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Fayette County, Iowa
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
Edwin D. Ash
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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