Biographies

Aaron Dupuy, enslaved by Henry Clay as a valet. One of only two known images of enslaved people at Ashland. Courtesy of University of Kentucky Department of Special Collections.
Aaron Dupuy's hire record from 1799. You can see his name just above the mid-line on the left hand page.
Image of Aaron Dupuy whipping an overseer from “The Kidnapped and the Ransomed”, the slave narrative of Peter Still.
Aaron Dupuy was Henry Clay's personal valet and carriage driver.
1860 census record for Fayette County. Aaron and Lotty are listed in the 4th entry with Josiah Coleman.

 
AARON DUPUY 

Aaron Dupuy was born in Hanover County, Virginia around 1788. Sources indicate he was connected to Henry Clay’s family, and that he was 11 years younger than Henry Clay. According to Aaron’s obituary, he was 78 when he died. The first record of Aaron’s enslavement comes from an entry in one of Henry Clay’s account books. Clay received 10 pounds for the leasing of Aaron’s labor in 1799. In January 1802, when Aaron was about 14 years old his labor was leased again for a period of five years, this time to Henry Clay’s brother-in-law.  Around that time, Aaron met an enslaved woman named Charlotte who was laboring in a tailor’s shop in Downtown LexingtonAaron and Charlotte married in 1806. 

 Aaron served as the personal valet and coach driver for Henry Clay. Aaron traveled to Washington D.C. when Clay was Secretary of State, and he also went to Portugal with the family of one of Henry Clay’s sons. 

While Aaron’s wife Charlotte and their children, Charles and Mary Anne, were manumitted by Henry Clay, there is no indication that Aaron was ever freed before the Emancipation Proclamation in 1865. 

Aaron died on February 6, 1866 while living with another of Henry Clay’s sons. According to Aaron’s obituary, he was survived by his wife Charlottetheir daughter Mary Anne, and their grandchildren.  

Lotty's document of sale from James Condon to Henry Clay. Courtesy of the National Archives.
Decatur house c. 1822.
Decatur house slave quarters.
Petition to the court from Robert Beale, Lotty's lawyer, asking the Judges to bring Henry Clay to court. Courtesy of the National Archives.
Document summoning Henry Clay to court to answer Lotty's petition for freedom. Courtesy of the National Archives.
Emancipation document for Lotty and Mary Anne.

CHARLOTTE “LOTTY” DUPUY 

Charlotte “Lotty” Dupuy was born in Maryland around 1788. Enslaved by the same person from birth, at seven years old Charlotte was sold for $100 and transported to Lexington, Kentucky. Charlotte’s new enslaver then hired her out to work in a tailor shop in Downtown Lexington. While working there, Charlotte met Aaron Dupuy. Aaron was enslaved by Henry Clay, who had hired him out to work in a nail factory Downtown. Charlotte married Aaron, and in 1806, to be with her husband, she convinced her enslaver to sell her to Henry Clay. Henry Clay paid $450 to buy Charlotte. In the Clay household Charlotte labored as a cook, housekeeper, and caretaker to the family. She and Aaron had two children, Charles and Mary Anne.

In 1829, Charlotte brought a lawsuit against Henry Clay for her freedom and the freedom of her children. By this time, Henry Clay had been Secretary of State since 1825. Charlotte and her family had traveled with the Clays to Washington, D.C. and were living at Decatur House at the time of her lawsuit. Her primary basis for the suit were that her mother was free when she was born, making her and her children free; and her previous enslaver had promised her freedom for long and faithful service. Although Charlotte’s freedom suit went to trial, the court found that she and her children had no rightful claim to freedom. After losing her suit, Charlotte refused to return to Ashland and was jailed as a result. Clay later sent Charlotte to New Orleans, Louisiana to labor for his relatives. Charlotte was separated from her family for over three years. In 1840, Charlotte and her daughter Mary Ann were freed by Henry Clay. In 1844, Clay freed Charlotte’s son Charles.

There is no official documentation from the Clay family freeing Aaron, though the 1860 census (see image above with Aaron’s bio) shows him and Lotty as free people living in Lexington with a man named Coleman and a William Dupuy (possibly a grandson). If he did remain enslaved after 1860, he was freed via constitutional amendment in 1865Charlotte resided with Aaron at Ashland or Ashland on Tates Creek (Henry Clay’s son John’s home) as far as is known until 1860, at which time they seem to have moved to live with Coleman. In the following years, it appears that they moved back to Ashland on Tates Creek, as Aaron died there in 1866. The 1870 census shows Lotty had remarried to a man named John Thomas. Nothing about Thomas is known nor is Charlotte’s date of death or place of burial. 

Charles Dupuy by John Neagle. One of only two known images of enslaved people at Ashland.
Emancipation document for Charles Dupuy.
Charles Dupuy 1850 census record where he is listed as a cartman living in Washington D.C. (Bottom of page).
Continuation of the 1850 "Dupuis" family census record.

