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Clay County

County Courthouse View large image

Source: David Seibert

LocationFort Gaines
Date Built1871-73
Architecture StyleItalian Renaissance Revival/Neoclassical Revival/Beaux Arts Classicism
DesignerVernacular (Greek Revival influence)
Seat InformationThe 1854 legislation creating Clay County authorized the justices of the county's first inferior court to select a site to serve as county seat and to provide for erection of public buildings. The act further provided that until a county seat was selected, county elections and business be conducted in Fort Gaines. Subsequently, the inferior court judges formally designated Fort Gaines as Clay County's seat of government. The town originated as a military fort built in April 1814 at the end of the Creek Indian War. The military outpost was located on a bluff overlooking the Chattahoochee River at the northern boundary of Creek lands ceded to Georgia in the Treaty of Fort Jackson in 1814. The fort was named for Gen. Edmund Gaines (1777-1849), a Virginia military officer noted for his service in the War of 1812.. Fort Gaines fell within the boundaries of Early County, which was created from the Creek ceded lands in Dec. 1818.. The General Assembly incorporated Fort Gaines as a town on Dec. 14, 1830 (Ga. Laws 1830, p. 217).
Courthouse DetailsThe 1954 law creating Clay County authorized the justices of the county's first inferior court to provide for erection of a courthouse and jail. However, for the next two decades, it is not clear if a courthouse was actually built or whether the county instead rented space. In 1869 and 1870, local grand juries recommended that a county courthouse be built, and in 1870, the General Assembly authorized Clay County to hold a referendum on borrowing money to build a courthouse (Ga. Laws 1870, p. 450). Voters agreed, and construction began in 1871. Completed in 1873, the Clay County courthouse is still in use today.
County Data
Population 20003357
Population Growth-5.2
County SeatFort Gaines
County Area217.0 Square Miles
Location MapClay County Location Map

Clay County was created from portions of Early and Randolph counties by an act of the General Assembly approved Feb. 16, 1854 (Ga. Laws 1853-54, p. 292). Georgia’s 110th county was named for former U.S. Representative, U.S. Secretary of State, and U.S. Senator Henry Clay of Kentucky. Clay, who died in June 1852, is probably best remembered for his role in securing congressional approval of the Compromise of 1850, which dealt with the divisive issue of allowing slavery in the U.S.‘s western territories.

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Legal OrganCuthbert Southern Tribune
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Historical Population
2010 3,183
2000 3,357
1990 3,364
1980 3,553
1970 3,636
1960 4,551
1950 5,844
1940 7,064
1930 6,943
1920 7,557
1910 8,960
1900 8,568
1890 7,817
1880 6,650
1870 5,493
1860 4,893