Missouri was admitted to the Union as the 24th state on August 10, 1821, becoming the first state entirely west of the Mississippi River.
Clay County, Missouri, located in the central part of the state, has a rich and diverse history that dates back thousands of years. The area was originally home to various Native American tribes, including the Osage, Delaware, and Kansa tribes. European exploration of the region began in the late 18th century, with French trappers and traders establishing trading posts along the Missouri River.

In 1822, Clay County was officially established and named after Henry Clay, a prominent American statesman at the time. The county quickly became a hub for settlers moving westward, serving as a gateway to the western frontier. The town of Liberty, located in Clay County, became a center of commerce and trade, attracting a diverse population.

During the mid-19th century, Clay County played a significant role in the emergence of the abolitionist movement. Many residents were vocal opponents of slavery, and Liberty became known as a hotbed for anti-slavery sentiment. Notable figures such as Frank James and Jesse James, who later gained fame as outlaws, grew up in Clay County and were influenced by the abolitionist sentiments prevalent in the area.

Clay County also played a vital role in the development of transportation and infrastructure in Missouri. The construction of the Missouri and North Arkansas Railroad in the late 19th century facilitated trade and travel in the region. The county continued to flourish throughout the 20th century, with the growth of the Kansas City metropolitan area and the expansion of education, healthcare, and industry.

Today, Clay County remains a vibrant and thriving community, blending its rich history with modern advancements. The county boasts a diverse economy, with a mix of industries including healthcare, manufacturing, and retail. It is also home to various cultural attractions, including museums, parks, and historical sites that showcase the county's fascinating past.

This timeline provides a glimpse into the major events and milestones that have shaped the history of Clay County, Missouri.

  • 1822: Clay County is established by the Missouri legislature.
  • 1826: Liberty, the county seat of Clay County, is laid out.
  • 1833: The infamous Mormon War takes place in Clay County, leading to the expulsion of Mormons from the county.
  • 1855: William Quantrill, a Confederate guerrilla leader, organizes his band of raiders in Clay County.
  • 1862: The Battle of Blue Mills Landing, a small but significant Civil War engagement, occurs in Clay County.
  • 1864: Jesse James, a notorious outlaw, and his gang launch their first successful daylight bank robbery in Gallatin, Clay County.
  • 1872: A devastating tornado hits Kearney in Clay County, causing significant damage.
  • 1951: Smithville Lake is built in the southern part of Clay County as a flood control and recreational project.
  • 1955: The Clay County Historical Society and Museum is established, preserving the history of the county.
  • 1997: The Harry S. Truman Library and Museum in Independence, adjacent to Clay County, undergoes major renovation and expansion.