A series of articles written by :
Wilbert "Bucky" McCoy for :
( Ashley, Illinois )
DuQuoin, IL 62832
A History of Ashley, Illinois
Some people may wonder about Ashley and how the city originated.
You must realize the first settlers in Ashley came in 1825, that is over
130 years ago! Ashley have grown and shrunk over those years, businesses
have come and gone. Ashley once had a thriving community with many businesses.
James Woodrome and sons were the first settlers in this precinct. It was known as
the "Woodrome Settlement." More people settled prior to 1828 to include James
Veach, William Green, Stephen McKenzie, and John Steele.
The town of Ashley was laid out on the 10th of May, 1854, by a county surveyor named Darius Greenup. The original proprietor was Dr. J.M. Lucas and was recorded on May 27th, 1854. Dr. Lucas had actually opened a drug store before Ashley was legally laid out as a town.
One of the first businesses in Ashley opened in 1854, an individual named Truman Gilbert sold goods. In 1855 a general store opened and was run by a man named E. Mansfield. Then there were a few other general stores opened by T.H. Hobbs and Elias Gilbert in 1855.
Mills were numerous in 1854, the first owned and ran by P.M. and E. McNail, a saw mill, later a grist mill was opened and then a flour mill was attached. In 1866, Coffey, Brown, and Hanson opened a large flour mill. In 1873 another flour mill was erected and in connection with it was a fruit drying section, owned by L. Post.
Of course Ashley had a blacksmith shop before it became a town, operated by A.M. Cindiff in 1850.
The first church built in 1856 by the Methodists.
Ashley had a boarding house kept by L. B. Morrow in 1855. The first regular hotel opened in 1856 by an individual anmed W.J. Stevenson.
The first newspaper in Ashley was established in 1857 by Hosmer & Paul. Next came "The Experiment" and then the Ashley Herald.
Many businesses were thriving at this time. Ashley had a custom clothing store,
a boot and shoe store. There were 3 drug and book stores, 3 family grocery stores,
a furniture, hardware, jewelry store, a meat market, plus an agricultural implement manufacturer.
Lumber mill, coopering business, restaurants, liberty and feed stables, and grain dealers.
Ashley had numerous physicians: Drs. W.C. Pace, D. Berry, E. Welch, G.W. Thompson, C. Van Orman, and C.L. Fancher.
Ashley even had a lawyer, A. J. Hosmer.
The first school house in town was a log house, the first teacher being Mr. Blair. Later, in 1866, a new brick school, two stories high was built. Edwin A. Hout was the first principal.
The first postmaster was James Lucas in 1854.
It does make a person wonder what the future holds for Ashley, say in 100 years? Farming will probably be a thing of the past so that will be gone. Maybe Ashley will become a ghost town, nobody will have no idea it once existed, only the ghosts will know and hold memories.
I am convinced that this article or series of articles are so important to the City of Ashley. I may have forgotten some
things and there could be a slight error here and there. I want to emphasize this series of things need be saved for posterity,
what ever that means. I tell about Businesses, Happenings and the names of some of people on the west side of the I.C.R.R.
This area was the section of Ashley was called happy Holler. These items are not in any semblance of order. I typed them as
they came to my mind. It is just about complete as I know them.
Ashley was divided into three sections. West of the I.C.R.R. South of the L & N R.R. and along route fifteen was named Gasoline Alley and north of the L & N was called Frog Prairie. Where these names came from is a mystery to me. The name probably doesn't appear on any maps, but by word of mouth. I am thinking this was a time when Ashley was doubled in population, if not more. I will add that Ashley had about eighteen hundred residents. This is before I can remember. Every one knew every one else, who had the brown dog, good or bad children and their names and if you did not know it was soon learned over the back yard fence, or this was the gossip area. Monday was gossip day because every woman it town hung out their laundry, some did not know how to hang out a laundry, but that is another lost art. I know many other things, but it would not be proper to print in this article. Do you know how to 'slop' hogs? Can you milk a cow? Could you do laundry on a rub board? Do clothing pressing with sad irons heated on the kitchen range? How many ladies worked out? Their work was house wife and it required all their time. There weren't enough hours in a day to do that. It was late to bed and early to rise. There was one important thing that happened. Daughters grew up taking a "Home Economics Course" first hand. The eldest girl shared in an on the job learning experience. A far cry from Washing machines and clothes dryers. Electric appliances had not been invented. No need for either because houses were not wired for electric. Later the Electric bill was a dollar a month for one carry around light bulb. Telephones? Thirty five cents a month. Houses rented for as little as five dollars per month. This eldest girl soon learned to manage a house.
