Nathaniel Ashby (1835-1882)

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Nathaniel Ashby
Born: 25 May 1835 Salem, Massachusetts
Died: 19 Mar 1882 at sea from San Francisco
Father: Nathaniel Ashby
Mother: Susan Hammond
Siblings: Robert Reed Ashby
Benjamin Ashby
Susan Ann Ashby
Elizabeth Rebecca Ashby
Martha Ellen Ashby
Harriet Maria Ashby
Nathaniel Ashby
Richard H. Ashby
William Hardin Ashby
Mary Jane Ashby
Emma Smith Ashby
John Jefford Ashby
Spouse: (1) Mary Virginia Garr
Married: 11 Feb 1858 Salt Lake City, Utah
Children: Mary Virginia Ashby
Nathaniel Ashby
Benjamin Franklin Ashby
George William Ashby
Louise Adaline Ashby
Briant Hammond Ashby
Charlotta Maria Ashby
Robert Turner Ashby
Zina Ashby
Paulina Ashby
Spouse: (2) Martha Ann Truman
Married: 11 Aug 1870 Salt Lake City, Utah
Children: Richard Truman Ashby
Jacob Henry Ashby
Elizabeth Ann Ashby
Alice May Ashby
Emma Luella Ashby
Rodney Carlos Ashby

Nathaniel Ashby was born Monday, May 25, 1835, in Salem, Essex, Massachusetts, the son of Nathaniel and Susan Hammond Ashby. The Ashby's of Salem, Massachusetts were all descended from ship builders and sailors. Nat's parents, Nathaniel Ashby Sr. and Susan Hammond learned of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ by the preaching of Erastus Snow in 1841. They joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, some of the treasure in Salem the Lord told Joseph Smith about in D&C 111. Nathaniel Sr. was a successful shoemaker. Elder Snow sold him a plot in Nauvoo, Illinois adjoining his own, where he was having a brick house built. Nathaniel sent word to have a similar house built adjoining the Snow house. The Snow-Ashby Duplex is still standing in Nauvoo today, in use as missionary housing.

The Ashbys moved to Nauvoo in the fall of 1843, arriving Friday, November 3. Their new house was unfinished, so they lived in a frame house that winter. They lived in Nauvoo almost three years. There they received patriarchal blessings from Hyrum Smith in 1843. Their house stood 2 blocks north and one east of the Mansion House where the Prophet Joseph lived. Nathaniel Sr. was called to take the news of Joseph's Presidential Candidacy back to the people of Massachusetts in 1844. Mother Susan took her children to see the bodies of Joseph and Hyrum when they lay in the Mansion House. The dismal howling of dogs, the uncertainty and fear made the night of the Prophet's martyrdom memorable.

The Ashby family was driven from Nauvoo with the Saints in 1846. Father Ashby was unaccustomed to the hardships of life on the trail and soon succumbed to sickness on the plains near Bonapart, Iowa in September 1846. The family eventually arrived in the Salt Lake Valley, some in 1847 and others in 1848. Susan Hammond Ashby, married Joseph Bates Noble in Winter Quarters February 11, 1847. Brother Noble lived just up the block from the Snow-Ashby Duplex in Nauvoo. Nat was just a boy of about 13 when he arrived in the Salt Lake Valley and was almost 16 when his mother died in Salt Lake, 15 May 1851.

The orphaned Ashby children were left in the care of Briant Stringham. Briant had married Nathaniel's older sister, Susan Ann Ashby Young, in 1850. Briant worked with the Church cattle on Antelope Island in the Salt Lake. Under Briant's supervision Nathaniel became an expert horseman and cowboy.

Nathaniel participated in the efforts to keep Johnston's army out of the Valley in the Echo Valley campaign of 1857. He was a member of Colonel Robert T. Burton's command. The next year, on Thursday, February 11, 1858, he married his first wife, Mary Virginia Garr in the Endowment House in Salt Lake City. Mary Virginia's father was Fielding Garr, who had been in charge of the tithing cattle. So Nathaniel married his boss's daughter.

