Railroads spur Ashland’s growth
Created by railroad promoters, Ashland’s early development was nurtured by the Tonica & Petersburg Railroad. The tempo of growth would quicken after Springfield & Illinois Southeastern arrived in 1871.
During Ashland’s first year, an estimated 40 buildings were built – though the quality of construction was quite questionable for many of those structures. The original village had 144 blocks and a public square.
Perhaps the first business was opened in 1859 by W.R. Hunter, who operated a general store on Main Street. Another early business was a rival store operated by William Goble and Alexander Mansfield, though this pair did not enjoy long-term financial success. Their enterprise ended in a sheriff’s sale.