Clay County, Tennessee Genealogy

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Guide to Clay County, Tennessee ancestry, family history and genealogy birth records, marriage records, death records, census records, family history, and military records.

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Clay County, Tennessee
Boundary map of Clay County, Tennessee
Map of Tennessee highlighting Clay County
Location in the state of Tennessee, United States Genealogy
Map of the U.S. highlighting Tennessee
Location of Tennessee in the U.S.
Founded: June 24, 1870
County Seat Celina
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Clay County Tennessee Quick Dates[edit | edit source]

Clay County's civil records start the following years:[1]

Birth Marriage Death Census Land Probate
1908 1871  1908  1880 1871  1871 

Clay County Tennessee Courthouse[edit | edit source]


Clay County Tennessee courthouse.jpg

Clay County Courthouse, Celina, Tenn.

|Clay County Courthouse]]

Clay County Courthouse
100 Courthouse Square
Celina, TN 38551
Phone: 931.243.3145 

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. [2] Template:TNRandomActs1

Clay County Courthouse
139 East Lake Ave.
Celina, TN 38551
Phone: 1-931-243-3145

Clay County Clerk
Marriage records
P.O. Box 218
139 East Lake Ave., Suite E
Celina, TN 38551
Phone: 1-931-243-2249

Clay County Clerk and Master
Probate records
P.O. Box 332
Celina, TN 38551
Phone: 1-931-243-3145

Clay County Assessor
Land records
P.O. Box 430
Celina, TN 38551
Phone: 1-931-243-3298

Clay County Clerk of Circuit Court
Court records
P.O. Box 156
Celina, TN 38551
Phone: 1-931-243-2557

Mon.-Tues. and Thurs.- Fri.8 a.m.-4 p.m. (Closed Wed.)
Sat.8 a.m.-noon

Clay County Tennessee History[edit | edit source]

U.S. Speaker of the House Henry Clay (1777-1852)
|Henry Clay]]

The county is named after U.S. Speaker of the House Henry Clay (1777-1852).[3]

Middle Tennessee county established in 1870. The western part of Clay County's land belonged to the pioneer Cumberland Settlements.[4]

Parent County[edit | edit source]

1870--Clay County was created 24 June 1870 from Jackson and Overton counties. 
County seat: Celina [5]

County Pronunciation[edit | edit source]

  1. Hear it spoken[6] (female)
  2. Hear it spoken[7] (male)

Boundary Changes[edit | edit source]

For animated maps illustrating Tennessee county boundary changes, "Rotating Formation Tennessee County Boundary Maps" (1777-1985) may be viewed for free at the website.

Record Loss[edit | edit source]

There is no known history of courthouse disasters in this county.

Clay County Tennessee Places / Localities[edit | edit source]

Populated Places[edit | edit source]

Cities and Towns:

Baptist Ridge
Cherry Crossroads
Denton Crossroads
Free Hill
Hermitage Springs
Jenkins Village
Miles Crossroads
Neely Crossroads
Oak Grove
Pine Hill
Saint John
Thompsons Store
Union Hill
Willow Grove

Neighboring Counties[edit | edit source]

Clay County Tennessee Genealogy Resources[edit | edit source]


Research Guides[edit | edit source]

African American[edit | edit source]

United States African Americans Gotoarrow.png Tennessee African Americans

Cemeteries[edit | edit source]

Tombstone Transcriptions Online Tombstone Transcriptions in Print List of Cemeteries in the county Family History Library
TNGenWeb WorldCat BillionGraves
TNGenWeb Archives Linkpendium
Tombstone Project Gravestones
TNGenWeb Cemeteries Epodunk
See Tennessee Cemeteries for more information.
  • 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.

Census[edit | edit source]

1880, 1900, 1910, 1920, 1930, and 1940 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.

1810 - 1891

1890 Lost substitutes are available:

Male Voters 1891


Church[edit | edit source]

Court[edit | edit source]

DNA[edit | edit source]

DNA Double Helix.png
DNA has been collected from men claiming descent from the following Clay County residents. Attempts have not been made to verify the lineages of those tested.
  • 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.

Family Histories[edit | edit source]

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)


As of August 2010, a query for persons born in Clay, Tennessee at World Connect, results in more than 15,000 entries.


  • 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.

Land[edit | edit source]

  • 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.
    Land Grants
  • 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.

Local Histories[edit | edit source]

Maps[edit | edit source]

Military[edit | edit source]

War of 1812[edit | edit source]
Civil War[edit | edit source]

Online Records

Regiments. 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.

Confederate Soldiers

Additional sources for Civil War soldiers from Clay 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.

Newspapers[edit | edit source]

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:

Occupations[edit | edit source]

  • 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 Includes Clay County.

Periodicals[edit | edit source]

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 Giles 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.

Probate Records[edit | edit source]

The Clay County Court has responsibility for probate records.

Online 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.)

Taxation[edit | edit source]

  • 1789 - 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.

Vital Records[edit | edit source]

See also How to order Tennessee Vital Records or order electronically online.

Birth[edit | edit source]
Marriages[edit | edit source]

The original Clay County marriage records are kept at the County Courthouse. The following Clay County marriage records are microfilmed:

  • 1871 - 1993 - Available at 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 indexed:

  • 1871 - 1895 - Clay County Marriage Index 1871-1895 in International Genealogical Index at FamilySearch - free.[9]
  • 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
  • 1790 - 1950 - Tennessee County Marriages, 1790-1950 - covers all counties in Tennessee.
  • 1780 - 2002 - 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. [10] or in Marriage Records: Early–1850. [11]
Divorce[edit | edit source]

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.
Death[edit | edit source]

For deaths of Methodists in Clay County (or what later became Clay County) between the 1830s and the 1920s, try:

Clay County Tennessee Genealogy Libraries[edit | edit source]

  • Clay County Public Library
    116 Guffey St., Celina, TN 38551-4088
    Phone: 1-931-243-3442
    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
[edit | edit source]

Family history centers provide one-on-one assistance and free access to premium genealogical websites. In addition, many centers have free how-to genealogy classes. See family history center for more information. Search the online FHC directory for a nearby family history center.

Societies and Archives[edit | edit source]

Clay County Tennessee Genealogy Societies[edit | edit source]

  • 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 Tennessee Genealogy Websites[edit | edit source]

Wikipedia has more about this subject: Clay County, Tennessee

Clay County Tennessee Genealogy References[edit | edit source]

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. "Henry Clay," Wikipedia.
  4. Founding of the Cumberland Settlements: The First Atlas 1779-1804.
  5. The Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America, 10th ed. (Draper, UT: Everton Publishers, 2002), 638. (FHL Book 973 D27e 2002). WorldCat entry.
  6. Voice of Lynnae Weller, Kingsport, Tenn. (2010).
  7. Voice of Gene Black, FamilySearch employee, former resident of Bristol, Tenn. (2010).
  8. May be used for free at Family History Center. To locate a center near you, click here.
  9. Genealogical Society of Utah, Parish and Vital Records List (July 1998). Microfiche. Digital version at
  10. Orem, Utah: Automated Archives, 1994. (Family History Library compact disc number 9 part 2.)
  11. Orem, Utah: Automated Archives, 1992. (Family History Library compact disc number 9 part 229.) These disks do not circulate to Family History Centers.