I know very much about Ashley, and some items I can't put on paper. I will attempt to list at least some of the business ventures. Located on Wentworth and Washington Street was a cooper shop. This is just south of the L & N rail road. The rail road is Washington Street. This was a mini-factory making apple barrels flour barrels and baskets. Ashley area grew and shipped many apples. Main markets were St. Louis and Chicago. This facility was equipped with modern equipment for its time frame. That is the reason it was set up to make flour barrels. This will come to pass some time later. The Ashley Baptist is on the corner of Wentworth and Madison streets. East a few hundred feet was Clark Milling Company. This facility used barrels manufactured by the Cooperage. In between the Church and the Mill was a pond. Named the Mill pond. The Clark flour Mill used this water in its processing of grain. I might add here that the grain used in the mills were locally grown.
The Topping mill was on Greenup Street. Location was between Jackson and Madison Street. There was a large pond on location. It went by two names. The Topping mill Pond and the Ice pond. When the name "Dead of Winter" came around and the ice froze twelve inches thick, this was ice cutting time. A man was called Saucer eye Flanigan wielded the ice saw. It was cut in large squares and hauled to the north edge of the pond and stored in a large building well insulated with saw dust. A horse was used t o pull an elevator of sorts to the ice house opening. It was covered with a layer of saw dust after each layer of ice. When the heat of summer arrived ice was used to cool water and drinks. There were times a family would churn off a batch of Vanilla ice cream. This Green Mountain freezer would use long icicles coming from ice and snow as it melted from roof tops and froze again during he night..
The other Mill in Ashley was on Main Street. Exact spot was three hundred feet west of I. C. R. R. on the South side. It went by the name of McNail mill. All the mills made flour and meal and pig feed, cattle feed and chicken scratch . I mentioned before about Ashley being a thriving town and was self supporting. Voelkels and Schupp had a place
And each selling feed and they were on west end of Madison Street a few hundred feet east of the millinery shop. We had three, if not more apple drying establishments. This one was on Jackson Street and when going south on Wentworth Street you could drive onto its' premises, providing you did not turn at the end of the street. There was a second one on the north side of Washington street and Greenup. I don't think they made Cider or vinegar. That was left to Adam Haflei at the north end of West Rail Road Street. I was hoping Mary had pictures of this operation.
Another place that dried apples was located north on West Rail Road Street just off of Jefferson. Nettie told me about working there when she was a young girl. I am thinking she was paid twenty five cents per day.
The L & N depot must have come into existence shortly after eighteen seventy. That is the date the L & N came through Ashley.
At the Ashley Library is an old book telling about the St. Louis and South Eastern. If you are a rail road 'buff' come by the facility. and look at it. Section three of this story or history will be coming up. As previously mentioned this need be saved for future generations. Save the news paper or save the story in a scrap book. It answers many questions. I am thinking many will be overlooked. If you have pictures or suggestions see me at Bucky Historical Room at the Library or I'll be at the Baptist Church Sunday morning. Any way I need to see you.
The Teal hotel occupied a spot in the corner of West Rail Road Street and Washington street. Directly south of the L & N depot. It was really before my time, but many travelers changing trains occupied the rooms of this facility. It changed names on several occasions.
There was a livery stable on the corner of Jefferson and West Rail Road Street. I can't focus in on who was the owner. It may have been Newton Barrett. There was a demand for a horse and buggy. Drummers some time rented a conveyance to take them to stores to display their wares. These salesmen would get off at Ashley and service the small towns and country stores in the area. Harve Calloway had a large barn and it was located on the lower end of Wentworth Street. He had some nice riding horses, Spring wagons and a Surrey with a fringe on top.
Shanks garage was on the corner of Madison and West Rail Road Street. The owner was Charles Shanks. He sold Ford automobiles. He had enough room in the display window for three Model "T" Fords. His employees were "Rabbit Baldridge" and Theodore "Tater" Seidenstricker. In the thirties the facility succumbed to fire. It was a brick building and there are still traces of the building to this day. On this very spot was a café that serviced the Hoben Candy company or Hollywood.
The Pan American Candy Company started to be talked about in 1938. D. W. Dawkins with the help of a few other people determined Ashley needed this candy manufacturing place. It came into being and its' demise was in nineteen eighty two. Nearly four hundred lost their place of employment. Very likely as a reader of this item you had some kind of attachment to the work force. You, mother, grand pa, uncle, aunt or cousin had received a pay check from there.
There was a little store on West Main Street between Johnson and Greenup Street. Namely the "Golden Rule Grocery" and it was run in later years by R. R. Pate. Almost directly across the road was Waiers gas station and he had some few items of food stuffs. The main business district was east of the I. C. R. R tracks for Ashley Shoppers. Many can remember when Mrs. Arment ran a very excellent café. Very good food and the price was reasonable. This café was located across the road from Pitchfords Grocery Store. The facility was real small, but served the area very well. Roy always had bread and milk. Lunch meat and cheese. I would say in was a small convenience store. You could purchase pencils, note books and small school supplies a spool of thread and a packet of needles. I am thinking you could get lamp chimneys at this place. I don't remember if you could purchase a gallon of coal oil for lamps. Lamps were uses too use of a night. Every one did not have electric at this time. Some distance to the west on Main Street was Ross Browns Store. I can't say for sure what he sold. I have been by it many times when I was about eight years old.