Samuel Ashmun (1799 – 1866)
“Ashmun Street was named after a prominent family in Sault Ste. Marie named Ashman. It was incorrectly spelled as Ashmun Street circa 1866. It was primarily named for Samuel Ashman (April 10, 1799 – May 17, 1866) who was one of the most famous citizens of Sault Ste. Marie.
He began as a fur trader with the American Fur Company, moving to the Sault in the early 1830s. Ashman was Justice of the Peace and he was one of Sault Ste. Marie’s first judges. He held the office of state representative and many other important offices during his life time. Ashman died on May 17, 1866 and was buried in the city cemetery at the present site of the City-County Building.
Ashmun Street is the main street of Sault Ste. Marie. It was once part of Chippewa Street, when it was first surveyed by Thomas Whepley in 1855. It had been used before then, as it was cut out by U.S. soldiers from the cantonment of the hill (Minneapolis Woods to Ashmun Hill Cemetery site) for a service road to the waterfront. The greater part of the road is considered to be the present street. During later years, it was used as a fur trading route and named Mackinac Road, for it terminated at St. Ignace.
Ashmun Street is 23 blocks long and runs from the junction of US-2 and M-129 running in a northerly direction to Park Place.”
Source: “On the Streets Where We Live”
A history of the streets and avenues of Sault Ste. Marie – A Tercentenary and Michigan Week project of the seventh grade students of Sault Junior High School – 1968.
Samuel Ashmun was born in Champlain, Clinton Township, N.Y. on April 10, 1799. He was the oldest child of Samuel Ashman, Sr. and Parthenia Raymond, also of Champlain. On April 3, 1818 he was employed as a clerk with the American Fur Company in Montréal. For a period of five years, he was paid $600 per year. He was originally sent to L’Anse (MI), located on the Keweenaw Bay, at the base of the Keweenaw Peninsula. In 1824, he was transferred to Fond du Lac (WI) and placed in charge of a trading post while working for William Morrisson. This is where he married Nancy Keneesequa Bruschette. She was the daughter of Katawabeda (Broken Tooth) Bruschette and Ombemegiizhigakwe (She Rises High in the Sky) Bruschette. Samuel’s Father-in-Law was the Ojibwe Chief at Sandy Lake (WI). They raised a family of seven children (five boys and 2 girls).
As the first census of Chippewa County was taken in July 1827, when the county extended westward to the Mississippi River, Samuel Ashmun was located at Lac du Flambeau (WI). It was on February 10, 1831 that his name appeared in the Sault’s official records. Governor Lewis Cass had officially appointed Bela Chapman, Ephraim Johnston, and Samuel Ashmun as Justices of the Peace for Chippewa County. From then until 1857, he held almost every public office, including County Judge, Associate Judge, First Judge, and Probate Judge. He was also elected three times as State Representative in the Michigan Legislature, Sheriff, Supervisor, and several township positions. He also served as Census Enumerator and Postmaster. More often than any other citizen, he was selected as chairman of civic and public meetings, many of which were held in his home or office. On the business side of his life, he was a man of considerable means. He had a store, a dock, and a farm. He also traded in furs and conducted commercial fishing operations, besides dealing in real estate.
He built his first home on his own private property on what is known as Ashmun Alley. It stretches from Portage Avenue next to Sault Realism, to across from the City Fire Hall, next to where MBank is presently located. It is 13 feet wide and 316.8 feet long. His second home was erected where the Fire Hall is now located, on Ridge Street. As for the third and last residence, he was living next to the Post Office on Plank Alley, where he was employed as the Postmaster, until he passed away.
He died at the age of 67, on May 17, 1866 mourned by the entire community. There is no doubt that Judge Ashmun dominated the affairs of the Sault and Chippewa County for many years, and that the citizens liked it that way. Our main thoroughfare, Ashmun Street, if fittingly named for him. He and his wife were buried in what was then the Arlington Cemetery, on the corner of Ashmun Avenue and Arlington Street. When City Hall was built on that site, the bodies were relocated to the Maple Ridge Cemetery, on top of Ashmun Hill.
The spelling of the family was originally written as Ashman, but later it was changed by a clerical error to Ashmun.