The thing that shocked me about Ashland was how many there were of them. There are at least 32 Ashland’s in the USA, and most are stand alone communities although one of the larger ones is the Ashland in California that is in Alameda County in the Bay Area. The next big shock is how many of the Ashlands were named after Henry Clay’s home in Kentucky. One of the few exceptions is Ashland, CA that was named for the Oregon ash tree.
The most famous Ashland is the one in Oregon and the only town with this name that I have spent any time in. Sixteen miles from the California border, Ashland, Oregon, is home to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, which is seasonal and in several theaters. However, it was cancelled in 2020 because people could not sit next to each other to watch a play. Ashland, OR is often called the best small arts town in America because of this festival, which Ruth and I have attended. Ashland is a sweet town of about 20,000 Oregonians.
The other Ashlands that have a population of about 20,000, which puts them in the larger category for towns with this name are the ones in Kentucky, a stand alone Ohio River community not all that far from Henry Clay’s Ashland.
The Ashland in Delaware is famous for its historic covered bridge. The Ashland in North Carolina is not the same as the city of Asheville, home to the famous and much visited attraction called the Biltmore Estate. The Ashland in Tennessee that has close to 5,000 citizens is a stand alone town not too far from Nashville. It has the word “City” attached to its name. Two Ashlands are basically historic homes like Henry Clay’s. They are the ones in Maryland in the Washington, DC area and the one in North Carolina that was built in 1840. The Ashland in Wisconsin is a stand alone community south of the vacationer’s delight called The Apostle Islands National Lakeshore in the far northern part of the state.
I have learned over time that certain states are more likely than others to have towns with the same names as towns in other states. Those states include Ohio, Wisconsin, and Illinois. I attribute this to the settlement patterns of farmers.