Edward Ashton (1821-1904)

Edward Ashton was born in Caersus, Parrish of Llangwonog, Montgomeryshire, , 22 Aug. 1821. His father was Richard Ashton, born in 1796, in the same city and died in 1827. His mother, Elizabeth Savage was born in 1798, also in the city of Caersus, and died in Wales.

He had a brother Richard, three years older than he, and a sister Jane two years younger, both born in the same town and parish as Edward.

His father died in 1827 when Edward was but a child of six and in 1832 his mother married a man by the name of Kinsey and he recalls a half brother born from this union who became very dear to him.

In a brief sketch of his life he wrote that the family was very poor and he was required, due to circumstances, to work in a woolen factory when he was but a boy of 8 years. He remained there until he was ten when his right hand was caught in an engine and nearly torn off. This left him crippled for a long time and unable to do much work. While at the factory he had worked from 6 o’clock in the morning until 9 o’clock at night for the sum of 3 pence (6 cents in American money) a day, he allowed a little time for meals.

After recovering from his injury he went to Newton and did chores around the house for a fine family and helped attend an old gentleman who was quite helpless. He worked there for two years for board and clothing. His mother received some money at the death of her brother and desired to apprentice Edward and his brother Richard that they might learn a trade and help in the care of their sister.

Edward was apprenticed to a man who would teach him how to make shoes. He was bound for three years for his board and room, and his mother paid the sum of six sovereigns (approx $30.00) for his apprenticeship. This was not a happy experience as he did not get enough food and it was not of the highest quality, and he was required to do all kinds of work besides the trade he was supposed to be learning. The man was most unkind and Edward suffered a great deal of abuse as his employer routinely beat him. The last day he spent in the shop he approached his bench and the man came at him and struck at him, subjecting him to the cruelest of treatment. When he finally managed to get out of his grasp, Edward ran out into the street with the man cursing and following. A gentleman who was passing by stopped the young boy and asked what was the matter. He was besmeared with blood, and after hearing Edwards story, the man took him away and he returned to his mother’s home. He had to appear before the magistrate in order to break the bonds of his apprenticeship and after viewing the swollen stripes on his back and the numerous bruises to his body, he was liberated from the situation.

A step father in the home made a difference when he returned to Caersus, and it was not a harmonious situation. Edward went South to Tredergar and obtained work as a shoemaker. The situation here was of the poorest as the men he worked with were foul mouthed, dishonest, and lived unsavory lives. After working there for about a year, he began to realize that he would have to leave if he was to find any satisfaction in life.

He was standing on a corner one evening when a man touched his shoulder and took up a conversation with him. After a time the man asked him if he would like to come out into the country and work for him. He worked for this man for ten years in satisfactory conditions and learned many valuable lessons.

Thru the years Edward had attended religious meetings but had never joined their congregations as he felt discouraged in their discourses. Then the L.D.S. Missionaries came along and after a time he accepted the doctrine and was baptized 20 July 1849 at the age of 28. In October of 1850, Edward set sail on the ship Joseph Badger for America and arrived in New Orleans five weeks later.

On the boat trip to St. Louis, Cholera broke out. Many were stricken and some died. Edward suffered through the trip but was befriended by William and Hannagh Evans, also from Wales. Upon arriving in St. Louis these good people took him to a boarding house and paid for his boarding until he was able to care for himself. He obtained a job working in a coal pit near St. Louis and he attended a branch of the church there and was active as a teacher for about a year. It was during the summer of 1852 that Edward joined a wagon train headed for Salt Lake and they arrived 29 Sept 1852. A number of those who arrived with this wagon train lived in a tent in the area of the 15th ward and eventually settled there among other Welch saints who had come to Salt Lake.

Edward was a shoemaker and made shoes for John Taylor’s family where he became acquainted with a charming young lady who was employed in the Taylor home by the name of Jane Treharne. She was the daughter of Wm. Treharne and Ann Richards who had left Wales in Feb 1849, Thru the visits to the Taylor home, a friendship was enjoyed by these two young people and they were married 6 Feb 1854, receiving their endowments in the endowment house 1 Apr 1854 and were sealed by Brigham Young 25 Mar 1855.

Their home was humble with furniture consisting of a small stove, a large box for a table, two small boxes used as chairs, and a home-made bed which consisted of 4 posts with a 3″ by 4″ timber nailed between the posts. The timbers had pegs about 8 inches apart around which a small rope was stretched back and forth across the frame and then lengthwise as well. Over the rope springs were laid a ticking of corn shucks and then the bed clothes. The corn shucks were changed once a year, each fall as the corn was gathered at harvest time.

Their home was enlarged as their family increased and by the time their four sons and three daughters arrived, the house was fairly good sized with some comforts. The children were Edward Treharne, born 14 July 1855; Jedediah William, born 27 Dec 1856; Brigham Willard, born 11 Sept 1858; Elizabeth Ann, born 20 Jan 1860; Sarah Jane, born 6 Nov 1861; Emily Treharne, born, 14 Feb 1864; and George Savage, born 27 July 1870.

Edward was one of the “Minute Men” organized by Brigham Young to go to and be prepared to meet Johnson’s Army at a minutes’ notice. He was called to be a captain of ten men who were to build fortresses and trenches to deceive the army. The men involved in this project suffered great hardships, lack of food and extreme exposure during extremely cold weather.

On the 26 April, 1857, Edward saw his family leave for Spanish Fork when he was detailed to be one of two men selected from the 15th Ward to guard the city as Johnson’s Army passed thru. These men were to put a torch to the kindling wood in the center of each home if, for any reason the army should fail to keep their agreement to ride through and make camp at some point at least 20 miles away from the city. All the homes were evacuated during this time with men appointed from each ward to fulfill this assignment. Most families returned to their homes in 1858.

Edward worked on the Temple Block wall and was there at the laying of the corner stone of the Salt Lake Temple. He had a small shoe shop business in the rear of his home until it became unprofitable because shoes could be brought into Salt Lake and sold cheaper than he could make them by hand. He obtained work at the Utah Central Rail Road and remained employed there until he was 80 years of age.

His church activities were always of great importance to him and he led the choir for about 14 years and was an active home teacher until he was 75 years old. He served as one of the Seven Presidents of the 2nd Quorum of Seventy.

Perhaps his greatest contribution in life was his family. Each child typified the product of an honorable pioneer family, and were living examples of the quote:”By their fruits ye shall know them”. He bequeathed a noble heritage to his posterity and passed away 7 Feb 1904 in Salt Lake City, Utah.

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