Biography of Rav. James Ashley
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The subject of this memoir was born in Toronto, Canada, November 18, 1815, and, was the son of Leonard and Sally (McDougal) Ashley. In 1826, the family removed to Huron County, Ohio, and here, with the advantages and disadvantages of a new county, the boy became a man. The elder Ashley was a farmer, and unable to give his son any educational advantages. He learned the trade of a blacksmith, which avocation he followed at intervals. At the age of fifteen he was converted, and in 1841 commenced preaching; his labors were immediately successful his earnest manner aroused the careless, while his sympathy, remarkable affability and colloquial gifts attracted all classes. New fields were opened, new churches constituted, and the. Seneca Quarterly Meeting organized. The Huron Quarterly Meeting, in which he entered the church and the ministry, received a portion of his labors; but most of his pastoral and evangelical work was in connection with the Seneca Quarterly Meeting, where much good was accomplished. In 1855, he removed to Cass County, where he spent the remainder of his useful life, hold ing the pastoral relation for more than twenty five years. Like all other Free Will Baptist ministers forty years ago, he labored virtually as a missionary, receiving an indefinite, irregular and insufficient support, supplying deficiencies by manual labor. After coming to Cass County, he worked at the trade of a carpenter in fact he was never idle. He preached twelve years in Sumnerville, he traveling in so doing some eighteen thousand miles, and for some time he held services in a cooper shop, but finally, through his efforts, a church. was erected. He organized the society of Berrien Center, and labored there nine years. His whole soul was in his work, and, forget. ting self, he was always ready to make any sacrifices for the advancement of the cause in which he labored. It was through his instrumentality that the church at Adamsville, which was consumed by fire, was erected; and when the present Free Will Baptist Church of Mason was erected, he not only gave his labor, but $100, and made no charge for pastoral services. lie was held in the highest esteem by the young as well as the old, and his services were especially required by those matrimonially inclined, his last ministerial labor being the marrying of two couples. He was a man of positive character, with decided opinions on all matters, which he expressed on all suitable occasions; his plainness of speech and boldness of position would perhaps have made opponents and enemies had it not been for his. sincerity and unselfishness; and especially the wonderful degree of good nature and affability he possessed, for whether in the family or pulpit, in the church or Legislature (to which latter place he was elected in 1869), he was very popular; his good nature and Christian kindness did not fail him, and his friends were numerous. He died March 28, 1882, after an illness of nearly a year. His wife, a most estimable Christian lady, who was his adviser, and who shared his adversities and successes, resides on the homestead. He became the father of a family of twelve children, viz. William Henry (who died in the army April, 1863), John H., Delora J., Alice A., Fannie E., Robert Mc., Sally M., Lydia A., Mary E., Fred L., Laurie L. (deceased) Ardella R. (deceased).


From:
History of Cass Couny, Michigan
With Illistrations and Biographical Sketches
of some of it's Prominent Men and Pioneers.
Waterman, Watkins & Co., Chicago 1882.

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