FRED WILLIAM AYERS who makes his home in Athens, is interested in farming pursuits and is an extensive stock raiser and shipper, making a specialty of shorthorn cattle. He was born in Athens, November 13, 1876, his parents being William and Mary (Depew) Ayres, the former a native of Menard county and the latter of Mason county. The father began life as a farmer and stock raiser upon the old home farm in Menard county, just a mile west of Athens. There he carried on farm work for many years and now is living retired upon the old homestead, enjoying the rest which he has earned and richly deserved, for he worked persistently and diligently in former years and brought to bear in his chosen vocation sound judgment and executive ability. In all of his business transactions he has ever been found worthy of the public trust and he therefore enjoys the esteem of the business community. For a quarter of a century he served as a school director and otherwise took an active and helpful part in community affairs. He married Mary Depew and they became the parents of four children: Joseph, who died in infancy; Etta, who died about fifteen years ago; Lou, who is the wife of Dr. Cheaney, resident of Petersburg; and Fred W. After the mother's death the father married again, his second union being with Emma Malby, with whom he is now living on the old home farm.
Fred W. Ayres is indebted to the public school system of Athens for the early education privileges he enjoyed and he advanced there step by step until he had mastered the branches taught in the high school. He was also a student in the Gem City Business College at Quincy, Illinois, from which institution he was graduated with the class of 1897. On leaving college he returned to Athens and entered the bank as a bookkeeper, occupying that position for three years, after which he engaged in farming in Menard county and he is today one of the leading young agriculturists of the state. In addition to the raising of cereals he is also engaged in the raising of pure blooded stock, making a specialty of breeding Scotch shorthorn cattle, and he is now an extensive shipper of fine thoroughbred cattle to all parts of the United States.
While connected with the banking interests of Athens Mr. Ayres was married to Miss Minnie Rosalyn Hargrave, a daughter of M. T. and Melissa Hargrave, both of whom were early residents of Athens, where the father figured prominently in commercial circles for a quarter of a century, conducting a drug store there. In the maternal line Mrs. Ayres is descended from the Primm family, being a granddaughter of Abram S. Primm, who was a scion of a wealthy family that settled in Menard county before Athens was founded. He was born in St. Clair county, Illinois, December 25, 1812, and accompanied his parents on their removal to this county in October, 1820. Here he resided until his death and he was married on the 19th of June, 1839, to Lucinda C. Hall, by whom he had four children who are yet living, namely: Mrs. Mary A. Cline, Mrs. Lizzie M. Hargrave, Mrs. Rose Young and Mrs. Lillie S. Estil. Another daughter, Mrs. A. P. West, died a few months before the death of her father and her husband is now living in California. Three years before the death of Abram Primm he and his wife celebrated their fiftieth marriage anniversary. Just six weeks later Mrs. Primm died, and after that "Uncle Abe," as he was known to every one in the community, gradually grew weaker and for several months prior to his demise was unable to leave his hoe. His sorrow over the loss of his loved companion undoubtedly led to his death. He came of an illustrious family and the Missouri Republican, bearing date August 23, 1885, publishes the following account of his ancestors: "The Primm family is entitled to a coat-of-arms on both sides of the house. They are descended from Alexander De La Pryme, a gentleman of the town of Ypres, who was granted a patent of gentility by the Roman pontiff for meritorious services under Philip of Alsace in the second crusade. The family having embraced the Reformed religion they were forced to leave the continent by Cardinal Richelieu after the revocation of the edict of Nantes and they settled in England. Alexander De La Pryme removed to the Isle of Man in 1725 and his second son, John, emigrated to America, settling in Virginia in 1750. In deference to the prejudice existing against French names the De La was dropped and the latter part of the surname was changed to the present form of Primm. The eldest son of the emigrator, John Primm, was a colonel in the Revolutionary war and in 1802 he removed westward with his family. His eldest child was Peter Primm, the father of the late Judge Wilson Primm. He married Marie Angelique La Roux D'Esneval. Her father was one of four brothers of the name of La Roux D'Esneval, three of whom fled from France during the reign of terror in 1793. A portrait of one of these is in possession of the family. He was a colonel in the bodyguard of Louis XIV and was guillotined. Another went to San Domingo during one of the insurrections of the slaves. Two brothers came to Canada, where one remained, while the other one went to St. Louis and was there married to Helene, daughter of Jean Sallivit (called Lajoie) and Maria Rosa De Vialpardo, a lady of Spanish birth. The Primm coat of arms is a poinard and cross quarterly crest - a cross. The motto is "Animose certavit" (He has fought courageously).
Thomas Primm, the father of Abram Primm, was a son of John Primm mentioned above. He was a native of Virginia and was married in 1807 to Elizabeth Stallings in St. Clair county, Illinois, whence they removed to Menard county in 1820. He was one of seventeen children and died in the year 1856.
Mrs. Fred W. Ayres, granddaughter of Abram Primm, was born in Athens and has spent her entire life here with the exception of six years passed in Petersburg while her father was serving as sheriff there. She completed her education in the high school of Athens and after putting aside her text books she remained at home with her parents until the 4th of January, 1897, when she gave her hand in marriage to Mr. Ayres. Their union has been blessed with three children: William West, born August 24, 1899; Mary, born August 12, 1901; and Thomas Hargrave, born November 15, 1903.
In his political views Mr. Ayres is a stanch Democrat, thus following in the political footsteps of his father and his grandfather. He is, however, fearless in his advocacy of any measure which he deems to be for the general good. He is overseer of the poor but has little political ambition. Prominent in Masonry, he belongs to Clinton lodge, A.F. & A.M., of Cantrall, Illinois, and Dewitt chapter, R.A.M., of Petersburg. His wife is of the Presbyterian faith. They have a beautiful modern residence in Athens, celebrated for its hospitality and their circle of friends is almost coextensive with their circle of acquaintance.