This week’s prompt is about “Where there’s a will”. I have chosen to write about 2 people whose names start with “Will”. This is about my second great-uncle and second great aunt. I found the stories of their lives interesting and their children’s lives to be eye-opening with a story of incarceration and a story of murder! Read on!
William German Ashlin was the son and third child of Columbus Ashlin and Mary Ann James, my second great-grandparents whom I have wrote about in earlier blogs. He was also a brother to Susanna Virginia Ashlin, my great-grandmother. Susanna married George Edward Lyons and William married Willie Anna Lyons, George’s sister. A bit confusing, but a brother and sister of the Ashlin family married a brother and sister of the Lyons family. Willie Anna Lyons was my second great-aunt through bloodline and became my second great-aunt again through marriage!
Willie Anna and George Lyons were children of Joseph Cloud Lyons of Stokes County, North Carolina and Mary Lavallet Dudley of the Virginia Dudley line. Joseph Cloud Lyons was a Civil War veteran of the Confederacy. William German Ashlin was named after his uncle, Columbus’ brother, German Baker Ashlin, who was also a veteran Confederate soldier. There are some stories of their lives to be shared another time.
William was born on 13th of March in 1862 in Smyth County, Virginia. He was one of 11 known children. Willie Anna was born the first of February in 1868 in Rural Retreat, Wythe County, Virginia and also came from a large family of 14 children.
William German Ashlin and Willie Anna Lyons were married in 1885 when William was 23 and Willie was 17 in Smyth County, Virginia. In their marriage, they reared 11 children. They were farmers in the Sugar Grove, Smyth County area near the Blue Ridge Mountains and, at one time, they had a farm on Mountain Road in St. Clair. After 1940, they moved the family to Bluefield in Mercer County, West Virginia where they bought another farm. I was pleased to find a newspaper clipping of their 50th wedding celebration at Newspapers.com. As the clipping is hard to read, I transcribed it below.
COUPLE CELEBRATES GOLDEN WEDDING (3 Mar 1935)
Relatives from Bluefield (Mercer county, West Virginia) and vicinity attended the golden wedding anniversary Monday of Mr. and Mrs. William G Ashlin, which took place at the country home of Mr. and Mrs. Ashlin in Sugar Grove, Smythe county, Virginia. Mr. and Mrs. Ashlin are the parents of Mrs. H. V. Gilliam, of Jenkins. The Ashlin’s are prominent people, with a large family connection.
They have lived in Sugar Grove since their marriage a half century ago, reared eleven children and have several grandchildren, all of whom were present for the anniversary. Mrs. Ashlin before her marriage was Miss Willie Lyons. She is a sister of T. H. Lyons (Thomas Houston Lyons), of Bluefield, well-known locomotive engineer on the Norfolk and Western.
A feature of the affair was the exhibit of a number of family relics that have been in the Ashlin family for many years. An ancient clock , an old violin, two law books more than one hundred years old, and a patent for the land they own, in parchment, were shown. They also own a pair of scales used in weighing money long before the present agitation of the currency was dreamed. The scales were made in England and were given Mr. Ashlin by his great-grandmother years ago. A great feast was served the guests at the wedding anniversary and all present enjoyed the event very much.
The mention of the relics is quite interesting. It makes one wonder what happened to them! I did read of Ashlin Family Bible that was quite old and its whereabouts are also a mystery! Willie Anna died of carcinoma on 26 September 1945 at age 77 and William died of congestive heart failure the next year, 9 December 1946, at age 84. They were survived by 50 grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren! My grandfather, Clarence Lyons was a pallbearer at William’s funeral. William and Willie are buried in the Walnut Grove Cemetery in Bluefield, West Virginia.
Now some of the research on their children – a few surprises for sure!
- Floyd Campbell Ashlin was born 8 Jan 1886 and died in 1962. He married Lelia Belle McLain in Tennessee in 1915 and had 2 daughters. In 1930, he was incarcerated in the West Virginia Penitentiary in Moundsville City, WV. I believe it was for armed robbery but I need to research more. By 1940, he was out and working in road construction. He had a 6th grade education and Lelia had no schooling (not unusual at this period in time). Around 1946, he lived in Princeton, Virginia.