Together they had ten children: Mary Virginia, Nathaniel, Benjamin Franklin, George William, Louise Adaline, Briant Hammond, Charlotta Maria, Robert Turner, Zina and Paulina Ashby.

In 1861 Nathaniel and Mary were called on a colonization mission to Southern Utah and they were some of the founding settlers of St. George. In 1869, Nathaniel was called as the 2nd Bishop of the St. George 4th ward, succeeding Bishop Robert Gardner.

On Thursday, August 11, 1870, Nathaniel was married to Martha Ann Truman in the Endowment House in Salt Lake City. Martha was the daughter of Jacob Mica Truman, Presiding Elder in the Mountain Meadows area.

Nathaniel and Martha had six children: Richard Truman, Jacob Henry,Elizabeth Ann, Alice May, Emma Luella and Rodney Carlos Ashby.

Nathaniel was released as Bishop of the St. George 4th Ward in 1877, having served about eight years. He was succeeded by David H. Cannon.

The Ashby families faced the normal trials of life, but 1881 brought them extra challenges. Four of Nathaniel's children died during the spring and summer. As a further complication, however, Nathaniel's health began to fail. He was suffering from tuberculosis.

His illness was of such concern that the Brethren agreed to send him on a mission to the Sandwich Islands, in part to help him recover his health. On Thursday, December 1, 1881, Nathaniel received his patriarchal blessing in St. George from William G. Perkins. On Tuesday, December 13, Nathaniel was set apart as a missionary by John Taylor, George Q. Cannon and Joseph F. Smith. Shortly therefter, Nathaniel left for his mission. He decided to have his second wife, Martha, accompany him. This probably because Mary had given birth and lost a child just a few months previously. Nathaniel's first family was represented by Benjamin Franklin Ashby, his seventeen year-old son.

Nathaniel's health didn't improve with the change of climate. The Ashby's decided to return home early in 1882. On the trip home Nathaniel's health took a turn for the worse. In probate court, later, Martha testified that she "was with him at the time of his death, that he died on the Nineteenth day of March A.D. 1882 near San Francisco while sailing from Honolula, Sandwich Islands to San Francisco on his way to his home in the City of St. George, County of Washington, Territory of Utah".

Nathaniel's body was returned to St. George for burial. From his patriarchal blessing comes this tribute: Your peace shall be a river and your righteousness as the wave of the sea, you never will be cast to and fro as a drunken man. You will glorify and sanctify your Heavenly Father in all things. You will have wives and a large posterity, and they will be one with you in all things. You will raise up your family and they will call you blessed for ever more.


