Clay County Data
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About Clay County, Alabama...
Located in east-central Alabama, Clay County is home to large portions of the Talladega National Forest. A seat of Jacksonian Democratic politics in the late nineteenth century, the county was one of the strongest advocates of a radical agrarian uprising of the 1890s. The Ashland-Lineville high-school football rivalry was recently named one of the top football rivalries in the nation by USA Today. The county is governed by an elected five-member commission.
Clay County was created by an act of the state legislature on December 7, 1866, and was formed from parts of Randolph and Talladega counties. Named in honor of Henry Clay, antebellum Senator of Kentucky, the county lies in what was some of the last lands occupied by the Creek Indians before their removal west in 1832. Due to its hilly terrain and lack of rich land, early settlers to the area tended to be poor farmers. During the antebellum period, the land was characterized by small farms of less of than 50 acres with corn being the major crop. During Reconstruction, legislators created new property taxes that forced farmers into indebtedness and tenancy and by the 1880s, Clay County had one of the highest rates of indebted farmers.
The Populist movement which swept Alabama during the 1880s and 1890s took firm hold in Clay County, which became known as "the cradle of Alabama populism." In the county seat of Ashland, Populist Party members published the People's Party Advocate and threw their support behind the party's gubernatorial candidate Reuben F. Kolb. As the Populist Party and farming waned, Clay County's economy switched to mining and manufacturing, as mines, timber firms, and chicken plants moved into the area. The county remains one of the most rural and sparsely populated counties in Alabama. Natives of Clay County include 1920s Ku Klux Klan imperial wizard Hiram Wesley Evans, Supreme Court Justice Hugo L. Black, and Alabama Governor Bob Riley.
Because of its hilly terrain, Clay County agriculturalists primarily grew corn on small farms during the nineteenth century. Farming declined in the decades following the Civil War, and large numbers of people took jobs in manufacturing, the timber industry, and poultry plants. Current industries in the county are Wellborn Cabinets Inc., Tyson Foods, Ace Products, John-Co Truss Co., Three-Dimension Woodcraft, Lace Wood Inc., and Higgins Embroidery.
The county has a total area of 606 square miles, of which 604 square miles is land and 2 square miles(.3%) is water. The population recorded in the 1870 Federal Census was 9,560. The 2010 census recorded 13,932 residents in the county.
Neighboring counties are Cleburne County (north), Randolph County (east), Tallapoosa County (south), Coosa County (southwest), and Talladega County (west). Communities in the county include Lineville, Delta, Ashland, Millerville, Hollins, Corinth, and Cragford.
Clay County, Alabama Records
Alabama Genealogy & History Network has many records on our county websites. Thousands of County marriage records are located on the county websites. Many counties have cemetery listings. Please visit the county or counties of interest to you.
Birth Records - The Alabama Department of Public Health maintains records of births from 1908 to present. This was the year Alabama began keeping official birth records. You can obtain official copies of birth certificates by visiting the birth record page on their website and following the instructions. Since there are no official birth records before 1908 for births prior to that date you will need to determine birth information from census records, bible records, baptismal records, cemetery tombstones, etc.
Death Records - The Alabama Department of Public Health maintains death records after 1908 on file. This was the year Alabama began keeping official death records. You can obtain official copies of death certificates by visiting the death record page on their website and following the instructions. Since there are no official death records before 1908 for deaths prior to that date you will need to determine death information from census records, bible records, funeral home records, cemetery tombstones, etc.
Marriage Records - We have thousands of county marriage records on our county websites. These dates will assist you greatly in obtaining a copy of the original marriage license. The Alabama Department of Public Health can provide you with information for marriages that took place from 1936 to present by by visiting the marriage record page on their website and following the instructions.
All existing county marriage records for any date not listed above (and for the dates listed above for that matter) may be obtained from the county's Probate Office in which the marriage was held.
Divorce Records - The Alabama Department of Public Health maintains divorce records from 1950 to present. You can obtain official copies of devorce records by visiting the divorce record page on their website and following the instructions. Records for divorces occuring before 1950 may be obtained from the Circuit Clerk in the county where the divorce took place.