William C. Ashe was born in Hillsborough, North Carolina, the son of Pasquale Paoli Ashe (1791-1867) of Cape Fear, NC, and his wife, Eliza Jane Shepperd Strudwick (1794-1871) of Hillsborough. William’s father was named after Filippo Antonio Pasquale di Paoli (1725-1807), a Corsican patriot who designed and wrote the constitution of the Corsican Republic. The American Sons of Liberty, who threw tea overboard in Boston Harbor, were inspired by Paoli; in 1768, the editor of the New York Journal described Paoli as “the greatest man on earth.” (Wikipedia; Maier)
William attended the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa in 1831-1832, then the University of Virginia in session 9 (1832-1833), where he took classes in Antient Languages, Mathematics, and Natural Philosophy. “Amongst the brightest of the students of the University [of Virginia], of the first set of boys, was William C. Ashe, the second son of Paoli Ashe. He became a physician, practicing his profession with success at Demopolis [Marengo County, Alabama]…” (Smith) Ashe earned his medical degree at the Medical School of the University of Pennsylvania, graduating in 1836. His graduating essay was on “cholera infantum.”
Dr. Ashe married Sarah J. Grimes (b. ca. 1823) in January 1839. The couple had no children, based on the 1850 and 1860 U.S. Censuses. During the Civil War, Dr. Ashe served as a surgeon in the 11th Alabama Infantry, then served in the 1st Alabama Hospital in Richmond, VA. He resigned from the Confederate military in September 1863 due to impaired health. He continued to practice in Demopolis until his death in 1867. Dr. Ashe was buried in Riverside Cemetery, Demopolis, Alabama.
[Note: Dr. Ashe’s birth date is from the U.Va. Matriculation Books; however, the notation of his birth is difficult to read in that source. More research is necessary to verify that date–JLC] [Update: 3/26/2013 — I obtained a copy of Charles B. Gault’s “Ashe Genealogy: Some Descendants of John Baptista Ashe of Carolina” (Chapel Hill, NC, 1968, rev. 1978) in which Dr. Ashe’s birth date is given as 11 May. However, this work has no citations or attributions as to the source of this information, so I will continue to search for an authoritative source.– JLC] References:
- Ancestry.com. 1850-1860 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc.
- “Died [Dr. William Cincinnatus Ashe].” North Carolina Argus (Wadesborough, NC). 2 Jan. 1868, p.2.
- Hambrecht, F.T. & Koste, J.L., Biographical register of physicians who served the Confederacy in a medical capacity. 07/17/2012. Unpublished database.
- National Park Service. U.S. Civil War Soldiers, 1861-1865 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2007.
- New York Journal, Supplement 15 Sep. 1768, in Maier, Pauline. From resistance to revolution; Colonial Radicals and the Development of American opposition to Britain, 1765-1776. Norton, c1991, p.162.
- Palmer, Thomas Waverly, comp. A Register of the Officers and Students of the University of Alabama, 1831-1901. Tuscaloosa, AL, 1901, p. 33.
- “Pasquale Paoli.” Wikipedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pasquale_di_Paoli (accessed 12/16/2012).
- Smith, William R. Reminiscences of a long life. Washington, DC, 1889, v. 1, p. 246.
- Society of the Alumni. Medical Dept. Catalogue of the alumni of the Medical Department of the University of Pennsylvania, 1765-1877. Philadelphia, PA, 1877, p. 5.
- University of Virginia Matriculation Books, 1825-1904, Accession #RG-14/4/2.041, Special Collections Dept., University of Virginia Library, Charlottesville, Va.