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Monday, 29 September 2008 00:44


Porter Clay House

1019 West State Street
Only the northeast wing of the original structure remains of the Clay house. Built in 1834, it sat on six acres of land, the entire city block! The home was owned by Porter Clay, (brother of Henry Clay) his wife, and stepson, John J. Hardin. Many famous people visited this home, including Henry Clay and Daniel Webster. The house was later the home of Dr. William D. Sanders, D.D., professor at IC and founder of the Young Ladies Athenaeum in 1864.

The Clay family, who moved from Kentucky to Jacksonville, brought their slaves with them ignoring the fact that Illinois had outlawed the ownership of slaves. The Clay house is located at 1019 West State Street. Built in 1834, this was the home of Porter and Elizabeth Clay. Porter was the brother of Henry Clay who was the speaker of the House of Representatives. Serving them, the Clays had a slave boy and girl named Robert and Emily Logan who lived with them for two years. In 1838 when the children discovered they were to be sold, they escaped to the Negro part of town, then called Africa, and stayed with colored friends. A search party caught Robert, and with pistols raised to his head, they dragged him, bleeding and helpless, to the Clay's house where he was hustled into a waiting carriage and driven rapidly to Naples. There, Robert was put on a boat bound for St. Louis, and never heard from again. Emily was immediately hidden and papers were filed to petition for her freedom. After a two-year legal struggle, the Supreme Court awarded her freedom. Emily became a member of the First Congregational Church and remained in Jacksonville.

One of many interesting hiding places in the home.

This home at 1019 State Street was built around 1834 and sat on 6 acres of land. The home was owned by Elizabeth Hardin Clay who had married Porter Clay, a half-brother of Henry Clay. Mrs. Clay came from Kentucky with two slaves, Emily and Robert Logan, brother and sister, to whom she had promised freedom if they worked for her for four years. After living awhile in Jacksonville, the young people learned that Illinois was not a slave state so they should be free. Fearing that Mrs. Clay intended to send them back to Kentucky to be sold, they fled the home and sought refuge among friends. Robert was recaptured and sent by river back into slavery. Emily's story continues when you visit the Congregational Church.

Last Updated on Friday, 27 April 2012 13:24