Ashland for over 200 years has been a magical place for children to play. From Henry Clay’s own children and grandchildren to his son James and Susan’s ten children, to his granddaughter Anne Clay McDowell’s girls, the estate’s young occupants delighted in their surroundings. And it was not only the Clay children who grew up at Ashland: generations of African American children of enslaved and employed parents, too, lived out their young lives there. There are also accounts of local children who later became famous visiting and playing at Ashland—from Mary Todd (during Henry Clay’s time) to George Clooney (born May 6, 1961 in Lexington).
Here are images of some of the children who called Ashland home or playground.
Henry Clay’s great-granddaughter, Madeline McDowell (1872-1920), was a young girl when the family moved to Ashland in 1883.