David Clay



David Clay, one of the enterprising, prosperous, and well-known farmers of Rush Township has his home on section 24. He is a native of the Keystone State, born in Potter Township, Centre County, Oct. 1, 1813, of parents who were worthy representatives of the sturdy yeoman blood of that old commonwealth. When the subject of this sketch was about two years old they decided to try their fortunes in what was then the West. Accordingly breaking up their old home, and severing family ties, and bidding adieu to old friends, they took up their line of march across the Alleghany Mountains by team, their destination being Frank]in Township, Stark Co., Ohio. Here they made a home in the wilderness, and there they lived and died. In that county David Clay grew to stalwart manhood. When of suitable age he went to Medina County, Ohio, to learn the trade of blacksmithing. To this trade he served an apprenticeship of three years, becoming very expert, and in the exercise of that trade acquired that rugged strength which has enabled him to do an uncommon amount of labor with an ease that made the hardest work seem almost like play. In the year 1841 he removed with his family still farther west, locating in Freeport, Ill., which he conceived to be a better field for his business, there he successfully conducted his trade for a period of nine years, but in 1850 he resolved to give up blacksmithing, and became a tiller of the soil. Having accumulated some means, by strict attention to his business and proper habits, he looked about him for a location, and decided on Rush Township, Jo Daviess County, as the proper place in which to make a permanent home. That his judgment was correct is evinced by the well-tilled, broad acres, which pay their tribute to his labors, by the comfortable home which shelters himself and family, and the commodious buildings necessary for every purpose known to the successful farmer. On coming to this county he bought a tract of land, to which he added by subsequent purchase until he is now the possessor of one of tile best farms in the neighborhood, comprising 260 acres of land, all under a high state of cultivation; well fenced, well watered, and showing every evidence of thorough and careful cultivation.

In Medina County, Ohio, Feb. 18, 1836, David Clay was united in the holy bonds of matrimony with Miss Matilda Snyder, also a native of the old Keystone State, born in Bethlehem Township, Lehigh County, October 20, 1817. Together they have trod the path of life for more than half a century, and as the snows of winter gather upon their brows they can proudly look back upon a life well spent, not only in doing good to themselves but in helping suffering humanity whenever in their power to do so. Their wedded life has been blessed by the birth of a numerous family. Thirteen children came to grace the family-hearthstone, of whom one died unnamed. The others are all happily married, and are rearing families of their own, a gratifying record for their happy parents. The names of their children are: Nancy Amelia, Urias Franklin, Levi, G. Washington, Silas, Josephine, Chancellor, Soloma R., Wilhelmina C., Napoleon, Emma R., and Adeline M.

For six years Mr. Clay held the position of Postmaster at Greenvale, but has never been in the habit of seeking office, preferring to devote his time and attention to his private business. He, however, takes a warm interest in the affairs of his county, and is a believer in the doctrines of the Democratic party, of which he is a stanch supporter. Mrs. Clay is a member of the Lutheran Church.

Though not one of the oldest residents of Jo Daviess County, Mr. Clay is as well and favorably known as any man in his township. He belongs to that sturdy type of manhood so common among the earlier settlers of our Western country, who, without the adventitious aid of early education or social advantages have made for themselves an honorable place in the world, and by upright and correct lives have gained the esteem and good-will of their fellow-men. Of this class no worthier representative can be found than David Clay, and none as worthy of a place in this record of the best citizens of Jo Daviess County.

Source: Portrait and Biographical Album of Jo Daviess Co., IL (1889)