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Hudson-Mohawk Genealogical and Family Memoirs:
Ashton

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[This information is from Vol. IV, pp. 1466-1468 of Hudson-Mohawk Genealogical and Family Memoirs, edited by Cuyler Reynolds (New York: Lewis Historical Publishing Company, 1911). It is in the Reference collection of the Schenectady County Public Library at R 929.1 R45. Some of the formatting of the original, especially in lists of descendants, may have been altered slightly for ease of reading.]

The Ashtons of Saratoga, New York, descend from Major James Ashton, born in Ireland about the year 1728. His wife Elizabeth was also of Irish birth and parentage. James had a brother, Thomas Ashton, who with wife, Elizabeth, was the first of the Ashtons to settle in Washington county, New York. Thomas Ashton came to America in 1769 and settled in what is now White Creek, Washington county. He cleared a farm from the wilderness and became a founder and a leader of the Methodist church. Both Thomas and Elizabeth were noted for their devoted piety and exerted a wide influence for good, adding greatly to the strength and usefulness of their church in Washington county. They died without issue. In 1772 James Ashton, wife Elizabeth, and children, Rebecca, John, Margaret, with a relative, Thomas Gee Ashton, then seventeen years, left Ireland and came to the colonies and settled at Ash Grove, now in the town of White Creek, Washington county, New York, where he purchased land adjoining his brother, Thomas Ashton, who had preceeded him by three years. No doubt he was influenced by his brother in making settlement. He became locally prominent in the town, was active in town and church and warmly espoused the cause of the colonies in their struggle for independence. It is related that he was a member of the "Vigilance Committee" that kept watch over the doings of the Tories in their locality and that he was the recognized leader, dealing at times quite harshly with those who were disposed to side with the King. Needing some information that he thought a Tory neighbor could but would not give him, James threatened to hang him if he did not reveal the needed facts. The Tory was stubborn and neither gave the desired information nor did he hang, but escaped to the British camp at Stillwater. Soon after James Ashton was captured by the Indians who brought him to the British camp in a badly battered condition. His Tory neighbor saw him and successfully interceded with General Burgoyne to have him kindly treated. This "heaping of coals of fire" upon his head caused the sturdy patriot to have a more kindly feeling for Tories ever afterward. During the progress of the battle of Saratoga he was confined in a building near by, but soon after the retreat of the British he was released and returned home. His service to the revolutionary cause must have been valuable, as on April 4, 1778, Governor Clinton issued him a major's commission: "We reposing especial trust and confidence as well in your patriotism, conduct and loyalty as in your valor and readiness to do us good and faithful service." "With the advice and consent of our said Council of Appointment at Poughkeepsie, do appoint and constitute you the said James Ashton, First Major of the Regiment of Militia in the county of Albany, whereof Lewis Van Woert, esquire, is Colonel." Passed the secretary's office, July 4, 1778, by his excellency's command. Abraham B. Banker, secretary. He probably held a lower rank in the volunteer army, although there is no record of rank or service in battle. He was a member of the Associate Reformed church, as was his wife, two daughters and their husbands. The meeting house was on the "Old Turnpike," near the "Old Graveyard." Major Ashton died October 9, 1802, in his seventy-third year.

His wife, Elizabeth Ashton, died November 1, 1809, in her eighty-first year. Children:

  1. Rebekah, born in Ireland about 1760, died January 6, 1804; married her cousin, George Barbar (second wife); he died June 14, 1832, in his seventy-ninth year; they left numerous descendants;
  2. John, of whom further;
  3. Margaret, born in Ireland about 1765, died June 14, 1841, aged seventy-six years; married William Van Kirk, from New Jersey, born of Dutch parents; he died September 7, 1836, aged seventy-five years.

