Sheriff Robert Ingersoll Clay

Sheriff Robert Ingersoll Clay

Tazewell County Sheriff's Office, Illinois

End of Watch Saturday, September 4, 1920

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Robert Ingersoll Clay

Sheriff Robert Clay succumbed to a gunshot wound in his knee sustained two days earlier while trying to stop a gang of five subjects from stealing whiskey from a train in a rail yard in Wesley.

As his deputies surprised the group, one of his deputies struck a subject in the head with the butt of his shotgun as the subject attempted to shoot at the sheriff. The impact caused the gun-stock to break and misfire. The blast struck Sheriff Clay in his knee and severed an artery. He was taken to a local hospital where a blood transfusion was given and he succumbed to his wound two days later.

All the suspects were arrested and all alcohol was recovered and turned over to federal authorities.

Sheriff Clay served as Sheriff in Tazewell County since 1902 and previously served as a police officer and chief of police in Perkin. He was survived by his wife and two daughters.


  • Age 50
  • Tour 26 years
  • Badge Not available

Incident Details

  • Cause Gunfire (Inadvertent)
  • Incident Date Thursday, September 2, 1920
  • Weapon Shotgun
  • Offender Arrested

larceny, accidental discharge

Most Recent Reflection

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Sheriff Clay,
On today, the 100th anniversary of your death I would just like to say thank you for your service and sacrifice for the citizens of Tazewell County.


United States Border Patrol

September 4, 2020

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