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Founded in 1861 from a portion of Cherokee County is what became known as Clay County. Clay covers an area of 221 square miles and Hayesville is the county seat. Clay County was named for Henry Clay, who was a 19th century statesman and orator who represented Kentucky in the House of Representatives, the US Senate and he was also the US Secretary of State. Clay was named as one of five of the greatest senators in US history.

Clay County is divided into seven townships; Brasstown, Hayesville, Hiwassee, Shooting Creek, Sweetwater, Tusquittee and Warne. A portion of the Nantahala National Forest, which is a National protected area, is located within the bounds of Clay County, NC. The towns or cities of Hayesville and Warne are located in Clay County.

The first white settler to Clay County was John Covington Moore during the late 1700’s. The area was rich in agriculture into the early 20th century, when the hospitality and rental industries began to overtake the economy.
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