|JUDGE GEORGE W. ASHDOWN.|
No history of Sundance would be complete without
extended reference to Judge George W. Ashdown, for he is its oldest
settler in years of continuous connection with the city, none
other of its residents having so long resided within its borders.
Moreover, he has been very prominent in its public affairs and is now
district court commissioner, has been justice of the peace for the
past sixteen years and is filling the office of coroner of Crook
He was born in England, of Scotch parentage, on the 19th of January, 1852, his parents being Alexander and Charlotte (Martin) Ashdown, who came to the United States in 1857, when their son George was a little lad of but five years. They established their home in Rock Island county, Illinois, where Mr. Ashdown was reared to his sixteenth year, during which period he acquired a common school education. In 1869 he followed Horace Greeley's advice by running away from home in order to try his fortune in the west. He first made his way to Abilene. Kansas, and went out with the first bunch of cattle that was taken up to the Republican river. Subsequently he went to St. Joseph, Missouri, where he worked at the butcher's trade, which he had previously learned in Illinois. He afterward became a resident of Oakdale, Nebraska, and thence removed to West Point, while later he established his home in Tekamah, Nebraska, where he resided until he went to Omaha. In all of those different cities he worked at the butcher's trade. In 1877 he removed from Omaha to Cheyenne, Wyoming, where, in connection with a partner, he built a flatboat and then went down the Powder river, hunting and trapping, the trip covering a period of more than two years. In 1880 he located in Big Horn and opened a saloon but soon afterward was appointed deputy sheriff of Buffalo and sold his business. He served for a year and a half in the sheriff's office and in 1883; he removed to Sundance, at which time the town contained a single log cabin which was used as a postoffice and the store for the community. Mr. Ashdown rode the range, punched cattle and was employed at various lines of range work. In 1885 he homesteaded and preempted land on the Williams divide, being the first man on the divide, and thus he planted the seeds of civilization in a hitherto undeveloped region. During the first winter he did not have a horse and he and his wife hauled their wood on a handsled. He was not a successful ranchman, however, and after three years on the ranch he removed to Sundance. In the intervening years he has been identified with the hotel business, the livery business, the butchering business and the saloon business, and he has several times been called to public office. He was deputy sheriff under E. B. Armstrong for four years and for two years under Horace Cole, serving thus under democratic and republican administrations. He also served as city marshal and game warden, holding the three offices at the same time. For the past eighteen years, save for an intermission of three years, he has continued to fill the position of justice of the peace, in which office he has pronounced opinions that have been strictly fair and impartial and has thus won the confidence and goodwill of all. On the elevation of E. C. Raymond to the bench he was appointed district court commissioner and in January, 1918, on the death of Green Todd, county coroner, Mr. Ashdown was appointed to fill out the unexpired term. He is now serving in the three offices of justice of the peace, district court commissioner and county coroner, the duties of which he discharges with marked promptness, fidelity and ability.
In 1885 Judge Ashdown was united in marriage to Miss Charlotte Bixler, in what is now Crook county. She came to Wyoming from Kansas in 1884 and is thus numbered among the pioneer women of the state. To Judge and Mrs. Ashdown has been born a daughter, Charlotte, who is the wife of Luther Vines, of Sundance, and they have one daughter and three sons.
Judge Ashdown has always been a stalwart democrat in his political views and an earnest worker for the party, serving for two terms as chairman of the county democratic convention in Crook county. He is a member of the Owls and also of the American Yeomen. There is no phase of pioneer life in his section of the state with which he is not familiar and he is one of the interesting historic figures in Crook county by reason of his long connection with its development, upbuilding and progress.