James Alfred Ashmore

Cumberland Presbyterian Minister

1807 - 1882

This image is from The Cumberland Presbyterian, December 15, 1898, page 743.


1843
James Ashmore - Minister - Foster Presbytery - Illinois Synod
Commissioner to General Assembly in Owensboro, Kentucky, May 16, 1843
Served on the Committee on the Minutes of Arkansas Synod
[Source: Minutes of the General Assembly of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, 1843, pages 79 & 83]

1846
James Ashmore - Minister - Foster Presbytery - Illinois Synod
Commissioner to General Assembly in Owensboro, Kentucky, May 19, 1846
[Source: Minutes of the General Assembly of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, 1846, page 192]

1848
James Ashmore - Minister - Foster Presbytery - Illinois Synod
Commissioner to General Assembly in Memphis, Tennessee, May 16-24, 1848
Served as Chairman of the Committee on the Records of Mississippi Synod.
"On motion of Bro. S. F. Donnell, James Ashmore, and A. J. McGown were added to the Committee on the State of Religion."
[Source: Minutes of the General Assembly of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, 1848, pages 4, 6, 8, & 20]

1856
James Ashmore, Georgetown, Ill.
Minister - Foster Presbytery - Illinois Synod
[Source: Minutes of the General Assembly of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, 1856, "Ministerial Directory," page 59]

1857
James Ashmore, Georgetown, Ill.
Minister - Foster Presbytery - Illinois Synod
Commissioner to General Assembly in Lexington, Missouri, May 21-27, 1857
Served on the Committee on the Records of McAdo [sic: McAdow] Synod
On Thursday morning one half hour was spent in religious exercises, conducted by the Rev. James Ashmore.
[Source: Minutes of the General Assembly of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, 1857, pages 4, 7, 23 & 68]

1864
James Ashmore - Minister - Foster Presbytery - Central Illinois Synod
Commissioner to General Assembly in Lebanon, Ohio, May 19-26, 1864
Served on the Committee on Missions
Served on the Committee on the Records of McAdow Synod.
On Saturday the assembly was opened with prayer by Rev. James Ashmore.
Afternoon session, May 26: James Ashmore absent by permission.
[Source: Minutes of the General Assembly of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, 1864, pages 103, 106, 108 & 126]

1866
James Ashmore - Minister - Foster Presbytery - Central Illinois Synod
Commissioner to General Assembly in Owensboro, Kentucky, May 17-26, 1866
[Source: Minutes of the General Assembly of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, 1866, page 4]

1867
James Ashmore, Georgetown, Ill.
Minister - Foster Presbytery - Central Illinois Synod
[Source: Minutes of the General Assembly of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, 1867, page 102, "Ministerial Directory"]

1869
Jas. Ashmore, Mt. Zion, Illinois
Minister - Decatur Presbytery - Central Illinois Synod
[Source: Minutes of the General Assembly of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, 1869, page 78, "Ministerial Directory"]

1870
Jas. Ashmore, Mt. Zion, Illinois
Minister - Decatur Presbytery - Central Illinois Synod
[Source: Minutes of the General Assembly of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, 1870, page 73, "Ministerial Directory"]

1871
Jas. Ashmore, Mt. Zion, Illinois
Minister - Decatur Presbytery - Central Illinois Synod
[Source: Minutes of the General Assembly of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, 1871, page 74, "Ministerial Directory"]

1872
Ashmore, James, Georgetown, Ill.
Minister - Foster Presbytery - Central Illinois Synod
[Source: Minutes of the General Assembly of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, 1872, page 119, "Ministerial Directory"]

1873
Ashmore, James, Fairmount, Ill.
Minister - Foster Presbytery - Central Illinois Synod
[Source: Minutes of the General Assembly of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, 1873, page 96, "Ministerial Directory"]

1874
Ashmore, James, Fairmount, Ill.
Minister - Foster Presbytery - Central Illinois Synod
[Source: Minutes of the General Assembly of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, 1874, page 95, "Ministerial Directory"]

