THE LIFE STORY OF EDWARD ASHTON
George S. Ashton
and added to
by Florence A.R. Saxton
Edward Ashton born in Caersws, Parish of Llangwnog, Montgomeryshire, Wales, August 22nd, 1821, came to America in 1850 and settled in Salt Lake City, Utah, Died 7 Feb. 1904.
His father, Richard Ashton, was born in Caersws, Parish of Llanwnog, Montgomeryshire, Wales, in the year 1796, died in 1827.
His mother, Elizabeth Savage, was born in Caersws, Parish of Llanwnog, Wales in the year 1798, Died in Wales.
His eldest brother, Richard Ashton, was born in Caersws, parish of Llanwnog, Wales in the year 1818. Emigrated to America about the year 1838, settled in Waterbury, State of Conn. Died there 29 July, 1893.
His sister, Jane Ashton was born in Caersws, parish of Llanwnog, Montgomeryshire, Wales, 27 Sept. 1823. Married David Humphreys and came to America in the year 1875, settled in Utica, New York. Died there 31 Dec. 1903.
About his father's death in 1827, his mother married a man by the name of Kinsey in about 1832. (He does not state in his history how many children were born after that date but does mention his half-brother, Evan Kinsey, born in Caersws, Parish of Llangwnog, in 1842- he lived in Wales and died in Wales in 1861. He states that this half-brother was very dear to him and he had more pleasure with him than his own brother.)
The following is a copy of the early life of Edward Ashton as written by himself:
"A brief sketch of my early life and happenings as far back as I do remember. We were very poor indeed. I was working in a woolen factory when I was 8 years old and was there until I was 10 years old when I had an accident. My right hand was caught in the engine and the cards nearly tore it off. This crippled me for a long time that I could not do much work. We were working from 6 oÕclock in the morning until 9 p.m. in the evening for 3 pence a day (6 cents American money) allowing us a little time for meals.
After I was recovered I went to Newtown to work to do chores around the house and stores of a nice family and to attend an old gentleman that was very helpless. I was there for two years for my board and clothing and they were very kind to me and wanted me to stay longer but my mother did want me to leave as her brother had died and had left a little money to apprentice us, my brother and me. Also to care for my little sister. My brother was apprenticed ten miles away and mother tried to apprentice me to learn a trade, and after trying all around she found a place for me to learn to be a shoemaker. I was bound for three years for my board and shoes. My mother paid 6 soverns also to the man for my apprenticeship, so I was bound solid for three years and I suffered a great deal of abuse and was beaten awful by him, he would strike me with anything nearest him as though he wanted to kill me and especially the last day the first thing in the morning when I had nothing but my pants and shirt on. I ran into the little shop in a corner where my bench was and he followed me and doubled me that I could not straighten up. He had in his right hand a stirrup and held me, then the stirrup was used and he gave it to me as hard as he could as though he wanted to punish me. He pulled my ears until they were bleeding and my nose was bleeding awfully and then he grabbed me by my legs and feet and lifted me up roughly and my head caught the bench and hurt me very bad and then he dropped me down as hard and as rough as he could. Then I managed to get myself out of his grasp and made my escape into the street and him following, but I beat in the race.
There was passing at the time, a man, and I was bleeding and besmeared with blood and he stopped me and asked what was the matter and he looked and saw him coming. He turned around and looked at him and he shook his fist at him and dared him to come any farther after me, so I went with him a couple of miles and went home. After this I had to go before the Magistrate to break the bonds that were made for my apprenticeship. There I was stripped and examined and there were thirteen stripes which had swollen very much. I was liberated. I will say also that I did not have half enough to eat and of the poorest kind and I had to do all kind of work but my trade. I was beaten and starved until I became stupid.
After this I went to work at one thing and another. Then I hired myself to a man so that I could learn my trade. My mother had married another man and this broke up our home, and I was determined to tramp and one thing and another worked in that although my mother was very much opposed to it and offered many inducements to stay but she had married and I did not like her to do so for she had labored hard when we were boys and we could not help her and now she had done the work a brother of her's had died and had left her a little means to give us boys a chance to learn a trade. So now there was a change. He took charge of affairs and that ended our home, and I told my mother that I would leave them and try to get work somewhere else and I told her also that I would not let her know where I was.
