Clay County, Tennessee Genealogy

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

County Facts
County seat: Celina
Organized: June 24, 1870
Parent County(s): Jackson, Overton[1]
Neighboring Counties
Cumberland (KY)  • Jackson  • Macon  • Monroe (KY)  • Overton  • Pickett
See County Maps
Clay County Tennessee courthouse.jpg
Location Map
Location of Clay County, Tennessee.PNG
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County Information[edit | edit source]

Description[edit | edit source]

Clay County was named for American statesman Henry Clay, member of the United States Senate from Kentucky and United States Secretary of State in the 19th century. The county is located in the north-central area of the state.[2]

County Courthouse[edit | edit source]

Clay County Courthouse
PO Box 749
139 East Lake Ave.
Celina, TN 38551
Clay County Website Phone: 931-243-2557
County Clerk Phone: 931-243-2249
Chancery Clerk and Master Phone: 931-243-3145
Register of Deeds Phone: 931-243-3298
Clerk of Circuit Court Phone: 931-243-2557

County clerk has married records from 1870
Clerk and Master has probate records from 1870
Court records, marriage and divorce from 1870
Clerk of the Circuit Court has divorce and court records from 1870 Register of Deeds has land records.[3]

Clay County, Tennessee 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[4]
Birth* Marriage Death* Court Land Probate Census
1908 1870 1908 1870 1871 1870 1810
*Statewide registration for births and deaths began in 1914. General compliance by 1927.

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:[6]

Unincorporated communities
  • Arcot
  • Beech Bethany
  • Brimstone
  • Butler's Landing
  • Denton Crossroads
  • Neely Crossroads
  • Oak Grove
  • Pea Ridge
  • Shanky Branch

History Timeline[edit | edit source]

Additional Information

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

The county is named after U.S. Speaker of the House Henry Clay (1777-1852).[7]

Middle Tennessee county established in 1870. The western part of Clay County's land belonged to the pioneer Cumberland Settlements.[8]

Resources[edit | edit source]

Bible Records[edit | edit source]

Biographies[edit | edit source]

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

  • Middle Tennessee's Forgotten Children: Apprentices from 1784 to 1902. 2004. By Alan N. Miller. Baltimore, Md.: Clearfield Company. FHL US/CAN 976.8 U2ma. Includes Clay County.

Cemeteries[edit | edit source]

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

Census Records[edit | edit source]

Historical populations
Census Pop.
1880 6,987
1890 7,260 3.9%
1900 8,421 16.0%
1910 9,009 7.0%
1920 9,193 2.0%
1930 9,577 4.2%
1940 10,904 13.9%
1950 8,701 −20.2%
1960 7,289 −16.2%
1970 6,624 −9.1%
1980 7,676 15.9%
1990 7,238 −5.7%
2000 7,976 10.2%
2010 7,861 −1.4%
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.


1890 Lost substitutes are available:

Male Voters 1891


Church Records[edit | edit source]

List of Churches and Church Parishes

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]

Family Histories



  • 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.

Guardianship[edit | edit source]

Land and Property Records[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 and Gazetteers[edit | edit source]

Monroe CountyCumberland CountyClinton CountyPickett CountyOverton CountyJackson CountyMacon CountyTN CLAY.PNG
Click a neighboring county
for more resources

Migration[edit | edit source]

Military Records[edit | edit source]

War of 1812

Civil War

Online Records

Regiments. Men in Clay County served in various regiments. Men often joined a company (part of a large regiment) that originated in their county. Listed below are companies that were specifically formed in 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 and Overton for military records of the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, and the Civil War.

Naturalization and Citizenship[edit | edit source]

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:

Obituaries[edit | edit source]

Other Records[edit | edit source]

Prisons[edit | edit source]

Periodicals[edit | edit source]

Genealogical periodicals can contain unique sources and can be local, regional, or statewide. The following periodicals cover this county:

Probate Records[edit | edit source]

The Clay County Court has responsibility for probate records.

Online Records

School Records[edit | edit source]

Social Security Records[edit | edit source]

Tax Records[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 Clay. Includes area that later became Clay County.

Vital Records[edit | edit source]

Birth[edit | edit source]

Marriage[edit | edit source]

Online Indexes and Records

Book Abstracts and Indexes

  • Early Clay County, Tennessee, Marriages. Lafayette, Tennessee: Ridge Runner, 2001. FHL 976.849 V2s

Death[edit | edit source]

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

Divorce[edit | edit source]

Online Onlines

Online Titles

  • W.P.A. Guide to Public Vital Statistics in Tennessee. Nashville, Tenn.: The Tennessee Historical Records Survey, 1941. FamilySearch Digital Library.

Research Facilities[edit | edit source]

Archives[edit | edit source]

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

Clay County Public Library
116 Guffey Street
Celina, TN 38551-4088
Phone: 931-243-3442
The Clay County Library has a genealogical collection including local and family history.

Museums[edit | edit source]

Clay County Museum of History
P.O. Box 684
805 Brown St.
Celina, TN 38551
Phone: 931-243-4220

Societies[edit | edit source]

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

Upper Cumberland Genealogical Association, Inc.
P.O. Box 575
Cookeville, TN 38503-0575

Websites[edit | edit source]

Research Guides[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America, 10th ed. (Draper, Utah: Everton Pub., 2002), Tennessee.At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL Book 973 D27e 2002.
  2. Wikipedia contributors, "Clay, Tennessee" in,_Tennessee accessed 17 Dec 2018
  3. Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America, 10th ed. (Draper, Utah: Everton Pub., 2002), Tennessee.At various libraries (WorldCat)
    FHL Book 973 D27e 2002.
  4. Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America, 10th ed. (Draper, Utah: Everton Pub., 2002), Tennessee.At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL Book 973 D27e 2002.
  5. Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America, 10th ed. (Draper, Utah: Everton Pub., 2002), Tennessee.At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL Book 973 D27e 2002.
  6. Wikipedia contributors, "Clay County, Tennessee," in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia,,_Tennessee, accessed 10 November 2019.
  7. "Henry Clay," Wikipedia.
  8. Founding of the Cumberland Settlements: The First Atlas 1779-1804.
  9. Genealogical Society of Utah, Parish and Vital Records List (July 1998). Microfiche. Digital version at: