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Below is a family biography included in History of Union County, Iowa published by S. J. Clarke Publishing Co., in 1908.  These biographies are valuable for genealogy research in discovering missing ancestors or filling in the details of a family tree. Family biographies often include far more information than can be found in a census record or obituary.  Details will vary with each biography but will often include the date and place of birth, parent names including mothers' maiden name, name of wife including maiden name, her parents' names, name of children (including spouses if married), former places of residence, occupation details, military service, church and social organization affiliations, and more.  There are often ancestry details included that cannot be found in any other type of genealogical record.

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The history of this county would be incomplete without notice of Martin Van Buren Ashby, who was for thirty-seven years prominent in the religious, political and business affairs of Union county. He was born in Ohio, February 25, 1837, and died in Creston, December 9, 1905. He came to Union county in 1868, and located at Afton, where he was engaged in various occupations for many years, and where he established a most extended acquaintance. He was a man of retentive memory and was considered one of the best posted men on the early history of the county. Having been county surveyor of Union county for twenty years, he was especially well acquainted with the topography and landed interests, not only in this county, but in counties adjoining.

When a boy of twenty years Mr. Ashby occupied a position as cabin boy on a line of steamers running from Cincinnati, Ohio, to Cairo, Illinois, and from Cairo to Burlington, Iowa. He first came to Fort Madison, Iowa, and was employed on a farm in that county, and afterward took a position in a mill at that place as book-keeper, remaining there until May, 1861, when he enlisted in the Sixteenth Illinois Regiment and remained in the service of Uncle Sam until July, 1865. He was engaged in battle at Corinth, Mississippi; Nashville, Tennessee; and was with Sherman on his march to the sea.

After the war Mr. Ashby returned to farming and in 1869, when the Burlington Railroad came west he was one of the pioneers who came to Afton. In 1878 he was elected county surveyor and filled that place almost continuously until his death. He was a member of the Christian church from sixteen years of age, and was one of the founders of the church of that faith in Afton. He also assisted and was secretary at the organization of the first Sunday school convention in the county, and was a member of the Grand Army of the Republic, the Odd Fellows and the Knights of Pythias at Afton.

On October 18, 1869, Mr. Ashby was married to Lizzie M. Brown, who died August 29, 1874. He afterward married Mrs. Eleanor Eastman, December 9, 1878. He was the father of five living children as follows: Mrs. J. E. Holloway, Horace P. Ashby, John B. Ashby, Charles L. Ashby and Ruth Ashby. His death was a great loss to this community and to the county. He was a consistent Christian who lived up to his faith and whose works were equal to his belief. He was a delightful companion and a genial parent.

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This family biography is one of 247 biographies included in The History of Union County, Iowa published in 1908.  For the complete description, click here: Union County, Iowa History and Genealogy

View additional Union County, Iowa family biographies: Union County, Iowa Biographies

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