Clay is one of the four townships that form the southern tier. It was organized on March 3, 1846, and was named
for Henry Clay, the eminent orator and statesman, of Kentucky. Its form is that of a rectangle, being four miles
wide from east to west and six miles in length from north to south, and having an area of twenty four square miles,
or 15,360 acres. On the north it is bounded by Washington township; on the east by Harrison; on the south by Howard
county, and on the west by the township of Deer Creek. Big Pipe creek flows across the northeast corner and through
the center is Deer creek, which flows in a westerly direction across the township. The latter, with its tributaries,
affords drainage and water for live stock for a large part of the township and also serves as an outlet for numerous
ditches and tile drains that have added materially to the cultivation of the soil. The surface is generally level,
except along the streams, and the soil is a black loam that is unsurpassed for fertility when properly drained
Originally, the township was covered with a heavy growth of valuable timber, including black walnut, poplar, maple,
ash, oak, beech and some other varieties of trees, but the clearing of farms and the manufacture of lumber have
made such inroads upon the native forest that but little timber of value remains.
This township was one of the last in the county to be settled. In 1844 Henry Daggy located on Nigger creek, near
the east line of the township, and he is credited with being the first white man to establish a permanent residence
within its borders. A little later Otis Fish settled in the northern part of the township and lived there until
about 1851, when he removed to one of the western states. In the spring of 1845 John Smith removed from one of
the settlements on the Eel river and entered a tract of land near McGrawsville. Abel House, Andrew Woolpert, Eli
Butler, Benjamin Fish (a brother of Otis), William Biggs, Caleb Adams and Nathaniel Bunn all located in the township
in the year 1845. Eli Butler achieved a wide reputation as a hunter and was considered one of the best marksmen
with the rifle that ever lived in Miami county. William Biggs held the office of justice of the peace for more
than thirty years and was one of the representative and influential citizens of Clay during the early years of
Some time in the year 1846 Thomas Murden settled near the village of McGrawsville and in after years won a reputation
as one of the successful teachers of the township. Others who located in Clay in that year and the year following
were the Humrickhouses (father and son), John Hoover, Christian Livingood, John Roller, John Wilkinson, Cyrus Marquiss,
Joseph Kessler, Thomas Kellison, Morris Littlejohn, John and James Tracy, Harrison Dixon, John Clymer, Riley Martin,
Benjamin Webb, James Finney and Isaac Mooney.
After the land sale in 1847 nearly all the land in Clay township was taken up and cleared rapidly. Among those
who came shortly after that sale were Isaac Harter, Samuel Livingood, William Wilkinson, Jacob Beaver, Moses Ward,
Samuel Edwards, Matthew Bowen, David Armstrong, Levi Clymer, William Hicks, Morgan Williams, Andrew Kerskadon,
John Condo, Jacob and Hezekiah Crutt, Daniel Petty, Cornelius Platz, John James, Asel Griffey, Abner Pisel and
James Shahan. Near the west line of the township Richard Webster entered a tract of land in 1848, where a little
later he opened a brick yard and made the first brick in the township.
Among the early settlers was a man named William McClure, who is said to have been a man of fine social qualities
but not very enterprismg. He lived chiefly by hunting and selling whisky surreptitiously to his neighbors and the
few Indians that remained in that locality.
The first election in Clay township was held at the residence of John Wilkinson in April, 1846, only a few weeks
aftei the erection of the township by the county commissioners. John Lucas served as inspector at that election,
when John Hicks, Simeon Farlow and John Clymer were elected trustees; William Biggs, justice of the peace; and
Samuel Wiley, constable.
Not long after the organization of the township sawmills were established by James Highland and a man named Hill
Highland's mill was located near the present village of Waupecong. About 1877 a large steam sawmill was brought
into the township by the firm of Macy, Darby & Smith. This mill had a capacity of some 15,000 feet of lumber
daily and did a successful business for several years. While the timber was plentiful a number of sawmills were
operated in different parts of the township, but after the valuable trees were all manufactured into lumber the
business was no longer profitable and nearly all the mills were either dismantled or removed to other localities.
Probably the first grist mill was that connected with the sawmill of Yoder & Miller, near Waupecong, which
was started about 1849. It could grind only corn and Saturday was "grinding day." This mill was destroyed
by fire about 1858 and in 1860 a stock company was organized at Waupecong for the purpose of erecting a. flour
mill at that point. The mill was built a year or two later and was operated with varying success for a few years,
when the machinery was sold and taken away and the building was subsequently demolished. The manufacture of drain
tile was an important industry until the farms were thoroughly drained, after which the business fell off to only
a fraction of its former proportions. One of the first tile factories in Clay was that of William Rhein, in the
northern part of the township. It was established in 1878 and a little later James L. Kling started a tile factory
in the southern portion, where he did a successful business in that line for several years. In the early eighties
A. J. Phelps began the manufacture of cheese in connection with his dairy farm.
M artha, daughter of Andrew and Naomi Woolpert, who was born in 1845, was the first white child born within the
present limits of Clay township. The first marriage was that of Lewis Reese and Catherine Love, in the early fall
of 1846. Later in the same year was solemnized the marriage of William Love and Jemima Smith. Henry Daggy, who
was the first actual settler, died in the year 1845 and his death was probably the first in the township. The first
religious services were held at the home of Henry Daggy, a little while before his death, and were conducted by
Rev. J. R. Davis, a Methodist minister An account of the various religious denominations in the township will be
found in the chapter devoted to church history.
From the best sources of information available, it is learned that the first school was taught in 1843 by Elias
Hobaugh, in a log school house on what was then known as the Hostetler farm. In 1850 a second school house was
built on the Lewis Hoover farm, where the first teacher was Thomas Murden. In 1913 there were four brick and six
frame school houses in Clay township, valued at $10,600. During the school year of 1912-13 there were 276 pupils
enrolled and ten teachers were employed in the public schools, the amount paid in teachers' salaries having been
The only railroad in the township is a line of the Pennsylvania system - usually called the Pan Handle - which
crosses the northern part in a northwesterly direction. McGrawsville, on the line between Clay and Harrison townships,
and Loree, about three miles west of McGrawsville, are stations on this road. The principal village in Clay is
Waupecong, which is situated in the southern part, just a mile north of the Howard county line.