Also see additional information concerning the Ayres/Ayers family that follows this biography.
William Ayres, of Dover, was born in Franklin, Rockaway, formerly Hanover township, Morris county, on the 15th of November, 1824. Tradition says that the Ayres family to which our subject belongs was founded by representatives of the name who emigrated from county Antrim, Ireland, in 1745, and located in Philadelphia. They were Scottish covenanters. To the same family William Ayres and his sons, the "5A blanket" manufacturers, of Philadelphia, are suppose to be related, likewise Colonel Bucher Ayres, of that city who died within the past year, and who was a son of William Ayres, a prominent lawyer and distinguished citizen of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, of which city he served as mayor. William seems to have been a popular family name, as it is borne by seven representatives of that branch of the family, as well as by a number who belong to the same branch as that of our subject.
The grandfather of William Ayres, of Dover, was Robert Ayres, for many years a resident of Morris county. He was born July 17, 1738, probably in Ireland, as the family did not come to America until 1745. He married Anna Jackson, who was born in Rockaway, Morris county, August 9, 1746, and was a daughter of Colonel Stephen Jackson. After their marriage they resided at Woodbridge, near Rahway, until about 1780, when they came to Rockaway. Not long afterward, however, they went to Wyoming, Pennsylvania, where they were living at the time of the great freshet, which they lost everything they had. Then they returned to Rockaway, traveling most of the way on foot, and carrying their youngest child in their arms. Robert Ayres died about 1784, but his wife long survived him and for her second husband married Deacon David Beeman, of rockaway. Unto Robert and Anna (Jackson) Ayres was born eight children, all natives of Woodbridge, Essex county, New Jersey. They were Elizabeth, born September 22, 1764; Jackson, who was born February 14, 1766, and removed to Cincinnati, Ohio; Robert, who was born December 8, 1767, and became a resident of New York city; William, who was born August 31, 1769, and made his home in Sparta, New Jersey; Joseph, who was born September 13, 1772, and removed to New York city; Mary who was born April 10, 1775, and became the wife of Samuel More, who resided near Morristown; Daniel, father of our subject; and Anna, who was born September 16, 1785, and was the wife of Henry Berry, the grandfather of S. H. Berry, of Dover, and of Rev. Charles Berry, of Caldwell, New Jersey. Mr. And Mrs. Henry Berry made their home near Dover.
Daniel Ayres, the father of our subject, was born in Woodbridge, New Jersey, May 10, 1778, and in his early life learned the shoemaker's trade, serving a seven-years apprenticeship. At the expiration of that period he had twenty dollars in cash and his knowledge of the business with which to aid him in life. He first married, December 14, 1800, Miss Hannah, daughter of David Garrigus. The mentioned was the son of Jacob and a brother of the John Garrigus who was a grandfather of our subject. Hannah Garrigus was born January 26, 1783. By this marriage there were the following children: Anna, born November 14, 1803, and died May 25, 1892, surviveed by her husband, David Cooper, who is still living, aged ninety-seven years; Joseph Jackson, born February 14, 1806, married Phebe A. Losey, and died December 9, 1882; David Garrigus, born November 8, 1807 and married Angeline Oliver; Abigail, born February 20, 1810, and became the wife of Jonathon Oliver; and Hannah M., born January 6, 1812, and married, first, Bethuel Pierson and after his death Caleb Pierson. After the death of his first wife Mr. Ayres married, February 6, 1823, Miss Marry Garrigus, who was born August 27, 1783, and by this marriage there were the following children: William, our subject; and John, who was born August 28, 1826, and died August 4, 1897. Mrs. Mary Ayres was brought up to very industrious habits and became an expert in weaving cloth, carpets and old-time checkered bed spreads. This was at a time when it required a week's work at weaving to earn money enough, seventy-five cents, to buy one yard of calico! She was the eldest child of Deacon John and Elizabeth (Shipman) Garrigus, the former born June 30, 1760, and the latter November 7, 1757.
