Note: A copy (printed below verbatim) of the front page article appearing in the newspaper �THE VILLAGER�, Freetown, Massachusetts, September 3, 1970
MISSING LINK IN ASHLEY GENEALOGY REMAINS MYSTERIOUS AT FIRST REUNION.
Once Owned Most of East Freetown
Linking Joseph Ashley, who purchased all of East Freetown early in the 1700�s still remain a mystery at the conclusion of the first Ashleys of America meeting held in Bridgewater, Saturday.
According to information which was presented by the family�s first president of the association, Robert E. Ashley of Bridgewater, a Thomas Ashley is dated back to the 1600�s. His name first appears in history as living in Gloucester, at Cape Ann, in 1639.
In 1638 records show that Robert Ashley lived in the Springfield-Agawam area. Another Ashley, Edward, was believed to have been in America in 1630 but left no descendants in America except maybe some half breed Indians.
Most of the Ashleys in this area are descended from Joseph Ashley (above) who purchased all of East Freetown, (then Tiverton) , part of Acushnet and Rochester. They made their home for generations, and still some descendents continue, in this area near Route 105, Morton Road, East Freetown, and North Avenue, Rochester. The first home was on property now owned by the New Bedford Water Works.
Used Spanish Money
To purchase this large tract of land, it is said, Spanish money was used. It is not known where Joseph Ashley came from, or how he got the money but some family members were suspicious of pirating.
As sketched out by the association�s president, it is probable that Joseph Ashley was the son of or grandson of the Thomas Ashley already mentioned.
But the mystery still remains unsolved while many Ashleys still wonder how, or even if, they are related to others, living in southeastern Massachusetts or those scattered across the nation.
Association president Robert Ashley of 68 Spring Hill Avenue, Bridgewater made most of the arrangements for the first organizational meeting held at the Scotland Trinitarian Congregational Church in Bridgewater. About 85 attended, dinner was served, talks presented and officers elected. Mr. Ashley, the only Ashley in Bridgewater, has been working on the family genealogy for several years.
Mr. Ashley, who also compiled Ashley genealogy and family history, is a graduate of Brockton High School, Wentworth Institute, Photo Media School of Photography and Northeast School of Photography. He is an archaeologist , colonial historian and genealogist, Most of his life he has worked as a professional photographer and since 1956 has been a professor and head of the department of photography of the Franklin Institute in Boston.
Others elected at the first meeting were John S. Ashley of Dartmouth, first vice president, Bradford Swan of Providence, second vice-president, Paul Leonard of Lakeville, third vice-president; Mr. And Mrs Ken Davis of Williamstown, secretary; Mrs. Theodore Ashley of Freetown, treasurer; Mrs. Doris Long, Mrs. Helen Gurney Thomas and Mrs. Susan Ashley French, publishing committee.
The group plans to work on publishing a book on the Ashley family. Donations were accepted in lieu of membership dues and newsletters will be sent out. An annual meeting is already being planned next year towards the latter part of August.
Where Did They Get The Money?
Robert Ashley told the following story: �The mysterious appearance of Joseph and Abraham Ashley in the Old Colony at about 1700 with a goodly supply of Spanish silver, has never been satisfactorily explained. Why did they purchase extensive lands in the then remote inland section of North Rochester? Why did they for many years, seem to avoid contact with the civil and religious life of the town? If (as many believe) they were the sons or grandsons of Thomas Ashley the respected factor of the Pilgrim�s trading post on the Kennebec, then where had they been in the meantime?
�The ancestry of their wives, Elizabeth Percival of Falmouth and Susanna White of Plymouth, is easily traced. Why is their origin so obscure? An aggregate of over 100 years and many thousands of dollars spent has not provided an answer.
Involved in Piracy?
It has been considered that they were involved in piracy, which in those days was looked upon about the same as bootlegging in the 1920�s.
It is suspected that the two Ashley brothers sailed with Captain William Kidd. This ship captain seemed to get more daring as his experience gained, attacking all ships regardless of which flag they flew.
But as Kidd progressed with his work, law officers started looking for him. Finally when he stepped ashore in Boston, walking into a trap, he was arrested and put in jail. Finally, Kidd was hanged along with other crew members.
When the news of Kidd had reached former crew members who had been put ashore earlier, it appears that they �must have been encouraged to lose themselves even more completely and say nothing about their travels and occupation or the origin of their money�.
Some family members believe that in a panic they may have buried some remaining treasure near the East Freetown-North Rochester boundary.
It is also believed that everyone by the name of Ashley living in the southeastern Massachusetts area has been proven to be a descendant of Joseph Ashley and his wife Elizabeth Percival who settled in Rochester near the New Bedford water works in 1700. Some of these, due to early cousin marriages, are also descendants of Joseph�s brother Abraham�s wife Susanna (White), the granddaughter of Resolved White who came over on the Mayflower in 1620.