I went straight from North Wales to South Wales and I did not stop until I was nearly eighty miles from home, when I stopped and got work in the town of Tredegar, Monmouthshire, as a shoemaker amongst about a dozen of as mean and dishonest men as ever could be found. They stole and borrowed my clothes until I had no change to wear and they got me to make up with them and to go with them to the Taverns to drink and play cards which was the ruin of me, nearly. They would start playing cards in the workshop in the morning and keep it up all day and nobody would work so I got discouraged and gave way and partook of the same spirit and became a great card player and gambler and I turned reckless and careless about working as I could not keep any money. I lived there about a year and I looked at my condition and found that I was pursuing a bad course but how to get away from this crowd of men I did not know so I thought that I would leave the shop, but how to leave I could not make out. I was standing on the street when a man touched me on the shoulder and we had a little talk and he asked me if I would like to go out into the country and work for him about nine miles away. I said upon certain conditions I will and I went the next day. I worked for him for ten years and during that time I wandered around not settled in my mind about the future.
I would sometimes go to the Episcopal meetings and would join in their singing class and other times I would go to the Calvinites meetings and learn the Welsh language and again I joined the Choir and became a leader of the same for quite a while but never joined their church although kindly requested to do so, but I felt discouraged in their discourse.
At this time the L.D.S. Saints came along and after a good deal of delay I joined the church and was baptized on the 20th day of July, 1849 near Blackwood, Munmouthshire. I started for America in October, 1850 on the sail ship, Joseph Badger. Had a pleasant voyage of five weeks crossing the Atlantic Ocean and arrived in New Orleans. Stayed there for two days to change our boat for another one. We had made arrangement to go up to St. Louis but I had only 10 cents of money so a partner that I had become acquainted with paid my passage up there which I promised that I would refund as soon as I could get something to work at and I assure you that I did.
The Cholera made a raid on the boat and many were taken down and some died and I had all I could bear. It was a very weak and was quite helpless but then I found that they took care of me and they gave their bunk to me and they lay on the floor amongst the sick. William and Hannah Evans of Tredgar, Munmouthshire, they got me to a Boarding House and paid my board there and in two weeks I was working in a coal pit digging coal. I never was in a coal pit before. This was at Granery Goal Diggins about six miles from St. Louis.
I united with the branch there and acted as teacher while there for about a year. I was quite sick there during the summer of 1851 until about the middle of July when I started for Salt Lake to cross the plains and it took us all the summer remaining until Sept. 29, 1852 when we arrived in the valley of Salt Lake, where we were located in a tent in the 15th Ward. (Grandfather told how during the sickness mentioned above, he was so ill and they were told not to drink but he crawled out to a ditch and got a drink and began to get well. He also told how they thought he was going to die and even went so far as to make his coffin and show it to him. When they showed it to him he told them he was not going to die they could give it to some one else.)
My friend, with whom I got acquainted on board the ship, Joseph Badger, was with me. He was sick and had been so while crossing the plains, with Ague and Fever. We were quite desperate. He was unable to work and I worked and did the best I could to get something for us to eat, but it was very hard to get along until spring when we started in March trying to find something to do. We had 50 cents when we left the city and that we spent for our lodging that night. Then we had to beg for our support and it became very hard to get along for people could not find us anything to do because of the snow that was on the ground. More snow was coming so we had to beg our way back after going as far as Boxelder which is now Brigham City. There was no house on the flat, just one tent owned by David Evans, where we stayed for one night. The next day was Sunday so we did not travel nor beg that day but stayed on Willow Creek and attended the meeting in the afternoon in the old log house."
The following is an account given by Clifford Ashton of his visit to Edward Ashton's house town in Wales as recorded in a letter, 1931:
"I took a bus from Wrexham to Oswestry. The road winded and twisted through the Welsh hills. The rocks were now a grey sandstone, in contra-distinction from the red sandstone around Chester. The hills were growing in size, and above me on the left I could see good old pine trees, the first that I have seen since I left home. Below me I could see a winding river, that tolled lazily through the little valley, while all around it grazed sheep and fat cattle. Also I got my first glimpse of Welsh ponies. Shaggy and stoic little beats they were; hardy enough I should imagine to stand the most chill blasts of winter.