Thomas Gee Ashton, the relative who came from Ireland with Major Ashton, married Amity Pierce, of that vicinity. He died August 2, 1840, in his eighty-eighth year. She died August 18, 1830, in her sixty-seventh year. They have many descendants. He served in the war of the revolution and was a pensioner. Thomas Gee Ashton, private in the revolutionary war, received "Twenty-one Dollars and forty-four cents per annum during his natural life, commencing on the fourth of March, 1831." His revolutionary claim is signed, "Lewis Cass," secretary of war.

(II) John, only son of Major James and Elizabeth Ashton, was born in Ireland, July 8, 1763, died December 8, 1837, on his farm in the town of White Creek, Washington county, New York. He was nine years of age when his parents came to America. His after life was spent in agriculture, on the White Creek farm, first his father's, later his own by inheritance, which contained three hundred acres. When a boy he witnessed the after scenes of the battle of Saratoga, saw the dead buried and said, "They were scattered like shocks of wheat in the harvest field." He was prosperous, benevolent and charitable, giving one-tenth of all his crops to the worthy poor of his neighborhood. Of him it was written, "He was a man of good judgment and sound mind, and for honesty and sincerity had no superior." He was a member, with his wife and family, of the Associate Reformed church and worshipped at the meeting house in Coila. He married Lydia Morford, born Monmouth county, New Jersey, died February 11, 1841, in her eightieth year. Children: James, John, William, Isaac, Thomas, Benjamin, Elizabeth, Rebecca and Sarah. There are many descendants of John Ashton.

(III) Thomas, son of John and Lydia (Morford) Ashton, was born in the town of White Creek, Washington county, New York, in 1794, died in the town of Argyle, same county, March 21, 1869. He was a farmer all his life, which was lived in Washington county, and left an honored name behind him. He married Elizabeth Stewart, born 1793, died October 9, 1869. They had seven children.

(IV) David B., sixth child of Thomas and Elizabeth (Stewart) Ashton, was born in Argyle, Washington county, December 9, 1824, died at Saratoga Springs, New York, May 23, 1891. He was well educated in local schools and.learned the trade of carriage maker. He established in business in his native town and carried on the manufacture of wagons and carriages there for many years, until his retirement from active life several years before his death. He was a member of the Presbyterian church, and a Republican in politics. He married, January 29, 1852, Elizabeth Stewart, born September 12, 1833, at Sterling, New York, daughter of George and Eva (Kilmer) Stewart. Children: Frances, Emma, Lydia Eva, William A., George F., Edward B., of whom further.

(V) Edward B., son of David B. and Elizabeth (Stewart) Ashton, was born in Argyle, Washington county, New York, August 7, 1871. He was educated at Fort Edward Collegiate Institute and Haley's Business College, Fort Edward, New York. He early entered active business life and was for a few years engaged in the grocery business in Fort Edward, later locating at Saratoga Springs. He established there in the grain trade and founded the business which he now conducts under the firm name of the Saratoga Milling & Grain Company, of which he is treasurer. He has acquired other important interests in Saratoga and vicinity. In 1900 he engaged in the coal trade and in 1904 organized the Saratoga Coal Company, which is a consolidation of the coal companies of Saratoga. He is actively interested in the management of the company, holding the offices of president and treasurer. In 1906 he organized the Ballston Coal Company, of Ballston Spa, New York, of which he is treasurer. In that year he acquired the ownership of the Saratoga Baggage & Express Company, of which he is treasurer. He is a member of the executive board of the Eastern and Central New York Retail Coal Merchants Association and is also interested in the coal trade at Albany, New York, being secretary of the New York & New England Coal Company of that city. He is a prominent member of the Masonic order, holding all degrees of lodge, council, chapter and commandery in the York Rite and is a thirty-second degree Mason, member of Oriental Temple, A. A. O. N. M. S. He is also affiliated with the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, Royal Arcanum, Modern Woodmen, and the Independent Order of Foresters. His club is the Saratoga. He married, September, 1895, Harriet Lohnas, of Saratoga, daughter of D. L. Lohnas. Child,

  1. Lohnas, born May 7, 1897.

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