Village History

The Story of Ashland

The following was and excerpt from the Ashland Centennial Book and written by Mrs. Walter Adkins

 

The Village of Ashland is the youngest born of all the towns and villages in Cass County.  In 1857 the Petersburg and Tonica railroad was surveyed through that part of Cass County, and that same year, a land company, composed of James L Beggs, Elmore Crowe, Wm. G. Spears, Gov. Richard Yates, and others laid out the town of Ashland upon lands owned by Beggs and Crowe.  It contained 144 blocks besides the public squares and commons.  There was but one house on the lands platted.  It was the residence of Mr. Crowe.  

 

The name of the new town was taken from the home of the great Kentucky statesman, Henry Clay, who was known as the Sage of Ashland and was the idol of the Whig Party.  He was the Speaker of the House of Representatives, served several months in the Senate, and was three times a candidate for the Presidency.  There was always a special reason for his defeat.  Once, when told that a certain act of his would lose the election, he said "I would rather be right than President".  What a heritage we have in the name of our town.  

 

The name for this new town was universally approved.  The men who formed the Land Company were loyal Whigs; and many of the early settlers came from Kentucky.  Both groups were united by a desire to honor the Sage of Ashland.  

 

Ashland proved a success that surpassed the best wishes of its friends.  The railroad was built as proposed and people came to the town for permanent settlement.  They could get to Bloomington, to Jacksonville and even Chicago by the new railroad.  

 

The State road or public highway between Beardstown and Springfield passed through the town, with a first class state line running every day.

 

About 40 buildings were erected in the town the first year.  Crowe, Beggs and Spears; three of the original town proprietors, built the Brick Hotel, which stood at Main and Yates.  Blacksmith, wagon and repair shops were built soon after the organization of the town.  W.R. Hunter became the first merchant to build a store on Main Street.  It was the only general store until 1865.  A post office was established November 1857 and D.H. Claypool was the first postmaster.

 

By 1869 Ashland had reached such a stage of population and business that citizens thought it best to have the village incorporated.  A charter was granted by the State on April 19, 1869.  The first village officers were; President Stephen Barnes; Clerk W.R. Hunter; Police Magistrate J.G. Smith; Trustees James L. Beggs, A.L. Corson, and J.G. Smith.  

 

In 1871, the railroad known as the B&O was built from Beardstown to Springfield through Ashland and gave to this village an additional opportunity for progress. 

 

Ashland continued to flourish but on September 17, 1887 a fire devastated a major portion of the Downtown area.  Ashland, like other places where there are courageous citizens, soon had building of better character above the ashes of the old ones.  The next twenty-five years saw the greatest development in the town's history.  In 1915 there were four churches, two banks, elementary and high school, one weekly newspaper, three dry goods stores, two drug stores, four groceries, two furniture stores, three grain elevators, three barber shops, two harness shops, two butcher shops, three restaurants, two hotels, two millineries, one book and stationery store, one undertaker, a livery and feed barn, four physicians and one dentist.

Mayors of Ashland

James L. Beggs                  1868

Silas Hexter                       1889-1890

David Middour                  1890-1891

Darwin S. Galley               1900-1901

Silas Hexter                       1893-1894

John G. Pern                      1894-1895

Silas Hexter                       1896-1897

J.B. Lohman                      1897-1899

David Middour                 1899-1900

Darwin Gailey                  1900-1901

Silas Hexter                      1903-1905

Mylo Lee                           1909-1911

Darwin S. Gailey              1915-1917

F.W. McLaughlin              1917-1919

John Blank                        1923-1925

David Wilson                    1925-1929

S. D. Danenberger               1929-1935

David Wilson                    1935-1949

S. D. Danenberger               1949-1953

Robert Newell                   1953-1956

William Quinley               1956-1961

Willard Evans                  1961-1981

Bill L. Roth                         1981-1992

Keith Gregory                    1992-1995

Jim Noel                            1995-1998

Keith Gregory                    1998-2001

Dave Handy                       2001-2013

Terry Blakeman                2013-2016

Kitty Mau                          2016-present

 

 

 

Website Created by:

TJ Blakeman

101 North Yates St.
Ashland, IL 62612

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217.476.3317

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