Descendants Of Ashley Family Locate Burial Site Of Relative After 100+ Year Search
The search is over - 100-plus years after the death of Captain Matthew Ashley, the father of Douglas original landmark owner John Marshall Ashley, family members of the two men finally located Captain Ashley’s burial site after what had been an exhausting effort. It took nearly a century and a half, but Ashley family members now have the satisfaction of knowing the resting place of their family hero.
The case of Captain Matt Ashley’s whereabouts is not only significant because of his status of Company Captain during the War Between the States, but also because of him being the father of Douglas business icon, John Marshall Ashley, known for his landmark namesake, the Ashley-Slater House in Douglas.
In the late 1800’s, the elder Ashley traveled to Texas and became ill with pneumonia, which quickly claimed his life. Subsequently, a letter was mailed back home to Douglas, advising his family of his untimely death.
Young John Marshall Ashley was just eleven years old when his father died, and the family was told he was buried in Texas on March 14, 1872.
After John Marshall Ashley (affectionately called Marshall by the family) became successful and quite wealthy through his many business enterprises in Douglas and Coffee County, he journeyed to Texas as a young man and placed a suitable marker on his father’s grave, all done as a tribute to the father he so missed since he was a young lad.
As decades passed, descendants tried to trace John Marshall’s journey, but were unable to locate the burial site of Captain Ashley. No trace of documentation could be found indicating the exact location of Captain Ashley’s gravesite, and at one point a researcher was commissioned by the family and dispatched to Texas in hopes of locating their descendant. This also proved unsuccessful.
But the story does have a happy ending as on Friday, April 13, 2018, another attempt was made, this one resulting in full success.
The stroke of success began a day earlier on Thursday, April 12, as descendants of the Ashley family journeyed to Douglas to trace the footprints of their ancestors who lived in various locations in Coffee and Jeff Davis counties.
Family members Marcia Pace Lindstrom, her husband Fred, and sons Ashley and Ellison Pennewill arrived in Douglas for dinner at the Spivey Catfish House with their trip host, Dale L. Kirkland of Hazlehurst. That evening plans were discussed for the following day.
After visiting seven historical sites of the Ashley family the next day, Marcia commented that the family’s desire was to locate Captain Matt Ashley’s burial site that had eluded the family for so many years.
Later that evening a call was made by Kirkland to researcher Pat Hand, whose efforts determined that Matt Ashley’s place of internment was in the Oakwood Cemetery located in Travis County, Austin, Texas.
After receiving the positive news of the research, Kirkland contacted Marcia Lindstrom, who was en route to Savannah for an evening with family.
In turn, Lindstrom contacted her father, Ashley D. Pace, Jr. of Pensacola, Florida, a great-nephew of John Marshall Ashley.
After a family discussion, the decision was made to have a new marker placed in honor of Captain Matt Ashley near the graves of his wife and other relatives in the Hazlehurst City Cemetery.
The new marker to be placed in Hazlehurst will acknowledge his burial site in Austin, Texas. –Special contribution to The Enterprise by Dale Kirkland