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Hiram Powers, a renowned American sculptor, took his family to Florence to pursue his art in 1837. Until his death in 1873, Hiram remained in Florence where he was buried in the Protestant Cemetery. Greek Slave (1844), perhaps the most internationally famous statue done by an American, was featured in London's Crystal Palace Exhibition in 1851, purchased by the Smithsonian American Art Museum, and now rests in the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. Family squabbles and lawsuits arose in 1880 over the rights to Hiram Powers' works and name. Ellen married at this time to help ensure some financial support for Nan and herself. The Villa Powers in Florence passed to the two sisters upon their mother's death in 1894. Eventually finding the property too costly to maintain, they elected to return to the United States around 1914. Apparently a friend, charged with finding an inexpensive place to live for the sisters, knew James McGuire, Jr. of Mocksville. They decided to move to Mocksville, arriving in the summer of 1914. Ellen was a widow by this time, with a grown son and daughter.

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