Clay County, Tennessee Genealogy

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United States  Gotoarrow.png  Tennessee  Gotoarrow.png  Clay County

Middle Tennessee county established in 1870. The western part of Clay County's land belonged to the pioneer Cumberland Settlements.[1]

Location of Clay County, Tennessee
Clay County Boundary Map

Quick Dates

Clay County's civil records start the following years:[2]

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

County Courthouse

Clay County Courthouse, Celina, Tenn.
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

Sm-raogk.gif Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness has found volunteers available to do lookups at this courthouse. Request guidelines.


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).[3]

Parent County

1870--Clay County was created 24 June 1870 from Jackson and Overton counties. 
County seat: Celina [4]

Boundary Changes

Record Loss

  • Lost census: 1890

Places / Localities

Populated Places

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


Research Guides


Tennessee cemetery records often identify birth, death, relationship, and military information, as well as religious affiliation.

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.

The following websites may contain Clay County cemetery records:

  • Find A Grave can be searched by the name of a person or family to find where a person is buried. Usually gives birth and death dates often with a picture of the tombstone. May give obituaries, names of family members and links to their information in Find A Grave.


1880, 1900, 1910, 1920, and 1930 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, but substitutes are available:


  • Young, Denise, ed. Clay County, Tennessee Census, 1920 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: The Generations Network, Inc., 1999. Digital version at Ancestry ($).




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

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]



  • [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.


  • 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



War of 1812


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:


  • 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.]


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 records of Clay County, Tennessee 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 US/CAN Book 976.8 B2a.
The Middle Tennessee Journal of Genealogy and History
Genealogical articles with abstracts of records of Clay 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 are court records created after an individual’s death that relate to a court’s decisions regarding the distribution of the estate to the heirs or creditors and the care of any dependents. You may find the names of married daughters or other relatives and their residences; or information about the adoption or guardianship of minor children and dependents. Probate records do not always give an exact date of death, but the death usually occurred within four months of probate. These documents are important to family history researchers, because they usually exist for time periods before civil birth and death records were kept.

The Clay County Court has responsibility for the probate records.


  • [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


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

  • [1871-1993] Available at the 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 abstracted and/or indexed:

  • [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
  • RecordSearch at FamilySearch now includes indexed Tennessee marriages.  This is a free pilot site and still under construction.  At this time, it is best to search from the home page; indicate a surname, marriage "event", no date, and a county name (i.e. Clay, Tennessee).  Browse through the results for that surname. You may need to supply any variant spellings of the surname in separate searches.
  • 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. [5] or in Marriage Records: Early–1850. [6]

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


  • Clay County Public Library
    116 Guffey Street, Celina, TN 38551-4088
    Telephone: 931-243-3442
    Hours: Monday – Tuesday 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m., Wednesday 3:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m., Thursday – Friday 8:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.,
    Saturday 9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m., Sunday Closed
    The Clay county Library has a genealogical collection that is widely used and has local history as well as family history.


  • 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 some 14 counties in uper middle Tennessee. It sponsors the Tennessee Room at the Putnam County Library in Cookeville, Tennessee which contains many and varied records of genealogical value.

Web Sites

Wikipedia has more about this subject: Clay County, Tennessee


  1. Founding of the Cumberland Settlements: The First Atlas 1779-1804.
  2. 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.
  3. "Henry Clay," Wikipedia.
  4. The Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America, 10th ed. (Draper, UT:Everton Publishers, 2002) [FHL 973 D27e], 638.
  5. Orem, Utah: Automated Archives, 1994. (Family History Library compact disc number 9 part 2.)
  6. Orem, Utah: Automated Archives, 1992. (Family History Library compact disc number 9 part 229.) These disks do not circulate to Family History Centers.