By Marvin Baker, a new weekly column in The Kenmare News
Posted 5/14/19 (Tue)
Ashley, like many small communities in
Yes, this county seat farming community in
However, there are several unique things about Ashley that make this community important, strategic and loaded with heritage.
When you’re driving through
You will see a water tower in Ashley too, but as you drive down
Originally built as a flour mill in 1919, it was never used as a mill because of nearby competition. It was turned into a creamery in 1939.
After serving the area for several decades, the structure was remodeled and received its most recognizable name, the Village in the Mill.
In the 1970s, the lower floors of the “mill” housed a cafe, bookstore and the Ashley Tribune. The upper floors were refurbished as apartments. Now, it is used for lodging.
There is no other building quite like it in
Ashley personfies the heritage of the Germans from
However, one of the unique features about this south-central neighborhood is in the languages people speak.
Ninety-eight percent of the population is Caucasian and about 55 percent of the population speaks English in their homes. The other 45 percent speaks German in their homes, making it one of the most German-speaking communities in
Approximately 67 percent of the population is of German descent, with another 15 percent having Russian ancestors, thus the Germans from
Seven percent of the population is Norwegian, 3 percent British and 2 percent French. To this day, Ashley remains a true melting pot of the immigrants who built the state of
Because Ashley is just 7 miles from the
The grocery store on
The people who live in Ashley and those who grew up there and have since moved away, are fiercely loyal to their hometown. They all understand the demographics but they are not going to let go of their sacred white elephant.
Folklore has it that this little town also has a shady moment in its recent past.
After Gordon Kahl and his son Yuri were involved in a shoot out with federal marshals near
Apparently, Kahl took back roads to Ashley, approximately 60 miles south, so he could completely avoid perceived road blocks.
It is said that Kahl holed up in Ashley for several days until the excitement died down. After that he was again on the lam and later died in a house fire in
Today, Ashley is as clean and modern as any
Unfortunately, the economy is depressed and it’s hard to find a job locally. There are plenty of incentives from the city of
Ashley has always been a likeable community and has always been welcoming to tourists and strangers.
It has a stable business district and school system and because the courthouse is in Ashley, the community will be around a long time. It is rock solid, or as the Germans say, “immer noch solide.”