kids encyclopedia robot

Clay County, Tennessee facts for kids

Kids Encyclopedia Facts
Quick facts for kids
Clay County
Clay County Courthouse in Celina
Clay County Courthouse in Celina
Map of Tennessee highlighting Clay County
Location within the U.S. state of Tennessee
Map of the United States highlighting Tennessee
Tennessee's location within the U.S.
Country  United States
State  Tennessee
Founded 1870
Named for Henry Clay
Seat Celina
Largest city Celina
 • Total 259 sq mi (670 km2)
 • Land 237 sq mi (610 km2)
 • Water 23 sq mi (60 km2)  8.8%%
 • Total 7,581 Decrease
 • Density 33/sq mi (13/km2)
Time zone UTC−6 (Central)
 • Summer (DST) UTC−5 (CDT)
Congressional district 6th

Clay County is a county in the U.S. state of Tennessee. As of the 2020 census, the population was 7,581. Its county seat and only incorporated city is Celina. Clay County is named in honor of American statesman Henry Clay, member of the United States Senate from Kentucky and United States Secretary of State in the 19th century. Its mayor is Dale Reagan.


Clay County was formed in 1870 by combining pieces from surrounding Jackson and Overton counties. Secretary of State Cordell Hull's first law office (now a museum) was located in Clay County.

Clay County's early inhabitants farmed and worked the Cumberland River, which was the major method of transportation in the Cumberland area. There were many docks and ferry crossings throughout Clay County to transport local crops and livestock to major markets. The timber industry was a major employer throughout the 1800s and 1900s and provides many jobs today. Tobacco farming became important in the local area throughout the 1900s and many old tobacco barns are still standing. With the end of government subsidies and with foreign competition, tobacco farming is minimal. Cattle and corn are the major agricultural influences today.

During the Civil War, many skirmishes took place up and down the Cumberland River to control the movement of barges laden with supplies. Local communities were split in their loyalties, with many families at odds with each other. Some of these animosities remain today between family groups.

The city of Celina is at the junction of the Obey and Cumberland rivers, and was a major port during the steamboat years between Nashville and Burnside, Kentucky. Although the Celina ferry landing no longer exists, Celina still connects the north and south by highway. Butler's Landing was used as a storage depot with large warehouses owned and operated by the Butler family. The first Clay County Court meeting was held in a store near the river at Butler's Landing on March 6, 1871. Butler's Landing nearly became the county seat, but Celina won the vote by a narrow margin.

Clay County's rural location and lack of major four-lane highway connections continues to hamper development and attraction of business and industry. This has resulted in the county having the highest unemployment rate in the state of Tennessee many months of the year and the loss of educated young people who have no opportunities locally. However, SR 52 is being upgraded to a 4-lane divided highway as part of the Corridor J project, which will connect to I-40 in Cookeville. .


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 259 square miles (670 km2), of which 237 square miles (610 km2) is land and 23 square miles (60 km2) (8.8%) is water. The Cumberland River flows through the center of the county from north to south, fed by the Obey River which flows through the city of Celina from its impoundment at the Dale Hollow Reservoir. The reservoir, known as Dale Hollow Lake, inundates much of the eastern part of the county.

Adjacent counties

State protected areas


Historical population
Census Pop.
1880 6,987
1890 7,260 3.9%
1900 8,421 16.0%
1910 9,009 7.0%
1920 9,193 2.0%
1930 9,577 4.2%
1940 10,904 13.9%
1950 8,701 −20.2%
1960 7,289 −16.2%
1970 6,624 −9.1%
1980 7,676 15.9%
1990 7,238 −5.7%
2000 7,976 10.2%
2010 7,861 −1.4%
2020 7,581 −3.6%
U.S. Decennial Census
1790-1960 1900-1990
1990-2000 2010-2020 2020
USA Clay County, Tennessee.csv age pyramid
Age pyramid Clay County

2020 census

Clay County racial composition
Race Number Percentage
White (non-Hispanic) 7,202 95.0%
Black or African American (non-Hispanic) 76 1.0%
Native American 17 0.22%
Asian 5 0.07%
Pacific Islander 1 0.01%
Other/Mixed 150 1.98%
Hispanic or Latino 130 1.71%

As of the 2020 United States census, there were 7,581 people, 3,039 households, and 2,002 families residing in the county.



Unincorporated communities

  • Arcot
  • Beech Bethany
  • Brimstone
  • Butler's Landing
  • Denton Crossroads
  • Free Hill
  • Hamilton Branch
  • Hermitage Springs
  • Lily Dale
  • Maple Grove
  • Moss
  • Neely Crossroads
  • Oak Grove
  • Pea Ridge
  • Shanky Branch

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Condado de Clay (Tennessee) para niños

kids search engine
Clay County, Tennessee Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.