Biography of Joseph Ashton

Joseph Ashton, who passed to his reward February 27, 1897, was for about half a century numbered among the representative citizens of Grundy county. Coming here in pioneer days, he thenceforth was intimately associated with the upbuilding and development of this section of the state, and never failed to do his entire duty as a loyal, patriotic American, upholding the law and good government, and using his influence for the maintenance of excellent schools, churches and all institutions which benefit a community.

His father, John Ashton, was a native of England, and at an early age he was left an orphan, to struggle with life’s problems as well as he could.  He was bound out to learn the trade of hatter, and followed that calling for some years in the British Isle. At length he determined to seek a home and fortune in the United States, and soon alter arriving in Philadelphia he obtained a position as foreman in a large factory where cloth was manufactured. This responsible place he continued to fill acceptably for several years, and in 1850 he came west to Illinois. Locating upon a good farm in Kendall county, he remained there, occupied in the cultivation of the place until his death in 1878. His wife, whose maiden name was Betsy Shaw, had departed this life about a year previously, in 1878.

The birth of Joseph Ashton occurred in Delaware county, Pennsylvania, in 1829, and he was reared in the Quaker City. There he found employment as a weaver in the factory where his father was foreman, and continued industriously engaged in this trade until he was nineteen years of age. In 1851 he concluded to come to Illinois, and for three years after his arrival here he carried on farming in Nettle Creek township, Grundy county. He then purchased a homestead in Wauponsee township, and devoted the remainder of his life to its improvement and cultivation, meeting with success in his laudable ambition. He had no aspirations to publicity and preferred the quiet of the home circle and the society of his own family, though he was friendly and kind to all of his acquaintances and ever ready to lend to them a helping hand. Politically he was a Republican, believing firmly in the superiority of his party. His life was well rounded and complete, his chief ambitions fulfilled and his duties nobly done, when he was called upon to lay aside his burdens. He is survived by his devoted wife, Mrs. Rachel (Hager) Ashton, who was born in Illinois, June 12, 1844, and is making a home for her two sons. Her only daughter, Sarah Levina, is deceased.

William Ashton, elder son of our subject and wife, was born in this county, November 1, 1865, and was reared in the usual vocations of farmers’ boys. When he arrived at a suitable age he commenced attending the district school, and later it was his privilege to pursue a three-year course in the Morris Normal. Then, returning to the parental farm, he dutifully gave his time and services to his father, in the care of the homestead. As he was but little more than nineteen years of age at the time of his father’s death, unusual responsibilities were necessarily thrust upon him, but he proved equal to the task and has won the approbation of all for the manly way in which he has discharged his duties.

John A. Ashton, the younger son of Joseph and Rachel Ashton, was born December 23, 1870, on the old homestead in Wauponsee township, where he is yet dwelling with his mother and brother. From his youth he has been accustomed to the routine of farm work, and now he is justly accounted one of the practical and successful agriculturists of the neighborhood. With the exception of one year, 1885, when he lived in the village of Morris in order to attend school, his entire life has been passed at his birthplace. He possesses a good education and is a reliable citizen, highly esteemed by the old friends and acquaintances of a lifetime. In company with his brother he carries on a farm of one hundred and ninety-eight acres, taking great pride in keeping everything in an orderly manner. A modern house, with all of the essential conveniences of this decade, was erected by the family on the place in 1897.

Source: Biographical and Genealogical Record of La Salle and Grundy County, Illinois, Volume II, Chicago, 1900, p. 499-501.

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