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Fayette County, Iowa  

 Biography Directory


Portrait & Biographical Album of Fayette County Iowa

Containing Full Page Portraits and Biographical Sketches of

Prominent and Representative Citizens of the County

Lake City Publishing Co., Chicago

March 1891


~Page 573~



Edwin D. Ash


Edwin D. Ash

Edwin D. Ash, who resides on section 5, Westfield Township, has by the exercise of industry, enterprise and good management during his long lifetime acquired a competence which now enables him to lay aside business cares and live a retired life, enjoying a well-earned rest. As he is widely known his sketch will be of interest to many of our readers. The story of his life is as follows: He was born in Maryland, March 17, 1822, and is of German descent, the family having been founded in this country by his paternal grandfather who, accompanied by two brothers, left his home in the Fatherland and crossed the Atlantic to Pennsylvania where he engaged in farming during the remainder of his life. The father of our subject, John Ash, was born in the Keystone State about 1779 and remained upon the farm until eighteen years of age when he was bound out to a millwright who took him to Virginia. He there married Martha Ashton, a native of that state. With five children there born unto them they started over the mountains for Ohio. One child was taken sick during their journey in Maryland which necessitated their making a halt, and securing employment in a mill Mr. Ash and his family remained in that State for about twelve years. It was during this time that our subject was born. In 1836 we find them living upon a new farm in Tippecanoe County, Ind., which Mr. Ash developed from the raw prairie. Just prior to their removal his wife passed away in Alleghany County, Md. His death occurred in Indiana. He was a member of the United Brethren Church and in politics a strong Whig. Social, educational and moral interests received his support and the poor and needy found in him a warm friend who was ever ready to extend a helping hand to them in their distress.

Edwin was a lad of fifteen years at the time the family removed to Indiana. The country was wild and the family lived in true pioneer style. A glance into the schoolroom will give us an idea of the unsettled condition of the State at that time. We see a log cabin, one entire end of which is occupied by an immense fireplace and the smoke finds egress through a mud and stick chimney. The door is fastened by pins and the latch string hangs out. Upon large wooden pins are placed slabs and upon the benches thus formed the children con the three R's. A bucket in one corner of the room with a gourd by its side shows where the scholars refresh themselves during the long and often wearisome day. In such a building Mr. Ash acquired his education. Upon his father's farm he bore his share in the work until twenty-two years of age, when he started out in life for himself and as a helpmate on life's journey chose Miss Matilda Cave who was born in Kentucky, February 16, 1830, and accompanied her parents to Indiana during childhood. For five years he engaged in farming on the old homestead where their two eldest children were born.


In 1849 Mr. Ash removed with his family to Richland County, Wis. Not a township in the county had at that time been organized, and again he was surrounded by the wild scenes of frontier life. He opened up a new farm, operating it for six years and then came to Fayette County, Iowa, in 1855 making the journey by team as the railroad had not yet been built. In the month of November he settled upon his present farm, then comprising one hundred and fifty acres, only twenty-seven of which had been broken. It was named by him Spring Valley and the schoolhouse near his farm is known by that name. A small house had been built and a ladder led to the second story, which was little more than a loft. When living in Wisconsin he owned the largest residence in the county. It had been built for dancing purposes, both floorings being used as a ballroom at the same time. After Mr. Ash became owner, two churches, the Methodist and United Brethren, held services under its hospitable roof during the winter season, while in the summer they met in the barn until they became able to erect churches. His new home was very different, but year by year saw added improvements and his farm of two hundred and ninety-one acres is now one of the best in the county and is furnished with all modern accessories. For many years the owner gave himself up entirely to general farming and stock-raising but is now living a retired life, his land being operated by his sons.


Mr. and Mrs. Ash are the parents of the following children: Mrs. Amanthus Bunton, of Union Township; Jane, wife of G. B. Finch a leading farmer now living a retired life in Fayette; LaFayette, who was born in Wisconsin, married Miss Lizzie Rosier and is now working in the Juneau gold mines of Alaska; Martha, wife of James Askey, of Pierre County, Neb.; Frances, wife of H. K. Miller, a real-estate dealer of Chicago; Charley who married Miss Tacie Shaffer and is a resident farmer of this county, and Eddie who completes the family. He resides upon the farm on which he was born. After attending the public schools he was a student in the Upper Iowa University of Fayette, the Western College and Ainsworth's Academy in West Union. On the 22d of February, 1887, he married Miss Elzoriah Elsberry and they have a daughter, Eva, born December 10, 1889.


Mrs. Ash, the mother of the family, died November 14, 1887. Like her husband she was long a member of the United Brethren Church and lived a consistent Christian life. For a half century Mr. Ash has been a subscriber of the Religious Telescope, the organ of his church, having taken it when he was eighteen miles from a post-office and had to pay fifty cents to cross the ferry to get it. He has held all the offices in his church and has been a member of the Board of Western College. He cast his first presidential vote for Henry Clay and on the dissolution of the Whig party became a Republican.


He has led a useful life winning the confidence and regard of all with whom he has come in contact, and his friends in Fayette County are many.




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