1875
Ministerial Directory not submitted for Foster Presbytery to the General Assembly.

1876
Ashmore, James, Fairmount, Ill.
Minister - Foster Presbytery - Central Illinois Synod
[Source: Minutes of the General Assembly of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, 1876, page 86, "Ministerial Directory"]

1877
Ministerial Directory not submitted for Foster Presbytery to the General Assembly.

1878
Ashmore, James, Fairmount, Ill.
Minister - Foster Presbytery - Central Illinois Synod
[Source: Minutes of the General Assembly of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, 1878, page 90, "Ministerial Directory"]

1879
Ashmore, James, Fairmount, Ill.
Minister - Foster Presbytery - Central Illinois Synod
[Source: Minutes of the General Assembly of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, 1879, page 85, "Ministerial Directory"]

1880
Ashmore, James, Fairmount, Ill.
Minister - Foster Presbytery - Central Illinois Synod
[Source: Minutes of the General Assembly of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, 1880, page 112, "Ministerial Directory"]

1881
Ashmore, James, Fairmount, Ill.
Minister - Foster Presbytery - Central Illinois Synod
[Source: Minutes of the General Assembly of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, 1881, page 84, "Ministerial Directory"]

1882
Ashmore, James, Fairmount, Ill.
Minister - Foster Presbytery - Central Illinois Synod
[Source: Minutes of the General Assembly of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, 1882, page 114, "Ministerial Directory"]

1883
Report of the Committee on Deceased Ministers
Foster Presbytery - James Ashmore, December 4, 1882
[Source: Minutes of the General Assembly of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, 1883, page 40]


REV. JAMES ASHMORE.

James Ashmore was born in Jefferson county, Tennessee, August 17, 1807. He removed to Illinois at an early day, professed religion in 1831 or 1832 while living on Pigeon Creek, Clark county, and the same Fall united with the church of which Rev. Isaac Hill was pastor. He joined Vandalia Presbytery in June, 1833, at Mount Zion, Macon county, was licensed to preach Oct. 17, 1835, at old Union (now Irving) church in Montgomery county by the same Presbytery, and was ordained by the same Presbytery at Beaver Creek church on the 10th of October, 1837. Rev. Daniel Traughber preached the ordination sermon from Mal. ii. 7, and Rev. Joel Knight presided and gave the charge. When Foster Presbytery was organized Mr. Ashmore became a member, and continues to be a member. His home is in Fairmount, Vermillion county.

Few men in the church, for his opportunities, have been as useful. When he began operations in that country forty years since, it was a wilderness, spiritually and naturally. Mr. Ashmore has been a great revivalist. He organized the first Cumberland Presbyterian church in that country, from which a large number of other congregations has sprung. Thousands have been converted under his ministrations, and he is still laboring with zeal and success, although he is more than three score and ten years old.

In a conversation with the writer he said his father was raised up in the Catholic faith, and when he was a boy a Catholic priest visited the family, and urged the parents to let him have James, and he would take him to Rome and educate him for the priesthood. The father consented, but, when the time drew near to start for Italy, Mrs. Ashmore protested so strongly against giving up her boy that the project was finally relinquished by the priest, but evidently with reluctance. He also stated that he was under the power of conviction for sin for five years before relief came to his mind. He had a great desire and a wonderful temptation to make money and let the ministry go, and only gave it up after he had lost all his property. Another remarkable incident in his history was the conversion of his father under his preaching. The old gentleman became so interested about his soul that he followed up his son's appointments on the circuit, and embraced the Saviour at one of them.

Mr. Ashmore has been married three times. He was first married to Miss Catherine Armstrong May 15, 1828, at her father's residence. His second wife was Sarah M. Newman, Oakland, Illinois, and his present wife was Rebecca I. Grimes. All of his wives were natives of the State of Tennessee. He has eight living children by the first wife, one by the second, and five by the last--fourteen in all. Several are dead.

Mr. Ashmore rode the circuit four years, and settled in Vermillion county in 1842. He organized Mount Pisgah church, the oldest one of Cumberland Presbyterians in the county, to which he preached twenty-nine years as pastor or supply without any interval; and at another time three years more, making thirty-two in all that he was the faithful shepherd of the this flock. It is questionable whether there is to be found another connection between pastor and people in the State of equal length.

