Tell Me the Story

The Spirit of Villarosa—as told by Horace Dade Ashton and Marc Ashton with Libby J. Atwater

Marc Ashton, victim of a brutal kidnapping, vows to not only escape his captors but to tell the amazing life story of his remarkable father.

The Spirit of Villarosa

When Marc Ashton was kidnapped at gunpoint in Haiti in 2001, he made two promises: he would escape his captors, and he would tell his father’s amazing life story.

His father, Horace Dade Ashton, was a founding member of the Explorers Club, “a gentlemen’s club for adventurers and globe-trotting scientists,” and showed his passion for adventure by visiting many perilous yet captivating corners of the world at a time when travel was not easy.

Photo by Horace Dade Ashton

Horace Ashton photographed the Wright brothers’ first flight, traveled with Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft as their photographer, and documented the 1906 San Francisco earthquake.

Dubbed the “original Indiana Jones,” Ashton shared his journeys through his countless lectures, films, prize-winning photographs, and writings. In 1940, Horace Ashton became the cultural attaché to the U.S. embassy in Haiti and moved his young family to the island. He purchased Villarosa in 1953 and turned it into their magnificent family home. The Ashtons’ life in Haiti was “exceptional, most unusual, and fascinating.”

The Spirit of Villarosa is a glorious account of Horace Ashton’s remarkable adventures—a fabulous story in itself—juxtaposed with Marc Ashton’s own harrowing experience of being kidnapped by thugs, who clearly planned to kill him.

In his struggle for survival, Marc recalls his father’s advice and beliefs, which help him outwit his captors. The Spirit of Villarosa would make an exciting adventure novel; because it’s a true story makes it all the more exhilarating.