Charles Dupuy

Charles Dupuy was the son of Aaron and Charlotte Dupuy born c. 1807. 

Charles took over his father, Aaron’s, duties as Henry Clay’s valet and kept the keys to the wine cellar. He was described as being almost a “second master” at Ashland. He travelled with Clay to Washington.  

Henry Clay emancipated Charles in 1844, four years after his mother Lotty and his sister Mary Anne were freed. He was described in his emancipation document in 1844 as about 37 years old and 5ft 8inches tall with a low forehead and small moles on left side of his nose, of black complexion.”  

Charles Dupuy continued to work for Henry Clay as a freedman until 1848. A January 1845 issue of the Lexington Observer and Reporter states that he received compensation of $10 per month.  

Charles’ emancipation document includes a $400 bond set up by Henry Clay to ensure Charles did not become “chargeable to any County.”  Charles presumably needed to carry this with him once he left Ashland. 

A census document of Free Inhabitants of Washington, D.C. dated July 1850 lists a Charles “Dupuis” ,aged 40, born in Kentucky with the following family: 

Amelia Dupuis–Wife age 35; born in Maryland
CharlotteDupuis–Daughter age 15; born in Kentucky
Charles A. Dupuis–Son age 13; born in Kentucky
William A. Dupuis–Son age 8 ; born in Kentucky
Virginia Dupuis–Daughter age 5; born in Kentucky
David Dupuis–Son age 3; born in Kentucky
Sarah Dupuis–Daughter age 4 months; born in Washington, D.C. 

Charles Dupuis may be Charles Dupuy of Ashland. His age matches and a campaign biography of Henry Clay notes that Charles married a free woman of color and they lived together with their children at Ashland. The list of children of Charles Dupuis also provides some clues. Dupuis named his second daughter Charlotte, Charles Dupuy’s mother’s name. Perhaps Charles migrated to Washington D.C. from Kentucky in 1848. The U.S. Census of 1860 for Fayette County shows Charlotte and Aaron Dupuy and a William Dupuy, age 22, living with Joseph Coleman. This correlates to the William Dupuis listed above.

At present, Charles’s date of death is unknown. Aaron Dupuy’s obituary lists his wife Charlotte, daughter Mary Anne, and grandchildren as surviving him. No mention is made of Charles. He also does not appear in the 1860 U.S. census. He may have died between 1850 and 1860. 

 

Bill of sale for Henry Dupuy from Henry Clay.
John Raine acknowledged his purchase of Henry Dupuy from Henry Clay and promises to free him at the age of 28.

Mary Anne and Henry Dupuy

Mary Anne was the daughter of Aaron and Charlotte Dupuy and sister of Charles Dupuy. Her birthdate is unknown though it is generally thought she was born c. 1809-1810.  

Mary Anne’s duties are not specified but she may have helped her mother with cooking and likely helped look after the Clay’s grandchildren. She was taken to Portugal along with her mother and father by James and Susan Clay.  

Mary Anne was emancipated with her mother Lotty in 1844 (see image above under Lotty). The Deed of Emancipation specifically states that her child was not freed. Mary Anne had one son, Henry, born in 1833. We do not know if she had any other children.  

What happened to Mary Anne after emancipation is currently unknown. She is mentioned in her father’s 1866 obituary as surviving him but beyond that, no other information exists.  

Little is known about Henry Dupuy other than Henry Clay sold him in July of 1848. He was 15 years-old according to the deed of sale, establishing that he was born around 1833. He is also identified as mulatto (of mixed race). Henry’s father is unknown but given he was identified as “mulatto” and his mother was identified as black, Henry’s father would have been either of mixed race or white. The circumstances of Henry’s sale are unknown. He was sold to John Raine of Taylorsville and delivered to Raine at the Galt House Hotel in Louisville. Henry Clay made a condition of Henry’s sale that he was to be free at the age of 28.   

In May 1850, Mary Mentelle Clay (Thomas Hart Clays wife) wrote to Susan Jacob Clay (James Clay’s wife) in Portugal to tell Mary Anne that her son Henry was at Ashland visiting friends & was going to live in Louisville “to wait on his young master.” Henry was described in the letter thusly: “he is tall but does not look stout.” This is the last known reference to Henry Dupuy. Whether he was ever emancipated or survived to see the end of slavery is unknown.  

The smokehouse at Ashland where Louis Richardson would have been tasked with killing hogs.
Inside the smokehouse. You can see the meat salting trough in the back and several display hams hanging from the ceiling. The large logs would not have been there during Henry Clay's time.
Map of frequent Underground Railroad routes. Notice central Kentucky's path leads to Amherstburg, Ontario.

Lewis Richardson

Lewis Richardson was enslaved at Ashland from c.1837 to January 1846. He escaped from Ashland via the Underground Railroad and made his way to Amherstburg, Ontario, Canada, where he delivered a speech about his enslavement at Ashland as well as his escape.  

