Sgt. Preston Ashley was born in 1919 on the Ashley family farm in Piney Neck. He was one of 10 children of Joseph Columbus Ashley and Augusta (Miss Gussie) Crouch Ashley. He enlisted in the U.S. Army, Enginer Company 427, at age 19 in 1938. He served in England, Northern Ireland, the seaport of Oran, Algeria, and North Africa. On May 10, 1943, Sergeant Ashley was wounded in battle and died at age 23 at the 1st Mobile British Military Hospital in Sousse, Tunisia, North Africa. He was laid to rest in the North Africa American Cemetery. A bronze marker was erected at the Ashley family plot at Wesley Chapel Cemetery in Rock Hall. American Legion Post No. 228, founded in 1947, is proudly named after Sgt. Preston Ashley. (Courtesy of Patsy Reihl as published in the book Images of America: Rock Hall.)
Post 228 Initial Overview
Description of the 1st functions of Post 228
March 21st, 1947
Sgt. Preston Ashely Post 228 is officially recognized by the National Executive Committe of the American Legion.
April 23rd, 1947
The first meeting was held at the Mansion House. The purpose was to organize Sgt. Preston Ashley Post 228. Dues were set at $5.00. They signed up 26 members and collected $114.00.
Mansion House, 1947
Here's a flyer for the Mansion House, circa 1947. You know you're old when your phone number is 75.
May 8th, 1947
Officers were installed by Vice Commander of the Northeast District Lewin Burris of Chestertown. The meeting was then turned over to the First Post 228 Commander Poole. Membership was at 45 members.
June 9th, 1947
Commander said first fish fry to be held June 28th for benefit of PTA elementary school to start a cafeteria.
July 14th ,1947
Committee appointed to contact Mr. Webber to make a deal on the Cully property as a Legion Home. There were 27 members present for the meeting.
August 11th, 1947
Commander read letter from the War Dept. who will send us rifles for the Honor Guard. They requested $10.00 to cover packing and shipping. Motion approved. The next fish fry to be held at the Mansion House on Sept 7, 1947.
October 13th, 1947
Commander ordered Post Flags and show rifles to be used by the Honor Guard. There were 29 members who paid dues for 1948.
November 10th, 1947
New flags were displayed. 51 members paid dues for 1948.
December 18th, 1947
Baskets of food and one meal were given to 14 local families.
March 2nd, 1949
Land Survey filed with the Land Records for Kent County.
Between 1991 and 1995 many changes took place at Post 228, sometimes affectionately called "Fort Will" because of the previous owner, Will Mercer. Various stories have circulated regarding the original purpose of the building, but one had it being built as a Dance Hall. Mr. Mercer owned a great deal of land and properties in the Rock Hall area including a theater, or as we knew it, The Movie Hall.
Probably during the legion year '91 - '92 it was determined the kitchen could be a source of income but needed some renovations. The ceiling was the first to be pulled down and new drywall was installed. This was done by members of the Post by purchasing a sheet of drywall or pledging a sheet of drywall and the members installed the new ceiling. Also around this time, a walk-in refrigerator and walk-in freezer were located at a price that couldn't be refused and both were purchased, disassembled, transported, and reassembled. These improvements allowed us to have more fund raisers, such as fish fries, crab feasts, oyster roasts, fried chicken dinners, and pig roasts. In years past, our post was known for its outstanding fish fries. In those days' bus loads of peopled descended on Post 228 for sumptuous meals of fried fish, potatoes, baked beans and Dutch oven short bread.
The hall was dark with knotty pine termite eaten paneling with at least 40 years of Camel, Chesterfield, Pall Mall, Marlboro, and various other brands of cigarette smoke. We felt we could improve the appearance of the hall by lightening it up with paint, so we did the same thing we did with the kitchen, various members purchased gallons of paint or pledged gallons of paint and the members pitched in and painted the hall.
Around legion year '92 - '93 we started discussing the possibilities of building a new hall, but determined we needed to improve our income in order to do so. A new Lounge seemed to be the way to get that done, so a loan was secured and a new lounge was started around '93 - '94. We demolished an old dirt floor addition that had been built but was of no use and a new Club Room, Lounge, was built. We even held a North Eastern Shore District Meeting while under construction. The Auxiliary met in the new section which still had 2x4 walls, but new rest room facilities. By "94 - '95 construction was complete and the lounge which is in use today is that completed project. All of this was being done with an eye looking forward to eventually tearing down the old outdated hall and rebuilding a new modern facility.
During this time, a Color Guard had been formed and provided much of the labor, support, and enthusiasm that allowed all of this to take place. That Color Guard was known as the All Service Color Guard, because its members wore the uniforms representing the era in which they had served their country. It traveled to various parts of Maryland participating in parades and other functions and even represented Post 228 at the dedication of the Maryland Monument at Gettysburg, PA. It competed in the Department of Maryland Color Guard Competition and Parade at the Department Convention in Ocean City several times and placed well.
Courtesy Larry Crouch, American Legion Commander 1991 - 1995
At the time of the demolition of the old Legion Hall (formerly known as Mercer Hall), and the new hall being built-- Neal Metzbower was Commander of Post 228. Neal acted as the building contractor on the project and spent 8 hour days, seven days a week to oversee the construction.
Below is a time line of the demolition and construction which took place from Dec. 2004 to June 2005. This valuable information was obtained from a log which Neal kept throughout the whole process.
The total cost of the new hall was $245,000.00. The Legion obtained a 15 year mortgage from Peoples Bank for $135,000.00. The mortgage was paid off in 5 years and 3 months.
Legion Lounge, circa 1950
The original Legion. An oldie but goodie.
The Original with Addition
The original Legion with the addition to hold the bar and kitchen.
Out with the Old
Tearing down the original portion of the Legion.
Laying the Foundation
The foundation is set and we're almost ready to put up the walls.
Putting on the finishing touches.
Dedication of Social Hall and M60 Military Tank.
Mortgage Burning Invite
The "official" invitation to our mortgage burning.
Burn, Baby, Burn!
Neal Metzbower and Ted Cumings burn the mortgage!
The New Legion
The new Legion Lounge is open for business.