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Henry Clay McDowell

Male 1832 -

Personal Information    |    Notes    |    Sources    |    Event Map    |    All    |    PDF

  • Name Henry Clay McDowell 
    Born 1832  Fincastle, Botetourt County, Virginia Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Gender Male 
    Person ID I4843  Stewart
    Last Modified 22 Nov 2010 

    Father Dr. William Adair McDowell,   b. 21 Mar 1795, Danville, Kentucky Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 10 Dec 1853, Evansville, Indiana Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 58 years) 
    Mother Maria Hawkins Harvey,   b. 30 Aug 1799, Fincastle, Virginia Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 28 Nov 1876  (Age 77 years) 
    Married 24 Aug 1819  Botetourt County, Virginia Find all individuals with events at this location  [1
    Family ID F662  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family Anna Clay 
    Last Modified 22 Nov 2010 
    Family ID F1569  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

  • Event Map
    Link to Google MapsBorn - 1832 - Fincastle, Botetourt County, Virginia Link to Google Earth
     = Link to Google Earth 
    Pin Legend  : Address       : Location       : City/Town       : County/Shire       : State/Province       : Country       : Not Set

  • Notes 
    • "Henry Clay McDowell, son of William Adair McDowell and Maria Hawkins Harvey, born in Fincastle county, Virginia, in 1832, coming to Kentucky in 1839, when his father returned to his native State. He graduated at the Louisville Law School, and won his way to a successful practice in his profession, being for some years a partner of his brother-in-law. Judge Bland Ballard. He was among the earliest in Kentucky to take up arms for the Union on breaking out of the Civil War, and was commissioned by Mr. Lincoln as assistant Adjutant General, and served on the staff of Gen. Rousseau and Gen. Boyle. He was afterwards commissioned by Mr. Lincoln as United States Marshal for Kentucky, being the same office held by his grandfather, Samuel McDowell, under commission of General Washington.

      "He married Anna Clay, daughter of Lieutenant-Colonel Henry Clay, who was killed at the battle of Buena Vista, and was a son of the matchless orator, Henry Clay.

      " Major McDowell purchased Ashland, the home of his wife's grandfather, and lives at ease, devoting himself to agricultural pursuits, and giving some attention to the Lexington & Eastern Railway Companies, of which he is president. In politics he was first a Whig, later a Republican.

      " Major McDowell appears yet in his prime. The time to do him justice is far distant, it is to be hoped, as no man's history can be rightly written until his biographer may look from the beginning of his life to its close."

      Source: History of the Irvine Family, pp. 105-106
    • Major Henry Clay Mcdowell, who died on his fine estate, "Ashland," near the city of Lexington, Fayette county, on the 18th of November, 1899, was a scion of a family whose name has been one of marked distinction in connection with the annals of American history and one of special prominence in the state of Kentucky. A man of high character and exceptional ability, Major McDowell left a definite and benignant impress upon the history of Kentucky, and his influence penetrated into the industrial and civic affairs of the state in no uncertain way. He was an able member of the state bar, was called upon to serve in various positions of public trust and was a potent factor in connection with various lines of productive enterprise after his virtual retirement from the work of his profession. He well upheld the prestige of the honored name that he bore and such were his life and labors that it is altogether consonant that in this publication be entered a tribute to his memory and a brief record of his career, which was one of signal usefulness and distinction.

      Henry Clay McDowell was born at Fincastle, Botetourt county, Virginia, on the 9th of February, 1832, and was a son of Dr. William Adair and Maria Hawkins (Harvey) McDowell. Dr. McDowell was one of the distinguished representatives of the medical profession in Kentucky and was engaged in practice in the city of Louisville for a number of years. He made a special study of pulmonary tuberculosis, commonly designated consumption, and was particularly successful in the treatment of this dread disease. A treatise which he prepared "On the Curability of Consumption in All Its Stages" attracted bitter and condemnatory attention on the part of the medical profession of Louisville. But long after his death it was recognized as the first specific work ever published concerning tuberculosis and its treatment. It was written long before the distinguished Bennet published his views on the subject. This valuable work was published in 1843. Dr. William Adair McDowell was born near Harrodsburg, Mercer county. Kentucky. March 21, 1795. After his mother's death his early boyhood was passed with his uncle. Dr. Ephraim McDowell, whom he later assisted in many of his operations. He received an excellent education along both general and professional lines, and graduated in the Medical School of Philadelphia. He finally retired from the practice of his profession so far as possible and he passed the closing three years of his life in Indiana, at his country home on the Ohio river, where he died in 1853, at the age of fifty-eight years, secure in the high regard of all who knew him. His appointment as surgeon of the Marine Hospital of Indiana reached him just after his death. His wife was born in Fincastle, Virginia, and was a daughter of Matthew and Magdalene (Hawkins) Harvey. She survived him by more than a score of years and was summoned to eternal rest in 1876, at a venerable age. They reared eight children to maturity, namely: Sarah Shelby, Mary. Ann, Henry Clay, Magdalene, John (died in New Orleans). Major William Preston (wounded severely at Perryville, served till the end of war), and Captain Edward Irving (killed at Resaca. Georgia, in 1864. aged twenty-one).