As we passed through Chirk, I saw on the hillside an old Castle, and my old faithful guide informed me that it had been erected in the time of Edward the 1st. It was beautifully situated in the hills, and was almost completely hidden by the shadows of the pines about it. I noticed that the architecture of this part of Wales was very hard and severe.
At each pub we passed on the road, I saw large crowds of England's great problem-unemployed men. And I looked those broad valleys, resting in idleness, as the private property of large land owners, who use them for nothing more than a fox hunt and wondered why the government couldn't employ that idle land as something to keep idle men busy.
I had another wait in Oswestry, so I walked over to the village market place, and listened to the people barter and sell in their native language. Of course I couldn't understand any of it, but it was intensely interesting nevertheless. I found a few interesting Welshmen, who were willing to talk, and so of course I did lots of questioning. And as I left Oswestry, I had already come to the conclusion that I liked Welshmen better than Englishmen. They seemed to be so much cleaner and intelligent.
From Oswestry, I went to Welshpool, and all along the way saw some of the most beautiful scenery I have ever seen in my life. It is in the very heart of the stock raising section of Wales. On all sides was red earth, against green grass and trees. It makes a beautiful combination. In the fields were grazing splendid specimen of hereford cattle, reminding me that I was near Hereford the home of the Breed.
My bus was filled with Welsh people, going home from their daily tasks talking about their experiences and neighbors, in Welsh. It all reminded me that I was now in the very middle of the Welsh district. I noticed that they called one another Owens, Morris, Jones, Evans, etc., and almost made me think that I was in Madad.
Grandfather wrote in his history the following:
On the 7th day of April, 1857, Consecrated my property to the Trustee in the Trust of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints at the recorders office Salt Lake City. Volunteered on the 10th day of November 1857 as a soldier and was appointed to be captain of ten to go to meet a hostile army that was determined to come in our city in a few days, but could not for God ruled and not James Buchanan (then Pres. Of the United States). Upon this campaign I suffered great hardships as want for food, early froze to death in Kilians canyon on the night of Nov. 10th, 1857. Returned home on Dec. 3, 1857.
In 1857 Brigham Young organized troups of soldiers to go to Echo Canyon which were termed minute men. They were supposed to be ready to meet JohnsonÕs Army on minutes notice. Edward Ashton was appointed Captain of ten and during the year of 1857 he was called to go to Echo Canyon and to build fortresses and trenches to deceive the Army and it was while working there they ran short on food supplies. William Lloyd was appointed commissary and all the soldiers were put on rations, so many pounds per day to each man, which only amounted to one griddle cake to meal, per man. Their griddle cakes were fried in candle grease (Edward stated that one day Thomas Howell, a large man and hearty eater, came to Brother Lloyd in the morning and said, "William I am almost starved, cook my three griddlecakes for breakfast and I will fast the balance of the day." And he did as requested. "He also told that before their supply was so low, the butter being scarce, one man who felt he could not eat without outer, kept moving a small pit of butter across his bread and from one slice to another to help him get along without it."
They built a breastwork or rock, ready to tumble down on the army, if they showed any tendency for trouble. The trenches and some of the rocks they placed are still there and can be seen from the state highway, today. Today it would have been termed Gorilla Warfare, but had the army came through it would have been a most effective defence.
On April 26th, he started his family to Spanish Fork, 60 miles south when he was detailed in the 15th Ward to guard it from enemies who were on their borders, Johnson's Army, and to watch them passing through the city which was nearly as silent as the grave. Brigham Young had instructed all families to move out of Salt Lake City, and go to the adjoining cities south. They went to the cities from Provo to Cedar City, and remained there until the army had come through the city, as by this time an agreement had been reached between the army and the Saints, namely, that they would only march through the city and make camp at some point at least 20 miles from the city. He also instructed the Bishops of each Ward that all homes should be vacated and the Bishops should appoint two men from each of the city Wards and their duties were to put kindling wood in the center of each house and that if the army should for any reason break their agreement, that the guards should go from house to house and light the kindling wood and burn up their houses, so that the army would not have a house to live in. Edward Ashton and William Lloyd were the two men assigned that duty in the 15th Ward. Father lay on the ground all one day on 6th West and 1st South and watched the army match west on North Temple. It took almost the entire day for them to pass 6th West, but they marched over the river Jordan and then went out to Camp Floyd, 22 miles southwest from the city, and remained there for some months, and never molested the Saints but proved a great blessing, for while here they sold or traded the provisions they had brought with them. They were so well equipped with supplies of all kinds that many articles were purchased cheaper than in the stores of New York City, thus being a blessing to the people in their hour of need. God moves in a mysterious way his wonders to perform. Most of the families returned back to the city in 1858 and each went to his home and then began the growth of the City of Salt Lake. He was also called out by Brigham Young a number of times to fight the Indians.
