. Request guidelines.|
Middle Tennessee county established in 1870. The western part of Clay County's land belonged to the pioneer Cumberland Settlements.
"Rotating Formation Tennessee County Boundary Maps" (1777-1985) may be viewed for free at the My Tennessee Genealogy website. They rely on AniMap 3.0 software.
- Lost census: 1890
Places / Localities
Cities and Towns:
- Genealogical "Fact Sheets" About Tennessee Counties: Clay County, courtesy: TSLA. (Identifies published county histories, published local records, census records, newspapers and local records on microfilm, and select manuscripts.)
Tennessee cemetery records often identify birth, death, relationship, and military information, as well as religious affiliation.
Charles A. Reeves Jr. has created a detailed map showing the locations of Clay County cemeteries. It may be purchased for a small fee through his website.
The following websites may contain Clay County cemetery records:
- Find A Grave can be searched by the name of a person or family to find where a person is buried. Usually gives birth and death dates often with a picture of the tombstone. May give obituaries, names of family members and links to their information in Find A Grave.
- Find A Grave also gives a list of cemeteries in Clay County linking to the information about the people buried there,
- Clay County, TN Cemetery Records, part of the TNGenWeb Cemetery Database, lists many cemeteries in the county, often with indexes and transcripts of the burials.
- Clay County, Tennessee, USGenWeb Tombstone Transcription Project lists many cemeteries in the county and has transcripts of the tombstones arranged by cemetery.
- The Family History Library Catalog lists some records of cemeteries in Clay county. Some of the books or others may be on Google Books or available at public libraries.
1880, 1900, 1910, 1920, and 1930 federal population censuses of Clay County are available online. For tips on accessing census records online, see Tennessee Census. If you're having trouble finding your ancestors in online indexes, try checking printed indexes. Created by local experts familiar with the area's families, these indexes are often transcribed more accurately than nationwide online indexes.
See Tennessee Population Schedule Indexes: Fiche, Film, or Book for more information about statewide printed indexes.
1890 - Lost, but substitutes are available:
- Reed, Sue S. Enumeration of Male Inhabitants of Twenty-one Years of Age and Upward, Citizens of Tennessee, January 1, 1891, as Provided for by an Act of General Assembly of Tennessee, Passed January 15, 1891, and Approved January 22, 1891. 8 vols. Houston, Texas: S.S. Reed, 1989. FHL US/CAN Book 976.8 X2r v. 6 1891. [Clay County is included in Vol. 6.]
- Sistler, Byron H. and Barbara Sistler. 1890 Civil War Veterans Census, Tennessee. Evanston, Ill.: Byron Sister and Associates, 1978. FHL US/CAN Book 976.8 X2s 1890.
- 1890 Clay County veterans found on the 1890 Federal Census. Hosted by Rootsweb.
- Young, Denise, ed. Clay County, Tennessee Census, 1920 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: The Generations Network, Inc., 1999. Digital version at Ancestry ($).
- [Brown] Descendant of Daniel Brown, b. abt 1852 Kentucky or Alabama, m. Lusana Eudy 1877 Clay County, Tennessee, d. abt 1910 Kentucky. Y-DNA 37 Marker Test, FTDNA (Kit 77320). Genetic signature available online (labeled Group No. 46), genealogical description available online, courtesy: Brown/Browne/Braun DNA Study. Matches have been found.
It is anticipated that this bibliography will eventually identify all known family histories published about residents of this county. Use this list to:
- Locate publications about direct ancestors
- Find the most updated accounts of an ancestor's family
- Identify publications, to quote Elizabeth Shown Mills, about an ancestor's "FAN Club" [Friends, Associates, and Neighbors]
- Clay County, Tennessee History and Families. Paducah, Ky.: Turner Publishing Co. Publisher's description.
- Masters, Jack and Bill Puryear. Founding of the Cumberland Settlements: The First Atlas 1779-1804: Showing Who Came, How They Came, and Where They Put Down Roots. Gallatin, Tenn.: Warioto Press, 2009. FHL US/CAN Large Q Book 976.8 E7d. Supplements: FHL US/CAN Book 976.8 E7d supp. 1 ff. Purchase at Cumberland Pioneer Settlers.
- [Donaldson] Waters, Elise Donaldson. Genealogy of Donaldsons of Wilson and Clay County, Tennessee; Colsons, Browns, and Hords of Virginia and Tennessee, and Related Families. Nashville, Tenn.: E.D. Waters, 1981. FHL FAM HIST Large Q Book 929.273 D714w.
- [Fowler] Waters, Elise Donaldson. Genealogy of Sylvanus Fowler of Newburgh, New York, Jackson and Clay County, Tennessee: and Related Families. Nashville, Tenn.: E.D. Waters, 1979. FHL FAM HIST Large Q Book 929.273 F829d 1979.
