Clay County, Nebraska Genealogy
Guide to Clay County, Nebraska ancestry, genealogy and family history, birth records, marriage records, death records, census records, family history, and military records.
- 1 County Information
- 2 Resources
- 2.1 Bible Records
- 2.2 Biographies
- 2.3 Business, Commerce, and Occupations
- 2.4 Cemeteries
- 2.5 Census Records
- 2.6 Church Records
- 2.7 Court Records
- 2.8 Directories
- 2.9 Emigration and Immigration
- 2.10 Ethnic, Political, and Religious Groups
- 2.11 Funeral Homes
- 2.12 Genealogies
- 2.13 Guardianship
- 2.14 Land and Property Records
- 2.15 Local Histories
- 2.16 Maps and Gazetteers
- 2.17 Migration
- 2.18 Military Records
- 2.19 Naturalization and Citizenship
- 2.20 Newspapers
- 2.21 Obituaries
- 2.22 Other Records
- 2.23 Periodicals
- 2.24 Probate Records
- 2.25 School Records
- 2.26 Tax Records
- 2.27 Vital Records
- 3 Research Facilities
- 4 Societies
- 5 Websites
- 6 Research Guides
- 7 References
The county seat for Clay county is Clay Center. The county was named after Henry Clay, a famous American statesman, member of the United States Senate from Kentucky and United States Secretary of State in the 19th century. Clay County was part of the Louisiana territory and therefore ruled by both the French and the Spanish in its early history. After the Louisiana Purchase and the formation of the State of Nebraska in 1867, Clay County was formed on February 16, 1867. By 1871 the westward migration brought families from the eastern seaboard of the United States to the open prairies of Nebraska and Clay County. In the 1870s two railroad came to Clay county and with them came many immigrants, including a large colony of Germans from the coastal regions of Russia, British and Irish immigrants eager to homestead the prairie land. 
Clay County Courthouse
111 W. Fairfield Street
Clay Center, NE 68933
Clay County Website
County Clerk has birth and death records 1917-1918, marriage and land records from 1871 and military records 1921.
Clerk District Court has divorce and naturalization records.
County Court has probate records. 
Clay County, Nebraska Record Dates
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.
There is no known history of courthouse disasters in this county.
The following are locations in Clay County, Nebraska:
Business, Commerce, and Occupations
Federal Censuses were taken for Nebraska starting in 1860. For links to Federal census indexes, see Nebraska Census.
For tips on accessing Clay County, Nebraska Genealogy census records online, see: Nebraska Census.
State Census Records
- 1854 - 1870 - Nebraska, Compiled Census Index, 1854-1870 at Ancestry.com - index ($)
- 1860 - 1885 - Nebraska State Census Collection 1860-1885 at Ancestry.com - index and images ($)
- 1885 - Nebraska State Census 1885 at FamilySearch — index and images
- 1885 - Nebraska State Census 1885 at Ancestry.com - index and images ($)
Church records vary significantly depending on the denomination and the record keeper. They may contain information about members of the congregation, such as age, date of baptism, christening, or birth; marriage information and maiden names; and death date. For general information about Nebraska denominations, view the Nebraska Church Records wiki page.
Emigration and Immigration
Ethnic, Political, and Religious Groups
Land and Property Records
Land and property records can place an ancestor in a particular location, provide economic information, and reveal family relationships. Land records include: deeds, abstracts and indexes, mortgages, leases, grants and land patents.
See Nebraska Land and Property for additional information about early Nebraska land grants. After land was transferred to private ownership, subsequent transactions were usually recorded at the county courthouse, where records are currently housed.
- Land Patent Search - index to federal patents and homesteads on the Bureau of Land Management website, some images available
- 1796 - 1907 - U.S. General Land Office Records, 1796-1907 at Ancestry - index, info taken from Bureau of Land Management website
- 1861 - 1936 - U.S. Homestead Records 1861-1936 at Ancestry.com - ($), index and images
For more information see Nebraska Land and Property
Local histories are available for Clay County, Nebraska 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 Nebraska Local Histories.
- Biographical and historical memoirs of Adams, Clay, Hall and Hamilton counties, Nebraska. 1890. Chicago, Illinois: Goodspeed Pub. Co. Available online at:
- History of Hamilton and Clay counties, Nebraska. 1921. Burr, George L., Buck, O. O., Stough, Dale P. Chicago, Ill.: The S.J. Clarke Publishing Company. Available online at:
- The 'Centennial' sketch of Clay County, Nebraska. Clark, Martin. 1876. Sutton, Nebraska: E.H. White. Available online at:
- History of the State of Nebraska. Cutler, William. 1882. Chicago, IL.: The Western Historical Company, A. T. Andreas, Proprietor. Available online at:
Maps and Gazetteers
- Nebraska Gazetteer - database for all known places found in 1890 and 1911 Nebraska gazetteers
- Interactive Formation Boundary Map of Nebraska - shows boundary changes for Nebraska Counties
Early migration routes to and from Clay County for European and African American settlers included:
- 1775 - 1783 - United States Rosters of Revolutionary War Soldiers and Sailors, 1775-1783 at FamilySearch - images only
- For more nationwide Revolutionary War databases, see US Military Online Genealogy Records.
