This sweeping history traces eleven generations of the Clays of Kentucky, a founding American family and Southern dynasty whose members include Henry Clay, who ran for president against James K. Polk; his cousin Cassius Marcellus Clay, a prominent abolitionist and Lincoln's advisor against slavery; and matriarch Kizzie Clay, who buried the family silver and escaped by flatboat to avoid marauding Union soldiers. The history of the early colonial period comes to life, beginning with the arrival of the Clay family in Jamestown, Virginia, in 1613 and the Cecil family in St. Mary's, Maryland, in 1634, continuing through their trek across Virginia to the Appalachian Mountains, leading to the families' eventual intermarriage in 1800 and their move across the mountains to Kentucky and beyond.
Drawing from original sources such as Civil War records, land deeds, wills, and letters, and through her own dogged detective work and determination to separate reality from exaggeration to understand the complex legacy she has inherited, Katherine Bateman reveals the adventures, accomplishments, and shortcomings of the men in her family, alongside the deep-rooted stories and nontraditional roles of its strong, sometimes selfish, and proud women.
Katherine Bateman is the author of The Young Investor. She is a former professor of art history at both Berea College in Kentucky and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She lives in Oak Park, Illinois.