He worked tending masons on the Temple block wall in the early spring of 1853. Then he worked on the Temple for sometime and was employed there when the corner stone was laid. Then he went to work as a shoemaker for William Jennings in his shoe shop on Main Street and 1st South, the South-west corner, remaining here for about four years. Then he went to work for George Q. Cannon, making shoes and doing other duties around his house. He then built a small shoe shop in the rear of his home on 6th West. Here he worked a number of years until they brought shoes into Salt Lake City cheaper than he could make them by hand. He then obtained a job on the Utah Central Railroad shoveling coal in the engines. He worked at this daily duty until he could find something better to make a living for his family which at this time were all in school and the cost of living becoming higher all the time. George Bywater was Superintendent at the Utah Central Shops and Edward was well acquainted with him, but living in the 15th Ward at this time, so he was given a job in the paint shop painting cars and engines as they needed. He remained in this position until the year 1902, he being then eighty years of age but well and hearty.
An account of some of his church activities follows:
He was baptized a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in Wales July 20, 1849 by Evan Evans in the Parish of Bedwellty, Munmouthshire,. Confirmed a member by William Evans in Tredegar, Munmouthshire on the 22 of July 1849. Ordained to the Office of a Priest Oct. 25, 1849 by Evan Evans in the Rock Branch, Bedwellty, Mumouthshire, Wales. Emigrated to Great Salt Lake City in July 1852. Was ordained an Elder on the 29th day of Sept. 1850 by Thomas Giles in the Rock branch. Was ordained a Seventy May 29, 1864 by Isaac Leiny and Archibald Hill and became a member of the 9th Quorum of Seventy, and later received as a member of the 2nd Quorum of Seventy. He was an active Ward Teacher from 1858 until he was 75 years of age in the 15th Ward. Very seldom missing one month block teaching during that time. He led the 15th Ward choir for about 14 years. He was also a Sunday School Teacher in the 15th Ward.
In July 1890 he, with some of his near kin, went to the Logan Temple and did the endowment work for his father Richard Ashton, Arthur Laston (Athelustan) Savage, his grandfather, also Richard Ashton his grandfather, and Evan Kinsey his half-brother; Arthur L. (Athelustan) Savage his motherÕs brother, John Savage, his motherÕs brother; Edward Ashton, his FatherÕs brother; Edward Savage, his mother's brother; John Savage, his mother's brother; Richard Kinsey, his Father's sister's husband; Richard Ellis, an old gentlemen with whom he lived for two years in Newtown. He received his second anointing on the 9th day of July 1890, Raskely, Recorder; H.M. Merrill performing.
"THE HAPPY HOME" By George S. Ashton
127 So. 6th West St. Salt Lake City, Utah
"In 1856, Father and Mother together with the eldest child just born, commenced one of the Happiest Homes among the valley of the Rocky Mountains that could be found and through their efforts during the year two boomed adobe house, had been completed so that in Dec. 1856 their second son was born in this humble home. In a few years when the boys were old enough to make Adobes, they made the necessary amount of adobes to add another room on the south. This made a three room house all rooms facing the street. In another year or so a kitchen was built in thereafter, this room was a large room and served as our cooking and eating room. Now the boys and girls were getting older and had their company come very often to see them so the center room in the front part that had the open fireplace, that had been used for years to cook in and also provide the heat, was not used as the parlor and we small children, when company came had to stay in the kitchen but when bed time came we were forced to go through this center room to our bed rooms as there was one on the north and one on the south end. When tucked into our bed by our kind and loving Mother, those in the center room went on with their love making and enjoying themselves while we went to slumberland. The south bed room was where the boys slept and Father. The north bed room was occupied by Mother and the girls.
About this time our eldest brother was married to Effie Morris and Father gave him the corner lot 5 x 5 rods of ground to build his home on. I remember how well we all would work early and late helping him to build this two room house that provided a home for he and his wife for a number of years.