- [Lincoln] Warren, Louis Austin. Hananiah Lincoln in Revolution and Pioneer History. Bloomington, IN: University Press, 1929. Digital version available at Heritage Quest Online.
- Clay County Register of Deeds has Land Records from 1871 and is located at Courthouse, POB 430 Celina, Tennessee 38551; 931-243-3298, Land and property records include transfer of real estate or personal property, mortgages, leases, surveys, and entries
- The Family History Library has microfilm copies of deeds1871-1904.
- Free index to 1500+ Pioneer Cumberland Settlements Land Grants, available online, courtesy: Cumberland Pioneer Settlers. The Cumberland Settlements region covered what is now this county. To view the land grants platted on maps, purchase the books described on this site, or access those available at the Family History Library FHL US/CAN Large Q Book 976.8 E7d.
War of 1812
- Embry, Hermione D. "War of 1812 - Tennessee Pensioners on List - January 2, 1883," Ansearchin' News, Vol. 7, No. 2 (Apr. 1960):40-45. FHL US/CAN Book 976.8 B2a v. 7 (1960); digital version at journal website. [Includes Clay County pensioners (pp. 40-41)]
Civil War service men from Clay County served in various regiments. Men often joined a regiment or a company (within a regiment) that originated in their county. Listed below are the military units that were formed in or had many men from Clay County.
- 8th Regiment, Tennessee Infantry - CSA - Company H.
Additional sources for Civil War soldiers from Clay County:
- USGenWeb Archives, Clay County Tennessee Archives, (accessed 30 Jan 2012). Civil War Records.
- Tennessee State Library and Archives, Tennessee Confederate Pension Applications : Clay County, (accessed 30 Jan 2012). Includes soldier's name, county, pension #, unit or widow.
- United States Pension Bureau, List of Pensioners on the Roll January 1, 1883: Giving the Name of Each Pensioner, the Cause for ... (Washington Printing Office; 1883), (accessed 30 Jan 2012). Online at Internet Archive. Clay County, page 326.
- 1890 Census for Pickett, Fentress, & Clay Counties, (accessed 30 Jan 2012). Here is a listing of all Union Civil War veterans and their wives. It lists name, rank, company, town they lived in, any ailments, and county.
Since Clay County was not formed until December 1870, you will need to check the military records of its' parent counties, Jackson County and Overton County for military records of the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, and the Civil War.
Many Tennessee newspapers are filmed and available at the TSLA. Most of these newspapers may be accessed by interlibrary loan to libraries within Tennessee, although there are some newspapers which are not available in or outside of Tennessee. For further information regarding interlibrary loan policies and newspapers not available for interlibrary loan click here. For a list of newspapers available at the archives for Clay County click on the following city:
- Miller, Alan N. Middle Tennessee's Forgotten Children: Apprentices from 1784 to 1902. Baltimore, Md.: Printed for Clearfield Company, Inc., by Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., 2004. FHL US/CAN 976.8 U2ma. Purchase at Genealogical.com. [Includes Clay County.]
Tap into the minds of local experts. Editors of genealogical periodicals publish unique sources that researchers who are new to their area would not likely discover. This type of material may be found in local, regional, or statewide genealogical society journals. The following periodicals cover this county:
- Ansearchin' News
- Genealogical articles with abstracts of Clay County, Tennessee Genealogy records have been published in Ansearchin' News, the quarterly magazine of the Tennessee Genealogical Society. To view a list of these articles, visit their county index. To read digitized versions of the first 36 years of articles (Vols. 1-36), browse their archive or conduct a surname search. The Family History Library has a complete collection of the Ansearchin' News quarterly FHL Book 976.8 B2a.
- The Middle Tennessee Journal of Genealogy and History
- Genealogical articles with abstracts of records of Clay County, Tennessee have been published in The Middle Tennessee Journal of Genealogy and History, the quarterly of the Middle Tennessee Genealogical Society (23+ Vols.). To view a list of these articles, visit their online Index to Articles (1988-2005). Surname indexes are also available online for Vols. 2-22. The website also offers back issues for sale in paper and on CD. The Family History Library has a complete collection of this quarterly FHL US/CAN Book 976.85 D25m.
The Clay County Court has responsibility for probate records.
FamilySearch has placed scans of the following records online in the Tennessee, Probate Court Books, 1795-1927 collection. These are browse-only collections. Handwritten indexes may be found at the front or back of some volumes:
- Wills, 1871-1913 (Vols. A-B)
- Bonds, 1871-1903 (3 vols.)
- Insolvent estate records, 1875-1931
- Settlements, 1873-1915 (2 vols.)
-  Cumberland Settlements, Tax List, 1789, The Middle Tennessee Journal of Genealogy and History, Vol. 4, No. 2 (Fall 1990). For access, see Periodicals. [Includes area that later became Clay County.]
The original Clay County marriage records are kept at the County Courthouse. The following Clay County marriage records are microfilmed:
- [1871-1993] Available at the TSLA.