      The lineage of the McDowell family is traced back to staunch Scotch-Irish origin and representatives of the same established homes in America in the Colonial epoch of our national history. The founder of the family in Kentucky was Colonel Samuel McDowell, who was born in Virginia, in 1735, and who passed the closing years of his life near Danville, Boyle county, Kentucky, where he died in 1817. He was a son of John McDowell, whose father, Ephraim McDowell, emigrated to America from Ireland in 1729. He remained for a number of years in Pennsylvania and then removed to Virginia, where he continued to reside until his death. Colonel Samuel McDowell was reared and educated in Virginia, and, as has well been said, he was the "founder of a family of patriots." He was a valiant soldier in the French and Indian wars and served under General Washington in the campaign of the Monongahela valley m I75S; in th1s connection he received commission as captain of his company. In 1775, in recognition of his effective military services, a large tract of land in Fayette county, Kentucky, was surveyed and awarded to him. When the war of the Revolution was precipitated he promptly tendered his services in the cause of independence. He was commissioned colonel and assigned to the command of a regiment of militia from Augusta county, Virginia. His regiment was with forces of General Nathaniel Greene at Guilford Court House. North Carolina, with which it was also present at the surrender of General Cornwallis. at Yorktown. He proved a gallant commanding officer in the Continental line and took part in a number of the important engagements marking the progress of the great struggle which hurled oppression back and gained the boon of national liberty.

      Prior to the Revolution Colonel McDowell had several times represented Augusta county in the Virginia house of burgesses, and when the revolutionary measures were brought forward he was a delegate from his county to the convention held at Richmond, Virginia, on the 20th of March, 1775. as was he also to the later convention which assembled at Williamsburg and formulated definite plans for the impending conflict. He was a member of the state council of Virginia after the close of the war and was appointed surveyor of public lands in Fayette county, Kentucky, a section then comprising about one-third of the present area of the state, which continued to be a county of Virginia until 1790. In 1783 Colonel McDowell established his home in Kentucky and entered upon the active discharge of his official duties. In the same year he was appointed one of the judges of the first district court held in Kentucky, and from the beginning of his residence here he was one of the most prominent and influential citizens of the state, in whose organization as an independent commonwealth he played a most conspicuous part. He was president of the convention of 1782, which framed the first constitution of Kentucky as an independent territory, and he was not only one of the first to serve as judge of the circuit court in the new territory, but also one of the first district judges of Kentucky, under the federal jurisdiction, his appointment to this office having been made by General George Washington, who was then president of the United States.

      Colonel McDowell married Miss Mary McClung, who was born in Ireland and who was of staunch Scotch ancestry. They became the parents of seven sons and four daughters. The eldest son. Major John McDowell, well upheld the military prestige of the name through his services as a gallant officer in the war of 1812. and the latter's son. Dr. Joseph N. McDowell, of Missouri, became one of the most distinguished surgeons of the United States. Colonel lames McDowell, the second son of Colonel Samuel McDowell, was another of the patriot soldiers of the family. He not only served in the Continental line in the war of the Revolution but was also an officer in the war of 1812. The third son. William, became a representative member of the bar of Kentucky. The sixth son. Dr. Ephraim McDowell, attained high distinction in the medical profession and pained in that connection the title of "father of ovariotomy." He was educated at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, and engaged in the practice of his profession at Danville, Kentucky, where he was the first to perform a successful operation for the removal of ovarian tumors. This operation, the first of the kind ever performed&emdash;after much persecution at home&emdash; attracted widespread attention on the part of the medical profession both in America and foreign countries, and in recognition of his distinguished services the representatives of his profession in Kentucky erected to his memory, fifty years after his death, a fine monument at Danville, where he had continued to reside until his death. He was born in Rockbridge, Virginia, November 11, 1771, and died in Kentucky, June 25, 1830. He married Sarah, daughter of Isaac Shelby, first Governor of Kentucky.

      Colonel Samuel McDowell, Jr., the fourth son, and the grandfather of H. C. McDowell, was another who added laurels to the patriot crown of the family. He was born in 1764 and thus was a mere youth at the time when he entered the ranks of the revolutionary forces. He served in the command of General LaFayette and was present at the surrender of General Cornwallis, the capitulation that marked the close of the great struggle for independence. He, like his father, received supplementary honors after the close of the Revolution, as in 1789 he received from President Washington appointment as the first United States district marshal of the district of Kentucky. He retained this position also during the administration of President Adams and during a part of that of President Jefferson. At the time of the inception of the Civil war twelve grandsons of Colonel Samuel McDowell, Jr., were living and all of the number were in sympathy with the cause of the Union, though nine of the number were residents of southern states. One was killed by "bushwhackers" at his home in Missouri at the beginning of the war; nine served as officers in the Federal armies; one was physically incapacitated for military service; and the last of the twelve was too young for enlistment. One of the sons. Abram, was the father of Major General Irvin McDowell, of the United States Army, and the fourth son was Dr. William A. McDowell, father of him to whom this memoir is dedicated.