By this time Father and the boys thought that the family needed a cellar and grainery. So they set in and made the adobes for this new project. When that task was done they dug a cellar about three feet in the ground as they could not go deeper on account of the water. By this time Ed had learned from his apprenticeship with Elias Morris, to lay stone and adobes. Stone was laid in the cellar and adobes in the grainery, for the building was two stories in height, size about 12 x 14. This made a very big improvement to our household and a very fine place to keep the milk, butter, cheese and our winter pig meat. Each fall Father would have two fine pigs to kill and store for winter use and the grainery would take care of the flour, bran, potatoes, and chicken feed. I forgot to mention the old oaken bucket hung form the well that was just 12 feet north of the kitchen door. This well furnished us our water supply for many years.
Time was going on and each year the family was getting older another of the boys, Jed, was deeply in love with a very fine young lady. I know she was a charming young girl as Jed quite often used to say to me, "George, wouldn't you like to come along with me tonight for company?" and away the two of us would go up to 3rd West to a small Tailor Shop where lived the happy Salisbury family. The father was a very small man and the Mother a very large woman. Here I would sleep while the love making went on. Father then was led to give another 5 x 5 rod lot to Jed, to build him a home on. In about two years a three room adobe house was finished for him.
About this time the two older sisters were trying their hand at love making and occupied our parlor for that use.
One winter brother Brig. found a young man by the name of Ben Dortnell that did not have a home, having no Father or Mother, however, he had a brother and sister but neither could give him a home, so kind hearted Brig., brought him to our home and Mother made a place for "Ben". In a few weeks through the work and unity of the balance of the family a lumber room that was used as a shanty by Mother, was cleaned, papered, and a chimney built so that Ben had a bed room all for his use. Mother and the girls would cook the meals and some of us boys used to take his food to him. He lived there for a number of years. Ben Dartnell, though not the brightest of persons was very thankful for his home and to the day of his death looked up to Brig as his real benefactor, and would do anything for Brig. Brig at this time was attending the University of Utah, endeavoring to get his degree. He was night watching at the Eierpont's Foundry at night, and going to school in the day time, for part of the school years. When that job ended he had to look for other employment. The D. & R.G. Railroad had built from Denver to Salt Lake City, and their track was laid on 6th West to Ogden and there were many cars of coal shipped into the city. There was a coal yard built on the south-east corner of the block we lived on. Many cars of this coal had had to be unleaded at night time as the D. & R.G. Company were short of cars. Many nights I have held a candle sitting on the edge of the car while Brig. would unload this coal. He received 10 cents per ton for shoveling this coal out of the cars. Some nights he would work all night but most of the work was completed by midnight. This is the way Brig. gained his education. In return for me holding the candle Brig. would take us swimming in the 2nd Canal on 8th West between 2nd and 3rd South. There being a fine swimming pool there.
In the year 1882 came a family by the name of Lindsay from the Southern States and Ed courted and made love to their eldest Daughter Cora and married her Jan. 1884, as his second wife.
Brig and Sarah (Sally) were then getting deeply in love. He fell in love with another charming young lady by the name of Lollie Pettit. Sarah choosing Joseph E. Price as her loving companion and wed on the same day Nov. 12, 1884. This left Elizabeth, Emily and myself with our parents at home.
At this date our home was fully completed consisting of a five room modern home having been faced outside with brick and extending the center room or parlor out to the front 6 ft. and putting a porch in front of each bed room; electric lights and bath room and city water in the kitchen sink. Every inch of our 5 x 20 rods being utilized as follows.
In the front of the house and on either side of the gate stood two very large Golden Sweet Apple Trees with flowers and some grass. A small patch north of the house (as the house was built on the south line of the lot) was planted with some kind of vegetables, then came the well and apple trees and a Green Gage Plum tree. In the rear of the house about 10 feet away was the cellar and grainery. Then came the play grounds about 4 rods in length and across the lot north and south, here were large apple trees. One Porter, one Sweet Bough, one Big Red, two Rhode Island Greening, two Spitzenburg, one Winter Pairmain. Under the shady branches of these wonderful fruit trees was the childrenÕs play ground. A swing, tricky bar, croquet ground, and horse-shoe pitching, but instead of using horse shoes, Jed used to make us rings out of cast iron and these were what we pitched. North of the play ground was the woodpile and chopping block, then the cow shed, chicken coop, pig pen, and hay shed. All the above mentioned occupied about 7 rods leaving the balance 13 rods for our farming. A strip on the north and one on the east end was planted with Lucern and then came the potato and corn patch, then there were plenty of space left for cabbage, raddish, lettuce, beets, carrots, tomatoes, and currant and gooseberry trees. So on this small farm we had our Happy Home, play grounds, Cow, Pigs, and Chickens and raised all our food supplies and our fruit together with Father's monthly wage of from $40.00 to $50.00 per month. Mending all the family shoes and working each day we lived very comfortably and Father and Mother never went in debt for anything.