- [1871-1957] Available at the Family History Library. Indexes are at the front of each volume.FHL 1004071
The following Cannon County Courthouse marriage records have been abstracted and/or indexed:
- [1871-1873] Marriage Records, 1871-1873, Clay County, Tennessee. Nashville: TSLA, Historical Records Project, 1939. Typescript.FHL 24621 Item 2
- Shrum, Shelta R. Early Clay County, Tennessee, Marriages. Lafayette, Tennessee: Ridge Runner, 2001. FHL 976.849 V2s
- Tennessee County Marriages, 1790-1950 - covers all counties in Tennessee.
- Many county marriage records are indexed with images at Ancestry's Tennessee State Marriages, 1780-2002. ($) Be aware that this index is not complete for all counties.
- Clay County is not included in Marriage Records.  or in Marriage Records: Early–1850. 
In 1940 and 1941, W.P.A. workers pinpointed the location of Clay County divorce papers in diverse manuscript collections, see:
- W.P.A. Guide to Public Vital Statistics in Tennessee. Nashville, Tenn.: The Tennessee Historical Records Survey, 1941. FHL US/CAN Book 976.8 A3gp.
For deaths of Methodists in Clay County (or what later became Clay County) between the 1830s and the 1920s, try:
- Smith, Jonathan K.T. Genealogical Abstracts from Reported Deaths, the Nashville Christian Advocate. [1847-1914] 10 vols. [Jackson, Tenn.]: J.K.T. Smith, 1997-2003. FHL US/CAN Books 976.855/N1 V48s 1847-1851 ff; digital versions at David Donahue Memorial: Tennessee Records Repository. [Website expands upon the publications and includes deaths from the 1830s, 1840s, 1910s and 1920s.]
- Clay County Public Library
116 Guffey St., Celina, TN 38551-4088
Hours: Mon.–Tues. 8:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m., Wed. 3 p.m.–8 p.m., Thurs.–Fri. 8:30 p.m.-4:30 p.m.,
Sat. 9 a.m.–1 p.m., Sun. Closed
The Clay county Library has a genealogical collection including local and family history.
Family History Centers
- Middle Tennessee Genealogical Society
PO Box 330948
Nashville, TN, USA 37203-7507
The society serves the 40 counties of middle Tennessee of which Clay County is one. It publishes The Middle Tennessee Journal of Genealogy & History, a quarterly containing articles of genealogical and historical interest. Little-known Tennessee records are published and indexed, along with family genealogies, Bible records and material submitted by members. There is an alphabetical Index to articles in the Journal 1988-summer 2005
- Upper Cumberland Genealogical Association, Inc.
PO Box 575
Cookeville, TN 38503-0575
The Association includes 14 counties in upper middle Tennessee. It sponsors the Tennessee Room at the Putnam County Library in Cookeville, Tennessee which contains many records of genealogical value.
- Clay County, TN Family History and Genealogy Message Board (Ancestry)
- Clay County, TN Genealogy and Family History (Linkpendium)
- Clay County, TN Genealogy Forum (GenForum)
- Clay County, TNGenWeb (USGenWeb)
- Clay County, TN History, Records, Facts and Genealogy (MyTennesseeGenealogy)
- Cumberland Pioneer Settlers Cumberland Compact Signers, Pioneer Land Grant Recipients, Publication Descriptions, Free Book Indexes
- Family History Library Catalog (FamilySearch)
- Rootwalker: Genealogy Pages for Northern Middle TN Free Genealogy Resources for the Region
- Mailing List: TN-ROOTWALKER-L (North Central Tennessee Genealogy List) (RootsWeb)
- Mailing List: TN-UPPER-CUMBERLAND-L (Upper Cumberland Tennessee Region Genealogy List) (RootsWeb)
- Guide to Public Vital Statistics in Tennessee. Nashville, Tenn.: The Tennessee Historical Records Survey (W.P.A.), 1941; "Earliest County Records," Tennessee State Library and Archives.
- Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America, 10th ed. (Draper, Utah: Everton Pub., 2002), Clay County, Tennessee page 638, At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL Book 973 D27e 2002.
- "Henry Clay," Wikipedia.
- Founding of the Cumberland Settlements: The First Atlas 1779-1804.
- The Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America, 10th ed. (Draper, UT: Everton Publishers, 2002), 638. (FHL Collection Ref Book 973 D27e 2002). WorldCat entry.
- Voice of Lynnae Weller, Kingsport, Tenn. (2010).
- Voice of Gene Black, FamilySearch employee, former resident of Bristol, Tenn. (2010).
- Orem, Utah: Automated Archives, 1994. (Family History Library compact disc number 9 part 2.)
- Orem, Utah: Automated Archives, 1992. (Family History Library compact disc number 9 part 229.) These disks do not circulate to Family History Centers.