The name Garrigus is of French origin and was originally De la Garrigue; but on the emigration of the family to the New World it was Anglicized into its present form. The family was one of considerable distinction in France, and possessed a coat of arms, which was: Gules, three lions' heads, two, and one in a field argent. Huguenots in their religious belief; the members of the Garrigus family fled from France at the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes, tradition having it that they hastily left while their Catholic servants were cooking their dinner. They escape with only a small portion of their personal effects, and in a small boat made their way to the island of St. Christopher. Rosanna Rosaquet, a descendant of the Bourbons of France, married a member of the Garrigus family. Representatives of the name finally located in Philadelphia, and Jacob Garrigus afterward came to Morristown, thus linking the family name with the history of this country. His son John, the grandfather of William Ayres, joined the colonial army at the outbreak of the Revolutionary war, and although but a boy served until independence was achieved, participating in the battle of Monmouth and other hard-fought engagements. He died at the advanced age of ninety-six years. Daniel Ayres died in 1856, at the age of seventy-eight years, and his wife Mary, in 1875, aged ninety-two years. Soon after the first marriage he purchased a farm in ninety acres which was sold by William Ayres in 1896. Thus it was in the possession of the family for over ninety years.
In taking up the personal history of William Ayres we present to our readers the life record of one who has long prominently connected with the business interests of Morris county, especially in agricultural and horticultural lines, and is now enjoying a well earned rest and honored retirement from labor. Mr. Ayres acquired his preliminary education in the old academy of Morristown, now Lyceum Hall, where he pursued his studies until thirteen years of age under the direction of Stephen O. Querin. He was afterward, for one term a student in the school which occupied the site of the present Delaware, Lackawanna & Western Railroad depot. Reading, writing and arithmetic were there taught, also a modicum of grammar and geography. On putting aside his text-books he began work on the farm, but he though the opportunities for acquiring property by that means were very poor, and according he turned his attention in other directions.
When about eighteen years of age he began burning charcoal, which he carted to Newark, New York, Brooklyn, and other cities. For some time he carried on that enterprise in connection with farming, but in 1848 abandoned the business and started westward. He went by way of Philadelphia, thorough Pennsylvania, and down the Ohio river, then up the Mississippi to Rock Island, at which time the old Moline flour mills were operated by Spencer, Ainsworth & Damp. In their employ was a young man who was afterward to become very prominent in New York business circles as "Uncle Rufus Hatch." Mr. Ayres went up the Mississippi river to St. Paul and Minneapolis, then being hamlets containing scarcely a dozen houses. He also visited St. Anthony's Falls and Fort Snelling. In the fall of 1849, in connection with O.P. Wilson, of Allamuchy, New Jersey, he purchased a farm and flour and saw mill, about forty miles from Rock Island, Illinois, and on Christmas of that year started for New Jersey, in order to settle up some business, preparatory to locating permanently in the west; but on again reaching his native state, he found his parents in poor health, and was by them persuaded to remain. After sending a deed to his partner for the property in the west, he again began buying timber and making charcoal, which he hauled to Newark and other neighboring cities, continuing in that business for five years. He then sold wood and railroad ties and timber to the Delaware, Lackawanna & Western Railroad Company, and then to the Erie Railroad, at Paterson. Later he extended his field of operations to other lines by engaging in general farming and other horticultural pursuits. He sold grain and hay, carried on the dairy business, and on an extensive scale cultivated apples, peaches, pears and other fruit. In each department of his business he found a profitable source of income, and continued to carry on farming and dealing in wood and timber until 1895. He pad paid legacies and bought the interests of other heirs and purchased more land until at one time he owned over five hundred acres. He erected new building and made many improvements. In 1896 he sold his farm and has since retired, enjoying a rest which he has truly earned and richly deserves, for his life has been one of great activity and industry.
On the 31st of December, 1854, Mr. Ayres was united in marriage to Miss Phebe Smith, of Rockaway township, Morris county. She was born September 16, 1831, and is a daughter of William Smith, whose father was a Garrett Smith. Her mother bore the maiden name of Harriet Fisher, and was a daughter of Charles of Charles and Hannah Maria Fisher, who emigrated to America from Germany. Mrs. Smith was their eldest child and was born either in Germany or soon after the arrival of the family in America. They located near Dover, New Jersey, but a few years afterward went to Ohio, where the parents spent their remaining days. Garrett Smith lived and died on Pigeon Hill, near Dover, while William Smith died there about 1852, and his wife's death occurred there about 1895.
