Early History of the County Seats and Courthouses of Clay County, Arkansas
Clay County was organized as Clayton County, on March 24, 1873. That part known as the Eastern District, and a part known as the Western District, were taken from Greene County, and the remaining part of the Western District was taken from Randolph County.
The county seat was originally located at Corning. The first term of county court was held at Corning, beginning on the 16th day of May, 1873. The question of the removal of the county seat to Boydsville, a more central point, began to be agitated and on the 30th day of June, 1874, an election was held for the purpose of submitting the question to the voters of the county. When the votes were counted, it was found that the majority of 315 had voted in favor of removal therefrom. The court ruled Boydsville to be the county seat. Such strong resistance to this decision was manifested, that no removal of records was made for a long time.
After a lapse of a few years, the question was again submitted to the people at an election held on May 22, 1877, on which occasion 42 votes were cast against the removal and 603 in favor of it. The court again declared Boydsville to be the county seat, to which place the records were soon removed.
The first term of county court was held in Boydsville beginning on Monday, October 1, 1877. Judge T. M. Holifield presiding.
By an act of the General Assembly of the State of Arkansas, approved December 6, 1875, the name of Clayton County was changed to Clay County.
Having lost the county seat, the people of Corning and the western portion of the county, finding it difficult to reach Boydsville, commenced to consider the question of dividing the county into two districts. Consequently, the legislature, by an act approved February 23, 1881, provided that the county should be divided into two judicial districts; all that portion lying west of a line commencing at the center of the main channel of Black River, where it crosses the Missouri and Arkansas state line near the northeast corner of section five, township 21 north, range 6 east then down the main channel of said river to the range line between ranges 5 and 6, township 21 north, then south of said range line to the west bank of Cache River near the southeast corner of section 1, in township 19 north, range 5 east, then with the western bank of Cache River or lake, to the line between Clay and Greene counties, to be known as the Western District; the portion east of this line to be known as the Eastern District.
The question of removing the county seat to the Cotton Belt Railroad began to agitated; a petition was presented to the county court at its April 1888 term, asking that the county seat be removed to Greenway, whereupon the court ordered an election to be held on the 23rd day of June, 1888, and a majority of the votes were not cast for the removal.
A petition was again presented to the county court at its July, 1888 term, asking that an election be held for the removal of the county seat, naming Rector, Piggott and Greenway, whereupon the court ordered an election to be held on the first Monday in September, 1888. When the votes were counted, the county court held that neither place had received a majority of votes for removal, and the change was rejected. Whereupon, an appeal was taken. The Supreme Court held that as Rector, Greenway and Piggott had received a majority of the votes cast for removal of the county seat, that took it from Boydsville, and as Rector had received the lowest number of votes, that it was left to decide between Greenway and Piggott, whereupon the election was held on the 7th day of March, 1891, at which election Greenway received a total of 923 votes and Piggott received 954 votes, and at the April term of the county court, it was ordered and adjudged that Piggott was declared to be the permanent county seat.
The records were removed to Piggott, and placed in a temporary house that had been built by the citizens. The house was destroyed by fire, together with all the records on January 11, 1893.
By an act of the General Assembly, in the year 1895, the boundary line between Clay and Green counties was changed, detaching Blue Cane Township from Greene County, which was bounded as follows: beginning at the northeast corner of section 27, township 19 north, range 7 east, running thence south four miles to the southeast corner of section 10, township 18 north, range 7 east, then east 8 miles to the state line between Missouri and Arkansas, thence northeast with the meandering of the St. Francis River to the northeast corner of section 29, township 19 north, range 9 east, then west on the county line between Clay and Greene counties to the northwest corner of section 27, township 19 north, range 7 east, the place of beginning.
At the December, 1898 court, E. N. Royall presiding, H. W. Moore, W. R. Mebane, and E. J. Winton were appointed as Commissioners to erect a courthouse in Piggott, and C. R. Beloate, H. H. Williams, and J. G. Ricker were appointed to erect a courthouse in Corning. The contract was to let Patrick Powers build both courthouses at the price of $19,200 each. The new courthouses were completed in the year 1899.