|Frontiersman, fearless law enforcement officer, cattleman, trail blazer in the Black Hills, leading figure of Dakota Territory and South Dakota are just a few titles that describe Ben Ash.
Born in Indiana, Ash family moved to Yankton, Dakota Territory in 1859. In the newly formed town, the family lived in one of the four cabins of which the town consisted. As a youth Ben was a horse breaker and trader. At the age of 17, he became an assistant to the U.S. Marshall and upon reaching legal age, became a deputy marshal for 12 years. Later Ben served as sheriff of Hughes County. <p>In 1872, Ash supervised laying 50 miles of track on the Northern Pacific east of the present Bismarck. In 1873, he joined Custer’s command as wagon boss of 44 six-mule hitches on the expedition that was to explore the Yellowstone Country in Montana. This was featured by discovery of gold on French Creek in the Black Hills in 1874. In 1875-76, Ash explored the Black Hills and marked a trail from Bismarck. <p>Ash filed on a claim near Pierre, and was in the livery and grocery business. In 1885, he bought a ranch near Ft. Pierre, sold it when elected sheriff; later he was agent for the Lower Brule reservation under Cleveland’s administration. In the late 1890’s Ash had a horse ranch with up to 3,500 head, selling out in 1903. He then stocked the ranch with cattle under the “C Cross” brand, ranging from upper Rabbit Creek to Faith, and had up to 10,000 head. <p>Ben Ash was inducted into the National Cowboy Hall of Fame, Oklahoma City, OK, as one of the great pioneers. A marker has been placed at the beginning of the famous Bismarck Trail to the Black Hills in 1875 that Ash and his party laid out. <p>Ash was a pioneer in the Dakota Territory. He was a frontiersman in the Black Hills region of the state and forged a trail from North Dakota to the west to the Black Hills.
|Home Town (White County, IN)|