Other Links Missing Also
Several lines of descent are still not available and some family members fear that the information may never be gained, even through more research. But there is still hope for this family in the East Freetown area as many will probably turn up at a reunion next year wondering just how they might be related to So and So Ashley.
About 85 attended the first meeting in Bridgewater Saturday. Another 20 traveled a route through Lakeville, East Freetown, Rochester,and Acushnet viewing areas of interest to the Ashleys including the Ashley family cemetery off Morton Road. Still, another smaller group viewed the recently bulldozed remains of the cellar of Abraham Ashley Jr. It is now on lot 45 in the Parkhurst home building developments.
The Sunday afternoon tour and two day affair concluded at the home of Mr. And Mrs Paul Leonard on Howland Road where refreshments were served.
BIRTH AND PARENTAGE OF JOSEPH ASHLEY Probably there is no other bit of information that would please so many �OLD COLONY ASHLEYS� as finding the parents of the first generation, JOSEPH, Abraham and Rebecca Ashley of Rochester. We can�t promise that we have a positive proof but we do have some mighty convincing dat
�My dear Watson, when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.� Thus spoke Sherlock Holmes a century ago.
We have eliminated the impossible, and what remains, is not at all improbable but very likely.
For a long time it was widely believed that Joseph and Abraham were children of William Ashley of Wells, Maine. This William is known to have removed to Boston and then to have gone overland to Providence, where he lived for a time with one Harding, and to have soon died there. Newly found material in the Providence Town Records show that he left one child �and sole heir� Sarah. (See �Sarah�s Affidavit� in ASHLEYS OF AMERICA Vol. 10, #1.)
Thus we eliminate this William as father of Joseph and Abraham. Rochester records say �Abraham Ashley was born July 28, 1682�, but, contrary to MAYFLOWER FAMILIES ONE statement, it does NOT say he was born in Rochester. In fact the way it is stated seems to make it sort of an afterthought to the recording of the birth of his first child Rebecca.
Brother JOSEPH, not recorded, seems to be a little bit older. (See evidence in ASHLEYS OF THE OLD COLONY).
No record has been found of any Ashleys arriving in America, to be these people or their parents. In fact, for a time, more were returning to England than coming over.
No data from the south gives any likelihood that they came up from there.
So what do we have left? Just two men in Boston who were married and having families. Thomas Ashley who married Mary Branston and had five recorded children; and
Edward Ashley who married Mary Hallowell and had six recorded children. Both appear to have enjoyed a degree of prosperity and were strong members of the First Church. In the 39 volumes of the REPORTS OF THE RECORD COMMISIONERS OF THE CITY OF BOSTON we find birth records for the FIRST CHURCH, and a note by the compiler, William S. Appleton, that �For several years the records of the First Church were so carelessly kept as to be very uncertain and of little value.� This gap in the records occurs at the very time Joseph and Abraham were born.
Of the First Church records that we do have we find children of Thomas and Mary (Branston) Ashley to be Mary, b. 1681; Thomas, b. 1682; Ann, b. 1684; Joseph b. 1689 (died the next year) and another M---. If this couple were parents of OUR Joseph, b. about 1680 or before, they would not have named another child Joseph.
Thus we eliminate Thomas and Mary (Branston) Ashley. This leaves only Edward and Mary (Hallowell) Ashley, who had recorded children William, 1674; Edward, 1676; now a gap of ten years before Dorothy, 1686; Esther, 1690; Mary, 1692; Sarah, 1697. Can you believe a prosperous, healthy couple had two children then a gap of ten years before having four more?
This ten year gap comes in just the right place for our JOSEPH, Abraham, Rebecca and perhaps John.
As we said, not positive proof, but mighty convincing. (My original manuscript of our first Ashley in the colony has been amended to remove the above referenced William Ashley-Elizabeth Batson from our first generation and replaced with the Edward Ashley-Mary Hallowell marriage as our first Ashley, parents of JOSEPH. Edward�s children, numbers 1, 2, 7, 8, 9, & 10 are verified by records. Children 3, 4, & 5 are recorded as siblings. Child #6, John, is mentioned in occasional records and seemingly has no parentage, except as our JOSEPH, he may also be a child of the above Edward. The offset entry of children #�s 3, 4, 5 & 6 are �assumed to be children of Edward� as narrated above. The above report is from records of the Genealogical Department of the Garst Museum of Darke County, Ohio. Within the first 50 years of the colonies� beginnings, the number of Ashley�s to research was not that great so as to have confusion of relationships. The above process of elimination causes us to accept the assumption the our first Ashley in America was Edward, who�s son Joseph is the first solid documentation of our colonial ancestry. RBA )
Assuming the above Edward Ashley is our first ancestor, the report continues� � � � Edward Ashley (who married Mary Hollowell) was an inhabitant of Boston from 1674 to 1695 and perhaps longer. He was a member of the first Church of Boston, the oldest and one of the largest and wealthiest congregations in town.
