Name: Stephen ASHBY
Given Name: Stephen
Birth: ABT 1746 in ,, Virginia
Death: 1831 in , Caldwell Co., Kentucky
1. Will Book A, page 433, Caldwell Co., KY, will dated March 9, 1828.
Change Date: 14 Sep 2013 at 00:14:37
2. Ashby Family
THE CAPTIVITY OF STEPHEN ASHBY AND HIS FAMILY
Taken from: THE INDIANA MAGAZINE OF HISTORY, VOL. 9, 1913, PAGE 109 Which was taken from a series of sketches written by Judge William Polke and printed in the Fort Wayne Times in 1842. Judge Polke knew personally Stephen Ashby THE BOOK OF AUGUSTINE SHELBURNE by descendants of Stephen Ashby Audio Tape of the Katherine Thurman Washburn's story of the Captivity of Stephen Ashby THE ASHBY BOOK by Lee Fleming Reese submitted by Harold R. Coffman (SYCR90A@Prodigy.com)
Stephen Ashby was born about 1746 in Virginia, the son of Elizabeth and Thomas Ashby Jr. The Ashby families were pioneers in the truest sense. The Ashbys seem to always be pushing further west. Joist Hite and his party explored the Shenandoah Valley in 1732. At the last settlement near what is now Salem in Fauquier County, they learned that "there was nothing beyond but mountains, Indians and a family called Ashby." The family lived a few miles east of the mountain gap later given their name. Stephen was raised in Virginia, one of at least seven known children of Thomas and Elizabeth Ashby. In about 1768 he married Susannah Foote either in Virginia or Pennsylvania. During the Revolutionary War they lived in Cecil Township in Washington County, Pennsylvania, and this father of a growing family served in Captain Robert Miller's Company of the 4th Battalion, Washington County Militia.
In 1778 the decision was made to move and settle in Western Virginia in that part referred to as Kentucky. They would be joining others of the Ashby family already in Kentucky, including an uncle also named Stephens. Like many before them they would build rafts and float down the Ohio River to the "Falls of Louisville" thence overland to what is now Shelby or Nelson County, Kentucky. In the early part of 1789 Stephen with his family, a wife and eight children started on their journey to a new life on the frontiers of what was then Western Virginia. There was Stephen and Susannah, Miles about nineteen, Obediah called Beady, Robert, Thomas, John, David about four or five years old, Tinsen, and two girls, Mary and Sarah. The count might not be accurate as there was an infant mentioned in one of the accounts of the adventure that cannot be named. The Shelburne family account also names an "old Aunt McFall" that was included in the party. A few days out of Louisville the party was attacked by a band of Pottawattomies that infested the river and added an additional hazard to the swift current of the Ohio. The Shelburne account reports that in the short fight that followed Miles, oldest son, died with four arrows to his back and chest. He had fought valiantly but was no match for the attackers. One of the Indian "drew his hunting knife, cut two deep gashes into his chest and then deliberately opened him, took out his heart" and later cooked it on the coals of the campfire and ate it with his fellow braves. It was offered to the Ashby family, and afterwards, by way of an apology, informed Mrs. Ashby that it was eaten "on account of his bravery, for the purpose of making themselves equally brave.
After the capture of Mr. Ashby and his family the Indians made arrangements to return to their villages on the St. Joseph and Elkhart Rivers in the northern part of what is now Illinois. Being so far from any white settlement, they did not need to closely guard their prisoners. Where could they go? Freedom was only beyond the Ohio River, but the swift river was a major obstacle. On the second day Stephen and his second son, 'Beady', were sent to procure timbers for packsaddles, preparatory to their return to their village. Packsaddles were obtained by taking suitable forks from small saplings that were then securely placed on horses and supplies and equipment then lashed to the packsaddles. Mrs. Ashby according to the account written by Judge Polke, or "Old Aunt McFall" according to the Shelburne account, secretly communicated to Stephen that the Indians intended to kill him by burning him. He was urged to leave the family and make an almost hopeless attempt to escape. Fortunately, or to use Mr. Ashby's own words, according to Judge Polke, providentially late in the afternoon the Indians directed him to procure a few more crotches for packsaddles. The Shelburne account speaks of Stephen cutting the branches purposely too long and the Indians sending him back into the woods to cut more.
Sixteen year old Beady Ashby was told of his father's intentions to escape and pleaded with his father to go with him. The mother's intercessions prevailed and the two left the camp intending to escape. They either ran to the river or stole some of the Indian's horses to reach the river. The two principle accounts differ on the means by which they reached the Ohio River, and also differ on how it was crossed. Judge Polke spoke of them lashing dry logs together with bark making a crude raft. The Shelburne account credits Beady with saving his father as they swam the swift current of the Ohio. The father and son then journeyed on to Louisville, arriving in "the most deplorable condition that can be imagined." Mr. Ashby having escaped from captivity began a seven year exhausting effort on behalf of his captive and suffering family. He sold his land to finance his effort in to liberate them. Susannah and her remaining children were to remain in bondage seven years. The infant she was carrying in her arms died on the march to the Indian's camp and she was forced to scratch away loose earth in order to lower her infant to its grave. She covered the child with a few limbs and bushes, and later declared to Judge Polke that it was the most melancholy scene to her during the long captivity.
