Daniel R. Clay



Among the enterprising and progressive farmers who have been instrumental in developing the resources of this part of the State of Illinois, the subject of this sketch holds no unimportant position. He owns and manages one of the fine farms of Berreman Township, beautifully located on section 9. He was born in Summit County, Ohio, March 9, 1835. His father, John Clay, was born in Centre County, Pa., Feb. 24, 1796, (or, according to sketch of Jeremiah Clay, Feb. 24, 1795) and died in May, 1844. The maiden name of his wife was Mary. B. Hoy, and she was born in Centre County, Pa., in 1800, and died in Jo Daviess County, Ill., in 1867. She bore her husband seventeen children, eleven of whom are now living. For their record see sketch of Jeremiah Clay, on another page in this volume.

The subject of this sketch spent the early days of his life in his native county, where he attended the district school and acquired a thorough knowledge of the branches taught in those days. When nine years of age his father died, leaving the mother of our subject with a large family of children, and she, being an energetic, capable woman, keenly alive to the interests of her family, decided that she could best advance their welfare by removing to the Prairie State, where she could take advantage of the low price for which Government land was sold, and for a small sum of money purchased a large amount of realty. Accordingly, Jan. 2, 1849, she left Ohio, and accompanied by a part of her family, including our subject, came to Jo Daviess County, where she bought 640 acres of land in Berreman Township. Our subject, then a sturdy lad of fourteen years, assisted in the pioneer labor necessary to establish a home in a newly settled country. He and his brother built a log cabin, which they clapboarded (sic) - the nails used in the construction being of home manufacture. The door was hung on leather hinges, and opened by means of a latch-string, which, with genuine pioneer hospitality, was always out. During the time of the building the weather was extremely unpleasant, it having rained every day, and the family had to make themselves comfortable as best they could; and at night a part of them slept under the wagon-box, and the others sheltered themselves under the. shingles, which were laid across the sleepers of the cabin. Our subject grew to manhood on the old homestead, and when he assumed the cares of married life he rented a tract of land, and for four years successfully carried on general farming.

Our subject subsequently bought his present farm of eighty acres, on section 9, Berreman Township, and forty acres in Stephenson County, and owns, besides, forty acres of land that was formerly included in his mother's homestead. He has it all well cultivated and improved, and carries on grain and stock-raising to a consideral (sic) extent. And with the cheerful assistance of his able helpmate, Mr. Clay has built up a cozy home, where they are now enjoying the comforts of life, conscious that by the faithful performance of their duties, they have well earned the respect which is accorded to them by all.

Mr. and Mrs. Clay were married in this county May 2, 1858. Her maiden name was Christiana Bruce, and she was born in Centre County, Pa. April 2, 1833, her parents being William and Hannah (Meace) Bruce, natives of Virginia and Pennsylvania. Of this Union seven children have been born: William H., James W., Walter E., Christiana, Milton A., George L., and Kiner F.

Our subject has always taken a genuine interest in local affairs, and has ably served as Township Collector, School Director, and in various other offices, and has also been juryman in the county court. In politics he was formerly a Republican, but for the last four years he has been a strict Prohibitionist. In their religious affiliations both Mr. and Mrs. Clay are worthy members of the Church of God.

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