Clay County, Minnesota Genealogy

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

Clay County, Minnesota
Map of Minnesota highlighting Clay County
Location in the state of Minnesota
Map of the U.S. highlighting Minnesota
Location of Minnesota in the U.S.
Founded March 18, 1858
County Seat Moorhead
Address Clay County Courthouse
807 11th Street North
Moorhead, MN 56560
Phone: 218-299-5002 (Administration)
Phone: 218-299-5031
Clay County Website

County Information[edit | edit source]

Description[edit | edit source]

The County was named for the 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 west central area of the state. [1]

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

Known Beginning Dates for Major County Records[2]
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.

County Courthouse[edit | edit source]

County Recorder has:

  • Birth, marriage, death and land records from 1872
  • Military records from 1917

Court Administration has:

  • Divorce and court records from 1931
  • Probate records from 1885 [3]

History[edit | edit source]

Henry Clay

The county is named after U.S. Speaker of the House Henry Clay (1777-1852).[4]

Parent County[edit | edit source]

1858--Clay County was created 18 March 1858 from Pembina (Old) County.
County seat: Moorhead [5]

Boundary Changes[edit | edit source]

For animated maps illustrating Minnesota County boundary changes, "Rotating Formation Minnesota County Boundary Maps" (1849-1960) may be viewed for free at the website.

Record Loss[edit | edit source]

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

Places/Localities[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
Census-designated places
Ghost towns

Neighboring Counties[edit | edit source]

Resources[edit | edit source]

Cemeteries[edit | edit source]

Tombstone Transcriptions Online Tombstone Transcriptions in Print List of Cemeteries in the county Family History Library
USGenWeb WorldCat Billion Graves
MNGenWeb Archives FamilySearch Places
Tombstone Project
Billion Graves
See Minnesota Cemeteries for more information.

Census[edit | edit source]

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[edit | edit source]

Most church records are held by individual churches. For contact information, check a phone directory, such as SearchBug or Dex Knows. Some denominations are gathering their records into a central repository. For more information about these major repositories, see Minnesota Church Records.

Lutheran[edit | edit source]

Clay County

  • Records of the American Lutheran Church, Clay County, in Evangelical Lutheran Church in America database at ($).

Dillworth Lutheran Church

  • Records of Dillworth Lutheran Church in Evangelical Lutheran Church in America database at ($).[7]


  • Records of the American Lutheran Church, Hawley, in Evangelical Lutheran Church in America database at ($).

Our Savior's Lutheran Church, Barnesville

  • Records of Our Savior's Lutheran Church, Barnesville, in Evangelical Lutheran Church in America database at ($).[7]

Trinity Lutheran Church, Moorhead

  • Records of the Trinity Lutheran Church, Moorhead, in Evangelical Lutheran Church in America database at ($).


  • Records of the American Lutheran Church, Ulen, in Evangelical Lutheran Church in America database at ($).

List of Churches and Church Parishes

Court[edit | edit source]

Emigration and Immigration[edit | edit source]

Land[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.

Land records for Minnesota are listed in the Place Search of the FamilySearch Catalog under:


A wiki article describing an online collection is found at:

Minnesota, Clay County Land and Property Records, 1872-1947

Local Histories[edit | edit source]

Local histories are available for Clay County, Minnesota Genealogy. 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.

Maps[edit | edit source]

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

Military[edit | edit source]

World War II[edit | edit source]

Naturalization and Citizenship[edit | edit source]

Newspapers[edit | edit source]

Additional newspapers abstracts can sometimes be found using search phrases such as Clay County, Minnesota Genealogy newspapers in online catalogs like:

Obituaries[edit | edit source]

Probate[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 Records

Schools[edit | edit source]

Online Records

A wiki article describing an online collection is found at:

Minnesota, Clay County School Census Records - FamilySearch Historical Records

Taxation[edit | edit source]

Minnesota tax records complement land records and can be used in place of censuses before 1820 or to supplement the years between censuses. Because only persons who owned taxable property were listed, many residents were not included in tax lists. There may also be gaps of several years in the tax records of some counties. 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 State Registrar of Vital Records, the County Clerk's office of the county where the event occurred], order electronically online ($) or download an application for Minnesota Birth Certificate and Death Certificates Applications to mail.

See also Minnesota Vital Records or How to order Minnesota Vital Records. For information about restrictions and costs for certificates, see the CDC Where to Write for Vital Records site.

Birth[edit | edit source]
Marriage[edit | edit source]
Death[edit | edit source]

Societies and Libraries[edit | edit source]

  • Historical and Cultural Society of Clay County
    The Hjemkomst Center
    202 First Avenue North
    Moorhead, MN 56560
    Phone: 218-299-5511
  • Barnesville Heritage Society
    PO Box 126
    412 6 St NE
    Barnesville, MN 56514
    Phone: 218-354-2364
  • Ulen Historical Museum
    PO Box 182
    Ulen MN 56585
    Phone: 218 596-8121
  • Red River Valley Genealogical Society
    PO Box 9284
    112 N University Drive, Suite L116
    Fargo, ND 58106
    Phone: 701-239-4129

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.

Websites[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Wikipedia contributors, "Clay County, Minnesota" in,_Minnesota accessed 8 Nov 2018
  2. Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America, 10th ed. (Draper, Utah: Everton Pub., 2002), Clay County, Minnesota. Page 362-370 At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL Book 973 D27e 2002; Alice Eichholz, ed. Ancestry’s Red Book: American State, County, and Town Sources, Third ed. (Provo, Utah: Ancestry, 2004), 362-365.
  3. Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America, 10th ed. (Draper, Utah: Everton Pub., 2002), Clay County, Minnesota page 363, At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL Book 973 D27e 2002.
  4. "Henry Clay," Wikipedia.
  5. The Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America,10th ed. (Draper, UT:Everton Publishers, 2002).
  6. Wikipedia contributors, "Clay County, Minnesota," in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia,,_Minnesota, accessed 23 January 2020.
  7. 7.0 7.1 "Evangelical Lutheran Church in America: An Inventory of Selected Congregational Records of the American Lutheran Church in Minnesota at the Minnesota Historical Society," Collection Finding Aids, Minnesota Historical Society,, accessed 10 June 2013.