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Clay County, Missouri facts for kids

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Clay County
South side of the Clay County Courthouse (designed by Wight and Wight) in Liberty
South side of the Clay County Courthouse (designed by Wight and Wight) in Liberty
Clay County
Map of Missouri highlighting Clay County
Location within the U.S. state of Missouri
Map of the United States highlighting Missouri
Missouri's location within the U.S.
Country  United States
State  Missouri
Founded January 2, 1822
Named for Henry Clay
Seat Liberty
Largest city Kansas City
 • Total 409 sq mi (1,060 km2)
 • Land 397 sq mi (1,030 km2)
 • Water 11 sq mi (30 km2)  2.8%
 • Total 253,335
 • Estimate 
 • Density 619.4/sq mi (239.15/km2)
Time zone UTC−6 (Central)
 • Summer (DST) UTC−5 (CDT)
Congressional districts 5th, 6th

Clay County is located in the U.S. state of Missouri and is part of the Kansas City metropolitan area. As of the 2020 census, the county had a population of 253,335, making it the fifth-most populous county in Missouri. Its county seat is Liberty. The county was organized January 2, 1822, and named in honor of U.S. Representative Henry Clay from Kentucky, later a member of the United States Senate and United States Secretary of State.

Clay County contains many of the area's northern suburbs, along with a substantial portion of the city of Kansas City, Missouri. It also owns and operates the Midwest National Air Center in Excelsior Springs.


Clay County was settled primarily from migrants from the Upper Southern states of Kentucky, Tennessee, and Virginia. They brought slaves and slaveholding traditions with them, and quickly started cultivating crops similar to those in Middle Tennessee and Kentucky: hemp and tobacco. Clay was one of several counties settled mostly by Southerners to the north and south of the Missouri River. Given their culture and traditions, this area became known as Little Dixie. In 1860, slaves made up 25% or more of the county's population. Residents generally supported the Confederacy during the Civil War, as the Confederate flag flew over the county courthouse for many years following the end of the Civil War.

Many members of the Latter Day Saint movement found refuge in Clay County in November 1833. In 1836, mobs drove the members of the church from the county. Leaders of this church, most notably Joseph Smith, were imprisoned for some months in Clay County in the jail at Liberty. In May 2012, the LDS Church opened a Kansas City Missouri Temple six miles southwest of the Liberty Jail site at 7001 Searcy Creek Parkway in Kansas City, Missouri.


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 409 square miles (1,060 km2), of which 397 square miles (1,030 km2) is land and 11 square miles (28 km2) (2.8%) is covered by water. It is the fourth-smallest county in Missouri by area.

Adjacent counties

Major highways


Historical population
Census Pop.
1830 5,338
1840 8,283 55.2%
1850 10,382 25.3%
1860 13,023 25.4%
1870 15,564 19.5%
1880 15,571 0.0%
1890 19,856 27.5%
1900 18,903 −4.8%
1910 20,302 7.4%
1920 20,455 0.8%
1930 26,811 31.1%
1940 30,417 13.4%
1950 45,221 48.7%
1960 87,474 93.4%
1970 123,322 41.0%
1980 136,488 10.7%
1990 153,411 12.4%
2000 184,006 19.9%
2010 221,939 20.6%
U.S. Decennial Census
1790-1960 1900-1990
1990-2000 2010-2019

As of the census of 2010, 221,939 people, 72,558 households, and 50,137 families resided in the county. The population density was 558 people per square mile (216/km2). The 93,918 housing units averaged 236 per square mile (91/km2). The racial makeup of the county was 87.46% White, 5.18% Black or African American, 0.53% Native American, 2.05% Asian, 0.26% Pacific Islander, 1.77% from other races, and 2.75% from two or more races. About 5.90% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. As of the census of 2000, 23.3% were of German, 14.5% American, 11.0% English, 10.8% Irish, and 5.6% Italian ancestry.

Of the 72,558 households, 33.80% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 55.40% were married couples living together, 10.20% had a female householder with no husband present, and 30.90% were not families. About 25.20% of all households were made up of individuals, and 7.40% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.50 and the average family size was 3.00.