From they year 1884 until 1887 the home remained with Father, Mother, two girls and one boy and Father working every week day. Then came the grandchildren to the Happy Home, to make grandfather and grandmother happy with their play. In the fall of 1887 came the first break in their family. After a brief illness, their daughter Sarah, died on Nov. 27, 1887 leaving one boy Joseph (Jodie), and a daughter Mary. They were taken into our home and the girls took full charge of them. The two children remaining with their grandparents, when in Sept. of 1891 the little girl Mary was taken suddenly sick and on Sept. 5 1891 died, leaving her brother Joseph with us and he remained in our home until he got married. The home was quiet from them on until 1893 when their son George was braved away from his home by falling in love with a most charming organist of the 15th Ward choir, by the name of Leah Fidkin, and by her cunning craftiness they were married Sept. 27, 1893 and he left for a mission to the Indian Territory Oct. 9, 1893.
Mother's health had been poorly for sometime and she was confined to the house for a number of years with Asthma, until August 27, 1897 when she was called to her heavenly home. She could not be called to any other kind of home for she had made to all the family a Heavenly Home here on earth. "A Sweeter Spirit Never Lived."
After this the Railroad and other enterprises forced their removal to another location. The balance of the family remaining built a small four room house at 120 South 7th West and lived there. Emily fell in love with Brother Albert D. Richards and were married Feb. 20, 1903. This left Father, Elizabeth and Jodie in the home. Father being 80 years and over the family begged him to quit working at the paint shop and have a vacation, which he did. Balance of his life during the day time was spent in doing odd jobs around his children's homes. His health remained good until one morning in February 1904 after breakfast was eaten he laid his head on the kitchen table in peaceful sleep and in two days faded away Feb. 7, 1904. Such a peaceful ending. The peaceful ending was the well earned rest of a peaceful and well spent life of one of "God's Noblemen."
The country had now become quite mountainous. On my left were the Brieden Hills, only 1324 feet above the sea, but nevertheless, in distinction from the plains, which were almost sea level, it appeared to be quite a mountain. On its ridges is erected a pillar, commemorating Rodney's victory over the French off Dominica in 1782.
As we passed the Brieden Mountains the earth changed from a red color to a dark, rich brown. All through the valley was apple trees, in full blossom. Evidently the people in this section were very religious, for on every hand were churches. There was one huge stone bridge, which was a marvel of masonry. It had twenty spans, each spanning a distance of about sixty feet. The valleys were filled with Interesting things, canals built high above the fields, all sorts of treesÑpine, ash, maple, and huge knarled Oaks.
Coming into Welshpool, the scenery grew magnificent. We came through a huge protective hollow, which made the day seem eventide, as we drove through the long shadows. Pines and firs loomed up, as they do at home, making my heart give an extra beat, as I was reminded of our grand canyons at home.
I couldn't get a good bus service out of Welshpool, so I took train direct to Caersws, the home of our ancestors. I was now growing so anxious to see the old homestead that I began to neglect the scenery, although it was of the most charming beauty.
The train puffed up into the hills, and the slowly moving canals forgot their lazy attitude, and began to ripple a little, to keep pace with the inclining country. Montgomery was the next town of any importance. It was a quaint sleepy little place, with a population of 950, named from Roger Montgomery, Earl of Shewbury, in 1093. The country was so restful and peaceful, with heavily wooded hills, and valleys filled not with man's industrialized cities, but simple beauty of grazing sheep, and lowing cattle. Their bleating and calls could be heard above the laborious puff of the train, as the sun began to set far out over the Welsh hills.
Leaving Montgomery, I noticed that the farms were very well kept, and bespoke of a thrifty and industrious people. The barns were white-washed, and the homes were surrounded by friendly trees, and clean healthy children. I found myself growing very friendly with Welsh people and country.
