Side 1(Continued on other side)
Clay County was formed by an act of the Alabama General Assembly on December 7, 1866. Less than a year later, Ashland was established as the county seat on land donated by Hollingsworth Watts for the construction of a courthouse. Ashland was incorporated in 1871 and was named for 19th-century statesman Henry Clay's Kentucky home. During the early years, the town grew very rapidly that many predicted it would become more prosperous than Birmingham. The town continued to grow with the opening of Alabama's first graphite mine in 1899. When World War I ended, the market for graphite dropped drastically, thus ending the town's growth phase. The 1930's brought the Great Depression and boll weevil to Ashland that destroyed the cotton industry. Farmers were forced to abandon what had been the community's major industry. Timber, poultry, and cabinet making became the dominant industries by the beginning of the 21st century
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Ashland residents have been drawn to community and public service since the town's beginning. County native Hugo Black served on the U.S. Supreme Court, Bob Riley served as the state's 52nd Governor from 2003-2011. Countless others have taken up the call to serve through the Alabama National Guard. During the Desert Shield/Storm conflict, Clay County had the largest concentration per capita of soldiers serving than any other county in the nation. Education and athletics have long been a source of great pride for the citizens of Ashland. From September 9, 1994 to November 14, 1997, the Clay County High School Panthers established an Alabama high school state record in football. The team won 55 games in a row. The school won six state championship titles in football and two in basketball.