West Virginia Counties
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West Virginia Counties

There are fifty-five counties in the state of West Virginia. Fifty of them existed at the time of the Wheeling Convention in 1861, before which West Virginia was part of the state of Virginia. The remaining five (Grant, Mineral, Lincoln, Summers and Mingo) were formed within the state after its admission to the United States on June 20, 1863. At that time, Berkeley County and Jefferson County, the two easternmost counties of West Virginia, refused to recognize their inclusion in the state. In March 1866, the US Congress passed a joint mandate assenting to their inclusion.

Clay County, West Virginia

Clay County Education, Geography, and History

Clay County, West Virginia Courthouse

Clay County is a county located in the state of West Virginia. Based on the 2010 census, the population was 9,386. Its county seat is Clay. The county was founded in 1858 and is named in honor of Henry Clay, famous American statesman, member of the United States Senate from Kentucky and United States Secretary of State in the 19th century.

Clay County is part of the Charleston, WV Metropolitan Statistical Area.

Etymology - Origin of Clay County Name

Named: In honor of Henry Clay, Kentucky statesman.


County QuickFacts: CensusBureau Quick Facts

Early History of Clay County, West Virginia

Clay County was created by an act of the Virginia General Assembly on March 29, 1858. It was created from parts of Braxton, Kanawha and Nicholas counties and named in honor of Henry Clay (1777-1852).
Henry Clay was born in Hanover County, Virginia on April 12, 1777. His parents moved him to Kentucky as a young boy. He was a leader of the Whig political party and represented Kentucky in the US Senate (1806-1807, 1810-1811, 1831-1842, 1849-1852) and in the US House of Representatives (1811-1821, 1823-1825). He was elected Speaker of the US House of Representatives in 1811 and served in that capacity until 1814, and again in 1815-1820, and in 1823-1825. He also served as US Secretary of State from 1825-1829. He authored the famous "Compromise of 1850," which sought to avoid the Civil War, ran unsuccessfully for President on three occasions (in 1824, 1832 and 1844), and is widely regarded by scholars as one of the greatest legislators in American political history. He was a very strong advocate for funding internal improvements, including the extension of the National Road to Wheeling. When that road was completed in 1818, Wheeling became a major trading center and rest stop for pioneers heading west. He died on June 29, 1852.

Jacob Summers was one of the earliest English settlers in the county. He built a cabin along the Elk River in 1813. A veteran of the War of 1812 against Great Britain, he married a Miss Davis and they had 14 children. He then had another seven children with his second wife, Eleanor Conrad. Jacob Summers progeny helped populate the county, and the name Summers became the most common name in the county for several generations.

The act creating Clay County declared that the county seat was to be located on the McCalgin farm, near the mouth of Buffalo Creek. It declared that the county seat was to be known as the town of Marshall. However, the local citizens generally referred to the town as Clay Court House, because the courthouse was the town's primary reason for existing and was the primary source of social and economic interaction in the community. On October 10, 1863, the state legislature changed the town's name to Henry, in honor of Henry Clay. The town's name was changed to Clay in 1927.

According to the West Virginia Blue Book, the Golden Delicious Apple originated on Porters Creek in Clay County.

Geography: Land and Water

As reported by the Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 344 square miles (890 km2), of which 342 square miles (890 km2) is land and 1.9 square miles (4.9 km2) (0.6%) is water.

Neighboring Counties

Bordering counties are as follows:

  • North: Calhoun County
  • Northeast: Braxton County
  • Northwest: Roane County
  • South: Fayette County
  • Southeast: Nicholas County
  • Southwest: Kanawha County


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