Unto Mr. And Mrs. Ayres have been born eight children, namely: George, born December 3, 1855; Emma, born July 6, 1857; Martha, born December 8, 1859; Mary, born February 20, 1861; Laurence, born August 18, 1863; Frank, born January 27, 1867; Amanda, born March 22, 1868, and Hattie, born July 19, 1869.
In his political views, Mr. Ayres is a Jeffersonian Democrat, and keeps well informed on the issues of the day, but has never sought or desired public office, his time being fully occupied by his business interests, in which he has never allied himself with any church, but in his life closely follows the golden rule of doing unto others as he would have them do to him; and surely this is the most comprehensive of all creeds. It has made him honorable in his business dealing, loyal in citizenship and faithful in friendship, and such a life cannot but command the respect and confidence of all.Biography Transcribed by Christopher Cresta
The National Genealogical Society Quarterly, Vol. 61 has the following article concerning Robert Ayers.
Robert Ayers (1738-1787) Of Rockaway, Morris County, New Jersey
In an account of the Ayers family of Rockaway, Morris County, New Jersey, published in 1902, it is stated that Robert Ayers, called "of Franklin," was born 17 July 1738 [place not mentioned] and died in Rockaway 6 March 1787, the dates being inscribed on his gravestone in the Presbyterian churchyard there. Robert married at Rockaway 1 January 1764 to Anna Jackson. She was born 9 August 1746 and died 21 March 1816, daughter of General Joseph Jackson of French and Indian Wars fame. The names and dates of birth and marriage for their nine children are confirmed by the Ayers-Conger Bible record published in 1946. Also in verification is the marriage license dated 31 December 1763 for Robert Ayers and Ann Jackson, both described as of Perth Amboy, Middlesex County, N.J. 
Children of Robert and Anna (Jackson) Ayers, all born in Rockaway:[1,2]
Identification of the parents of Robert Ayers was challenging because two distinctly separate Ayers families were in New Jersey before 1700 and many Christian names were common to both families. The solution was found in New Jersey wills. The father of Robert Ayers of Rockaway proves to have been Robert Ayers of Woodbridge, Middlesex County, N.J., yeoman, whose will dated 25 September 1740 was proved 4 June 1741. He stated that he was in his 35th year and bequeathed his real and personal estate to his sons Frazy and Robert (both under age), to three daughters (names not given), and to an expected child. He also included a salt meadow bought of uncle John Ayers, deceased. Executors were his wife Hummus Ayers, brother Obadiah Ayers, and friend, John Dennis, all of Woodbridge.
A search for Frazy-Frazee will was indicated by the given name of Robert Ayers' eldest son, and revealed that Robert's widow Hummus Ayers was daughter of Captain Edward Frazee of Elizabeth Town, Essex County, N.J., whose will dated 3 January 1731/2 devised to his eldest daughters Elizabeth Crow, Sarah Craig, Humus Heirs, and to his three youngest daughters Effiah, Mary, and Mercy Frazee.
The will of Robert Ayers of Woodbridge also identified the Ayers family to which he belonged. He was son of Obadiah and Joanna (Jones) Ayers of Strawberry Hill, Woodbridge. Among their ten children recorded at Woodbridge were the testator Robert, born 18 July 1706, and the testator's brother, Obadiah, born 25 December 1703. The will of Robert's father Obadiah Ayers of Woodbridge, yeoman, dated 27 October 1728 and proved 27 May 1729, named Robert as a devisee. The deceased uncle John Ayers, mentioned in the will of Robert, and Robert's father Obadiah were sons of Obadiah Ayers, Sr., of Woodbridge, whose will dated 17 November 1694 and proved 6 December 1694, named sons Samuel, John, Joseph, and Obadiah, and daughter Mary. Obadiah Ayers, Sr., and his wife Hannah Pike were among the sixty Haverhill and Newbury, Mass., families who founded Woodbridge in about 1667. The progenitor of this family was Captain John Ayers, a Salisbury, Mass., proprietor in 1640.
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