Monday, February 02, 2009

Clay County

Folks, I started this county survey long before the holidays. I am just now finishing it. I could not find much that took place in Clay County during the war.

For this county study, we are going to turn our attention to the far southwestern corner of the state and look at Clay County.

Clay County was created in 1861 from Cherokee County and named for the Kentucky politician Henry Clay. The county seat, Hayesville, is built on the site of the former Cherokee village of Quanassee, and was not incorporated until 1913.

Clay County, population wise, was a small place during the war. Since the county was formed in 1861, there is no 1860 census. In 1860, the area of Cherokee County was listed with a population of 9,166, including 519 slaves. In 1870, Clay County had just 2,461 people living within its borders.

Men from the area served in Company G, 25th North Carolina Troops; Co. E, 39th North Carolina Troops; Co. B, 7th Battalion Confederate Cavalry (6th NC Cavalry); and a company in Walker’s Battalion in Thomas’s Legion.

There is not a lot of information about the war and Clay County. Apparently, the people in that corner of the state hard a hard time getting their mail during the war (see Raleigh Weekly Standard 30 Dec. 1863).

An interesting letter was in the Weekly Standard in July 1863. It read, in part, that crops were generally poor, due to the amount of rain and the lack of hands to work the land. The writer, “S.,” concluded with this:

Will you be so kind, Mr. Editor, as to inform Jeff. Davis and his Destructive coadjutors, that, after they make the next draw of men from this mountain region, if they please, as an act of great and special mercy, be so gracious as to call out a few, just a few of their exempted pets from Mississippi, Georgia, and South Carolina, to knock the women and children of the mountains in the head, to put them out of their misery. Assure Mr. Davis that his pets in such a campaign will be in no danger; the poor women and children will be so weak they can’t hurt them.

If I find more about Clay County, I’ll revise this post.

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