While reading the Lauderdale County, TN Physician’s Register starting in 1889 I noticed that Meharry Medical College was listed. Meharry Medical College is a historically Black medical college located in Nashville, TN. Because of this I knew that the physician listed as a graduate of that college was an African American. It turns out the physician listed was Simeon “S.R.” Clay who lived in Ripley, TN. According to the 1900 US Census he was born in Tennessee in October of 1864 prior to the end of slavery. His mother was Nancy Thornton Taylor born 1841 in Virginia and his stepfather was William Taylor born 1850 in Tennessee. On the 1880 US Census the family was living in District 9, Haywood County, TN. When SR enrolled at Meharry Medical College he listed his home as being in Ripley, TN. SR completed medical school in 1899. Meharry has pictures of all of the graduates, but the names are not clear enough to determine which picture is SR. By 1900 SR Clay was married and living in Ripley, TN with his wife Mintie Williams Clay and their children Minerva and Minnie Clay. The 1900 US Census also lists that Mintie was a school teacher and that they owned their home free from mortgage.
I am actively searching for more information regarding his life and story. He was born a slave, completed medical school, and came home to Ripley, TN to practice medicine.
1. Lauderdale County Court Clerk Physician Register TN State Archives Microfilm roll #17
2. “MMC Archives.” Meharry Medical College Library. 28 May 2008. Web. 25 July 2011. http://library.mmc.edu/catalogues/MMC_1899_color.pdf.
3. Ancestry.com and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 1880 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2010. 1880 U.S. Census Index provided by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
4. Ancestry.com. 1900 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2004.
5. Dodd, Jordan R. Tennessee Marriages, 1851-1900 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2000.