Just before entering into Newtown, I caught my first glimpse of the River Severn. The Severn you know, flows through Caersws. Newtown is a flannel manufacturing town of 5670 inhabitants and the home of Robert Owen the Socialist, who was born in 1771, just one year after great grandfather Richard. Undoubtedly, he knew Robert Owens, for they both lived in the same parish.
I didn't like Newtown, for it was too industrialized, and therefore unattractive, and a sore on the otherwise beautiful scenery.
My next town was Caersws, so I was all excited. The mountains grew higher and higher, and the river Severn ceased to be a lazy river, but became brisk and quick, and rippled over the rocks, reminding me that it was famous throughout Britain, for its trout fishing.
I arrived in Caersws at 7:10 p.m. and went direct through the streets to the Buck Hotel. I was particularly impressed with the simplicity and quiet of the place. The streets were desolate and from the chimney came the odor of pine smoke, reminding me that the villagers were cooking their evening meal. There is no coal near Caersws, so all of the fuel is wood, and its pleasant odor, as it burns fills the village.
I met the proprietess of the hotel, a Mrs. Hughes, granddaughter of Ceiriog Hughes, the Bobby Burns of Wales, and known as Wales most famous bard. She told me some interesting things about the village, but said that she could remember no Ashtons. She referred me to the most aged man in the community, Mr. Wilson, so after a dinner of pea soup, and curry, and rice, cooked in grand Welsh fashion, I wandered up the lane to see the old Gentleman. He was very gracious, and he and his aged wife invited me in to their home to have a chat with them. They were a typical Welsh couple, with genuine hospitality and sincerity. They invited me to have a bite of supper with them. They between nibbles, told me some of the interesting things about the village history. But they would not remember having known grandfather Ashton. They did have a recollection of a large "Mormon" campaign, when hundreds of the people of that part of the country had heeded the Gospel's call, and had emigrated to make their homes in America.
When I left them it was too late to do anything more, as all the streets were dark, and unlighted, and only a few of the village homes were lit by their little oil lamps and candles. So I went to bed early, so that I might arise early for a good start.
Mrs. Hughes led me up to my little bedroom, which was four hundred years of age, and in which the famous Welsh Bard had often slept. I felt quite distinguished. As I as lying there, thinking over the experience of the day, I could hear the tinkling of sheep's bells on the mountain side, reminding me that out in the dark was life and action, waiting for light of another day.
I arose early, and before breakfast rummaged around the graveyard of the Baptist Church. I looked in vain for any mention of the name Ashton. All that I could see was Jones, Evans, Hughes, Griffith, Morris, Price, Edwards, Smith, and Parry.
From there I walked about the village streets, taking pictures, and interviewing the citizens. It was intensely interesting, and everyone was willing to help. By breakfast time, almost everyone in the town knew my mission, and all were trying to help me. As I would go down the street, people would stop me and ask me if I had found anything, as yet. After a good breakfast of fresh cows milk, and eggs, I walked over to Llanwnog, where the parrish records for that part of the community were kept. It was still early morning as I left, and as I walked I passed two little groups of school children, who were walking four miles to the nearest school house, in Llanwnog. They couldn't even speak English, and only grinned, and said, "Hello."
The scene from Caersws to Llangwnog was one of the most beautiful I have ever witnessed. Caersws is situated in the very middle of a natural ampitheatre. When Cwynog, who built the parish Church in 500, A.D. was selecting a spot for his place of worship he refused Caersws, which was then a Roman Camp, because it was too low-lying and was often flooded by the overflowing River Severn. Therefore he picked his site about four miles away, right at the very base of a perfectly round hill, completely covered with pines and oaks. It has since come to be known as Llanwnog, and has a population of about fifty people.
As I traversed the four miles around the edges of the hills my mind wandered and tried to imagine one or two hundred years back, I could see Grandfather Ashton walking over that same road, for it is old, going to the same school, for it too is old, and attending the Church, where his Grandfather had worshipped. I tried to put myself in their place, and as I looked over the clean wholesome country, away from the business and strife of the world, and saw the clean and prosperous homes in the valley below, and the sturdy healthy men, women and children busy about their morning tasks, I thanked God that he had given me an ancestry from such a selected and wholesome place.