In his speech, Richardson said that he was 53 years old at the time of his escape. According to Thomas Allen RussellRichardson was born in 1792 at Poplar Hill, the farm of his father Robert Spotswood Russell in Fayette County, Kentucky. Robert gave Lewis Richardson to Thomas in 1815 when he began farming. In 1824 Richardson attempted to drown Thomas and escape to the North. He was apprehended and sold south to Louisiana. While there, Richardson is alleged to have killed an overseer and then was sold by his enslaver there to another in Mississippi and then from Mississippi to a Missouri slave dealer. Richardson was then sold by this dealer to Col. William Henry Russell (father of Josephine Russell who later married Henry Clay’s grandson Eugene Erwin and son John M. Clay). Richardson encountered Thomas again when he came to visit his family in Missouri. Thomas refused to repurchase Richardson but eventually agreed to take him back to Fayette County, Kentucky where he was eventually sold to Henry Clay by William Henry Russell.  

All accounts indicate that Lewis Richardson resisted enslavement continuously throughout his life. 

In December 1845, Richardson went one Sunday to visit his wife who was enslaved on a farm several miles from Ashland. He was expected to return by 5 am Monday morning. He returned at 6:02 am and was met by the overseer who was angry because Richardson had delayed the killing of hogs, the task he was to perform. Richardson was stripped and lashed for being late. After his wife dressed his wounds, they decided he should attempt to escape before he was sold further south or killed. Richardson made his way along the Underground Railroad to AmherstburgOntario, a primary place of entry for people escaped from slavery. On March 13, 1846 at 7:30 pm Lewis delivered a speech about his escape and his life and feelings about Ashland.  In that speech he relayed the facts of his escape and why he attempted it. He also provided insights into slavery at Ashland, noting how meager the food and clothing provided for the enslaved were and that it was not the paradise that it was made out to be.  

The speech of Lewis Richardson in March 1846 is the last record of him. Nothing is known of his life after it or his death. Nor is anything more known about the wife he left behind. 

Part of an article where Tom Todd is mentioned, taking particular note of a beating he suffered.
The indentation in the earth denotes the old farm road on the estate. The enslaved cabins where Tom Todd lived were located just to the right of the road, near where the formal garden sits today.

Thomas Todd

Thomas Todd was enslaved at Ashland from at least 1830 until his death by suicide on or about June 5, 1844. He was married to woman named Jane, also enslaved at Ashland, and they had at least one child, a son.

According to a March 1831 statement from Drs. Pindell and Satterwhite of Lexington, Henry Clay paid $25 to treat Tom Todd’s son for a broken thigh and 50 cents to treat Tom Todd’s child (it is not clear if these are two separate children or one child treated twice).

Most sources state that Tom was a shoemaker and some indicate he was hired out by Henry Clay. At least one source says he grew his own hemp plot to earn money.

On or about June 5, 1844, Tom Todd died via suicide by hanging at Ashland. Most sources suggest he had become morose, depressed, or despondent. Henry Clay states in an 1847 letter to abolitionist Sydney Howard Gay that Todd had been that way for some time. Several reasons are given for Todd’s mental state. Some sources say he received a severe whipping not long before killing himself. One source says he came to Lucretia Hart Clay to report the money he had been saving had been stolen from his bureau. Apparently, she made no effort to help him.  One source relates that Todd hung himself in a corn crib only later to be found by other enslaved people.

According to Henry Clay, Tom Todd’s wife remained enslaved at Ashland after his death. She re-married and became a cook for the Clays.  

Phoebe Moore Obituary from the Girard Press, Girard Kansas, April 27, 1891.
Additional Phoebe Moore obituary from the Cleveland Gazette, 1891.

Phoebe Moore

Phoebe Moore was born in Boone County, KY. Her parents were a white farmer and mixed race woman. She was very light skinned. When Phoebe was 12 she and her mother were sold to Thomas Hart Benton.

According to Phoebe’s obituary, Henry Clay encountered her in Washington, D.C. while she was enslaved to Benton. The obituary says Clay was attracted to the 16-year-old and bought her from Benton.  It goes on to say that he sexually exploited her and later emancipated her. There are two versions of Phoebe’s obituary and both say she had two children who died before Phoebe. One version states that these children were Henry Clay’s and both versions state that Phoebe kept her emancipation papers, documentation of purchase by Clay from Benton, and several letters from Clay.

After her emancipation, Phoebe went to Memphis where she married an Irish man named Tom Moore. Tom apparently pre-deceased Phoebe who died in New Orleans in 1891 at an advanced age after a short illness.

No records have at this time been located relative to Phoebe’s enslavement by Henry Clay. It should also be noted that neither obituary says she was at Ashland and no record has been found to show she was. She may have been, but there is no evidence of that fact. She may have lived exclusively in Washington D.C.

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