The area that became Ashford was settled according to the federal census at least as early as 1830. One version of the origin of the town's name states that it derives from the surname of the wife of an early landowner, Captain John B. Davis. A second version states that it is named for a very large ash tree located at a popular ford in a local creek. The town was incorporated in June of 1891, two years after the railroad came through town. At this time, the town had approximately 300 residents. The railroad brought increased population, and the town became a contender for county seat, losing to Dothan in 1903. Initially sustained by the timber industry, which included a large turpentine manufacturer, Ashford shifted to farming, and agriculture remains the most important aspect of the town's economy. Industries that have appeared variously over the city's history include cotton gins, a fertilizer plant, and a pajama manufacturer in the late 1950s.
According to 2010 Census estimates, Ashfords population was 2,148. Of that total, 79.0 percent of respondents identified themselves as white, 19.5 percent as African American, 0.8 percent as Hispanic, 0.7 percent as two or more races, 0.2 percent as Native American, and 0.3 percent as Asian. The town's median household income $35,709, and per capita income was $21,444.
The workforce in present-day Ashford is divided among the following occupational categories:
· Educational services, and health care and social assistance (22.3 percent)
· Manufacturing (15.3 percent)
· Retail trade (14.1 percent)
· Transportation and warehousing and utilities (12.9 percent)
· Professional, scientific, management, and administrative and waste management services (7.0 percent)
· Arts, entertainment, recreation, and accommodation and food services (5.6 percent)
· Finance, insurance, and real estate, rental, and leasing (4.9 percent)
· Other services, except public administration (4.7 percent)
· Public administration (4.8 percent)
· Construction (3.7 percent)
· Wholesale trade (2.3 percent)
· Agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting, and extractive (1.9 percent)
· Information (1.8 percent)
Schools in Ashford are part of the Houston County School District; the town has approximately 1,628 students and 100 teachers in a K-6 elementary school and a 7-12 high school. One private school also operates, with 207 students and 21 teachers.
Ashford is intersected by County Road 55 running north-south and connecting the town just to the south with U.S. Highway 84, running east-west. The nearest airport is the Dothan Regional Airport, approximately 20 miles to the northwest.
Events and Places of Interest
The Alabama Midland Railroad Depot and Museum is located in downtown Ashford. It features a variety of railroad-related artifacts in the museum and includes a conference center and a restored caboose and cargo rail car. The depot building itself is on the National Register of Historic Places and the Alabama Register of Landmarks and Heritage.
Ashford holds a Harvest Day Festival each September featuring musical entertainment, children's games, and food. The town
also has Bicentennial Memorial Park, which celebrates the U.S. bicentennial and members of the Armed Services, and MacArthur
Memorial Park, which features a heritage marker; both parks are located downtown.
Ashford 100 Years Centennial Celebration, 1891-1991. Ashford, Ala.: Ashford Power, 1991.
The Heritage of Houston County, Alabama. Clanton, Ala.: Heritage Publishing Consultants, 2003.
James P. Kaetz
Published May 9, 2011
Last updated March 15, 2013