The first meeting house was erected at the corner of the present State Street and Devonshire Street (southwest corner) facing upon the place that a century and a third later would become the site of the �Boston Massacre�.
The second meeting house was built in 1639 and lasted until consumed by fire in 1711. It stood nearly opposite the Old State House. This is probably the one attended by Edward and Mary and where their children were baptized.
The third meeting house of the First Church of Boston was built in 1712 on the site of the second building. It was much bigger than most and was the largest meeting house in New England at that time. There were Ashleys in Boston at least as late as 1739 when Ann Ashley of Brattle Street was �disallowed an inn-keepers licence (sic)� The Hallowells were certainly still there. A Benjamin was customs commissioner, had a wife Mary and a son Ward who later changed his name to Ward Nichols Boylston. Some Hallowells were physically abused and suffered property losses. Left with the British on March 17, 1776.
Just two days prior to the Boston Massacre, 300 soldiers had made an attack on nearby Hallowell�s Ship Yard at the foot of Milk Street, but were driven off by Hallowell�s brawny ship-builders. Benjamin Hallowell�s house was pillaged by mob in August 1765. He was Comptroller of Customs and assaulted on several occasions. (Divided Hearts, Massachusetts Loyalists 1765-1790, David E. Maas, pub. by N.E.H.G.S. 1980)
Edward Ashley, in 1687, owned six houses, mills, and wharfs in Boston, and lived within walking of the Third Town House, Paul Revere�s house as well as the home where Benjamin Franklin was born. Today, only Paul Revere�s house stands.
(The previous report titled : MISSING LINK IN ASHLEY GENEALOGY REMAINS��.etc� alludes to thisEdward as leaving no descendants except for �some half breed Indians� That has been refuted by this later account above which appears to be that �missing� link. toward finding our true lineage before our Joseph. The Robert Ashley (Springfield-Agawam area, 1638) family is well documented down from that Robert. Robert Ashley and Edward Ashley may have been brothers, sons of a Thomas Ashley.
Assuming Joseph, Abraham and sister Rebecca are the children filling the gap of ten years in the church records [referred to above] as children of Edward and Mary (Hallowell) Ashley, then it is fair to assume that Edwards two sons Joseph and Abraham are the same as listed under the heading; WHERE DID THEY GET THE MONEY? in the previous report.
Major changes in this research document now is to discard William as our first Ashley in America. Secondly is to establish Edward as our first Ashley with six recorded children and adding four more in the space lost in the church records. Those four would be Rebecca, Joseph, Abraham, and possiblyJohn,making a total of ten children for Edward. That changes Joseph as an only child to being the fourth child of ten of Edward. Our Joseph�s wife Elizabeth Percival is documented backseveral generations in England. Perhaps the pirate connection is the reason we have no further information of Joseph and his father Edward. The item listed below was a cover story as printed in The Villager, a weekly newspaper serving the towns of Freetown and Lakeville in southwestern Massachusetts.
Joseph Ashley/Elizabeth Percival of MASS Posted by: Jean Holcombe Date: July 31, 2000 at 08:56:51 of 904 Researching Joseph Ashley of Rochester Mass who (m)Elizabeth Percival & Mary Hall Whitredge. His oldest son, Thomas Ashley, apparently named for father, Thomas Ashley of Boston??
Son,Thomas, (b)Rochester 1738 died Poultney VT 1810. Grandson Thomas was one of the "Green Mountain Boys" and with Ethan Allen at the battle of Ft Ticonderoga.
Joseph had a brother, Abraham who (m)Susanna White with Mayflower descent & Elizabeth Rogers. I am trying to cross the ocean with little success. Glad to exchange info but email only wjholcombe@@aol.com Was Williamshley/Elizabeth Batson an ancestor of this line???
