Clay Castle

By: James L. Hailey

Type: General Entry

Published: 1976

Updated: December 1, 1994

Tacitus M. Clay built a home in 1836 a mile west of Independence in Washington County and called it Ingleside. This four-story structure of native stone and cedar became known as Clay Castle because of the glassed-in ballroom on the third floor; the home survived seventy-five years until it sustained irreparable damage in the 1900 and 1915 Galveston storms. The land was granted to Tacitus's brother, Nestor Clay, by the Mexican government on March 18, 1831, and he began the construction. Nestor died in an Indian raid in Milam County in 1835, and Tacitus purchased half of his brother's league from his estate. Tacitus and Nestor were descendents of the Kentucky Clays and cousins to Henry Clay. Cotton produced on the Clay plantation was the first raised in Washington County. Tacitus's son, Thomas C. Clay, was a member of the Eighth Texas Cavalry, better known as Terry's Texas Rangers in the Civil War. Tacitus is reported to have used the "captain's walk," a large glass-enclosed walkway overhanging the hill upon which the home was built, to oversee his slaves at work in the fields below.

Betty Cantrell Plummer, Historic Homes of Washington County (San Marcos, Texas: Rio Fresco, 1971).

  • Architecture
  • Houses, Mansions, and Plantations

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

James L. Hailey, “Clay Castle,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed August 12, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

December 1, 1994