Lewis and Clark County, MTGenWeb Bio A
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LEWIS & CLARK COUNTY, MONTANA

BIOGRAPHIES - SURNAME A

Abner Adams, one of the highly respected early pioneers of Montana, resides in the Prickly Pear valley, six miles northeast of Helena. The facts in regard to his life and ancestry as gleaned for publication,are as follows:

Abner Adams was born in Otsego County New York, May 12, 1829. He traces his ancestry back to English people who were among the earliest settlers of America. His great-grandfather Adams fought in the Revolution. The Adamses had a farm in the town of Harwicks, where several generations of the family were born, lived and died, the land passing from one generation to the next. The name Abner who also handed down from father to son, from great-grandfathr Abner Adams on down to the subject of our sketch. On this farm grandfather Abner Adams was born, resided 68 yeears and died and his son Abner was also born there and also lived to be 68. The mother of our subject who maiden name was Diana Latin was a native of Connecticut. She was the mother of five sons and one daughter, the subject of our sketch being next to the oldest and one of the four who are still living. The mother died at the age of 45 years. Both parents were members of the Episcopal Church and were people of high standing in the community. When the subject of our sketch was four years old his parents removed to Cattaraugus County New York, where they remained 14 years and from whence they removed to Janesville, Wisconsin. At Janesville his early manhood was spent and there in 1854 he was married to Arabelle Wheeler, a native of Connecticut. After their marriage they settled on a farm on which they resided until 1857, when they sold out and moved to Iowa. In Iowa Mr. Adams was engaged in farming ten years. He was a bricklayer by trade, and in addition to his farming operations he also did considerable building in Iowa.

In 1867, with his wife and two children, Ella M. and Emma, Mr. Adams came up the Missouri River to Montana.They first settled on Ten Mile River near Holter's Mill and until the following spring he worked at his trade. Then he came to the Prickly Pear valley and here he has ever since resided. The land in this valley was then all unsurveyed. He bought a squatter's right to 160 acres, for which he paid $700 and later paid $1000 for another 160 acres. In 1885 he sold half of his land for $3000 and it has since become worth much more than that. In 1882 he built the comfortable brick residence in which he now resides. While he has devoted much of his energies to the improvement of his land, he has also given much of his time to work at his trade, many of the buildings in Helena being the result of his handiwork.

Mrs. Adams died of apolexy in 1884, aged 60 years and after remaining single seven years, Mr. Adams was married April 20, 1891 to Marguerite Machen, a native of Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania. Her father, Jonas Hartzell, died in Pa. and soon afterward her widowed mother moved to Edgerton, Rock County, Wisconsin in 1855. Both were members of the Presbyterian Church. Her mother took charge of the property, and reared her famly of three daughters and two sons. Mrs. Hartzell was a descendant of the dintinguished family of Downings of London, England from which Downing Street in London took its name. She proved herself not only a kind and loving mother, but also a successful financier. At the time of her death, which occurred in 1886, in her 67th year, she was the owner of four good farms, and left one to each of her surviving children. Mrs. Adams was the youngest of the family. She still owns her valuable farm in Wisconsin. By her first husband she had one son, George Grant, who died in infancy and one daughter, Blanche, who is now the wife of S.T. Clark, a son of Rev. Robert Clark, and a Mason in good standing. Mr. and Mrs. Clark have two children--Clifton and Percy. Mr. Adams has been a Master Mason since 1864.

 

Shirley B. Ashby, president of the Helena National Bank, was born in Fauquier County, Virginia, August 10, 1843.

Mr. Ashby is a descendant of English and Scotch ancestors who were early settlers in Virginia, they having located there previous to the Revolution. His mother's side of the house, the Carters, are descendants of the Stewarts of Scotland. They were among the first settlers of Virginia. Mr. Ashby's grandfather, Captain John Ashby served in the War of 1812, and lived to a ripe old age. His son, George William Ashby, the father of our subject, was born in Virginia in 1800; married Phebe G. Carter, also a native of Virginia, born in 1807. They had a family of five children: three of whom died when young. One son W.Wirt Ashby, died at St. Louis Missouri, when in his fifty-seventh year. Thus Shirley C. Ashby is the only one of the family left.

