Clay family papers
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Clay family papers

Descriptive Summary

Repository: Georgia Historical Society
Creator: Clay family.
Title: Clay family papers
Dates: 1810-1937
Extent: 0.25 cubic feet (1 box)
Identification: MS 0125

Biographical/Historical Note

Joseph Clay, Jr. (1765-1811) was a prominent Georgia lawyer, Federalist judge, slaveholder, and minister. Joseph Clay's son, Thomas Savage Clay (1801-1849) attended Harvard, then assumed control of his father's rice and cotton plantations. when Thomas Savage Clay died, he gave his sister, Eliza Clay, control over his plantations and slaves. His son, Thomas Carolyn Clay (1841-1897) attended Yale in 1860 but resigned after the Civil War began. Clay served in the Confederate Army and came back to find his home and property destroyed by Sherman's troops. He married Caroline Matilda Law (1842-1909) and had seven children, including Elizabeth Clay and Thomas Savage Clay II (d. 1949). After years of unsuccessfully planting rice, Thomas Carolyn Clay moved to Savannah in 1887. He spent the rest of his life working as a clerk and participating in the Savannah Port Society as its secretary and treasurer.

Scope and Content Note

This collection consists of letters, personal sketches, reminiscences, and other materials of the Clay family dating from 1810 to 1937. The letters consists of nine original letters, 1863-1899, with the Civil War and family matters being primary topics. The personal sketches include six typed manuscripts and copies of manuscripts, 1810-1937, containing a letter and a sketch of Joseph Clay, Jr.; a sketch and letter on the death of Thomas Savage Clay; resolutions of the Savannah Port Society on the death of Thomas Carolyn Clay; and a personal sketch of his life. The reminiscences consist of four items, three typewritten copies of recollections by Eliza C. Clay, written at Tivoli, Bryan County in 1848, and unsigned and undated reminiscences in a notebook. Also included in the collection are an anonymous sermon; an essay, "War," signed by "C.;" and a photocopy of Thomas Savage Clay's membership certificate for the Georgia Historical Society, 1839, signed by John Macpherson Berrien.

Index Terms

Biographies (documents)
Clay family.
Clay, Eliza C.
Clay, Joseph, 1764-1811.
Clay, Thomas Carolyn, 1841-1897.
Clay, Thomas S., (Thomas Savage), 1801-1849.
Letters (correspondence)
United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Personal narratives, Confederate.

Location of Originals

Original membership certificate in the possession of Carolyn R. Swiggart.

Administrative Information

Custodial History

Material was acquired from descendants of creators.

Preferred Citation

[item identification], Clay family papers, MS 125, Georgia Historical Society, Savannah, Georgia.

Acquisition Information

Gift of Hunter Clay, 1973; Carolyn R. Swiggart, 1987 (copy of certificate)


Access Restrictions

Collection is open for research.

Publication Rights

Copyright has not been assigned to the Georgia Historical Society. All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Division of Library and Archives. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the Georgia Historical Society as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained by the researcher.


Encoding funded by a 2012 Documenting Democracy grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission.

Container List




11Descriptive list and account of pay and clothing of T.C. Clay of the Liberty Independent Troop, Camp Dorchester, 1863 January, 1.0 p.
1Joe, Tom and Carrie Clay to their mother. Savannah, 1864 December 10, 4.0 p.
Regarding conditions in and around Savannah on approach of enemy. the writers were Joseph Clay, Thomas C. Clay and his wife, Caroline.
1T.C. Clay to his mother. Midway, South Carolina, 1865 January 20, 4.0 p.
News of war and family; servants leaving; expects war to end soon.
1Telegram, T.C. Clay to Judge Harden, 1865 April 8, 1.0 p.
Wants to be notified when his wife leaves Savannah.
1Mrs. law to her daughter Carrie (Mrs. T.C. Clay). Savannah, 1865 November 13, 4.0 p.
News of family.
1T.C. Clay to his wife, Carrie. Richmond, Va., 1870 December 27, 3.0 p.
Signed with initials. Hunting trip with son, Willie.
1T.C. Clay to his wife. Savannah, 1872 September 27
News of family and friends.
1T.C. Clay to Carrie. Savannah, 1887 February 3, 2.0 p.
News of family and friends.
1E.C.C. (Elizabeth C. Clay) to her mother (Mrs. T.C. Clay). Crawford House, 1899 August 22
Thanking her mother for package of clothes, which she describes; news of family and friends.
1Personal sketches

Joseph Clay to Son, Tom. Sunbury, Georgia, 1810 September 29
Typed copy made in 1937. News of himself and others; notes on Joseph Clay on copy.
"Character of the late Reverend Joseph Clay." Newark, New Jersey, attributed to William Wallace, 1831
Typed copy.
Thomas S. Clay, by Reverend John Winn. for the Christian Observer, 1880 September 8
Typed copy.
Charles Colcock Jones, D.D. to Mrs. T.S. Clay. Columbia, South Carolina, 1849 November 6
Condolence on death of her husband. Typed copy.
Resolution on the death of Thomas C. Clay by the Board of Directors, Savannah Port Society, Savannah, Georgia, 1897 December 31, 3.0 p.
Acknowledgment from his son, William L. Clay. Typed manuscript.
Sketch of life of Thomas Carolyn Clay, by his son Thomas Savage Clay II. Savannah, Georgia, 1937 June 10, 7.0 p.
Typed manuscript.
3Reminiscences. "Sketches of the Old Times by our Aunt Miss Eliza Clay," written at Tivoli, Bryan County, 1848
All are typed copies. One has an addendum, "Tivoli, November 12, 1874," with historical and genealogical information on the Clay family; another has an undated genealogical addendum.
4Anonymous sermon, possibly by Reverend Joseph Clay ( 36.0 p. )
4Essay, "War", undated ( 11.0 p. )
Signed "C."
4Georgia Historical Society membership certificate issued to Thomas Savage Clay by John Macpherson Berrien, 1839