School names: Clayton

by Mike Magers

Clayton, New Mexico is in Union County, in the extreme northeast corner of the state.  The Yellowjackets have made 11 appearances in the state football championships: 2014, 2013, 2009, 2008, 2006, 1998, 1988, 1987, 1978, 1976, 1974, taking the title in 2013.  They are usually in the chase for the title all season long.


The town itself was founded in 1887, a concept of a group of businessmen including U. S. Senator Stephen Dorsey hoping to buy land and build a town in the path of a railroad.  It lay on the historic Santa Fe Trail that ran from Missouri to Santa Fe.  Originally the budding community was named Perico, but it was renamed Clayton for Clayton Dorsey, the eldest son of Senator Dorsey, in 1888 after the first train arrived on the new track.

Senator Dorsey had come to Colfax County a decade earlier and built a cattle ranch southeast of Raton, running as many as 22,000 head at its peak.  In addition to naming Clayton for his son, Stephen Dorsey named a town for himself, Dorsey, now a ghost town.  Clayton Dorsey graduated from Yale University in 1890.  He did not attend law school, but rather “studied law” under practicing attorneys, as was the tradition back then.  He was admitted to the bar and practiced as an attorney in Colorado most of his life.

In football, the Clayton Yellowjackets have gone 122-87 since 1995 and the last three years, they’ve had a record of 30-7.  Clayton finished the 2014 season at 11-1 under new coach Collin Justiss, its only loss coming in the championship game to Estancia.

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