Clay County lies in the Northeast corner of the state and is bound north and east by the State of Missouri; south by Greene and west by Randolph County, Arkansas.
In the beginning, Clay County was a part of the territory of New Madrid, Missouri in about 1812. After that, Randolph and Greene in the early 1830,s. Around 1832, this area increased very slowly for the next twenty years, after which it advanced quite rapidly. On the outbreak of the Civil War, it came to a standstill.
Crowley’s Ridge in Northeast Clay County played a significant part during the Civil War. Clay County has the distinction of having two areas of land on the National Register of Historical Places; Chalk Bluff Park in the northeast part of Clay County lies along the St. Francis River which is the boundary line between Arkansas and Missouri, and Scatterville Cemetery, a pre-Civil War Cemetery. Here battles of the Civil War were fought between the Grey and the Blue in the settlements between the Chalk Bluff, Oak Bluff ( a smaller settlement) and Scatterville. This last settlement was about two miles north of present day Rector. The village of Scatterville actually moved into that area when the railroad went through Rector.
Trenches can vaguely be seen in the Chalk Bluff area of Crowley’s Ridge bluffs. The army cut a crude road called “the Military Road” that led from Chalk Bluff to Gainesville along Crowley’s Ridge.
The Scatterville Cemetery was placed on the National Register of Historical Places December 9, 1994, has about 30 head stones most of which are in need of repair. This area was recently taken as a project by the Clay County Extension Homemaker’s Clubs. The stones dated 1830 to 1910 are the remaining link to the historic and antebellum community of Scatterville.
Corning was named the first county seat. Dissatisfaction occurred over the location of it because Black River, abroad and sluggish stream ,and Cache River, both only a few miles apart, run diagonally across the county, leaving about two-thirds of the county on the east side, one third on the west side. These streams, during the rainy season overflowed their banks forming a solid sea of water eight to ten miles wide there for impassable except by boat. There was a crude ferry boat at the site of the present Black River bridge but could only be reached at periods of low water. As a result of the problems, an election was called for June 30,1874. There was no decision made. The county was re-named in 1875 from Clayton to Clay in honor of Henry Clay. Again in 1877, they voted to remove the county seat from Corning to Boydsville. A temporary courthouse was built with the first term of court in the new seat being October 1877., with the Judge T.M. Holifield presiding. Later the built a frame courthouse that replaced the temporary one. County politics had not changed the nature of Black River and Cache bottoms and the county seat was as inaccessible as ever. In 1881, J.C. Hawthorne, state senator, was instrumental in getting the state legislature to form the county into districts with a second seat at Corning. Even with this they were not satisfied. Boydsville was not on the railroad. They had several elections before it was decided what to do. At the april,1891 term of the Clay County Court, Judge W.J. Belch order and adjusted that Piggott be declared to be the permanent county seat.
Except for agricultural products, processing lumber and woodworking have been the principal industries of the county. Cotton, soybeans, corn and hay are the principal crops of the county.