Industrialist. Born– June 11, 1853, Cherokee County. Parents– Cummins M. and Elizabeth (McGhee) Lay. Married– Laura J. Hollingsworth, April 26, 1876. Children– Five. Education– Public schools. Worked as a riverboat pilot and then in the engine department of a railroad shop for about six years; then as a locomotive engineer; bookkeeper, William P. Hollingsworth, Gadsden, 1874-1879; executor, Hollingsworth estate, 1879; lumber business, Gadsden, 1879-1890; instrumental in building the first blast furnace in Gadsden; built and owned the first electric light plant in Gadsden, 1887; instrumental in building a railroad from Gadsden to Anniston, 1888; president of the hotel company that built the Printup Hotel in Gadsden; instrumental in getting Southern Steel Company to build in Gadsden; built and owned the water power plant on Big Wills Creek near Attala, 1903. Chairman, Coosa River Improvement Association; organized and incorporated the Alabama Power Company, 1906; member, Gadsden City Council, two terms; chairman, Alabama Conservation Commission, 1908; elector, presidential election of 1912. The first hydroelectric plant built by Alabama Power was renamed the Lay Dam in his honor, 1929. Died 1940.


Owen’s Dictionary of Alabama Biography; Hornady’s Soldiers of Progress and Industry.


Conservation and Improvement of Our Waterways. S.l.; s.n., 1908.

The Great Coosa-Alabama River & Valley. Gadsden; Lay, 1911.

Meddling, Coddling Paternalism; a Treatise and Compilation of the Enormous Gold Production and its Effects. Gadsden; Lay, 1910.

Opening the Coosa River to Through Navigation. Gadsden; Lay, 1901.

The Original Coosa River Memorial. S.l.; s.n., 1899.

River Problems of Alabama. Gadsden; s.n., 1915.

The Southern Superpower Zone. Gadsden; Lay, 1922.

Stabilization of Gold, World Need. Gadsden; Lay, 1932.