McLean County, Illinois
JOSEPH B. AYERS, a retired farmer now living in the enjoyment of a competency in the village of Danvers, has spent his entire lifetime in this county, having been born in the city of Bloomington on the 19th of November, 1831. Bloomington, at that time, probably could have hardly been called a city, and our subject has noted with keen interest the changes which have taken place in his native county within a period of over fifty years. He has also furnished his full quota to its growth and prosperity, having been one of its most progressive and substantial citizens.
The subject of this history was the son of James T. and Rebecca B. (Bloomer) Ayers, natives respectively of Madison and Fayette Counties, Ohio. James T. Ayers was born Nov. 14, 1805, and departed this life in Buford, S. C., on the 10th of September, 1865. Mrs. Rebecca B. Ayers was born Oct. 13, 1806, and preceded her husband to the unknown land on the 2d of March, 1848.
The parents of our subject were fairly educated in their youth, and were married in Ohio in 1825. His father was a man of fine abilities, an extensive reader and possessed a valuable fund of general information.
They emigrated to the Prairie State in the fall of 1831, locating first in Tazewell County, whence they removed to McLean County and settled near Lexington.
James Ayers served as a soldier in the Union Army, first as an Orderly Sergeant, and was afterward appointed Regimental Mail Messenger. After going to Nashville he was retained by Gov. Johnson of Tennessee as recruiting officer, and was afterward appointed Chaplain and assigned to duty in the 104th Regiment of Colored Troops at Buford, S. C. [ed., Beaufort, S.C.]
Joseph B. Ayers remained under the parental roof until he was eighteen years of age, and on the 27th of April, 1851, was married to Miss Sarah C. Haybarger. Mrs. Ayers was born July 26, 1832, in Augusta County, Va., and is the daughter of Abraham and Mary (Crowbarger) Haybarger, who were of German descent, but natives of Maryland and Virginia respectively.
The father was born Nov. 19, 1798, and died in McLean County, Ill., in 1843. Mrs. H. was born July 5, 1800, in Rockingham County, Va., and died in Danvers Township, this county, in September, 1885. They were worthy and valued citizens, and members in good standing of the Presbyterian Church.
Their household included seven children, as follows: Susan M. married William C. Hinshaw; George C. died in infancy; John C. married Miss Catharine Peuterbaugh; David K., unmarried, died at the age of twenty-three years; Sarah C. is the wife of our subject; Elizabeth R. is now Mrs. John Smith, and Julia A., Mrs. D. B. S. Smith.
Mr. and Mrs. Ayers became the parents of eight children, of whom the record is as follows: John Thompson, born April 12, 1852, married Miss Hattie A. Estes; William Henry, born June 29, 1854, married Miss Emma Neal; one son, born Sept. 3, 1853, died in infancy; Mary Elizabeth, born Dec. 30, 1856, married M. L. Keplinger, of Carlinville, Ill.; a daughter was born Jan. 2, 1856, and soon afterward died; Joseph Lincoln, born Jan. 16, 1859, died October 20 of the same year; Seymore Warren was born Aug. 12, 1861, and Frank David, June 15, 1865.
Our subject in early life purchased a farm at Mosquito Grove, in this county, which he occupied for thirty-five years, and where he carried on agriculture with fair success, and his sons now occupy it. He is a member in good standing of the Methodist Episcopal Church, with which he united in 1853, and held the office of Steward.
The father of our subject died, as stated, in Buford, S. C. [ed., Beaufort, S.C.], with typhus malarial fever. When but twenty years old he commenced his ministry in the Methodist Episcopal Church as a local preacher. He possessed fine talents, was fairly educated and a natural orator. He was the means of great good during his life, being active and useful and a sincere Christian. His wife was also connected with the same church, and a worthy helpmeet of her husband.
They were the parents of eleven children: Mary J. became the wife of W. Walters Wallace; Nancy was the second, who died in infancy; Richard died in infancy; the next was our subject; then followed William T., Catharine, Margaret, Benjamin H., Henry C., Sarah E. (deceased), and an infant son, who died unnamed.
The parents of Mrs. Ayers came to Illinois in 1834, and located in Tazewell County, whence they came to Danvers Township three years later, where they remained the balance of their lives.
[SOURCE: Portrait and biographical album of McLean County, Ill. : containing full page portraits and biographical sketches of prominent and representative citizens of the county, together with portraits and biographies of all the governors of Illinois, and of the presidents of the United States. (Chicago: Chapman Brothers, 1887). Transcribed and annotated by Judy Rosella Edwards.]
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