Clay: Journalism's benefactor
By John Eighmey, Greenlee School Chair 1996-2002
John Clay was the son of a tenant farmer in southeastern Scotland. In 1874,
the age of 22, he came to the United States with what he called “an eye
to the main chance.”
Clay said of the American West, “There was a
freedom, a romance, a sort of mystic halo hanging over those green, grassy, swelling
divides that was impregnated, grafted into, your system … It was another
Clay became a leading figure in the development of the livestock business in
the United States. His career encompassed managing Bow Park Farm near Toronto;
as a land scout for a group of Scottish investors seeking new range lands;
Clay, Robinson & Co. (a major livestock commission company); and
serving as president of the International Livestock Exposition.
Readers of Clay's "The Plough and the Book" will appreciate the
depth of Clay’s intellect and education, as well as his gift for writing.
Indeed, his autobiography, "My Life on the Range," remains widely regarded today
as one of the most comprehensive and detailed sources concerning cowboy life
in the American West.
In was a delight to discover John Clay and to appreciate the significance of
his vision and generosity.
In 1905, the original strategic focus of journalism
education at Iowa State College was to improve communication for the advancement
Today, almost 100 years later, our strategic purpose has become
But Clay’s ideas remain vital and his writing something to appreciate.