|Clay County, Florida|
Clay County Courthouse
Location in the U.S. state of Florida
Florida's location in the U.S.
|Founded||December 31, 1858|
|Named for||Henry Clay|
|Seat||Green Cove Springs|
|o Total||644 sq mi (1,668 km2)|
|o Land||604 sq mi (1,564 km2)|
|o Water||39 sq mi (101 km2), 6.1%|
|o Density||352/sq mi (136/km2)|
Clay County was created on December 31, 1858, from a section of Duval County. Its name is in honor of Henry Clay, a famous American statesman, member of the United States Senate from Kentucky, and United States Secretary of State in the 19th century.
Clay County was once a popular destination for tourists visiting from the northern states. The therapeutic, warm springs and mild climate were major draws for visitors. Steamboats brought them to various hotels in Green Cove Springs - the St. Elmo, Clarendon and the Oakland. President Grover Cleveland was the most prominent of such tourists; he had spring water shipped to the White House. Clay County's popularity among tourists peaked during the last three decades of the 19th century. It was later eclipsed by Henry Flagler's extension of the Florida East Coast Railway to points south such as Palm Beach and Miami.
The military has also played an important role in Clay County history. In 1939, Camp Blanding opened on Kingsley Lake in southwest Clay County. The Florida National Guard developed this 28,000 acres (110 km2) complex. During World War II, it trained over 90,000 troops and became the fourth largest "city" in the state. In Green Cove Springs, Lee Field was a flight training center. After World War II, Lee Field became a base for the mothball fleet. Although Lee Field closed in the early 1960s, Camp Blanding continues to operate today as a base for military training. Clay County is also a popular choice of residence for military personnel stationed on bases in nearby Duval County (NAS Jacksonville, NS Mayport, and, before it closed, NAS Cecil Field).
As of the census of 2010, there were 190,865 people, 65,356 households, and 39,390 families residing in the county. The majority of Clay County's population is located in the northeastern part where large suburban communities have been built. Orange Park, Middleburg, and the surrounding area respectively share the majority of the population. Green Cove Springs area has the lower population spread west and south, along with the small city of Keystone Heights, which lies at the southwestern end of the county. Although the population of Clay County is relatively high, the majority of the county is still rural and consists of many farms and county roads less maintained. The population density was 234 people per square mile (90/km²). There were 73,208 housing units at an average density of 89 per square mile (35/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 81.8% White, 9.9% Black or African American, 0.5% Native American, 2.9% Asian, 0.1% Pacific Islander, 1.1% from other races, and 2.9% from two or more races. 7.7% of the population were Hispanic or Latino, with Puerto Ricans being the majority of the Hispanic population.
There were 50,243 households, out of which 39.60% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 63.80% were married couples living together, 10.70% had a female householder with no husband present, and 21.60% were non-families. 16.90% of all households were made up of individuals and 5.50% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.77 and the average family size was 3.11.
In the county, the population was spread out with 28.00% under the age of 18, 7.90% from 18 to 24, 30.30% from 25 to 44, 24.00% from 45 to 64, and 9.80% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36 years. For every 100 females, there were 97.00 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 94.20 males.
The median income for a household in the county was $48,854, and the median income for a family was $53,814. Males had a median income of $36,683 versus $25,488 for females. The per capita income for the county was $20,868. About 5.10% of families and 6.80% of the population were below the poverty line, including 8.90% of those under age 18 and 7.40% of those age 65 or over.
According to the Florida Times-Union, in October 2004, there were 106,114 registered voters in Clay County.
According to the Secretary of State's office, Republicans account for a majority of registered voters in Clay County.
|Clay County Voter Registration & Party Enrollment as of September 30, 2015|
|Political Party||Total Voters||Percentage|
Clay County is one of the most reliably Republican counties in the state during presidential elections outside of the Panhandle, although it does support conservative Democrats for local and state offices.
|2014||72.40% 49,330||23.41% 15,948||4.19% 2,861|
|2010||69.97% 44,547||27.09% 17,246||2.94% 1,874|
|2006||73.00% 37,632||24.46% 12,610||2.54% 1,309|
|2002||77.38% 39,347||22.09% 11,233||0.53% 272|
|1998||76.29% 26,585||23.71% 8,261||0.00% 2|
|1994||70.86% 24,290||29.13% 9,986||0.00% 1|
The Clay County School District operates 42 public schools. There are currently 28 elementary schools, six junior high schools and eight high schools.
The Clay County Public Library System consists of five branches:
The first public library in Clay County was made up of a small collection established by the Village Improvement Association within the county. Other small libraries were established by other organizations within Clay County. In 1961, representatives from different women's organizations in the county started a movement to establish a library system within the county, and resulted in the Clay County Board of County Commissioners beginning to set aside funds to create the county library system. Due to their efforts, the first public library in Clay County was opened in 1961 in Green Cove Springs. The Green Cove Springs Library purchased a bookmobile in 1962 and began to provide outreach services to different areas within Clay County that same year. In 1962 two more public libraries opened in Clay County, the Keystone Heights Library and the Orange Park Library. A fire destroyed the Keystone Heights Library in February 1962. The Keystone Heights Library was relocated to a new building in Theme Park in 1964. The Headquarters Library in Green Cove Springs became open to the public in 1970 after a population boom caused the need for a new library. In 1976 the Orange Park Library moved to a larger location within the town of Orange Park. The population growth experienced in the county during the late 1970s necessitated the development of the Middleburg-Clay Hill Library. The Middleburg-Clay Hill Library first opened in a storefront in the late 1970s. The permanent facility for this library was completed and opened to the public in 1986.