By Kristin Finney
Greene Publishing, Inc.
There are several names that come to mind when you think of historic and prominent Madison residents. One of those names would be Ashley Beggs. Ashley Beggs has lived in Madison for all of his life, not including his time serving in the military. The Beggs have been in Madison for generations. Ashleys’ grandfather opened the Beggs Funeral Home in 1886 and it is has been passed down through generations. Ashley is currently the owner of the Beggs Funeral Homes in Madison and Perry and has been for many years.
Growing up in Madison was very different than it is today. “Madison is a small town, back then we used to play stick ball and baseball in the streets. Neighborhoods were friendly and things were a lot calmer back then. Back then no one locked their doors at night. Now most people lock their doors as soon as they get home. Crime has risen all over the world and Madison is no exception.”
For fun, Ashley enjoyed going fishing at Lake Rachel at his aunt’s and uncle’s house. “We called it the Hornets Nest. We would go through the woods. We would swim. We also went to Blue Springs a lot, that was one of our favorite watering holes. Another thing we did for fun was going to the public beach at Cherry Lake. Back then there weren’t any pools in Madison. Those came along later.” He also recalled some of his favorite places to eat, “I liked going to Frank’s Café, Country Kitchen and Pep’s.”
Ashley attended elementary school in Madison. The elementary school was located where CVS sits today. He recalled, “When I got in the 7th or 8th grade a lady named Mildred Bruner took us on a tour of Madison County and taught us about the history of the county.” Ever since, Ashley has been very interested in the history of the area. “There are many people in the county that deserve thanks because with their help we have found out many historical things about Madison.” He also shared some of the information they have found, “This is a very good county and it is also one of the oldest counties in Florida. Madison County originally went from the Georgia line to the Gulf of Mexico, but then Taylor County was created. There was also a shoe factory in Madison before the Civil War that made a lot of the shoes for the soldiers.”
He then went to Madison High School where he was active in many sports. He played football, baseball, basketball and he also ran track. Back then Madison was not known as the Cowboys, they were the Red Devils. While in high school, Ashley was also active in Future Farmers of America. “My project in FFA was raising chickens,” he said.
Ashley has been married to his wife Martha for 40 years. He had three sons prior to their marriage, Appie (who is deceased), Kyle and Brad. He and Martha have two children, Ansley, who is a teacher in Madison, and Justin, who helps Ashley run the funeral home. Ashley has also been active in the Masonic Lodge. He was previously a Master of Madison’s Masonic Lodge, and also the Shriners.
When asked what his favorite thing about living in Madison was, Ashley said, “My favorite thing about living in Madison is the slow pace of living here. I also love taking care of my dogs and staying at home.”
Anyone interested in being interviewed for this article can call 973-4141 and make an appointment with Kristin Finney, or may drop by Greene Publishing, Inc. any day before noon. Those interviewed must have lived in Madison for a large portion of their life, and be able to recall a few things that have changed since that time..