Biography - LEVI CLAY
For sixteen years Levi Clay has lived retired from the active cares and labors to which his prime was given, his home being in Streator during this period of enjoyment of the fruits of his former toil. Energetic and progressive, he made his own way in the world from boyhood, and won a position and competence and the esteem of all who know him.
Levi Clay comes from the same ancestral stock as does the distinguished Kentucky statesman, Cassius M. Clay. He is a son of David and Catherine (Harter) Clay, and a grandson of David Clay, Sr. His maternal grandfather, George Harter, was one of the pioneers of Stark county, Ohio, and the latter's wife, whose maiden name was Bowman, came from Baden, Germany, in 1725, as some old records state.
Our subject's father was a native of Pennsylvania, and his marriage to Miss Catherine Harter, in 1809, was the first wedding in that county. Ten children were born to David and Catherine Clay, and of this number eight lived to maturity, - George, whose location since 1836 is unknown; David died at Plainfield, Illinois, leaving a wife with five children, three sons and two daughters; Jacob died in Darke county. Ohio, leaving seven children, one son and six daughters; John, with his wife and children, one son and five daughters, lives in California; Catherine and husband died in Stark county, Ohio, about 1842, leaving an infant son, Abraham Miller, who is at this time a minister of the gospel at Alliance, Ohio; Solomon Clay, of Paulding county, Ohio, having been married four times, has a wife and ten children; Polly married John Ditsler, of Summit county, Ohio, and died there about 1849; and Levi is the subject proper of this sketch.
Our subject's mother became the wife of George Henny after the death of her first husband, and by her second union had one daughter, Priscilla, now a resident of Fonda, Iowa, and wife of Jacob Sanders.
Born in 1825, upon the parental homestead, in Stark county, Ohio, Levi Clay early learned the proper management of a farm. His education was limited to an occasional three-months term of school, and, as he was young when his father died, the cares of life fell upon his shoulders when he was a mere boy. He remained in his native state until 1844, when he came to this county, with but seven dollars and an ax to start with. The seven dollars was stolen, leaving only the ax! For several years he resided in Ottawa or vicinity. In 1846 he enlisted in the First Illinois Volunteer Infantry, for service in the Mexican war, and saw some hard fighting, taking part in the battle of Buena Vista and other engagements. Upon his return he worked at plastering in Ottawa for a year and a half.
In 1848 he was married, and, settling upon a farm in Livingston county, in the vicinity of Streator, cultivated the place many years, greatly improved it, and in the course of time added more until his possessions amounted to three hundred and ninety-one acres. His buildings and everything about his homestead were kept in fine condition, and the supervision of the practical, painstaking owner was apparent to the most casual observer. In the raising and feeding of cattle and hogs he was quite successful, realizing a large income from this source alone.
More than half a century ago, in 1848, Mr. Clay married Miss Cordelia M. Ecker, of LaSalle county. Her parents, John and Lucy (Roberts) Ecker, were natives of New York state, and at an early day became residents of Illinois. Mrs. Clay was summoned to the silent land in 1895. The only son, Cassius M., is now occupying the family homestead in Livingston county. He makes a specialty of breeding fine Morgan horses and Jersey cattle, and is a progressive, wide-awake business man and agriculturist. He married Miss Barbara E. Zeigler, daughter of William Zeigler, of Livingston county, in 1874, and four children bless their home, - Ora M., Edward C, Avis B. and Mabel R.
The only daughter of our subject is Lucetta J., wife of William M. Bentley, of Osage township. LaSalle county. She has three children, namely: Ola M., wife of Edgar J. Hakes; Minnie E., wife of R. Bailey; and Arlie M.
In his early life Mr. Clay was affiliated with the Whig- party, and upon the founding of the Republican party he joined its ranks and has been faithful to its principles from that day to the present. His career has been marked by rigid integrity, and to his posterity he will leave the priceless heritage of an untarnished name and record.
Extracted by Norma Hass from Biographical and Genealogical Record of LaSalle County, Illinois published in 1900, volume 1, pages 150-152.