A notably successful career is that of John Clay of the
live stock commission firm of Clay, Robinson & Company of
Chicago, Denver and many other points, and chairman of the board of
directors of the Stock Growers National Bank of Cheyenne. For many
years he has been engaged in making live stock loans and is one of
the best known representatives of live stock interests in this state.
His plans have always been carefully defined and he has never been
afraid to take a forward step when the way was open. Mr. Clay was
born at Winfield, near Berwick-on-Tweed, Scotland, April 24, 1851, a
son of John and Patricia (Thomson) Clay. His people had for
generations been farmers on the borderland between England and
Scotland, mostly on the Scotch side.
Reared in his native country, John Clay attended the Whitsome parish school and supplemented his early education by study in the Wellfield Academy at Duns, in Smeaton's school at St. Andrews and in Edinburgh University. For ten years he followed farming in Scotland and in 1874 visited the United States and Canada, but did not remain on this side of the Atlantic at that time. In his travels he spent two or three days in Cheyenne, where he heard much concerning the cattle business. He took up his abode in Canada on the 7th of January, 1879, and was manager of the Canada West Farm Stock Association at Branford until 1882, when he removed to Chicago, Illinois. He again visited Wyoming in I88o, but did not begin doing business in this state until June, 1882, when he inspected the John T. Stewart 71 herd on the Sweetwater. He spent considerable time that summer in Wyoming and in the fall inspected the property of Clark & Plumb, north of the Black Hills, much of their ranch being in Wyoming. Mr. Clay was in Cheyenne in December, 1882, and became acquainted with a number of the prominent cattlemen, including A. R. Converse, a banker, A. H. Swan, and others who figured prominently in that day. Since 1882 Mr. Clay has been more or less closely connected with the business interests of Wyoming. He was appointed manager of the “71 herd” in the fall of 1882 and was made manager of the Western Ranches, Limited, a part of whose range was in Wyoming, with headquarters almost on the line. This was in the spring of 1883. He began loaning extensively on herds of cattle for Scotch capitalists about that year and has continued in the business to the present time. On the 1st of March, 1888, he was appointed manager of the Swan Land & Cattle Company, with headquarters at Chugwater, and there he remained for eight years and three months, when he severed his connection with the company. About seven years ago he became a director of the Swan Company and is now chairman of the executive committee. which looks after the work of the ranch on this side of the Atlantic, the official headquarters of the ranch being in Edinburgh, Scotland. In addition to loaning large amounts of money for Scotch clients for the firm of Clay, Robinson & Company and other interests, Mr. Clay began buying bank stocks in various banking interests in the west in 1892. In 1903 his firm purchased control of the Stock Growers National Bank and sihce that time the firm has added gradually to its interests not only in Wyoming but all over the west. Notable success has attended the efforts of Mr. Clay as the result of indefatigable energy and keen insight. His sagacity is manifest in his excellent investments, which have brought rich returns. He has closely studied the business situation relative to stock raising interests and to banking and has placed investments in those two interests with the result that substantial profits have accrued for those whom he has represented and for his own benefit as well. He is seldom if ever at fault in matters of business judgement and quickly eliminates the incidental or accidental circumstances of an enterprise from its essential features. Quiet, forceful and resourceful, he accomplishes what he undertakes and he never falters in the accomplishment of an honorable purpose, realizing that when one avenue of opportunity seems closed he can mark out other paths that will lead him to the desired goal.
On the 5th of January, 1881, in Highland Park, Illinois, Mr. Clay was united in marriage to Miss Euphemia Forrest, a daughter of John Forrest, of Dixon, Illinois, and they now have, one son, John Clay, Jr., born December 16, 1901.
Mr. Clay is a member of the Chicago Club and various other prominent social organizations. Up to the time of the outbreak of the present war he spent most of his winters in Scotland and for six years had a lease on Sunlaws, near Kelso, Scotland. His interests and activities have been most wisely directed. Recognizing the limitless opportunities of the new world, he crossed the Atlantic, and in the utilization of these opportunities has built up a fortune, while the methods pursued indicate the fact that success and an honored name may be won simultaneously.