The Shelburne account does not mention the death of the infant, but does mentions "her youngest child, little David". David Ashby estimated to be about four or five years old at the time of capture was the ancestor of Harold R. Coffman, one of the submitters of this account. The other submitter, Lisa Wilke Spulick claims two of the survivors, Obediah (Beady) and Robert Ashby. She writes that she has the dubious distinction of being her own sixth cousin as her great-grandmother and great-grandfather were 3rd cousins. Mrs. Ashby and the two youngest of her surviving children were taken to the village on the St. Joseph River in the vicinity of the Elkhart. The eldest three children to the Illinois River where they endured their cruel captivity until released after the Treaty of Greenville in 1795. Either one or two of the sons escaped, one in 1794 just a year before the Treaty was signed. A squaw who had been disgusted by her own rough treatment aided Thomas Ashby's escape, according to the Shelburne account Mr. Ashby, being a man of remarkable firmness, perseverance and bravery took every opportunity to travel and penetrate Indian country. He was with Colonel Hamtramck in his expedition up the Wabash River in 1790, and with the mounted expedition to the Wabash in 1791 under General Scott. One of his sons, probably Beady, escaped with him in General Arthur St. Clair's defeat in 1792. Stephen Ashby received a dangerous wound in one of the battles for control of the Northwest Territory. He went several times through the wilderness to Vincennes then the most frontier post. He became well known to General Wayne and his officers and was praised for his unremitting effort to obtain the release of his family.
At the treaty of Greenville in 1795, which ceded much of Ohio to the United States, Stephen recognized the Indian that had committed the barbarous act on Miles Ashby. The Indian apparently recognized him also for he always avoided coming in contact with him. The treaty also provided for the exchange of prisoners, a procedure that took considerable time. In late autumn in 1795 Stephen went to Fort Wayne to meet his long-suffering family. Part of the children that had been separated from the mother arrived first. Stephen learned that his wife and remaining children would be brought in a few days from the Elkhart Indian village. He went out to meet them and met his wife on foot with a heavy load of the Indian's baggage. Both accounts say that Stephen took the load from his wife after some altercation with the Indians. After Stephen Ashby regained his family after their seven-year ordeal he settled in Shelby County, Kentucky. He lived comfortably and was beloved and respected by his neighbors. It must have been during the Great Revival that swept the western frontier in the early 1800's that drew Stephen to the Church. Sometime, probably in 1809 he became a minister, and spent the last twenty years of his life as "a respectable preacher of the gospel of the Baptist denomination".
His family did well over the years. Beady Ashby became fairly wealth and was considered by all a success. He married Mary Elizabeth Figley. Beady died before his father and a daughter named Malinda Ashby received the "tract of land I now live" from her grandfather. Robert Ashby also died before his father's death in 1831 and his daughter, Susan Ashby, is mentioned in her grandfather's will. Young David Ashby seems to live close to his father for many years. He married Sarah Burnett, daughter of James Burnett and Margaret Robinson. They moved with Stephen Ashby to Christian County, Kentucky and back to Shelby County. In the late 1820's David and his family moved to Clay County, Missouri, and later to Platte County, Missouri, where David owned a farm just west of the present Kansas City Airport. His son, Cromwell Ashby owned a farm east of the present day airport. David died in early 1850 and his wife, Sarah, died in 1853. Cromwell's son, David P. Ashby born 8 May 1851 lived until 1939, and I, Harold Coffman, was born on his birthday and remember him well. But, I never heard of the adventures of my three great-grandfathers David Ashby. How I would have loved the story as a teenager in the 1930's had I known it. Judge William Polke ended his story of the "Captivity of Stephen Ashby and His Family" with these words: "What patriot and friend to his county, will not say that such sufferers deserve the gratitude and bounty of their country?"
Harold R. Coffman (SYCR90A@PRodigy.com) and Lisa Wilke Spulick October 1997
Father: Thomas ASHBY Jr b: 1714 in prob Virginia
Mother: Elizabeth "Betty" LNU b: ABT 1716 in Hamilton Parish, Prince William Co., Virginia
Susannah FOOTE b: ABT 1750
in ,, Virginia or Pennsylvania
- Miles ASHBY b: ABT 1770
- Obediah "Beady" ASHBY b: ABT 1772
- Robert ASHBY b: ABT 1774
- Tinson ASHBY b: 1766/1775 in of Shelby Co., Kentucky
- Thomas ASHBY b: ABT 1776
- John ASHBY b: ABT 1778
- Mary ASHBY b: ABT 1780
- Sarah ASHBY b: ABT 1782
- David ASHBY b: ABT 1784
- FNU ASHBY b: 1788/1789