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Clay County, Kentucky facts for kids

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Clay County
Clay County courthouse in Manchester
Clay County courthouse in Manchester
Map of Kentucky highlighting Clay County
Location within the U.S. state of Kentucky
Map of the United States highlighting Kentucky
Kentucky's location within the U.S.
Country  United States
State  Kentucky
Founded 1807
Named for Green Clay
Seat Manchester
Largest city Manchester
 • Total 471 sq mi (1,220 km2)
 • Land 469 sq mi (1,210 km2)
 • Water 1.8 sq mi (5 km2)  0.4%%
 • Total 20,345 Decrease
Time zone UTC−5 (Eastern)
 • Summer (DST) UTC−4 (EDT)
Congressional district 5th

Clay County is a county located in the U.S. state of Kentucky. Its county seat is Manchester. The county was formed in 1807 and named in honor of Green Clay (1757–1826). Clay was a member of the Virginia and Kentucky State legislatures, first cousin once removed of Henry Clay, U.S. Senator from Kentucky and Secretary of State in the 19th century.


Clay County was established in 1807 from land given by Floyd, Knox and Madison counties. The courthouse burned in January 1936.

In the United States elections, 2010, Clay County had voting fraud as described by the New York Times in 2016:

In Clay County, Ky., eight local election officials were convicted in 2010 of fooling voters who used "iVotronic" election machines, which resemble A.T.M.s. After casting their ballots, the voters pressed a big red button on a screen marked "Vote." But some of the machines then required the voter to touch another button, "Confirm Vote."

The officials were accused of trying to hide this last fact from voters, having them leave the booth as soon as they touched "Vote." When they left, the officials would review and sometimes change the votes, then confirm the selection.

The fraud left no paper trail and preyed on voters unfamiliar with the machines. But it also required hands-on tinkering with the actual machines. And since the machines are offline, that could not be done en masse, or from afar.


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 471 square miles (1,220 km2), of which 469 square miles (1,210 km2) is land and 1.8 square miles (4.7 km2) (0.4%) is water.

Adjacent counties


Historical population
Census Pop.
1810 2,398
1820 4,393 83.2%
1830 3,548 −19.2%
1840 4,607 29.8%
1850 5,421 17.7%
1860 6,652 22.7%
1870 8,297 24.7%
1880 10,222 23.2%
1890 12,447 21.8%
1900 15,364 23.4%
1910 17,789 15.8%
1920 19,795 11.3%
1930 18,526 −6.4%
1940 23,901 29.0%
1950 23,116 −3.3%
1960 20,748 −10.2%
1970 18,481 −10.9%
1980 22,752 23.1%
1990 21,746 −4.4%
2000 24,556 12.9%
2010 21,730 −11.5%
2020 20,345 −6.4%
2021 (est.) 20,206 −7.0%
U.S. Decennial Census
1790–1960 1900–1990
1990–2000 2010–2021

As of the census of 2010, there were 21,730 people, 8,556 households, and 6,442 families residing in the county. The population density was 52 people per square mile (20/km2). There were 9,439 housing units at an average density of 20 per square mile (8/km2). The racial makeup of the county was 93.9% White, 4.8% Black or African American, 0.2% Native American, 0.1% Asian, <0.1% Pacific Islander, 0.2% from other races, and 0.7% from two or more races. 1.4% of the population were Hispanics or Latinos of any race.

There were 8,556 households, out of which 36.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 58.6% were married couples living together, 12.4% had a female householder with no husband present, and 24.7% were non-families. 22.5% of all households were made up of individuals, and 9.0% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.62 and the average family size was 3.06.

The age distribution was 25.4% under the age of 18, 9.2% from 18 to 24, 32.6% from 25 to 44, 22.5% from 45 to 64, and 10.3% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 35 years. For every 100 females there were 111.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 112.6 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $16,271, and the median income for a family was $18,925. Males had a median income of $24,164 versus $17,816 for females. The per capita income for the county was $9,716. About 35.4% of families and 39.7% of the population were below the poverty line, including 47.6% of those under age 18 and 31.3% of those age 65 or over.

The county's per-capita income and median household income make it one of the poorest counties in the United States. Among counties whose population contains a non-Hispanic white majority, Clay County was once the poorest by per-capita income and second to another county in the same Kentucky region, Owsley County, by median household income. However, in recent years the economic status of Clay County, Kentucky has improved relative to other lower income counties.



Census-designated place

Other unincorporated places

See also

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