Alfred S. Clay


Alfred S. Clay is a practical, sensible member of the farming community of Jo Daviess County, who has long been connected with the agricultural interests of Illinois. He now owns and occupies a good farm of ninety acres on section 32, Ward's Grove Township. It is well cultivated, is under excellent improvement, with a substantial set of buildings, and everything about the place is in good order. Mr. Clay engages in mixed husbandry, and has met with an assured success in raising stock, having horses of good breed, Poland-China hogs, and graded Short-horn cattle.

Mr. Clay was born in Summit County, Ohio, March 23, 1826. His father, John Clay, was born in Pennsylvania in 1794, and lived in his native county until he was ten years old. At that age his father, Matthias Clay, removed with his family to Mifflin County, in the same State, and there lived until be attained his majority, when he went to Centre County, Pa., and in 1815 was united in marriage to Mary B. Hoy, a native of that county. Eight years later they left their home in that county, and crossing the border into Ohio became pioneers of Stark County; Mr. Clay buying eighty acres of wild land. (For further parental history, and for record of the brothers and sisters of our subject, see sketch of his brother, Jeremiah Clay, on another page of this volume.)

The educational advantages of his native State, when our subject was young, were not very good until he had almost attained his majority; but by perseverance he managed to glean the rudiments of a practical education. He was in the prime of early manhood when he came to the Prairie State, and cast in his lot with its pioneers. He bought eighty acres of wild land from the Government located on section 4, Berreman township. He subsequently bought forty acres more land, and after improving it sold that place and bought 120 acres in Carroll County, which he disposed of at an advance and bought his present farm. Industry untiring, the wise economy that knows when to expend money and when to save, and prudent management have placed our subject in comfortable circumstances, and as old age approaches he finds himself well fortified against material misfortune.

Mr. Clay was married Feb. 28, 1856, to Miss Lydia Church, of Licking County, Ohio, who has been to him a true wife, affording him sympathy and counsel when they were needed, and actively co-operating with him in his work, and in charitable deeds. They have no children of their own but out of the great kindness of their hearts adopted two, William and Mary Brady, who were born in Freeport, Ill. To them they have given a father and mother's tender love and watchful care, and have trained them to a useful and honorable manhood and womanhood. William, who married Cora Everhardt, of Carroll County, Ill., carries on the home farm for his adopted parents.

Mrs. Clay's parents, Wesley and Amy (Chipman) Church, were natives of Vermont. Early in their married life they removed to Licking County, Ohio, and in after years to Vermilion County, Ill., where Mr. Church bought a farm. In 1841 he removed with his family to Green County, Wis., from whence they came to Carroll County, this State in 1850, the mother dying in Wisconsin in that year. The father survived the death of his wife until 1867, when he too passed away in Carroll County. They were the parents of nine children: Lydia A., Norman C., Asa, Charles W., Harvey, Amy J., John E., Almeda, and Nathan. Norman, a farmer and stock-raiser in Kansas, married Harriet Hankster, of Carroll County, Ill.; Asa, a day-laborer in Iowa, married Emeline Hitchcock, of Carroll County, and they have seven children: Alonzo, John, Amy, Katie, Nora, William, and Eva; Charles W., a farmer and stock-raiser in Nebraska, married Catherine Staley, of Ohio, and they have one son, Leonard; Amy married Aaron Markley, of Carroll County, Ill., now a farmer in Missouri; John, a farmer and stock-raiser of Cerro Gordo County, Iowa, married Hannah Jacobs, of Carroll County, Ill., and they have five children: Norman, Viva, Grace, Lydia, Florence; Almeda married Alfred Skidmore, of Iowa, a miner in California, and they have four children; Nathan, a day-laborer in Mount Etna, married Miss Whelock, of Adams County, Iowa, and they have one child; Harvey, a farmer and merchant in Adams County, Iowa, married Mary Swimley, of Iowa City. He served in the army during the late war as a private in Company I, 92d Illinois Mounted Cavalry; Charles was also a soldier in Company C, the same regiment.

Mr. Clay has always manifested commendable interest in the welfare of his adopted township, especially in educational matters, which he has promoted to the best of his ability by his faithful service as School Director during the seven years that he was an incumbent of that office. In politics he has been a stanch Republican ever since the organization of the party. Religiously, both he and his good wife are devoted members of the United Brethren Church, of which he has been Class Leader and Steward.

Source: Portrait and Biographical Album of Jo Daviess Co., IL