Former Sheriffs

James Scott Ashman

Ashman, J Scott

Appointed: 1860 – 1868, 1871 – 1874, 1874 – 1878

James Scott Ashman was born on May 30, 1828 in Huntingdon County, Pennsylvania. Ashman served in the Mexican–American War and served with Company I, Fourth Regiment, Indiana Infantry until being mustered out on July 16, 1848. The December 9, 1850 Census noted Ashman aged 24 years, as a resident of Mariposa County, California. Ashman was no different from so many young men who tried their luck in the gold fields with little success.

In 1854, Ashman oversaw Payne's Store located on Fine Gold Gulch and by 1856; Ashman's store on Fine Gold Gulch was the Fourth Precinct polling location for the first election held in Fresno County on June 9, 1856. J. Scott Ashman married Mary Ann Elizabeth Baley on January 17, 1861; they had six children. Mary Ashman died in October of 1873. Ashman married Mary Hamilton on November 9, 1876; they had one child.

James Scott Ashman was elected to the Office of Sheriff–Tax Collector on September 7, 1859 and served a total of thirteen years, making Ashman the longest serving sheriff in the ninetieth century. Sheriff Ashman had his hands full dealing with the criminals who preyed upon the people of Fresno County. The Mason and Henry Gang spread their terror from the San Joaquin Valley to San Diego. The gang led by John Mason and Jim Henry murdered Charles Anderson and Joseph Hawthorn at Hawthorn's Station, in Fresno County on November 8, 1864. E.G. Robertson was slain at Elkhorn Station, in Fresno County, on November 9, 1864 by Mason and Henry. Sheriff Ashman and posse pursued the highwaymen and a thousand dollar reward was offered for their capture. Mason and Henry were later killed in gun battles in southern California. Tiburcio Vasquez began his life of crime in 1852 with the murder of Constable William Hardmount at Monterey. During 1873, Vasquez and his gang raided and robbed the Fresno County Communities of Firebaugh's Ferry, Jones Store and Kingston. Vasquez was eventually captured in Los Angeles County, and tried in San Jose. He was executed by hanging on March 19, 1875. On August 15, 1874, Sheriff Ashman appointed George W.Cain, the first Deputy Sheriff assigned to Fresno Town.

James Scott Ashman died in Fresno on December 31, 1879 and was buried at the I.O.O.F. cemetery at Millerton.

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