      Major Henry C. McDowell was afforded excellent educational advantages in his youth and he thoroughly fortified himself for the work of his chosen profession, in which connection it should be noted that he was graduated in the Louisville Law School, from which he received his degree of 'Bachelor of Laws. He forthwith engaged in the practice of his profession in the city of Louisville,where for a number of years he was associated with his brother-in-law, Judge Bland Ballard, under the firm name of Ballard & McDowell. He was a man of broad mental ken and mature judgment and he soon gained a place of prominence as one of the representative members of the Kentucky bar. He was known as a versatile and resourceful advocate and was identified with much important litigation in both the state and federal courts prior to the Civil war. He was among the first in Kentucky to tender his services in defense of the national integrity after the darkcloud of civil conflict obscured the country's horizon. Early in 1861, in response to President Lincoln's first call for volunteers, he enlisted in a Kentucky regiment and was soon afterward commissioned assistant adjutant general by President Lincoln. In this capacity he served on the staffs of Generals Rousseau and Boyle, and in 1862, suffering from effects of camp fever, he resigned the office to accept that of United States marshal for Kentucky. This appointment was conferred by President Lincoln, and as incumbent of the office which had been held by his grandfather many years previously Major McDowell did fully as effective service in behalf of the Union as he could have given as an officer with the military arm of the government service.

      Major McDowell did not resume the practice of his profession after the close of the war, but located on a farm in Franklin county, where he remained until 1883, when he removed to "Ashland," the fine old estate formerly owned by Henry Clay, in Fayette county, where he gave his attention to the raising of thoroughbred horses during the remainder of his active career. He became one of the representative breeders of fine horses in Kentucky and in this line did much to uphold the high reputation so long enjoyed by this commonwealth in this interesting field of enterprise. Major McDowell was a man of fine intellectual powers and had those sterling characteristics that ever beget popular confidence and esteem. He was progressive and public-spirited and gave his executive and capitalistic support in the promotion of many enterprises tending to advance the general welfare of his state. For a number of years he was president of the Kentucky Union Railroad, now the Lexington & Eastern Railroad Company, of which his son William A., of Lexington, is now general manager, and as a man of prominence and influence he left a beneficent impress upon his day and generation, the while he ever held secure vantage ground in the confidence and regard of his fellow men. He was a staunch and effective exponent of the principles and policies of the Republican party and was identified with various social organization of representative order.

      On the 21 st of May, 1857, was solemnized the marriage of Major McDowell to Miss Anne Clay, who was born in the city of Lexington, this state, and who is a daughter of Lieutenant Colonel Henry Clay, the third son of the illustrious statesman, Hon. Henry Clay. Colonel Clay was graduated with high honors in the United States Military Academy at West Point, as a member of the class of 1830, and later he studied law and was admitted to the Kentucky bar. He engaged in the practice of his profession in Louisville, and upon the outbreak of the war with Mexico he was commissioned lieutenant colonel of a Kentucky regiment, with which he proceeded to the front and in command of which he continued until the battle of Buena Vista, in which he met his death. He was born on the 10th of April, 1811. In 1832 Colonel Clay married Miss Julia Prather, daughter of Thomas and Matilda (Fountain) Prather, of Louisville, and she preceded him to the life eternal. Of the three children who survived the devoted mother Mrs. McDowell is now the only one living. Henry, the elder of the two sons, served as captain in the Union army during the Civil war, and the younger son, Thomas Julian, was a captain in the Confederate service, in which he continued until his death. Mrs. McDowell still remains at "Ashland," the old family estate of her distinguished grandfather, Henry Clay, and one of the finest in the entire state of Kentucky. Its material attractions are on a parity with its great historic interest and the place is endeared to Mrs. McDowell by the gracious memories and associations of the past.

      In conclusion of this brief memoir is entered an eptimoized record concerning the children of Major and Mrs. McDowell: Nanette is the wife of Dr. Thomas S. Bullock, a representative physician and surgeon of Lexington, Kentucky, and they have one son, Henry McDowell Bullock. Henry Clay McDowell. Jr., was a distinguished member of the bar of the state of Virginia, and resides in the city of Lvnchburg. Campbell county, where he is now serving on the bench of the United States district court; he married Miss Elsie Clay and they have no children. William A. McDowell is one of the influential citizens of Lexington, Kentucky and, as previously stated, is general manager of the Lexington & Eastern Railroad. He married Miss Alice Dudley and they have one son. William C. Thomas Clay McDowell, the fourth of the children of Major McDowell, resides in Lexington and is one of the prominent and successful breeders of thoroughbred horses in this section of the state. He married Miss Mary Goodloe, and they have two children, Anne Clay and Goodloe. Julia P., the fifth child, is the wife of William Brock of Lexington, Kentucky, and they have two sons, William and Clay. Madeleine is the wife of Desha Breckinridge, of Lexington. Ballard, the youngest of the children, died at the age of four years.

      Source: A history of Kentucky and Kentuckians:
      the leaders and representative men in commerce, industry and modern activities, Volume 3
      pp. 1598-1601

  • Sources 
    1. [S94] Botetourt County, Virginia 1770-1897, Nicholas Russell Murray, (Hunting for Bears, Inc.), 33 (Reliability: 3).


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