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. 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. Charlotte’s husband Aaron was never freed by the Clays.

The date of Charlotte’s death and the place where she is buried are unknown.

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, born about 1807, was the son of Aaron and Charlotte Dupuy. Charles assumed responsibility for his father’s role as Henry Clay’s valet, and he travelled with Clay to serve him in Washington, D.C.  Henry Clay manumitted Charles in 1844, four years after Henry Clay freed Charles’ mother Lotty and his sister Mary Ann. Charles continued to work for Henry Clay as a freedman until 1848. A January 1845 issue of the Lexington Observer and Reporter stated that Charles received compensation of $10 per month for his labor.

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

Amelia Dupuis – Wife age 35; born in Maryland
Charlotte Dupuis – 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’s date of death is unknown. His father Aaron’s obituary made no mention of Charles and listed his wife Charlotte, daughter Mary Anne, and grandchildren as surviving him. Charles does not appear in the 1860 U.S. census, and 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 the sister of Charles Dupuy.

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. Mary Anne had one son, Henry, born in 1833. In 1840 Mary Ann and her mother Charlotte were freed. In their Deed of Emancipation, it specifically stated that her son Henry was not freed.

What happened to Mary Anne after she was freed is unknown. In her father Aaron’s 1866 obituary, Mary Anne is mentioned as a surviving family member.

Henry Dupuy was Mary Anne’s son, and little is known about him other than that Henry Clay sold Henry Dupuy in July of 1848, at the age of 15. In the deed of sale for Henry Dupuy he is identified as “mulatto” (mixed race), and though Henry’s father is unknown, his mother was identified as Black, which means Henry’s father would have been either mixed race or white. Though the circumstances around Henry’s sale are unknown, he was sold to a man in Louisville, and Henry Clay made a condition of Henry Dupuy’s sale that he was to be free at the age of 28.

In May 1850, in a Clay family letter, Henry Dupuy was described as: “tall but…not…stout.” This is the last known reference to Henry Dupuy. Whether he was ever freed 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 around 1837 to January 1846. He escaped from Ashland via the Underground Railroad and made his way to Amherstburg, Ontario, Canada. In Amherstburg he delivered a speech about his enslavement at Ashland as well as his escape. Richardson’s speech was published in an abolitionist newspaper entitled the Signal of Liberty. In his speech, Richardson said that he was 53 years old at the time of his escape.

Lewis Richardson was born in 1792 at Poplar Hill, in Fayette County, Kentucky. All accounts indicate that he resisted enslavement continuously throughout his life through many means including escape and violence.

In December 1845, according to Lewis Richardson’s speech, on one Sunday he went to visit his wife who was enslaved on a farm several miles from Ashland. Lewis was expected to return to Ashland by 5 am Monday morning, but he returned at 6:02 am. Richardson was met by the angry overseer and was stripped and lashed for being late. He decided to attempt escape before being sold further south or killed. Lewis Richardson made his way along the Underground Railroad to Amherstburg, Ontario, Canada, a primary place of entry for people escaping from slavery. On March 13, 1846 Lewis delivered a speech about his escape, his life, and his feelings about Ashland.  In that speech Richardson 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 about 1830 until his death 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.

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. Several reasons are given for Tom’s mental state. Some sources say he received a severe whipping not long before taking his own life. One source says he came to Lucretia Clay to report that 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 enslaved in Boone County, KY. Her parents were a white farmer and a mixed race woman. When Phoebe was 12 she and her mother were sold to Missouri Senator 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 freed her. There are two versions of Phoebe’s obituary and both say she had two children who died before her. One obituary states that these children were Henry Clay’s and both versions state that Phoebe kept her manumission papers, documentation of purchase by Clay from Benton, and several letters from Clay.

After her manumission, 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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