Who lived in Ashland 150 years ago?
The 1860s Census is rich in detail, compared to the previous ones. We get a picture of the kinds of people living in Ashland. There were twenty-two households and 148 people in the St. Paul’s Parish District. Of those households and the probable Ashland households in the Upper Revenue District, there were 18 carpenters, 6 of them master carpenters; 14 laborers, including 8 Irishmen living at the hotel; 10 farmers; 6 merchants or clerks, including a tobacconist; 4 lawyers; 2 law students; 3 Methodist clergymen; 2 teachers; 2 blacksmiths, both mulattos; 2 physicians; 2 housekeepers; 3 seamstresses, one a black and the other two, mulatto, and 2 bricklayers. There was also a weaver, a barkeeper, a hotelkeeper, a nurse, an artist, a “lady”, a “gent,” an editor, an engineer, an overseer, a gardener, and a painter.
Slaves were not enumerated in the regular census, but there were a number of free black and mulatto members of the Ashland community who were included. Among the laborers listed was Betsy Hogg, an influential free mulatto woman who owned 55 acres somewhere in the vicinity west of Snead Street and the area around Woodland and Shiloh Cemeteries. It was Ms. Hogg who sold land for the original site of Shiloh Church after the Civil War. Today it is the location of Shiloh Cemetery. She may have owned the area next to it that is Woodland Cemetery today. The Hogg family was a large one. Victoria Hogg and Mary A. Hogg, both free mulatto women, were seamstresses. Thomas Hogg was a bricklayer, and Nancy Hogg was a nurse. In addition to the Hogg family, there were blacksmiths Nelson and John Davis, who were mulatto men, Joe Durham, a mulatto lawyer, and many others.
Among the farmers was J.D. Leake, a wealthy landowner who figures prominently in later Ashland history, and Joseph C. England after whom England Street must have been named. Among the merchants was tobacconist C.S. Hobson with his wife Mary and two small children. Among the carpenters were R.N. Smoots, who was builder of the Ashland Baptist Church, and master carpenter John S. James, who was also a wealthy landowner. The editor of the Richmond Dispatch, J. A. Cowardin, and his wife and children lived in Ashland in 1860. Ch. R Reese was an artist who was also a relatively wealthy man. This may be the same Charles R. Rees who was a noted Civil War photographer. There were two curious occupations: N. Cross is listed as a “lady” and appears to have been relatively wealthy, and William Mitchell is listed as a “gent.”