In the county, the population was distributed as 25.80% under the age of 18, 8.70% from 18 to 24, 32.30% from 25 to 44, 22.30% from 45 to 64, and 10.80% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 35 years. For every 100 females, there were 94.60 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 91.80 males.

In 2015 the median income for a household in Clay County was $62,099. The income per capita in Clay county was $29,793.

In 2010 the median income for a household in the county was $48,347, and for a family was $56,772. Males had a median income of $40,148 versus $27,681 for females. The per capita income for the county was $23,144. About 3.80% of families and 5.50% of the population were below the poverty line, including 6.40% of those under age 18 and 5.50% of those age 65 or over.

Registered voters number 151,042.


Notable people


Public schools

    • Lewis Elementary School (PK–5)
    • Cornerstone Elementary School (K–5)
    • Elkhorn Elementary School (K-5)
    • Excelsior Springs Middle School (6–8)
    • Excelsior Springs High School (9–12)
    • Excelsior Springs Technical High School (12) – Alternative/Technical School
    • Dogwood Elementary School (PreK–5)
    • Hawthorne Elementary School (K–5)
    • Holt Elementary School (K–5)
    • Kearney Elementary School (K–5)
    • Southview Elementary School (K–5)
    • Kearney Middle School (6–7)
    • Kearney Junior High School (8–9)
    • Kearney High School (10–12)
    • Liberty Early Childhood Education Center (PreK)
    • Alexander Doniphan Elementary School (K–5)
    • Franklin Elementary School (K–5)
    • Kellybrook Elementary School (K–5) – Kansas City
    • Lewis & Clark Elementary School (K–5)
    • Liberty Oaks Elementary School (K–5) – Kansas City
    • Lillian Schumacher Elementary School (K–5)
    • Manor Hill Elementary School (K–5)
    • Ridgeview Elementary School (K–5)
    • Shoal Creek Elementary School (K–5)
    • Warren Hills Elementary School (K–5)
    • Liberty Middle School (6–8)
    • South Valley Middle School (6–8)
    • Heritage Middle School (6–8)
    • Discovery Middle School (6–8)
    • Liberty High School (9–12)
    • Liberty North High School (9–12)
    • Missouri City Elementary School (K–8)
    • Bell Prairie Elementary School (K–5)
    • Briarcliff Elementary School (K–5)
    • Chapel Hill Elementary School (K–5)
    • Chouteu Elementary School (Pre-K–5)
    • Clardy Elementary School (2–5)
    • Crestview Elementary School (K–5)
    • Davidson Elementary School (Pre-K–5)
    • Fox Hill Elementary School (K–5)
    • Gashland Elementary School (K–1)
    • Gracemor Elementary School (Pre-K–5)
    • Lakewood Elementary School (Pre-K–5)
    • Linden West Elementary School (K–5) – Gladstone
    • Maplewood Elementary School (K–5)
    • Meadowbrook Elementary School (K–5)
    • Nashua Elementary School (K–5)
    • Northview Elementary School (K–5)
    • Oakwood Manor Elementary School (K–5)
    • Ravenwood Elementary School (K–5)
    • Rising Hill Elementary School (K-5)
    • Topping Elementary School (K–5)
    • West Englewood Elementary School (Pre-K–5)
    • Winnwood Elementary School (Pre-K–5)
    • Antioch Middle School (6–8)
    • Eastgate 6th Grade Center (6)
    • Gateway 6th Grade Center (6)
    • Maple Park Middle School (6–8)
    • New Mark Middle School (6–8)
    • Northgate Middle School (6–8)
    • North Kansas City High School (9–12)
    • Oak Park High School (Kansas City) (9–12)
    • Staley High School (9–12)
    • Winnetonka High School (9–12)
    • Smithville Maple Elementary School (Pre-K–6)
    • Smithville Horizon Elementary School (Pre-K-6)
    • Smithville Eagle Heights Elementary School (Pre-K-6)
    • Smithville Middle School (7–8)
    • Smithville High School (9–12)

Private schools


  • Maple Woods :: Metropolitan Community College—Kansas City—A public, two-year Liberal Arts college
  • William Jewell CollegeLiberty – A private, four-year Liberal Arts college.
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