Jeff Harvey

Before we continue with our look at what William Sanders II had to say in his book “A New River Heritage, Volume IV”, (McClain Publishing, 1994), I want to say thanks again to the people who have commented either face-to-face or via email about the column. The compliments are welcome and I’ll do my best to address any specific questions you may have.

Speaking of specifics, here’s a clarification about G.C. Murphy in Princeton. The store did indeed burn, but the damage was repaired and the building now houses Myra’s Flowers. Thanks to Mercer County Historical Society President Lois Miller for the correction.

Returning to the Clay family, we turn to Rebecca Clay Pearis, who married Capt. (later honorary called Colonel) George Pearis, a veteran of the Revolutionary War and founder of Pearisburg, Va., on October 6, 1784. Former Raleigh County Court president A. B..Maxwell, Mitchell Clay, Sr.’s great-grandson, was possibly his then-living oldest descendant in Raleigh County

Mary Clay married Captain Ralph Stewart, another Revolutionary War veteran on June 25, 1788. In 1808, Stewart moved to Wyoming County where his descendants are both numerous and prominent.

Sarah Clay married John Peters, a captain in the War of 1812 on February 4, 1800. Their progeny are numerous in Giles County, Va., and Mercer and Raleigh Counties.

As for the sons, they were very active in the histories of Montgomery and Giles County in Virginia, Three of them, Mitchell, Charles and William, were recommended for commission as captain, lieutenant and ensign, respectively, of the 2nd battalion, 86th regiment, Virginia Militia by the Montgomery County Court to the Governor of Virginia on June 4, 1787 (erroneously dated 1877).

All the sons were reportedly of splendid physical proportions and achieved exceptional attainments for their day and opportunities.

Mitchell, the younger son, died in Breckenridge, near Bolt, Raleigh County in February, 1851. He was the ancestor of all the Clays in Raleigh County and had many remarkable qualities. His son, John T. Clay, served as first sheriff in Raleigh County after it was formed in 1850.

Jeff Harvey is a freelance reporter for the Princeton Times. Contact him at

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