A son/grandson of slaveholders on slavery… Thomas Almond Ashby
Though not a resident or native of Luray or Page County, Virginia, Thomas Almond Ashby (1848-1916) was the grandson of Luray native, Mann Almond (1791?-1883). Mann Almond was also a Page County slaveholder and, during his lifetime, T.A. Ashby would have known his grandfather, even visiting him (and been around his grandfather’s slaves) in Luray in his youth. Therefore, I have posted this story here as a record of reference.
The son of Thomas Newton Ashby (1819-1878) and Elizabeth Mann Almond Ashby (1826-1892), Thomas Almond Ashby was born (in Front Royal) on November 18, 1848.Ashby graduated from Washington College (now Washington & Lee) in 1870 and then, three years later, graduated from the University of Maryland with his medical degree. Within four years of graduation from medical school, Ashby married Mary C. Cunningham in 1877. In 1880, Thomas Almond Ashby was listed as a physician in Baltimore, Md. with his wife Mary and a daughter, Mary E. (born ca. 1879). Also living in the household at the time were his mother and brother William R. (age 16) as well as two mulatto servants, Alice Lee (28) and Lizzie Randolph (17) and one black servant, Mary Smith (age 9).
A practicing obstetrician until his death, Almond was also known for teaching at the University of Maryland as well as helping to establish the Women’s Medical College of Baltimore, the first institution for the medical education of women in the South. Ashby also helped to found the Maryland Medical Journal of which he served as editor until 1888. Taking after his grandfather’s literary abilities, Ashby wrote at least four books including a gynecology textbook (1903), A Hurried Trip through Europe (1911), Life of Turner Ashby (1914), and The Valley Campaigns (1914).
His work in The Valley Campaigns is a first-class recollection of one of the most fascinating times in America’s history. Having lived through the war as a non-combatant and a teenager, Ashby’s recollections are a valuable resource when considering life in the Shenandoah Valley, His account of slavery are of particular interest and are covered heavily in both Chapter 1 and Chapter 27) of The Valley Campaigns. The complete version of the book can be found online at this link, which is part of the University of North Carolina’s “Documenting the American South” website.
Thomas Almond Ashby died in Baltimore, Maryland on June 27, 1916.