Second only to Olney as a busy crossroad, Ashton was known as Porter’s Corner a century and a half ago when Charles G. Porter owned three of the quadrants. A historian described the hamlet of that time as consisting of “a general store, a blacksmith shop, a wheelwright shop … and a house or two.” There may also have been a slave market as the Annals record that here “the last public sale of a slave in Montgomery County occurred, when John Hood was auctioned off to settle the estate of the late Edward Porter.” However, the new owners quickly gave Hood his freedom, for which they were “greatly petted by the Abolitionists.”
Alban Gilpin Thomas rented the general store in 1870 and opened the first post office in 1889. At this point Ashton’s new name became official, derived from Thomas’ birthplace, Ashland, and another renowned Thomas home, Clifton. Paving came late to the busy crossroad – in 1917 the current Route 108 was surfaced and a decade later New Hampshire Avenue was as well.
The Civil War period saw the growth of Ashton’s black community, known as Ebenezer, half a mile east of the crossroads. Ebenezer’s cemetery marks the former site of a log African Methodist Episcopal Church that stood well into the 20th century.