The famous novel "In Cold Blood" by Truman Capote is based on a true story that took place in Holcomb, Kansas in 1959.
Clay County, Kansas, was established on February 20, 1857, and is named after Henry Clay, a renowned American statesman. The area's history dates back to the early 1800s when it was home to various Native American tribes, including the Kansa and Osage. European settlers arrived in the mid-1800s, attracted by the fertile land along the Republican River.

The first permanent settlement in Clay County was made in 1856 near the present-day town of Clay Center. The county quickly grew in population as more settlers arrived, drawn by the promise of fertile soil for farming and opportunities for trade. The town of Clay Center was established as the county seat in 1862.

Clay County played a crucial role in the development of early transportation systems in Kansas. The Republican River, which flows through the county, facilitated early trade and navigation. In the late 1800s, the arrival of the railroad further boosted the county's economy and growth, allowing for the transportation of goods and people.

Agriculture has always been the backbone of Clay County's economy. In the early days, wheat, corn, and oats were the primary crops cultivated by farmers. Over the years, advancements in technology and farming practices have led to increased productivity and diversification in the agricultural sector. Today, the county is known for its production of corn, soybeans, wheat, and livestock.

Despite facing challenges such as the Great Depression and changes in agricultural practices, Clay County has managed to maintain a strong sense of community and pride in its history. The county's historical landmarks, including the courthouse in Clay Center and numerous old homes, stand as a testament to the rich heritage of the area.

This timeline provides a concise overview of the key events in the history of Clay County, Kansas.

  • 1855: Clay County is organized and named after statesman Henry Clay.
  • 1857: The first post office is established in the county.
  • 1861-1865: Clay County residents serve in the Union Army during the American Civil War.
  • 1867: The county seat is relocated to Clay Center from Caddo Springs.
  • 1870: The Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway is completed through Clay County.
  • 1882: The county's first newspaper, the Clay Center Dispatch, is published.
  • 1892: Clay County's first public library is established in Clay Center.
  • 1900: The county's population reaches its peak at over 17,000 residents.
  • 1930s: The Great Depression hits Clay County, leading to economic challenges for its residents.
  • 1964: The Wakefield Opera House, a historic landmark, is added to the National Register of Historic Places.
  • 1970s: Clay County's population experiences a decline due to changing agricultural practices.
  • 1997: The Clay County Museum is opened to preserve and showcase the county's history.