2. Olive “Ollie” Marie Ashlin was born 10 May 1888 and died in Feb 1980 in Bluefield WV. Ollie was married 3 times. Her first husband in 1901, Elmer Snyder, died young and she had one son with him and then she married Harvey Vernon Gilliam in 1919 and had several children. Lastly, she married James Thompson Ashbury in 1950. She lived most of her life in Sugar Grove, Virginia.
3. Garland D Ashlin was born 19 Dec 1890 and died 10 Aug 1944 at age 53 of pulmonary tuberculosis in Marion, Smyth, Virginia. He was a coal miner and married Florence Sexton Brooks.
4. Lewis Evert (Everette) Ashlin was born 15 Feb 1893 and was a veteran of WWI. He went to electrical school and worked as an electrician in a coal mine He married Celia E Byrd in 1920 in Mercer Co. WV. Lewis died in 1946 of pulmonary tuberculosis also and was buried in the Round Mountain Baptist Church Cemetery in Hays, North Carolina. Seems to be a plausible connection with coal mining and tuberculosis!
5. Bessie Lane Ashlin was born 16 Nov 1894 and died in 1946. She was married to Worth Carrico and had 2 or 3 children.
6. Cora Annis Ashlin was born 21 Mar 1897 and died 19 May 1971 of heart disease in Richmond, Virginia. She had married Adam Leontuk in Mercer WV and had four children.
7. Beryl Dewey Ashlin was born 9 May 1900. He went by “Dewey” and married Margaret Lee Grogan and had 8 children. Dewey died at age 47 in 1947 from “Cerebral laceration and hemorrhage due to gunshot wound.” (Certificate of Death) He lived in Yards, Virginia and was found dead in his own taxicab at Coopers, West Virginia in what officers termed the result of a triangle love affair. His car was found in a hollow about 100 yards of the main highway and he had been shot through the head by a German Luger pistol, which with the empty cartridge, was found in the taxicab. The bullet entered his head and exited through the left forehead. There are several newspaper articles on the death. Basically, Dewey was on his way to buy out his brother Gilbert’s share in the taxicab business they owned jointly. Dewey also had his own taxicab business operating out of Pocahontas, Virginia. Evidently he stopped at a girl’s house to ask her for a date but she refused and told him to go back to his wife and children. She said she then heard a gunshot when walking back to her house. However, the girl, Gladys Carter, 19, a coal miners daughter, was later held on a murder charge for the fatal shooting of Dewey. The outcome of the arrest or conviction has not yet been found.
8. Walter Houston Ashlin was born 16 Aug 1901 and died 15 Sep 1988 in Mountain Grove, Wright, Missouri. He moved to Missouri after 1946.
9. John Marvin Ashlin was born in 1904 and married Katherine Irvin. They had 3 children and in 1930, he worked as a fireman on a steam railroad. He lived in Yards, Virginia.
10. Samuel Theodore “Teddy” Ashlin was born 16 Sep 1907 and around 1946, he lived in Rockford, Illinois. He died 1976 in Ely City, Pine Nevada. He married Ruth Rainey.
11. William Gilbert Ashlin was born on 1 Apr 1910 and died 02 Jul 1980 in Mountain Grove, Wright, Missouri. He married Lorraine Josephine Sauer. He was just called Gilbert or Bert and was the one who owned the taxicab company with his brother Dewey. He must had later moved to Missouri near his brother Walter.
Death Certificates above
Obituary from “The Bluefield Daily Telegraph,” Bluefield, West Virginia, William German Ashlin, December 10, 1946, p. 2.
“The Bluefield Daily Telegraph”, Bluefield WV, March 3, 1935, p. 4. (Anniversary Story)
“The Bluefield Daily Telegraph,” Bluefield WV, December 4, 1947, p. 1 & December 12, 1947, p. 12 (Death of Dewey Ashlin)
Hockett, Thomas Jack & Hunt, Shelia Steele, 1851-1891 Marriages and 1860 Census, Smyth County, Virginia, Pub. Hockett & Hunt, 1999, p. 6.
FHL microfilms 2,046,967, 1,983,938 and 33,991
Find a Grave Index and West Virginia Death index, database on-line, Ancestry.com.