m. 8 Sep 1839
Facts and Events
Written by Lisa Harrison Ridley, December 26, 2006
Asa Elisha Ridley was born in July, 1809 or 1812, supposedly in Kentucky. His parentage is of some dispute; certain sources report that, based on circumstantial evidence he is the son of William Ridley II and Ann Mary Smith of Rutherford County, North Carolina. William Ridley II is the son of William Ridley I, who was born in England around 1739 and came to America prior to the American Revolution. However, other sources report that Asa Elisha Ridley is descended from Captain Nathaniel Ridley and Elizabeth Day of the Isle of Wight County, Virginia. Photographs of descendants of Captain Nathaniel Ridley bear a remarkable resemblance to those of descendants of Asa Elisha Ridley, so there is a good possibility that these lines are indeed related.
Asa Elisha's parents died while he was young, and the Ridley brothers were reportedly "bonded out" until they became of age. When the brothers reached the age of majority, they were reported provided with a horse and saddle by their bonder, whose identity remains unknown at this time.
Arriving in Tennessee
Asa Elisha came down the Tennessee River with his brothers Ales Price Ridley and Charles Martin Ridley in the mid 1830s bringing a herd of horses; Asa settled in Marion County, Tennessee, while his brothers settled in Heard County, Georgia. One source reports that there was a fourth brother, name unknown, who also came with them. It is unknown whether they owned the horses they were herding, or were hired by someone else to bring them to the Tennessee Valley.
Asa Elisha served during the summer of 1838 for four months in the 2nd Seminole War under Captain Harry Rogers. For his service, he received a land bounty for forty acres.
The Start of the Ridley Family in the Tennessee Valley
Asa Elisha married Elizabeth Ann Dame in Marion County, Tennessee on 3 Sept 1839. It is unknown if Asa Elisha knew Elizabeth Ann before he arrived in Marion County; the Dame family spent some time in Kentucky as well. Asa Elisha and Elizabeth Ann Ridley lived for seven years in Marion County, near the Tennessee River; sometime in the 1850s Asa and Elizabeth moved to nearby Jackson County, Alabama and settled in the community of Long Island. There is a gap here between the time the family lived in Marion County, Tennessee and their relocation to Long Island, Alabama where the family is relatively unaccounted for in historical accounts; however through research, it is believed that the family can be found on the 1850 U.S. Census in Frogtown, Lumpkin County Georgia, which is an extinct community near Dahlonega, the site of Georgia's "gold rush" when gold was discovered there in 1828. By 1870 they had settled into what was to become their permanent home across the Tennessee River from what is now the Widow's Creek Steam Plant near Bridgeport, Alabama. Asa Elisha worked his farm, and ran a ferry at what is known as Ridley's Crossing. The log house where Asa and Elizabeth lived still stands on the old homeplace, which is currently owned by Joe John Williams. They are buried together there in a small cemetery near the log home, enclosed by an iron fence. The enscription on Asa's tombstone, which has become weathered with age, reads as follows:
A few years before his death, Asa Elisha made a Deed of Gift to his wife Elizabeth for four hundred forty one acres of land, an unusual gesture in those days since women did not generally own real estate; lands were usually inherited by the eldest son. Elizabeth, in turn, deeded each of her children a home site, and the remaining property was auctioned at her death, when it was purchased by Mr. R. A. Williams whose descendant, Mr. Joe John Williams, still lives on and works the farm today. Elisha also owned land around Shaw, Alabama where Elizabeth was living in 1892.