May 8, 2021

Tilford Ashford – Prominent Business Man & Saloon Owner of Wyoming in 1800s

Once upon a time in Black Entrepreneur History lived a prominent and influential African American businessman named Tilford Ashford who founded and managed his own barbershop and saloon during the 1800s in the state of Wyoming.


Tilford Ashford was born in Missouri on Feburary 25, 1862, but grew up in Iowa.

Tilford Ashford married a woman named Myrtle at the age of 30 years old. Together, they had three children between the year of their marriage and the year 1900[1].

During this time, Tilford Ashford was a barber, and soon he had risen to a place of great prominence among African Americans, moving at some point to Cheyenne, Wyoming where he founded a venue he called The Ashford Saloon on 412 W. 17th Street. His saloon was the venue for many banquets.

Not only was Tilford Ashford the owner and operator of The Ashford Saloon, but he’d also held positions at the State Capitol.

Tilford Ashford’s Murder in Cheyenne, Wyoming

Tilford Ashford was murdered in cold blood at The Ashford Saloon by an African American hot tamales vendor named Harry Allen when a dispute happened about Harry Allen’s dog[2].

Harry Allen took his dog by the saloon one morning at 7am, and the dog began doing tricks, putting on a performance, at Allen’s command. Ashford wasn’t pleased at all with the performance that Allen’s dog was putting on because the dog was damaging his bar by jumping on it.

Ashford demanded payment for repairs, but when Allen refused, Ashford walked across the street to report Harry Allen to the police. Afterwards, Tilford Ashford returned to his saloon and ejected Allen from the venue while reportedly assaulting him with brace knuckles in the process.

Allen ended up escaping and running into the hands of police and then to the hospital where he was patched up from his wounds, and he was supposed to return to jail after being cared for. Instead, he got an automatic revolver from his home and went back to the Ashford Saloon where he shot Tilford Ashford five times inside the doorway of his own business.

The murder was witnessed by William Ashford, a barber and the victim’s brother, Harry Allen’s own brother, and the police. Ashford was dead before he reached St. John’s Hospital, leaving behind his wife Myrtle and three children.

[3]Tilford Ashford was buried in Lakeview Cemetery in Cheyenne, Wyoming, dying on June 26, 1909.


Sources

  • [1]Year: 1900; Census Place: Cheyenne Ward 3, Laramie, Wyoming; Page: 1; Enumeration District: 0038; FHL microfilm: 1241827
  • [2]The Ogden Standard (Ogden, Utah) 29 Jun 1909, Tue Page 5
  • [3]Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed 21 February 2021), memorial page for Tilford W Ashford (25 Feb 1862–26 Jun 1909), Find a Grave Memorial no. 29163055, citing Lakeview Cemetery, Cheyenne, Laramie County, Wyoming, USA ; Maintained by Eric Crow (contributor 46623671)