Clay County, Minnesota Genealogy

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

County Facts
County seat: Moorhead
Organized: March 18, 1858[1]
Parent County(s): Pembina (Extinct) now Kittson[2]
Neighboring Counties
Becker  • Cass (ND)  • Norman  • Otter Tail  • Richland (ND)  • Wilkin
See County Maps
Minnesota, Clay County Courthouse.png
Location Map
Minnesota Clay County Map.svg.png
Henry Clay

County Information[edit | edit source]

Description[edit | edit source]

The county is named after U.S. Speaker of the House Henry Clay (1777-1852)[3], a member of the United States Senate from Kentucky and United States Secretary of State in the 19th century. The County is located in the west-central area of the state.[4]

County Courthouse[edit | edit source]

Clay County Courthouse
807 11th Street North
Moorhead, MN 56560
Phone: 218-299-5012
Clay County Website

Birth, marriage, death and land records from 1872, Military records from 1917, Divorce and court records from 1931, and Probate records from 1885 [5]

Clay County, Minnesota Record Dates[edit | edit source]

Information for this chart was taken from various sources, often containing conflicting dates. This information should be taken as a guide and should be verified by contacting the county and/or the state government agency.

Known Beginning Dates for Major County Records[6]
Birth* Marriage Death* Court Land Probate Census
1872 1872 1872 1931 1872 1885 1836
*Statewide registration started for births in 1900 and deaths in 1908. General compliance by 1915.

Record Loss[edit | edit source]

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

Boundary Changes[edit | edit source]

Populated Places[edit | edit source]

For a complete list of populated places, including small neighborhoods and suburbs, visit HomeTown Locator. The following are the most historically and genealogically relevant populated places in this county:[10]

Unincorporated communities
Census-designated places
Ghost towns

History Timeline[edit | edit source]

Resources[edit | edit source]

Bible Records[edit | edit source]

Biographies[edit | edit source]

Business, Commerce, and Occupations[edit | edit source]

Cemeteries[edit | edit source]

Cemeteries of Clay County, Minnesota online and in print
Tombstone Transcriptions Online
Tombstone Transcriptions in Print (Often more complete)
List of Cemeteries in the County
See Minnesota Cemeteries for more information.


Census Records[edit | edit source]

For links to Federal, State, and Territorial censuses, see Minnesota Census.

Historical populations
Census Pop.
1860 72
1870 92 27.8%
1880 5,887 6298.9%
1890 11,517 95.6%
1900 17,942 55.8%
1910 19,640 9.5%
1920 21,780 10.9%
1930 23,120 6.2%
1940 25,337 9.6%
1950 30,363 19.8%
1960 39,080 28.7%
1970 46,585 19.2%
1980 49,327 5.9%
1990 50,422 2.2%
2000 51,229 1.6%
2010 58,999 15.2%
Source: "".

State Census

Church Records[edit | edit source]

Most church records are held by individual churches. Some denominations are gathering their records into a central repository. For more information, see Minnesota Church Records.

Court Records[edit | edit source]

Directories[edit | edit source]

Emigration and Immigration[edit | edit source]

Ethnic, Political, and Religious Groups[edit | edit source]

Funeral Homes[edit | edit source]

Genealogies[edit | edit source]

Guardianship[edit | edit source]

Land and Property Records[edit | edit source]

The county register of deeds keeps land records once the land was transferred to private ownership. Abstracts and indexes for these records are generally available at the county courthouse.

Online Land Indexes and Records

Local Histories[edit | edit source]

Local histories are available for Clay County. County histories may include biographies, church, school and government history, and military information. For more information about local histories, see the wiki page section Minnesota Local Histories.

  • Turner, John; Semling, C. Knut; History of Clay and Norman counties, Minnesota, their people, industries, ..., (Indianapolis, Indiana: B.F. Bowen & Company, 1918); Volume one online at FamilySearch Digital Library.