- 1861 - 1865 - Nebraska Civil War Service Records of Union Soldiers, 1861-1865 at FamilySearch — index
- 1891 - Nebraska Resident Military Roster on June 1, 1891 at Ancestry.com - ($), Roster of Soldiers, Sailors, and Marines of the War of 1812, the Mexico War, and the War of the Rebellion, residing in Nebraska June 1, 1891
- 1893 - Roster of Nebraska Veterans - list of veterans in 1893
- For more nationwide Civil War databases, see US Military Online Genealogy Records.
World War I
- 1917 - 1918 - World War I Drafts 1917-1918 - index only
- For more nationwide World War I databases, see US Military Online Genealogy Records.
Naturalization and Citizenship
For information on Nebraska newspapers, see Nebraska Newspapers.
Nebraska Newspapers Online
- Nebraska Newspapers - contains images of newspapers throughout Nebraska
- GenealogyBank - ($), contains images of Nebraska newspapers
- Newspaper Archive - ($), contains images of Nebraska newspapers
- Chronicling America - contains images of some Nebraska newspapers; searching tips
- Elephind - Free; search engine that retrieves newspaper images from other free newspaper websites
Nebraska Newspaper Catalogs
- Nebraska State Historical Society - catalog of known Nebraska newspapers; lists repositories that have the newspapers
- U.S. Newspaper Directory, 1690-Present on Chronicling America - contains a list of all known newspapers and the dates they cover; once you locate a newspaper name, contact the local library to see if they have copies of the newspaper
- 1870 - 1990 — Nebraska Prisoner Records 1870-1990 — index only
In most counties in Nebraska, probate records have been kept by the county judge. They include wills, fee books, claim registers, legacy records, inheritance records, probate ticklers, and dockets. The records are available at the county courthouse.
The FamilySearch Catalog lists films of probate records. To find the records for this county, use the Place Search for Nebraska - Clay - Probate records.
Online Probate Records
Nebraska tax records complement land records and can be used in place of censuses before 1820 or to supplement the years between censuses. There may be gaps of several years in the records.
Vital Records consist of births, adoptions, marriages, divorces, and deaths recorded on registers, certificates, and documents. A copy or an extract of most original records can be purchased from the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services or the County Clerk's office of the county where the event occurred.
Online Marriage Records Indexes and Images
- 1855 - 1995 — Nebraska Marriages, 1855-1995 at FamilySearch — index only
- 1856 - 1898 — Nebraska Marriages 1856-1898 at Ancestry.com ($), index only
Family History Centers
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.
- Clay Center Public Library
117 W Edgar St
Clay Center, NE 68933-1427
Fax: 402-762-3861 (call first)
Library Director: Cheryl Green
- Clay Center Public Library
County, Township and City Societies
- Clay County Historical Society
P.O. Box 201
Clay Center, NE 68933-0201
- Clay County Historical Society
- USGenWeb project. May have maps, name indexes, history or other information for this county. Select the state, then the county.
- FamilySearch Catalog - The FamilySearch catalog contains descriptions and access information for all genealogical materials (including books, online materials, microfilm, microfiche, and publications) in their collection. Use Historical Records to search for specific individuals in genealogical records
- Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America, 10th ed. (Draper, Utah: Everton Pub., 2002), Nebraska. At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL Book 973 D27e 2002.
- http://genealogytrails.com/neb/clay/ accessed 09/29/2016
- Kansas Collection Books
- Alice Eichholz, Ancestry’s Red Book: American State, County and Town Sources, Revised ed. (Salt Lake City: Ancestry, 1992), 452-465. At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL Book 973 D27rb 1992
- Wikipedia contributors, "Clay County, Nebraska," in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clay_County,_Nebraska, accessed 29 July 2016.
- National Park Service, "(Auto Tour Route) Maps" in Oregon National Historic Trail at http://www.nps.gov/oreg/planyourvisit/maps.htm (accessed 18 July 2011).
- National Park Service, "(Auto Tour Route) Maps" in California National Historic Trail at http://www.nps.gov/cali/planyourvisit/maps.htm (accessed 18 July 2011).
- National Park Service, "Auto Tour Route Maps" in Mormon Pioneer National Historic Trail at http://www.nps.gov/mopi/planyourvisit/maps.htm (accessed 18 July 2011).