Some of the Clays

Dublin Core


Some of the Clays


This writer has been looking through a manuscript written by Green Clay (1871-1962) and compiled by R. A. Edwards of Eastern Kentucky University.

Clay was a grandson of the famous Cassius Marcellus Clay. His name was actually Herrick, he being the son of Mary Barr Clay and Col. John Frank Herrick of Wellington, Ohio. Col. Herrick was a Union officer in Richmond in 1862-63, where he met and wooed the daughter of the fiery abolitionist. Green Clay was born at White Hall, in the same room (maternity ward) as his grandfather and his mother. His two brothers, Clay and Frank, also were born in this room, just over the breakfast room.

The Herricks divorced after seven years of married life and Clay went with his father, while Green and Frank stayed with their mother. When Green was 21, he and Frank legally changed their name to Clay (Madison County Court). Col. Herrick died in 1909; Mrs. Herrick in 1924.

Green Clay attended University of Michigan, Central University and graduated with a LIB degree from a college In Washington, D.C. He practiced law from 1893-99 (Richmond and Cincinnati) and was a newspaper man in Richmond, Cincinnati, New York and Chattanooga. He farmed nine years at White Hall. He was city clerk for Richmond from 1930-1938, after which he worked for WPA. He never married. In 1948 he retired to the Elks National Home at Bedford, Va., where he remained until his death. He is buried there.

Upon his death, a suitcase full of history was sent to Green's nephew , Judge Watson Clay of the Kentucky Court of Appeals. These manuscripts are now in the EKU library due to the goodness of Judge Clay and the interest of Mr. Edwards and Billy Eaton and is now under the care of Mrs. Mary Dickerson, herself part Clay.

Green Clay traced his family back to Sir John Clay of Britain, knighted by Edward IV in 1491. The family came via Wales to Virginia and then through the first Green Clay (1757-1828) to Richmond, Ky. in 1777. His 1954 listing of living Clays included four granddaughters and one grandson of Cassius (CMC)--Mrs. L. D. Paul Collins of Washington, D. C. : Mrs. A. Gagliardini, New York City; Miss Helen Bennett and Mrs. Laura Bennett Garland, Richmond, and Warfield Bennett, Richmond; three grandchildren of CMC by Brutus J. Clay, names unknown to him; three sons of Clay Herrick Cleveland, O.; two daughters and three sons of Frank Clay, including Judge Watson Clay, Frankfort, Rodes Clay of Lexington, Mrs. H. H. Bullock, US Air Force, and Mrs. Huston L. Wood of Maysville.

Green did not know the addresses of any of Brutus J. Clay II. son of CMC and ambassador to Switzerland (under Theodore Roosevelt) three children's addresses. Brutus J. Clay II (1847-1932) was married to Pattie A. Field (P. A. C. Infirmary) by whom he had three daughters and Mrs. Laura Marstella. He is worth a complete study of his own.

This has barely scratched the surface of the Clay family, but before closing let us examine some of the interlocking marriages of the Gen. Green Clay family (the first Green). One of the general's daughters, Pauline, married Col. William Rodes. They were the parents of Martha Green Rodes, who married Rev. Robert L. Breck, first Chancellor of Central University. Breck's mother was a Todd of Lexington, aunt of Mary Todd Lincoln. Another daughter of the general married Col. John Speed Smith. Sally L. Clay, daughter of CMC I, married James Bennett.

Brutus J. Clay I, brother of CMC of White Hall, had a son Cassius M. Clay II (1846-1913) who married three times, was a congressman, and chairman of the 1890 Kentucky Constitutional Convention. His son, CMC III was born in 1895, was attorney general of Kentucky, state senator, and president of the State Historical Society.

Miss Laura Clay, suffragette and daughter of old CMC I, must also await further, more detailed treatment.


Dr. Fred Engle




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Dr. Fred Engle, “Some of the Clays,” Madison's Heritage Online, accessed May 26, 2022,