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Kentucky Clay: Eleven Generations of a Southern Dynasty Hardcover – November 1, 2008
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"Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress"
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"With wit and candor, Bateman reveals her lifelong struggle to avoid the disturbing patterns of [her family's colorful] legacy, while mining the emotional gifts passed on to her." Nancy Horan, author, Loving Frank
"With storytelling skill, historical research, and a questioning imagination, Katherine Bateman follows her family's odyssey in America since the seventeenth century." Jean B. Lee, professor of history, University of Wisconsin-Madison
"This riveting book is at once a journey into centuries of the American past and a deeply personal family saga, coupling the author’s meticulous historical research with her passionate curiosity and vivid imagination." Ronne Hartfield, author, Another Way Home: The Tangled Roots of Race in One Chicago Family
"Fascinating . . . deeply felt and deeply personal." California Literary Review
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John Thomas Claye, a second son in England so unable to inherit, sailed to the fledgling colony of Jamestown in 1613 to become a tobacco farmer. The family spent several generations in the colony before edging westward. Henry Clay, Secretary of State under President John Quincey Adams and later an unsuccessful Whig presidential candidate himself, is a 5th generation American Clay -the brother of the man in the author's direct line, Mitchell Clay, whose 3 children were slaughtered by Indians. One of Mitchell's surviving sons married Rebecca Cecil, more than proud of her own family's aristocratic English roots and intent upon defining the family's history. The stories became matriarchal from that point on but notably not maternal in sensibility.
"Kentucky Clay" has a sense of anticipation as it moves from one generation to the next and from the traditional businessmen who established the Clay family in Virginia to the strange and strong-willed women whose wishes tended to define their Kentucky households. Katherine Bateman does her share of debunking of family legends, but she also uncovers some truths more compelling than the stories she had been told. There is nothing unusual about "Kentucky Clay", but this is an interesting, sometimes oddball tour of American history through one family's heritage. It is important to note that, although it contains a family's history, the author's intention is to explore her family's heritage as formed by that history. "Kentucky Clay" is not a hard-core history book, but one that examines the social significance of a family's history to its members.
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