Maps and Gazetteers[edit | edit source]

Norman CountyMahnomen CountyBecker CountyOtter Tail CountyWilkin CountyRichland CountyCass CountyMN CLAY.PNG
Click a neighboring county
for more resources

Migration[edit | edit source]

Military Records[edit | edit source]

Multiple Wars

Civil War

Spanish-American War

World War I

World War II

Naturalization and Citizenship[edit | edit source]

Online Naturalization Indexes and Records

Newspapers[edit | edit source]

Obituaries[edit | edit source]

Other Records[edit | edit source]

Periodicals[edit | edit source]

Probate Records[edit | edit source]

Probate records may include wills, bonds, petitions, accounts, inventories, administrations, orders, decrees, and distributions. They may include the decedent’s date of death, names of his or her spouse, children, parents, siblings, in-laws, etc. See Minnesota Probate Records for additional information.

Online Probate Indexes and Records

School Records[edit | edit source]

Online School Indexes and Records

Social Security Records[edit | edit source]

Tax Records[edit | edit source]

Since Minnesota tax records include only persons who owned taxable property, many residents were not included. Still they complement land records and can be used in place of missing censuses or the years between censuses. There may also be gaps. For more information, see the wiki page Minnesota Taxation.

Vital Records[edit | edit source]

Vital Records consist of births, adoptions, marriages, divorces, and deaths recorded on registers, certificates, and documents.

A copy or an extract of most original records can be purchased from the Minnesota Department of Health, Office of Vital Records, or the County Clerk's office of the county where the event occurred. See also Minnesota Vital Records.

Birth[edit | edit source]

Marriage[edit | edit source]

Death[edit | edit source]

Divorce[edit | edit source]

Research Facilities[edit | edit source]

Archives[edit | edit source]

Listed below are archives in Clay County. For state-wide archival repositories, see Minnesota Archives and Libraries.

Family History Centers[edit | edit source]

Family History Center and Affiliate Library Locator map - search for local Family History Centers or Affiliate Libraries

  • Family History Centers provide one-on-one assistance, free access to center-only databases, and to premium genealogical websites.
  • FamilySearch Affiliate Libraries have access to most center-only databases, but may not always have full services normally provided by a family history center.

Local Centers and Affiliate Libraries

Libraries[edit | edit source]

Listed below are libraries in Clay County. For state-wide library facilities, see Minnesota Archives and Libraries.

Lake Agassiz Regional Library
118 5th Street S
Moorhead, MN 56560-2756
Phone: 218-233-3757 or 800-247-0449

Fargo Public Libraries
Main Library
102 3rd Street N
Fargo, ND 58102
Phone: 701-241-1472

Museums[edit | edit source]

The Heritage Hjemkomst Interpretive Center
202 1st Ave N
Moorhead, MN 56560
Phone: 218-299-5515

Ulen Historical Museum
PO Box 403
35 1st St NW
Ulen, MN 56585
Phone: 218 596-8121

Societies[edit | edit source]

Listed below are societies in Clay County. For state-wide genealogical societies, see Minnesota Societies.

Historical and Cultural Society of Clay County
The Hjemkomst Center
202 First Ave N
Moorhead, MN 56560
Phone: 218-299-5511

Barnesville Heritage Society
P.O. Box 126
412 6 Street NE
Barnesville, MN 56514
Phone: 218-354-2364

Northwest Minnesota Historical Center
Minnesota State University
1104 7th Avenue S
Moorhead, MN 56563
Phone: 800-593-7246

Websites[edit | edit source]

Research Guides[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Minnesota Historical Boundary Changes - list of all boundary changes by county provided by Newberry Library
  2. Minnesota Historical Boundary Changes - list of all boundary changes by county provided by Newberry Library
  3. "Henry Clay," Wikipedia.
  4. Wikipedia contributors, "Clay County, Minnesota" in,_Minnesota accessed 8 Nov 2018
  5. Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America, 10th ed. (Draper, Utah: Everton Pub., 2002), Minnesota.At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL Book 973 D27e 2002.
  6. Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America, 10th ed. (Draper, Utah: Everton Pub., 2002), Minnesota.At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL Book 973 D27e 2002.
  7. Minnesota Historical Boundary Changes - list of all boundary changes by county provided by Newberry Library
  8. Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America, 10th ed. (Draper, Utah: Everton Pub., 2002), Minnesota.At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL Book 973 D27e 2002.
  9. Minnesota Historical Boundary Changes - list of all boundary changes by county provided by Newberry Library
  10. Wikipedia contributors, "Clay County, Minnesota," in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia,,_Minnesota, accessed 23 January 2020.