Mr. Ashmore has been a man of excellent constitution. For the most part he has enjoyed good health, and has done an immense amount of ministerial labor without being remunerated for his services as he deserved. He has organized thirty congregations, and about four thousand five hundred souls have professed faith in Christ under the influence of his ministrations. One of his sons, Rev. H. H. Ashmore, is also an esteemed and very useful minister of the gospel.

Father Ashmore never claimed to be an orator or a man of learning, his opportunities for an education being very limited. But he is claimed by others, and justly, too, as one of the most earnest, industrious, and successful ministers in the State. Though the prime of his life was spent in building up the Church in a new and sparsely settled country, and he received from the Church only a pittance in the way of support, yet God blessed his worldly plans so that he and his family and plenty; and it is believed that he is in comfortable circumstances at this writing. With the exception of his hearing, which is somewhat impaired, he retains his usual health and vigor, although in his seventy-first year. We should have mentioned that at his ordination Rev. Samuel McAdow, one of the original three founders of the denomination, was present and participated in the services.
[Source: Logan, J. B. History of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church in Illinois, Containing Sketches of the First Ministers, Churches, Presbyteries and Synods; also a History of Missions, Publication and Education. Alton, Ill.: Perrin & Smith, 1878, pages 171-173]


Rev. James Ashmore was born in Jefferson county, Tennessee, on the 17th of August, 1807. He married Catharine Armstrong in 1828, and resided on a farm in Clarke county until 1840. He was licensed to preach on the 17th of October, 1833, and ordained on the 10th of October, 1837 by Vandalia Presbytery, of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church. With his wife and our children he moved to Vermilion county in March, 1840, and he became a home missionary under Foster Presbytery, of the C. P. church. He traveled extensively, and often preached through the week as well as on the Sabbath. His sermons would often average three hundred and sixty-five per annum, and were, for the first five or six years of his residence in this county, delivered mostly in school-houses and private residences. He lived from March, 1840, to October, 1843, on the Alexander McDonald farm, four miles west of Georgetown, and often preached in the residence of Mr. McDonald and Abram Sandusky, each of whom were worthy ruling elders of one of his congregations. If their grandchildren (now numerous in this county) could see one of these pioneer congregations worshiping in the private houses of these good men (long dead and gone to their reward), they would then know more of the progress of this county than history can tell them. In 1843 Mr. Ashmore moved to Vance township, on the Salt Fork, and organized Mt. Vernon congregation, three miles west of Butler's Point (now Catlin). Since which time he has lived about half his time in Elwood and Vance townships, respectively,--the last seven years in Fairmount. He preached to Mt. Pisgah congregation, two miles west of Georgetown, twenty-nine years in succession--three years since--making thirty-two years in all. He has organized thirty congregations, and under his preaching there have been about four thousand five hundred professions of religion. He is now in his seventy-second year, hale and hearty, still preaches with zeal and energy, and has accumulated considerable property. He has been married three times, and each of the deceased, as well as his living wife, are natives of Tennessee--his native state. He has fourteen children living and ten dead. Three of his sons are ministers of the gospel.
[Source: Beckwith, H. W. History of Vermilion County. Chicago: H. H. Hill and Company, Publishers, 1879, pages 990-991]


REV. JAMES ASHMORE.


REV. J. W. WOODS.


Whatever else may be written about our departed brother, I feel that I should say a few words, as I know more about his early ministerial life than any one now living. I was acquainted with him before he became a Christian, and am a few hours older in the Christian life. We both made a profession of religion in September, 1832. Being older than I by eight years, he went first into the ministry. He went not into that sacred work without a conflict, such as I never knew to attend any other of God's servants. The struggle was first on account of his lack of an education. Being reared in the outskirts of civilization, where the rifle-crack of the savage tribes had not yet died away, there was no possibility for an education near home. Having a family and quite limited means, going off to school was out of the question. The thought with him of going into such solemn and responsible work was indeed overpowering. I saw him more than once while trying to resist his impressions overcome with spasmodic attacks, under which he would lie for nearly an hour at a time. He was a chosen vessel of God, and although he thought he could not preach, yet he was constrained by the divine Spirit to go into the vineyard.

