First blog post

Welcome to my blog!  I am a beginning blogger so bear with me!

I plan to share some of the more interesting finds in my genealogy research.  All my research and work does no good sitting in my file cabinets and in piles on my desk just keeping it to myself!  This way, you too, can learn our family’s history along with me!  I plan to share something new each week for 52 weeks about 52 ancestors!  This site is mainly for sharing with my children and grandchildren and other family members but who knows – maybe we will find new cousins or other relatives!

This week I was working on the family history of Columbus Perry Ashlin (1830-1902) and Mary Ann James (1838-1921).  So who are they?  Well their daughter was Susanna Virginia Ashlin who married George Lyons and their son was Clarence Lyons.  Now Clarence was the father of LaFon Lyons and you know who he was!  So Columbus is my 2nd great-grandfather or “2gg”!    Well Columbus and Mary Ann were born in Sugar Grove, Smyth County Virginia near the Blue Ridge Mountains of western VA.

His parents, Chesley (1796-1876) and Phoebe Byrd James Ashlin (1797-1877) were slave owners on a large plantation.  As a matter of fact, in 1860, Chesley owned 16 slaves and the value of his real estate was $3000 which would be about $80,000 today.  But, get this, the value of his personal estate which includes the value of slaves in 1860 was $11,000 which would be close to $400,000 today!  After the Civil War and the slaved were freed this dropped to $550 which was about $9000 today.  The war had to have been devastating to their way of life – truly life changing!

Mary Ann James Ashlin’s parents had some problems too.  Her father, Thompson James died at age 40 in 1838 of “consumption”, the old term for tuberculosis.  This left his wife Susannah Porter James as a single parent and not only did she lose her husband that year in December, she also had a baby girl in January that died in September, just 3 months before her husband!

Here’s a historical note:  in the wee hours of August 21, 1831, Nat Turner and a small army of fellow slaves rose up against their owners in the bloodiest slave rebellion in U.S. history.  Columbus was only 1-year-old but his older sister, Lucy Ann, lived in Southampton County where there were forces of slaves bent on killing slave owners and families.  It must have been a frightening time for the Ashlins!

I did find a grave marker for Lucy Ann Ashlin Grosclose and the memorial states she “died of tuberculosis and a broken heart due to John’s drinking.”

Columbus was 30 when the Civil War broke out.  He was a “citizen supporter” of the Confederacy.  The Confederate States Nitre Service paid him $27.50  in 1862 “For 11 days service of two horse teams” for “hauling Nitre Earth”   Nitre Earth was used in making explosives to blow up bridges, etc.  Columbus’ brother, James Hartwell Ashlin was a private in the Confederate Army, 48th regiment, Virginia Infantry, Co. D.   His other brother, German Baker Ashlin served in Co A, 8th Virginia Cavalry.   German’s pension application gives details:  he was wounded in a charge on Sheridan’s Cavalry 3 miles east of Woodstock, Virginia on the 8th day of October, 1864.  He was disabled by “a bullet wound entering his right arm immediately below the shoulder joint and passing out near to spine on right side of spinal column which now has impaired the use of the arm to the extent that I am unable to grasp and use any implements…and also the lung is damaged to the extent that I am not able to exercise freely…”    There is evidence that German also sold corn and hay to the Confederates for the horses.  German never married and died suddenly, cause unknown in 1915 in St Clair, Smyth Co. VA.

Columbus named one son after his brother.  William German Ashlin  was born in 1862.  He is notable because he provided yet another link to the Lyons family by marrying Willie Anna Lyons, sister of George Lyons ( my great-grandfather).  George Lyons married my great-grandmother, Susanna Virginia Ashlin.  So a brother and sister of the Ashlins married a brother and sister of the Lyons’!

Let’s look at some of the interesting children of Willie Anna and William German Ashlin (They later lived in West Virginia).    Floyd Campbell Ashlin served time in the Moundsville, West Virginia, State Penitentiary in 1930.  Garland Ashlin was a coal miner.  Lewis Evert Ashlin was a Veteran of WWI and was gassed in war and was in ill-health since his discharge and died of TB at age 54 leaving 4 sons.  Beryl Dewey Ashlin died of “cerebral laceration and hemorrhage due to gunshot wound at age 47.  His occupation at the time was taxi driver.  Now there has to be a story there and I will have to try to investigate!

Columbus and Mary Ann Ashlin had one son that died at 11 months and 2 more children, a son and a daughter that died in infancy.

Here’s a twist.  Columbus had a son in 1875 named Samuel Mitchell Ashlin (Sammy).  Sammy is another link to the Lyons because his son, Robert C Ashlin, married and later divorced Marion Norman.  Marion later married my father’s brother, William (my uncle Bill), Robert’s first cousin!  Here is another twist.  When Robert and Marion were married, they were the witnesses at the marriage of my Uncle Bill and his first wife, Dorothy Bates!  Sammy moved his family to lower Michigan from Virginia when my dad’s family moved to Detroit in about 1923 to get work in the Auto industry.

Columbus’s last son was Waddy Thompson Ashlin who was a twin to Wesley.  Wesley died and Waddy survived.  Waddy’s first wife died leaving 2 children and the oldest son, Chesley Harry Ashlin burned to death in a house fire in Goodwill, WV at age 54.   Waddy had 6 more children with his second wife.

Columbus and Mary Ann had 11 known children during their marriage with 7 surviving and 4 dying young.  He died at age 71 in 1902 and Mary Ann died in 1921 at age 83.  They are buried in the Ashlin-Wilkinson Cemetery in Sugar Grove, Virginia.  Columbus’ parents, Chesley and Phoebe are also buried there.

I have 10 pages written on the Ashlin and Shepherd family history and will share more tidbits in my  next post.




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