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.)
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.
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.
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.
Remember that 15 year mortgage we had on the legion? Guess who paid it off in only 5 years and 3 months!
Once the mortgage was paid off, we invested in some well needed renovations. Since 2011 the Legion has remodeled the kitchen, given the hall a face lift, installed lights in the parking lot, put on a new roof on and installed a new heater. Also , the Legion family has purchased statues that represent the 5 branches of the service and the flags for each branch of the service. These were installed in front of The Legion Hall.
And we're not done yet! Coming in the spring of 2020 the parking lot is going to be re-surfaced.
The New and Improved Hall
In March of 2017, our hall had a wonderful face lift. Click here for rental information.