The Curious Community of ‘Clay’ in Eaton County
As I was perusing some old Michigan atlases, I happened to come across a place in Eaton County called “Clay”.
Try as I might, I could barely find any conclusive information on Clay. What I was able to throw together is the following:
Clay was once a little hamlet in Eaton County's Oneida Township, along the Pere Marquette Railroad west of Grand Ledge. There are three possibilities to where it got its name:
1) Possibly named after Clay Township in Onondaga County, New York. The township was where Polly Wise Knapp was born, the mother of Silas E. Knapp, who was one of Eaton County's agricultural representatives in the late 1800s.
2) It could've been named after Henry Clay, a well-to-do merchant who died in Vermontville in 1881.
3) Or could it be from the mounds of clay that were excavated in Eaton County?
So little is written about Clay, and now it's just considered to be called 'Oneida Township'. Even the local cemetery doesn't know what name to stick with. Although there is a sign that says “Union Cemetery”, it's also been called “Johnson Cemetery” and “Partlow Cemetery”.
One thing that has been going on in Clay for over one hundred years is the Ever Ready Club, that continues to meet at the old Methodist Church on Benton Road. The club was formed in 1915 as the Society Club and kept alive by the wives of local farmers. The name was changed to “Ever Ready” as in 'ever ready' to help anyone in need.
Over the years, the church was the place for bazaars, picnics, receptions, dances, socials......even the local schoolkids would put on plays at the church (the one-room schoolhouse was demolished in 1966).
There are a smattering of houses up and down the road, but no shops, cafe's, gas stations, or party stores.
That's about the crux of what was once called Clay.
Any other forthcoming information on this curious community would be extremely welcome. Take a look at a few photos below!