  • Ashby, Robert L. Ashby Ancestry, pp 30-31
  • 1850 Federal Census, Utah, Davis County, Page #29, Dwelling #194, Family #194:
Ashley, Benjamin
, Nathaniel, 17, m, Mass
  • 1860 Federal Census, Utah Territory, Great Salt Lake County, 13th Ward, Great Salt Lake City, p. #12, Dwelling #69:
Ashby, Richard
, Nathaniel, 22, m, Laborer, Mass
  • Jensen, Andrew. Church Chronology, 7 Nov 1869 (Sunday).
At a conference held in St. George, Utah, the settlements of the Saints in southern Utah were organized into a stake of Zion with Joseph W. Young as president, and Robert Gardner and Jas. G. Bleak as counselors; St. George was divided into four wards with David Milne, Henry Eyring, Walter Granger and Nathaniel Ashby as their respective bishops. Hebron and Clover Valley were organized into a Ward, with Geo. H. Crosby as Bishop.
  • 1870 Federal Census, Utah Washington Co., St. George, Family #153:
Ashley, Nathan, 35, m, w, Stock Herder, 1500/100, Mass
, Mary, 29, f, w, Keeping House, Ind
, Mary, 11, f, w, at Home, Utah
, Franklin, 6, m, w, Utah
, George W., 4, m, w, Utah
, Louisa, 2, f, w, Utah
Olson, Chertion, 14, m, w, Stockherder, Utah
  • 1880 Federal Census, St. George, Washington, Utah
Ashby, Nathaniel, head, married, male, white, 45, MA, Stock Raiser, MA, MA
, Mary V., wife, married, female, white, 39, IN, Keeping House, VA
, Martha A., wife, married, female, white, 35, UT, Keeping House, NY, MI
, Mary V., daughter, married, female, white, 21, UT, At Home, MA, IN
, Ben F., son, male, white, 16, UT, Apprentice Carpenter, MA, IN
, George W., son, male, white, 14, UT, At Home, MA, IN
, Laura A., daughter, single, female, white, 11, UT, Attending School, MA, IN
, B. H., son, single, male, white, 9, UT, Attending School, MA, IN
, Richard T., son, single, male, white, 8, UT, Attending School, MA, UT
, S. M., daughter, single, female, white, 6, UT, Attending School, MA, IN
, Henry, son, single, male, white, 6, UT, Attending School, MA, IN
, Elizabeth, daughter, single, female, white, 4, UT, MA, UT
, Robert T., son, single, male, white, 4, UT, MA, UT
, Alice M., daughter, single, female, white, 3, UT, MA, UT
, Emma L., daughter, single, female, white, 1, UT, MA, UT
, Zina, daughter, single, female, 1, UT, MA, IN
  • Death: FHL Film #484836, Washington County, Utah, Probate Record, Volume F, p. 74:
Martha Truman Ashby being first duly sworn says, she knew Nathaniel Ashby, deceased was with him at the time of his death, that he died on the Nineteenth day of March A.D. 1882 near San Francisco while sailing from Honolula, Sandwich Islands to San Francisco on his way to his home in the City of St. George, County of Washington, Territory of Utah; that she knows of no Will made by said deceased, that she asked said deceased before his death, if he had made any will, he said he had not.
Mary V. G. Ashby being sworn says that Nathaniel Ashby, died on or about the nineteenth day of March A.D. 1882 - That she has searched diligently through the papers of said deceased and found no will, and that she knows of no will made at any time by deceased.
Richard Ashby, being sworn says, that he knows of no will left by said deceased.
  • Burial: Leany, Mrs. Mary M. W., compiler. St. George, Washington County Cemetery Records, 1861-1935, p. 4:
ASHBY, Nathaniel, b. 25 May 1825, Salem, Mass., s. of Nathaniel Ashby and Susan Ann Hammond, d. 19 Mar 1882. Husband of Mary Virginia Garr and Martha Ann Truman.
  • Probate: Washington County, Utah, Probate Record, Volume F, pp. 72, 74, 75, 77, 79, 107-111, 120, 126, 131, 132, 489, Volume G, p. 242, FHL Film #484836.
Richard Ashby, Mahonri Snow and Adolphus R. Whitehead appointed administrators of the estate. Page 132 details the final division of Nathaniel's estate and lists Mary as his widow. Martha is only listed as guardian of her children. After Mary dies her portion Nathaniel's estate was divided equally between Nathaniel's children (including Martha's 3 surviving children). They each received 1/11th of the remaining property.
  • Black, Susan W. E. Early LDS Membership Data (Infobases, 1995).
  • Jensen, Andrew. LDS Biographical Encyclopedia: Volume 3, p. 590; Volume 4, p. 591.
  • Jensen, Andrew, Encyclopedic History of the Church, p. 728.
  • Perkins, William G. Patriarch Blessing of Nathaniel Ashby. 1 Dec 1881, St. George, Utah, Volume 30, p. 595.
  • Robison, Lindon Joel, ed. Autobiographical Notes & Diary of Alice May Ashby Robison. Typewritten Manuscript.
  • Robison, Wayne Ashby. Interviews. 16 Apr 1995, 13 Jan 2002.
  • The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Ancestral File, data as of 5 January 1998, Salt Lake City, UT: Intellectual Reserve, Inc.