Clay Township


Clay Township was formed early in the year of 1825, out of the large township of Franklin. Clay township lies in the southeast corner of Owen county and consists of thirty six square miles. Some of the early settlers in the township were a couple of land speculators by the name of Felter and Hughes, this as early as 1816. Later in the same year, tracts were obtained by Lewis Noel, Jonathan Gilbert and Caleb Stansberry. The population increased slowly and in 1825 there were still only about a dozen families.

The first death in the township was of William Rumple in about 1822, who died at the McDonald farm where the first graveyard was laid out. The first schoolhouse was erected on the farm of TC Franklin, this was also the site of the second burial grounds.

The first white child born in the township was Polly, daughter of TC Franklin in 1821 and the first marriage was that of Christopher Hatchett and Elizabeth Kissinger.

In 1822, the first brick home was built by John and Thomas Franklin on land which became the County Poor Farm. One of the earlier frame homes was built by Reuben Coffey and was looked upon as a mansion in comparison with his neighbors log homes.

The first frame building in the township was that of the old Baptist Bethel Church. Of the two early orchards set out in Clay township, the first was by John Franklin and the second was by James Butler as early as 1824.

Of the early industry in Clay township there was in 1827-1828 a grist mill built by Christopher Ooley, he later in 1829 erected a distillery. The first saw mills were built around 1831 by William Baker and David Thacker.


White Hall-- An early settlement sometime prior to 1835 with a few lots laid out in 1838 for the purpose of gaining a post office and market place. White Hall was named for a town in North Carolina, the native state of James Brown who was responsible for the lots in Whitehall. The village sits in section 36 in the township

Pleasant Valley-A small village in section 19 in the southwest area of Clay township was laid out on the 28th day of April, 1859 for Levi Carpenter. Records show 24 lots and four streets.

The village was destroyed by a fire and never recovered from the effects.


Piney Town-- This place exists only in county records and shows a plat of twenty lots lying in the northeast quarter of Section 20. The lots were surveyed in April of 1859 for Moses Franklin who intended to market them and none ever sold. The town is now a plowed field.


Braysville-- Situated in Section 18 and consists of 16 lots. The village was named for Hiram Bray who had it surveyed and recorded in January of 1860. Jordan Owens was the first merchant



Not much is known of the early schools of Clay township. The first schoolhouse was built by David Elliott, Thomas C and John Franklin about one mile southwest of the present site of the County Poor Farm. The first teacher there was a man by the name of Tommy Butler. The second site built for school purposes stood not far from the Salem Baptist Church.

Elijah Coffey, was most likely the first teacher in the eastern part of the township. Martin Coffey taught school in the Union Schoolhouse which was built in 1835 and was long used for both a schoolhouse and a church.

Some of the students and teachers in the year 1884 were:

District No. 1-- Twenty seven students taught by Sylvester Adkins

District No. 2-- Forty nine students taught by James A. Raper

District No. 3-- Fifty students taught by A.C.. Buzzard

District No. 4-- Seventy pupils; teacher, Samuel Carpenter

District No. 5-- Twenty seven students taught by Eva Phillips

District No. 6-- Thirty three students taught by Anna Dickerson

District No. 7--Twenty nine students taught by Mollie Mayfield

District No. 8- Thirty eight students taught by McClellan Ooley

District No. 9- Thirty eight students taught by Charles E. Carpenter

District No. 10-- Twenty Three students taught by John W. Culver