following from WorldConnect:
4-22 updated Tree Entries: 19792 Updated: Sat Aug 25 20:55:11 2001 Contact: Lynnette James
Joseph ASHLEY 1 Sex: M Birth: ABT. 1675 2 3 1 Death: ABT. 1754 in Rochester, Massachusetts
The parentage and early life of Joseph and Abraham Ashley, the first of this line of Ashleys to settle in the Old Colony has never been proven. Some descendants belive that they came directly from England but no passenger list has been found to support this statement. Others believe they came to New England from the South. A widely accepted theory is that they were among the Ashleys of southern Maine who were driven out of that place during King Philip's War in 1675/6. Thomas Ashley was an early settler of the Kennebec at a place called Merrymeeting Bay about a dozen miles upstream from the Sagadahoc Settlement where, in 1607, 10 0 colonists landed at the mouth of the Kennebec and established a plantation a t Popham Beach. They built a small ship, the pinnace Virginia and the next year sailed it back to England. The colony was abandoned after one winter. By 1625 treaties were being made with the Indians for lands on Merrymeeting Bay where four major rivers and several smaller streams all join in a "merrymeeting ". Some say it was originally Maremiten, i.e., Inland Sea, and that the name was corrupted to Merrymeeting. "Thomas Ashley sometime of Sagudohock or New Ton in ye county of Cornwall" (book of Eastern Claims) was an early settler and owned extensive property around the bay. He was well established by May 23, 1654 when the first court was held at his house. (Ply. Col. Recs.) He sold out on February 5, 1677 but perhaps left before that date as the deed says "my late dwelling house." King Philip's war would have driven him out a year or two earlier. A Thomas Ashley (perhaps the same) was admitted an inhabitant of Boston, May 31, 1658. A Thomas Ashley first appears on the Boston tax list in 1685. Thomas Ashley of NewTon in Cornwall and Merrymeeting Bay on the Kennebec, Maine had a son Thomas who, in turn, had a son Thomas who went to North Carolina. The third Thomas had sister s Mary Spikes of Boston and Anna Mansfield of Marblehead. (Book of Eastern Claims) There were many Ashley families in Boston in the late 1600s and Joseph and Abraham could have been from that place. Rebecca, sister to Joseph and Abraham, married second "John Whitefield formerly of the Royal Dragoons of Queen Anne of which Lord Rolfe, Earl of Strafford, was Colonel." (Plymouth Deeds) A John Ashley signed the petition along with Joseph and Abraham for the establishing of the Third Parish in Rochester in 1747. There was a John Ashley who had a tavern in Bosto n between 1733 and 1749. Joseph Ashley of Rochester married Elizabeth Percival and they are ancestors of every Ashley in this genealogy. Her mother's father was Edward Rainsford who came over with Winthrop in 1630. Abraham Ashley, brother of Joseph above, married Susanna White, a great-grandughter of Willaim White who came over on the Mayflower in 1620. There daughter Mercy married her cousin William, son of Joseph and Elizabeth above, and thus their son Deacon Abraham and all of his descendants are descendants of both of the first generation Ashleys.
Rochester, Massachusetts The town of Rochester, MA received its name from the ancient city of Rochester in Kent, Engl and, whence many of the first settlers came. It is recorded in history that the oysters found on those shores were celebrated by the Romans for their excellence and the pioneers, finding an abundance of delicious shellfish here, in memory of their former home, very appropriately gave to this tract of land the name of Rochester. At the time the first Ashleys arrived in town, R ochester encompassed about three times the area that it does today and include d all of the present towns of Marion, Mattapoiset
Marriage 1 Elizabeth PERCIVAL b: 10 SEP 1675 in Sandwich, Barnstable County, Massachusetts Married: 25 AUG 1704 in Falmouth, Massachusetts 5
Children Thomas ASHLEY b: 21 FEB 1703/04 in Rochester, Massachusetts Jethro ASHLEY b: 11 JAN 1705/06 in Rochester, Massachusetts William ASHLEY b: 12 DEC 1709 in Rochester, Massachusetts Elizabeth ASHLEY b: 4 JAN 1709/10 in Rochester, Massachusetts Abraham ASHLEY b: 1715 in Rochester, Massachusetts Mary ASHLEY b: 12 MAR 1717/18 in Rochester, Massachusetts Joseph ASHLEY b: ABT. 1723 in Rochester, Massachusetts Marriage 2 Mary HALL Married: 1728 in Rochester, Massachusetts 5
Sources: Title: 221834a.FTW Repository: Call Number: Media: Other Note: pg 127 Title: Ashley's of the Old Colony, Descendants of Joseph and Elizabeth (Percival) Ashley of Rochester, Mass. Author: Ashley, Robert E. Publication: 21 MAY 1994 Note: TITL Ashley's of the Old Colony, Descendants of Joseph and Elizabeth (Percival) Ashley of Rochester, Mass. Vol. I Note: free-form text to be added in Proof window Repository: Note: Note: vol. 1 pg 1; Title: New England Historical and Genealogical Registerxerox copies Author: NEHGR Publication: 26 MAR 1995 Repository: Note: Note: vol 5 pg 85 Title: Ashley's of the Old Colony, Descendants of Joseph and Elizabeth (Percival) Ashley of Rochester, Mass. Author: Ashley, Robert E. Publication: 21 MAY 1994 Note: TITL Ashley's of the Old Colony, Descendants of Joseph and Elizabeth (Percival) Ashley of Rochester, Mass. Vol. I Note: free-form text to be added in Proof window Repository: Note: Note: vol. 1 pg 1 Title: 221834a.FTW Repository: Call Number: Media: Other
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