Another thing that lay in his way was a large family connection being Presbyterians of the blue stocking, straight-jacket kind, and they made light of the idea "of that ignorant man thinking about trying to preach." I refrain from quoting uncouth remarks his near friends made about him. There was a terrible and dark cloud overhung his pathway, but yet there was a silver lining, and that silver lining at length became too bright for the cloud.

His wife was a daughter of Richard Armstrong, who was a convert under Mr. McGready, of the great revival memory. No wife could have done more to sustain her husband under such circumstances than she did. His father-in-law often times said: "They may all say what they please, Jimmy has to preach," and nobly did he and his family stand by him throughout this trying ordeal.

In the spring of 1833, he, with seven others (of whom the writer was one) traveled two days and a half to attend Presbytery, each one carrying corn for his horse. It was the second session of Vandalia Presbytery, and held at Mount Zion, Ill. He was ordained in the fall of 1837, at Mt. Gilead, Ill. Father McAdow being present was the first one to lay his hand on brother Ashmore's head in the ordination ceremonies. In the work of the ministry, and especially the former part, his was truly a life of toil and privation. As I joined Presbytery in the spring of 1834, I traveled with him a great dead, and saw a part of the herculean work he performed, but not all. It is almost incredible to think of his winter campaigns over the unsettled prairies of those days, as he went from one settlement to another to preach the gospel in those pioneer communities.

Physically he was a man of great power. Mentally he was correspondingly strong, and in spirituality he was in advance of most ministers of his day. I recollect distinctly that in one of his reports he referred me to certain months in which he preached fifty-two sermons. It was work then for the few that were in the vineyard, and only in that way was the Cumberland Presbyterian Church established in this part of the country. I could fill many columns with real life pictures of hard trials and incessant toil with which his invaluable life was filled, but as some abler pen will give an account of his life, I only allude to those earlier days with which no other one is so well acquainted. I visited him not long before his death, and we talked over much of our former Jonathan and David-like relations, and then after a last embrace and kiss we separated, but to meet shortly on the "other bright shore."

I now give you some of his words, just as he spake them: "This bank of Jordan is stormy, but on the other side it is fair and pleasant. The thought of instant death causes me no fear. I am wholly resigned to the will of God. Let death be far or near, I am ready to meet it. I have many good friends on this side, but will meet more on the other side. I have had ample time to look over my past life, and don't see how I could have done more. I have the strongest possible love for the Church, and am not sectarian. I feel I have declared the whole counsels of God. I have no enmity against any one living, but wish every one well. It will be an awful thing for any one to live in the Church on a false hope, and in the end be cast away. This affliction has drawn me away from the world, and perhaps this may be the design of God. My hope in God is firm. All the infidels on earth could not shake my faith one particle. There is," said he, "a great lack upon the part of the Church in supporting the ministry, so much so, that it has been very hard on many ministers to build up the Church."

His last sermon was preached from this text: "One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in his temple."--Psa. xxvii, 4.

How appropriate to close up a half century of work in the great Master's cause. I will now address my departed brother in the language of an unearthly one: "But go thou thy way till the end be; for thou shalt rest and stand in thy lot at the end of the days."
Mattoon, Ill.
[Source: The Cumberland Presbyterian, January 11, 1883, page 2]


REV. JAMES ASHMORE, 1807-1882.


An interesting sketch prepared from data furnished by his son, Rev. H. H. Ashmore, of Peoria, Ill.


Rev. James Ashmore, of Foster Presbytery, was born in Jefferson County, Tennessee, August 17, 1807. In his early boyhood his family removed to Illinois, settling on what is now Ashmore Creek, in Clark County, then a new and wild country. He died at Fairmount, Ill., December 4, 1882. He was of Scotch-Irish blood, both his father and mother being Scotch-Irish Presbyterians. He was inclined from childhood to be studious. May 15, 1828, he married Catherine Armstrong, daughter of Richard Armstrong, in whose home Hiram A. Hunter had often preached as a Cumberland Presbyterian missionary evangelist. Armstrong soon became an ardent advocate of the new church, and with his son-in-law, Henry Groves, father of Rev. J. S. and the late Rev. J. B. Groves, of Texas, became an elder in Big Creek Church. James Ashmore was licensed to preach by Vandalia Presbytery, October 17, 1833; was ordained by the same presbytery, October 10, 1837.

