Friday, October 9, 2009

Clay County History and Genealogy

Clay County, Kentucky, the forty-seventh county in order of formation, is located in the foothills of the Cumberland Mountains of southeast Kentucky. Created from Madison, Floyd and Knox counties on April 1, 1807, Clay County later ceded much of its land to form parts of Jackson, Owsley, Leslie, Lee, Breathitt, Knott, Perry, and Harlan counties. It reached its present size, 471 square miles, in 1880. It was named for Gen. Green Clay, a Madison County legislator and early Kentucky surveyor. Most of the heavily wooded county, approximately 61,000 acres, falls within the Redbird Purchase Unit of the Daniel Boone National Forest. Tobacco, timber, corn, and hay, are harvested. The county seat is Manchester (originally Greenville). The County is bordered by Owsley County (north), Perry County (northeast), Leslie County (east), Bell County (southeast), Knox County (southwest), Laurel County (west), Jackson County (northwest). Cities, Towns and Communities include Manchester, Oneida, Burning Springs, Goose Rock

An early settler, James Collins, built a log cabin around 1798 at the headwaters of Goose Creek, a tributary of the south fork of the Kentucky River. Salt reserves and fertile grasslands attracted settlers to the area as they had attracted large game animals, making a bountiful hunting ground for prehistoric Native Americans and possibly the Cherokee during the early historic era. During the nineteenth century Clay County was the leading producer of SALT in the state. So vital was salt to frontier life and trade that Daniel Boone offered a plan to reroute the Wilderness Road to pass the Goose Creek salt works near Manchester. Boone did not get the contract, and the area was left without suitable roadways for the next century. In 1811 the Kentucky River was made navigable to the confluence of Clay County's Goose Creek and Redbird River (named for a Cherokee chief who, according to legend, was thrown into the river after being slain for his furs).

To visit Clay County's USGenWeb site: Click Here.

To visit another Clay County genealogical site: Click Here.


  1. Dennis

    The links in the post take you to the same page.

  2. Thank you so much! I have now fixed it.