About Richard Porter Ashe
Porter Ashe's forefathers had given their name to Asheville, North Carolina and his uncle was the great Civil War Admiral David Farragut.
In 1883, when traveling to Los Angeles on her honeymoon Aimee Crocker, the train carrying the eloping couple broke loose at the summit of a hill in Tehachapi, killing 21 people and seriously injuring another 12. Porter Ashe was credited with pulling people to safety. According to a front page New York Times report Ashe, “exhibited a great deal of cool heroism at the burning of the cars. After drawing his wife and her maid through the window of the sleeper, he rescued ex-California Governor John G. Downey from between broken timbers, and saved his life.”
Not long after the birth of their daughter Gladys (AKA Alma), Porter’s marriage collapsed. Porter plunged into a score of speculations, none of which proved successful. He spent a small fortune on his racing studs, and then sold off many of them to settle gambling debts. Porter became the patron of prize-fighters, and began to dance attendance upon the latest favorite of the ballet or the comic opera. His friendships with actresses Lillie Langtry and Lotta Crabtree were the source of much gossip. Amy was herself seen everywhere at fashionable entertainments, not with her husband, but with some young cavalier.
The breakup of Aimée’s first marriage became a national scandal. Porter and his brother, Sydney, kidnapped daughter Gladys in Los Angeles, while Aimée and her mother attended a wedding. Charges and countercharges made daily news during the custody battle, and courthouse proceedings attracted a crowd of hundreds. In spite of Porter’s reputation as a notorious gambler, in spite of his kidnapping charge and a weapons charge, and in spite of the Crocker millions, the little girl’s mother would not be awarded custody. Aimée, it seems, had the worse reputation. Porter left the courthouse with the child. Gladys was later adopted by Aimée’s mother.