The larger part of his useful life was spent in mission work in the bounds of Foster Presbytery, his wife and his father-in-law, assisted by Henry Groves and William Woods, father of the late Rev. J. W. Woods, contributing the larger part of his support while he engaged in this labor of love. These were the days of great camp meetings. It was also the day of long sermons. On one occasion Mr. Ashmore was approached by a delegation and asked to preach on the design and mode of baptism, and urged to complete the discussion in a single discourse. He replied, "I will if you will patiently hear me in the grove at the head of Vermillion timber." Immense numbers came and listened intently for three hours to an argument wholly convincing. His books were purchased mainly in Philadelphia and New York. He studied chiefly at night, sometimes all night. The Vermillion County History, published just before he died, says of him: "He came to Vermillion County with his family of wife and four children and commenced his work in March, 1840. He organized Mt. Pisgah congregation in the same month; Mt. Vernon the same year; Liberty Church, 1843; Yankee Point Church, 1853; the Miller and Olive Branch churches in 1866." In all he organized 33 congregations. His records and estimates indicate that there were under his ministry over eight thousand conversions. His favorite Scriptures were the 19th Psalm, and Job xxxviii, in connection with John xiv, 2. He was often chosen as orator for Fourth of July celebrations, on which occasions he declared with great earnestness that he Scotch-Irish synod of North Carolina was the first body of men to pronounce in favor of American independence and that "these same people and their descendants were the leaders of Cumberland Presbytery as re-organized under the influence of McGready, Ewing, McAdoo and others were nearly all of this American Synod." He therefore insisted that there could be no more loyal Americans than these members of Cumberland Presbytery, and their descendants, the Cumberland Presbyterians.

In his old age Mr. Ashmore suffered much, being the victim of cancer of the face. But he was in no way changed by his afflictions. To the last he clung to his faith and to the doctrines he had taught so consistently. Many people visited him from the scenes of his labors, and to all he gave the same tender message. "Meet me in heaven, for out of these sufferings I go to join my friends in Heaven." Few preachers of his day were asked to conduct so many funerals as was he. He was often called for this purpose fifty miles or more. Some months before his death he assisted at a church dedication, at Pleasant Ridge, near Fairmount. He had organized four churches in that vicinity, and now two of them, Mt. Vernon and the Miller, or Prairie Hall, churches were to be united and their house of worship dedicated. Rev. Mr. Jordan, who had been converted under his preaching, was pastor. Having been invited to be present, Mr. Ashmore, though very feeble, was extremely anxious to speak, even a few words. They were the lst he ever uttered in a church house. He urged his hearers to meet him in heaven where sickness cannot come. He was ever a great comfort at the bedside of the sick and dying. An incident occurred in 1838, which furnished an illustration for many of his sermons. His father-in-law, Armstrong, said to him, "Jemmy, here is a letter which shows that my father should inherit a large estate in Ireland. But my father deserted the British army during the Revolution and joined the American army, a fact which may invalidate my claim. Still if you can secure this property for me I will give you half of it." Mr. Ashmore took the case, employing as attorney Usher F. Linden, of Coles County, Illinois. It developed that nothing could be collected, because of the older Armstrong's act of desertion. With this story as an illustration, he often preached the doctrine that inheritance as a child of God demands obedience, loyal allegiance.

His funeral was conducted by Mr. Jordan, his son in the ministry; and he was laid to rest in the burying ground of the Mt. Vernon Church, in the spot of his own choosing.


Live in the life which enlarges, live with all your might in the life of God, and you forget whether any one has asked whether life is worth the living.--Hale.
[Source: The Cumberland Presbyterian, December 15, 1898, page 743]


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