Henry Clay’s granddaughter Anne Clay McDowell returned the family home to its former glory. Anne also helped heal family wounds and restore unity to a divided house.
Anne’s life was defined by loss and changed by war. Her father was killed in the Mexican War when she was ten. When the Civil War began, both her brothers went off to fight, one for the Union and one for the Confederacy. After enduring a year and a half of worry that they might meet on the battlefield, she lost both to disease.
Her husband, Henry Clay McDowell bought Ashland in 1882. Anne enhanced Henry Clay’s presence in the home and its status as a monument to him by acquiring important artifacts and displaying them. Having felt the pain of family being ripped apart by the Civil War, she also used the home as a place where the family could reunite, share their legacy, and heal old wounds. Her efforts paved the way for her daughter Nannette to take the steps to preserve Ashland.