Then as I rounded a bend, I saw in the distance the old Church of Llanwnog where my father's had been married, baptized, and buried. It was a thrill and I tried to restrain myself from running. I went first to the home of Mr. Kinsey, the village Sexton. He took me through the burial yard, and one corner I found two tomb stones with the following inscriptions:
IN MEMORY OF
LATE OF RED LION IN THIS PARISH
WHO DEPARTED THIS LIFE
Dec. 7th, 1871
Aged 78 years.
SACRED TO THE MEMORY OF
LATE OF OERFERWD IN THIS PARISH
WHO DEPARTED THIS LIFE
Nov. 15th 1843
Aged 81 years.
ALSO TO THE MEMORY OF
DAUGHTER OF EDWARD AND JANE ASHTON
WHO DEPARTED THIS LIFE
Jan. 10, 1854
Aged 54 years.
The stones were large, among the most prominent, of that date in the yard. On each side of each of them was a large Yew treem which had undoubtedly been placed there by members of the family.
Me. Kinsey then pointed the home of Vicar D.D. Evans, who had charge of the parish records. I went to his home, and was invited in by his wife, and had to listen to his silly old tales for over an hour, while he was getting in the mood to go down into the cold Church to help me look through the records.
We finally got there, and after he had showed me a few of the interesting things of the Church we got into the records. They were written on vellum, and sheepskin, and were yellow with age. I supposed my hand shook with anxiety as I pondered and turned over the pages. I started with the year 1700 and copied the name of every Ashton and Savage I could find. I looked through the marriage, baptism, birth and burial records."
(This, Clifford's description, is a real treasure of our grandfathers homeland. Seen by one there on the spot, if only he could have had the joy of finding our own grandfather's grave, which we are totally to the present unable to find. 1955)
Upon coming to Salt Lake City, Edward Ashton settled in the western part of the city where most of the Welsh people lived at that time. The 15th and 16th Wards were largely made up of the Welsh Saints. In his work as shoemaker making shoes for John Taylor's family, he became acquainted with a charming young lady whom he had seen, at Council Bluffs, as she was employed in the Taylor home. Her name was Jane Treharne.
Jane Treharne, daughter of William Treharne and Ann Richards was born April 2nd 1828 in the Parish of Llangadier, Carmarthenshire, Wales. The name of the town was Llangendereine. She left Wales in Feb. 1848. Through the visits to the Taylor home a friendship was enjoyed by these young people and that friendship developed into love and as a result of these association the young couple were married Feb. 6, 1854. William Lewis performing the ceremony. They received their endowments in the council House in Salt Lake City, April 1, 1854. Sealed by President Brigham Young at his office in Salt Lake City, March 25, 1855.
Jane Treharne Ashton was baptized in Feb. 1848, by Elias Morris.
The first house they lived in only had one room and their furniture consisted of a small cooking stove, a large box for their table and two smaller boxes they used as chairs, and their bed consisted of four posts with a 8x4 timber nailed in between these posts: the timbers had wooden pegs about 8" apart and from these pega a small rope was stretched back and forth across them. When the sides were completed the rope was then put on these pegs from head to foot, by this method it made square 8 inch squares, each way. On this rope springs, a ticking filled with corn hucks was laid and then the bed clothes. These corn shucks usually were about 1/8 inch in thickness and made a very comfortable bed when fresh, but after their use for one year, they were very hard. They could only change each fall as the corn was gathered in the harvest time.
Their first child was a son, Edward Treharne Ashton, born July 14, 1855 at 645 West 1st South in the home owned by Owen Roberts. During 1855 and part of 1856 they bought a 5 x 20 rod lot of 6th west between 1st and 2nd South, and a 5 x 10 rod lot on the Southeast corner of 6th and 1st South Street. Here during the year they erected a two room adobe home at 127 South 6th West and in this humble home with some later additions as the family grew the remainder of the family was born. Jedediah William born Dec. 27, 1856, Brigham Willard born Sept. 11, 1858, Elizabeth Anne born Jan. 20, 1860, Sarah Jane born Nov. 6, 1861, Emily Treharne born Feb. 14, 1864, and on the 27, July 1870 their youngest child, George Savage was born. Thus making a family of Father, Mother, four boys, and three girls, one of the happiest families in the Salt Lake Valley.