Ashridge History/Edmund Lakeman

Compiled by Peter J. Gossett
Sources include The Advertiser (8/15/1961), The Northwest Alabamian (3/3/2007), and Bill Lakeman.

Edmund Prideaux Lakeman was born on May 25, 1861 in Modbury, Devonshire, England. He attended school in the suburbs of London and was a machinist by trade. When he was 25 years old, he decided to move to the United States. He had two cousins in Cincinnati, Ohio. He landed in New York on October 10, 1885. He worked two years following his trade, for the Southern Railroad, until he moved to Louisville, Kentucky, in 1887.

While there, he met his future wife, Grace Euphernia Skinner, who was born on June 12, 1871. Mr. and Mrs. Lakeman were literally blown together, meeting immediately following a tornado. The future Mrs. Lakeman was living with her grandmother, her parents being dead, when their home was destroyed during the tornado. Mr. Lakeman was helping clear the debris, when they met. They were married July 23, 1890. She was educated to be a teacher.

Three years after their marriage, Mr. and Mrs. Lakeman moved to Birmingham, Alabama, where Mr. Lakeman continued working for the Southern Railroad. In 1893 Mr. Lakeman and a friend decided to homestead in Winston County. They settled in a wilderness at that time, east of Haleyville. Mr. Lakeman named the place Ashridge, from his father’s home in England.

While there he operated a sawmill, cotton gin, axe handle factory, grist mill, general store, and post office. He was a pioneer in the true spirit of early America. During his lifetime, he donated the land for the Ashridge School, Methodist Church, and Cemetery. The Ashridge United Methodist Church was started in March 1907. The school was started before 1906, changing it’s name to Lakeman School on May 8, 1945, in honor of Mr. Lakeman. However, the school was discontinued July 26, 1966, transferring students to Double Springs Elementary School. He also helped start the Ashridge Post Office, serving as the first postmaster until October 25, 1906. The only other postmaster during the operation of the post office was Charles W. Taylor, who took over after Mr. Lakeman and operated it until a month and half before it closed. The post office was established on June 23, 1898 and discontinued and consolidated with Haleyville on April 15, 1907.

After his factory burned in 1906, Mr. Lakeman moved his family to Haleyville. He published the Advertiser and served as editor until his retirement on May 30, 1935. Before this, he worked at several places, including Blanton-Curtis Mercantile Company, installed the city’s first water plant, worked for the Traders and Farmers Bank, and was postmaster during the First World War from March 8, 1918 to April 11, 1922.

Mr. and Mrs. Lakeman were charter members of the order of the Eastern Star and were active officers. He was also an active Mason for many years and was chairman of the Red Cross during World War I. Also, he was a charter member of the Civitan Club.

Mr. Lakeman died on December 25, 1945, and Grace Lakeman died on November 24, 1924.

From the Advertiser-Journal, July 28, 1938:

Named for the English ancestral home of Mr. E.P. Lakeman. A community rural trading center with the surrounding farms close in. One church and a good 2-teacher school comprise the religious and social centers. Many undeveloped scenic attractions abound in the surrounding country. The chief attraction is the dry bluff just east of Ashridge a few yards away on the Lakeman property. Schools have been taught under the bluff, and the erring sinner has learned of the terrors of eternal torment in meetings held here. The local bad boys were wont to fire their pistols on top of the bluff just as the shouting reached its zenith, much to the discomfiture of the perspiring exhorters. Ashridge has a rich and romantic history. Besides Mr. E.P. Lakeman, who was the ranking industrialist, we recall Uncle “Jeems” William Pugh, father of Arthur, who now lives at the ‘Ridge. Then there was Uncle Will Crittenden, the best grinder of corn meal in the county, with his large family, including Sterling, now a merchant and one of the largest property owners of this section. Uncle John Jacobs, now of Haleyville, lived here and worked hard for the betterment of the school local and church. Ashridge is the home of Mr. Willard Crittenden, our local young banker employed the by Tennessee Valley Bank. “Mother” Mitchell, aged grandmother, lives here with her son, Monroe. In the community proper, are the families of Jim Elliott, Aunt Margaret Hackett, Curtis Frazier, Claud Marlow, Jeffry Beck, Claude Cagle, the Widow Voce, Wallace Voce, John Lockhart, Cal Brown, Tilman Cornelius, Asa Godsey, Jim Brown, Marvin Tidwell, Harve Thomas, Howard Bearden, and Robert Lacy. We mention, too, the late Captain Voce, who was once a business associate of Mr. E.P. Lakeman. The captain also came from England and was a cultured gentleman and lover of all the arts. The Ashridge community is one of Haleyville’s best customers. It has contributed much to the economic betterment of our town. Its people are typical Winston good neighbors. Many political deals have been worked out on the nail kegs surrounding the box stove in the local “Lum and Abner” emporium. Local, national, and international affairs have been thoroughly discussed on the benches in front. Ashridge boys and girls attend high school at Double Springs. They are a creditable bunch of Juniors. Several of them have attended college and are following their respective professions in various parts of the country. This community has also furnished a sheriff, a tax collector, a tax assessor, and a commissioner. Here’s good luck to Ashridge and its people.