Here is what I know about him that has supporting documentation.
Jethro was born in Rochester, Plymouth County, Massachusetts (USA) on 11 Jan 1706/7, the second child of Joseph Ashley and Elizabeth Percival.
On 7 Jun 1728 in Rochester, Jethro married Elizabeth Holmes, the daughter of Experience Holmes and Patience Nichols.
That’s about all I know for certain about Jethro Ashley and Elizabeth Holmes.
Now for the speculation —
Perhaps researchers in the future will be able to verify and document the following:
- Elizabeth Holmes was born on her father’s farm in Rochester on 18 Feb 1709.
- The Ashley family, including Jethro, were instrumental in setting up the Third Parish in Rochester and helped to build the first meeting-house in November of 1748. In The History of Plymouth County, Massachusetts, by D. Hamilton Hurd (published in 1884), the Ashley family is mentioned several times in the chapter about the North Rochester Parish (Pages 975-979).
- About 1762, Jethro may have taken his family to Nine Partners, New York (USA) and embraced the Moravian faith.
- After living in Nine Partners, Jethro and Elizabeth and some of their family might have moved to Bethlehem, Northampton County, Pennsylvania (USA).
- It is unknown when and where Jethro and Elizabeth died or are buried.
Most researchers agree on the following:
- Fear: most family trees record that s/he was born in Rochester in 1729 but I could not find any documentation to support this
- Patience: some family trees say that this is the Patience Ashley who moved to Pennsylvania and married Adam Van Erb — more about this below!
- Othniel: the only reference that I found says that he was a soldier in the Revolutionary War but I have been unable to locate any records
- Noah: researchers agree that Noah is the son of Jethro Ashley and Elizabeth Holmes — which is a good thing because he is my 5th great grandfather
- Nichols: also known as “Nicholas” who was born in Rochester in 1749, but I could not find any birth document
- Elizabeth: may have moved to Pennsylvania and married Azarius Smith and then Joseph Levering (see below) — or may have stayed in New York!
I did find information about four members of an Ashley family who lived in Northampton County in Pennsylvania. This may be where the “rumour” came from that Noah and his family moved to Pennsylvania. However, I didn’t find any proof that these Ashleys are the children of Noah and Elizabeth.
There is a findagrave record for a Mary Ashley Miller who is buried in the Moravian Cemetery in Bethlehem, Northampton County, Pennsylvania (USA).
The short biography says that she married John Miller, a missionary in Jamaica. On the gravestone is engraved, “Mary Miller born Feb 27 1764 in New England. depart this Life March 4, 179?”. The year of death is not clear: it may be 1791 or 1795. Presumably she died in Bethleham (Pennsylvania).
According to the biography on the findagrave website, Patience was “an invalid and forced to wear crutches”.
On her gravestone it says, “Patience Van Erd, late Ashly (sic), born 3 Apr 1736 in New England; departed 15 Apr 1820.” The entry in the Record of Pennsylvania Marriages Prior to 1810 says that Patience married Adam Van Erd in the Moravian Church in Bethlehem on 18 Dec 1767.
The biography on findagrave for Anna says that she was born in June 1737 in Rochester, New England, and died in 1769 — I assume in Bethlehem (Pennsylvania).
And that “she came to Bethlehem after her two sisters, Mary and Patience, had moved here.”
That statement establishes Anna as the sister of Mary Ashley Miller and Patience Ashley Van Erb.
Poor Johanna! All three of her children died in infancy: Beatus Smith in 1874, Anna Levering in 1789 and, shortly after Johanna herself died on 17 Oct 1790, her son, Abraham Levering.
I haven’t found any evidence that Anna, Mary, Patience or Johanna are children of Jethro and Elizabeth — but I haven’t proven that they aren’t either!
Below are two “biographies” that I used to write this blog about Jethro Ashley and Elizabeth Holmes. There are many on-line family trees that “mix and match” the information in this blog 😉