He was reared in his native state and at the commencement of the Civil War he enlisted in Company D, Sixth Virginia Cavalry, under Colonel Firz Hugh, in Lee's division. Mr. Ashby was then a youth of seventeen years. He served gallantly during the war, being in many hard-fought battles and having several horses killed under him, but always escaping serious injury himself. The ravages of war having swept away nearly all their property, the Ashbys found themselves almost penniless. Shirley C. Ashby then went to St. Louis and was employed as clerk on a steamboat. In 1867 we find him in Montana, in the employ of I.G. Baker and Brothers, dealers in general merchandise at Ft. Benton. This firm also did a large freighting business. While with them he became a very efficient assistant. He made many excursions to trade with the Indians, these trips extending all along the Missouri River and frequently being attended with great danger to him. Thus he became acquainted with all the Indian chiefs at the various posts where he traded, and was often compelled to camp and eat with the Indians. He proved himself of great value to his employers and they, appreciating his efforts in their behalf, gave him an interst in the business, and thus by his courage and business enterprise he gained a start in life. He continued to make Ft. Benton his headquarters until 1870, when he came to Helena and was employed as clerk, having loaned his surplus funds. After a time he was elected to the office of County Assessor, in which capacity he served five years. In the meantime he also embarked in the real estate and insurance business in both of which he was successful, continuing the same and working his way up until 1889. That year he sold out. Then he turned his attention to the sale of agricultural implements, wagons and carriages, in which he did a large business, his operations covering a wide extend of territory. This business also proved a success and he still continues it. In 1890 the Helena National Bank was started by John T. Murphey and Frank Baird, Mr. Murphey being elected president.

Mr. Ashby became a stockholder in this institution, and in August 1892 upon Mr. Murphey's retiring from the presidency, Mr. Ashby was elected to succeed him. Since coming to Helena, Mr. Ashby has interested himself in all that pertains to the well-being and growth of the city, having erected several business blocks, as well as a fine residence for himself and his family. Politically, he has been a life-long Democrat, religiously he gives his prefernece to the Methodist Episcopal Church South.

Dr. John Baker Atchison, a prominent member of the medical profession of Helena, Montana, was born in Clay County, Missouri, April 9, 1843. He came of Scotch-Irish ancestors who located in Pennsylvania in the seventeenth century. From Pennsylvania they emigrated to Virginia thence to Kentucky and later to Missouri. They were people of the highest integrity and were among the best citizens of the various communities in which they lived. Some of the family participated in the War for Independence. William Atchison, the Doctor's father, was born near Lexington Kentucky in 1813. He married Catharine Baker, a native of Huntsville, Alabama, born in 1817, and in 1842 they removed to Missouri where they reared their family of six children, all of whom are still living. Both father and mother were worthy members of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church. She passed on in 1857 and he in 1872. He as a planter and large stock dealer and during the Civil War suffered greatly in the loss of his property.

Dr. Atchison was the second son and second child in his father's family. He was a student at Pleasant Ridge College and was just merging into young manhood when the Civil War came on. Filled with enthusiasm for the cause of the South and the success of his own people, he left college and enlisted in Captain McCarty's Company, Hugh's Battalion, which afterward became the Third Volunteer Infantry of Missouri. He served in General Price's command. He participated in the battle at Pea Ridge and in all the fights during the whole campaign on the east side of the Mississippi, including the battles of Corinth, Hatchis, Farmington, Baker's Creek, Big Block, Port Gibson and the siege of Vicksburg. After the siege came the Georgia campaign. He was in the battle of Resaca and the battle of Fort Blakeley, his command being captured at the latter place. He was sent as a prisoner of war to Ship Island and from there to Jackson Mississippi, where he was paroled. This was shortly after the war closed. He had entered the service as a private and when he came out at the close of the war it was with the rank of Orderly Sergeant. During his army life he received a few slight wounds, but no serious injuries. The war over, young Atchison entered the Canadian Literary Institute where he resumed the studies he had dropped at the beginning of hostilities. From there he went to Jefferson Medical College at Philadelphia, completing a course there and also one at the Long Island College Hospital graduating at the latter institution in 1867. Immediately thereafter he entered upon the practice of his profession at St. Joseph Missouri where he met with marked success and where he remained until 1875. From that year until 1879 he practiced in St. Louis and in the latter year, on account of failing health he came to Helena, Montana for a change of climate. Here he has since continued to reside and the practice of his profession has met with eminent success. The Doctor has also been successful as a businessman since coming here having made some valuable investments in real estate. The Doctor is a member of the Montana Medical Association, of which he served as president during the year 1893. He is also president of the Montana Board of Medical Examiners. In 1873 Dr. Atchison was married to Virginia Toole, a native of Missouri and a daughter of Judge Edwin Toole, a citizen of Helena. They have five sons and two daughters: Nelsine, Edwin A., Ann, Virginia, William, Warren, David R and Benjamin P.

Dr. Atchison's political affiliations are wit the Democratic party. He is a member of the Patriotic Sons of America, the Ancient Order of United Workmen and the Masonic fraternity having taken all the degrees in the latter organization. Like his southern ancestor the Doctor is noted for his genial hospitality. He is enthusiastic in his profession and by his close attention he has won the confidence of all with whom he has come in contact.

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