Jeremiah Clay, a well-known and highly respected farmer and stock-raiser of Jo Daviess County, resides on section 5 of Berreman Township, where he owns a farm, consisting of 158 1/2 acres of rich and fertile land. He was born in Summit County, Ohio, Feb. 22,. 1830. His father, John Clay, was born in Centre County, Pa., Feb. 26, 1794. He grew to manhood in his native State, and there married Miss Mary B. Hoy. She was a native of the same county as himself, and was born of German parentage, April 22, 1800. After their marriage they removed to 0hio, and settled in Summit County, where the death of Mr. Clay occurred in May, 1844. He was a worthy man, and a consistent member of the Presbyterian Church. The mother of our subject died Nov. 12, 1867, in Jo Daviess County. To them were born seventeen children, eleven of whom are now living: William, Elizabeth, John, Alfred S., Jeremiah, Catherine, Hiram, Daniel R., Margaret, Christina Magdalene, and Levi. William, a gardener of Adair County, Iowa, married Eliza Fickles, of Summit County, Ohio, and they have eight children - Alfred, Elizabeth, Daniel R., William, Caroline, Emma, Hamilton, and Polly Ann; Elizabeth married Abraham Brubaker, a farmer of Berreman Township, and they have seven children - Mary Ann, Susan, Elizabeth, Catherine, Isabella, Lucy, and Hiram; John, a farmer of Floyd County, Iowa, married Louisa Rex, of Summit County, Ohio, and they have seven children - Harriet, Mary, Aaron, William, John, Rebecca, and Cassius; Alfred, a resident of Jo Daviess County, married Lydia Church; they have no children of their own, but have adopted two - William and Mary Brady. Catherine married for her first husband John Pottorf, who died, leaving her with one son, Alfred Pottorf. She subsequently became the wife of George Schlafer, of Germany, now a farmer in Berreman Township. Seven children have been born to them - George, John, Molly, Ward, Lena, Mary, and James, the last two being deceased; Hiram, an express and freight agent at Marble Rock, Iowa, married Martha Hiscox, of Floyd County, Iowa, and they have the following children - Albert, Pearl, and Jewett; Daniel R. (for his marriage and children see his sketch on another page of this volume); Christina married Anderson Palmer, of this county, who is now engaged in mining in Grant County, Wis., and they have eight children - Jeremiah, Jasper, Grant, Francis, Jane, Nellie, Alfred, and Eddie; Magdalene married James Anthony, a carpenter and joiner of Morrison, Whiteside Co., Ill., and they have five children - John, Belle, Albert, Edith, and Clara; Levi, a drayman in Adair County, Iowa, married Mary Stillions, of Summit County, Iowa, and they have the following children - Viola, Lizzie, and Jennie.
Jeremiah Clay, of whom we write, was educated in the common schools of his native county, where he lived until nineteen years of age, when he came with his mother to Jo Daviess County. She bought a large tract of land from the Government, and with the assistance of her sons improved an extensive farm, on which she resided until her death, in 1867. Berreman, at the time of their coming here, was but a small hamlet, with but few inhabitants, and our subject has since been largely instrumental in developing its resources and promoting its growth. The first dwelling that sheltered the family after coming here was a rude log-cabin covered with clapboards, and made after the fashion of the day with a dirt-floor, a door hung on leather hinges, and opened by a string attached to the latch. This cabin was afterward used by the inhabitants as a meeting-house, and in it some of the present residents of the county received their early religious instruction. Previous to his marriage our subject worked for some time at the trade of carpenter and joiner, but on becoming the head of a household returned to his early occupation of tilling the soil, and has, by persevering toil and wise frugality, become the owner of an excellent farm, on which he has erected a conveniently arranged house and substantial farm-buildings. He is a practical, progressive farmer, and to facilitate his work he uses the most approved machinery and implements, and has adopted those methods favored by skilled agriculturists.
Mr. Clay was married, Sept. 20, 1855, to Miss Martha Staley. She was born in Summit County, Ohio, Nov. 12, 1837, being a daughter of Leonard and Catherine (Stecher) Staley. The former died in 1863, and the latter is living with our subject and his wife, at the venerable age of eighty-three years. Mrs. Clay has two sisters and three brothers, named as follows: Henry; Catherine, who married Charles Church; William, Fred, and Lovina (who married Freeman Lawfer). She had also a half-brother, Leonard Beeler.
Mr. and Mrs. Clay have had eleven children, seven of whom are now living - Mary C., Lavinia J., William H., Magdalene A., Charles S., Fanny A., and Elliot R. Mary married Joseph McLaughlin, a stock-shipper and school-teacher of Morseville, Stockton Township, and they have four children - Joseph, Ada, Rosa, and Laura May; Lavinia married Daniel Nuss, of Ward's Grove, now a farmer in Nebraska, and they have one child named Jeremiah Clay, in honor of his grandfather; William, a farmer in Nebraska, married Martha Wardell, and they have two children - Martha and Charles E.; Magdalene married Fred Goddard, a farmer of Lena, Stephenson County, and they have two children - Leslie and Mabel M.; Charles is a schoolteacher, and makes his home with his parents, as do the two youngest children, Fanny and Elliot.
Our subject and his wife have, during their many years of residence here, taken an active part in promoting the prosperity of their adopted township, and gladly aided all schemes for its advancement. Both are earnest members of the Methodist Episcopal Church, and in their daily lives exemplify the teachings of Christianity. Socially, our subject is a Master Mason, being a member of Plum River Lodge No. 554, and is also a member of G. A. R., Maltby Post No. 520, at Morseville. In polities he votes the straight Republican ticket.
Source: Portrait and Biographical Album of Jo Daviess Co., IL (1889)