1906 Historical Encyclopedia Of Illinois & History
of Morgan County IL
& HISTORY OF MORGAN COUNTY
Munsell Publishing Company, Publishers, 1906.
ADAMS, Albyn Lincoln, M.D., a very successful physician in Jacksonville, Morgan County, Ill., was born at Pine Hill, Ontario, Canada, April 13, 1865, the son of James W. and Lee (Bowman) Adams, natives of Ohio. Mr. Adams received his early mental training in the public schools of Grand Rapids, Mich., and the Fostoria (Ohio) Academy, and afterward served an apprenticeship in the drug business in Grand Rapids and Hart, Mich. He then entered Bennett Medical College, Chicago, from which he was graduated, in 1886, with the degree of M.D. While in Chicago he became a registered pharmacist, and was engaged in the drug business in that city for about two years. Subsequently he entered the College of Physicians and Surgeons, New York City, from which he was graduated in 1889. After practicing medicine in Chicago a few months, in the fall of 1889 he established himself in Jacksonville. He devoted special attention to diseases of the eye, ear, nose and throat. He was Oculist and Aurist in the Jacksonville School for the Deaf for ten years, and now holds the same position in the School for the Blind in that city. He is also serving as Special Pension Examiner for the Jacksonville district, having been appointed as such by President McKinley, in October, 1898. He acted as Oculist for the Jacksonville & St. Louis Railroad until that line was merged into the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad. He is a member of the Jacksonville Medical Club, the Morgan County Medical Society, the American Medical Association, the Chicago Opthalmological Society, the Brainard District Medical Society and the Illinois State Medical Society.
On December 30, 1890, Dr. Adams was united in marriage with Mary M. Madison, of Chicago, who died a year later. On June 11, 1896, the Doctor wedded Minna Worthington, daughter of the late George Worthington, of Pittsfield, Ill. Of the five children resulting from this union, three - Albyn Worthington, George W. and Helen - are living.
In politics, Dr. Adams is a Republican. Religiously, he is a member
of the State Street Presbyterian Church, of Jacksonville, in which he officiates
as Trustee. Fraternally, he is affiliated with the K. of P. and D.O.K.K.
In the specialties on which his reputation chiefly rests, he is regarded
by the medical fraternity and the general public as one of the most thoroughly
competent and skillful practitioners in this district.
AKERS, (Rev.) PETER , (deceased), was born in Campbell County, Va., September 1, 1790. He received his education at different institutions of learning in Virginia, North Carolina and Kentucky. The degree of master of Arts was conferred on him by Transylvania University, Ky. The courses of study that he pursued in those institutions included English, Latin, Greek and Hebrew, in which branches he was regarded as eminently proficient, and in which he taught classes in the institutions named. He was also President for some time of a State Institution in Mount Sterling, Ky. He studied law with Major W. P. Fleming, and in March, 1817, obtained a license to practice in all the courts of that State. While carrying on his extensive practice, he also edited and published a political Whig paper, called the "Star". Becoming deeply convinced that it was his duty to preach the Gospel, he quit the practice of law, and in 1821, joining the Methodist Episcopal Church, he entered the ranks of itinerant Methodist preachers. In 1832, at his request, he was transferred to the Illinois Conference, and Jacksonville thereafter became the chief place of his residence, except the intervals when he was President of McKendree college at different times, and during his residence of a few years in Minnesota. In the year 1836 he established the Ebenezer Manual Labor School, four miles northwest of Jacksonville, an account of which is given elsewhere.
Dr. Akers was a man of marked character, of large frame, of giant intellect,
of extensive learning, and of wonderful eloquence. He would have been a
leader in any department of activity. He stood in the church the peer of
the foremost. As a preacher he was rarely equaled, never surpassed. His
profound knowledge of the Scriptures, his fidelity to his convictions,
his eloquence and humility, combined with his impressive and massive physique,
united in making him the most powerful preacher in the West when in the
meridian of his years. He was as remarkable for his modesty and humility
as for his distinguished abilities. He never sought ecclesiastical preferment.
He was sent as a delegate from his conference to eight General Conferences,
and usually the first of the delegations. At one of those conferences he
came within one vote of being elected a Bishop of the Church. He was one
of the committee of nine in the memorable General Conference of 1844, when
the slavery agitation in the church reached its culmination in the Plan
of Separation presented by that committee was adopted, but which was not
carried out by the Southern Conferences which hastened to secede and organize
the Methodist Episcopal Church, South. He was the Boanerges of Methodism
in his day. Who is able to sketch his grand life, or compass his colossal
intellect? When a nonagenarian he still walked our streets; and at times
in public address the old time fire and force of fifty years before would
illumine his face. In Jacksonville, Ill., on February 21, 1886, was ended
his earthly life, in many respects the most remarkable in the history of
Methodism in the great Northwest.
ALEXANDER, John T., (deceased), stock-raiser, was born September 15, 1820, in Western Virginia, and when but six years old removed to Ohio with his father, who engaged in agricultural pursuits. John T. enjoyed in his youth but few opportunities for securing an education, and was engaged in roughing it through the continuous labors incidental to farm life in a newly opened country. When thirteen years of age he began to assist his father, then an extensive drover, in sending cattle to the Eastern market, and from that period until reaching his twentieth year, he passed his time in driving his father's herds from Ohio, over the Alleghenies, to Philadelphia, Baltimore, New York, and Boston. His father then suffering severe financial reverses, he determined to go West and commence life upon his own account. He traveled to St. Louis, where he was soon employed, at a moderate salary, by a firm which at that time transacted the largest livestock business in that section of the country. He was employed for a time by this firm in purchasing cattle throughout the country, but later engaged with limited means and on a small scale in fattening cattle on his own account for the market. After having been engaged in this line for three years, he took 250 head of cattle to Boston, occupying the entire summer in driving them to that market, and sold them at a price that yielded him a handsome profit.
After continuing in this business for three years, in 1843 he made his first investment in land for a stock farm on the Wabash Railroad ten miles east of Jacksonville, which finally grew to 6,000 acres, including what is now the site of the village of Alexander. The original cost of a portion of this land was $3 per acre, its present value amounting to $125 to $150 per acre. He met with some reverses, but in 1856 the scale was turned, his ventures that year bringing him a return of $60,000. In 1859 he fattened 15,000 head of choice cattle, for which he obtained a ready sale in the large Eastern cities.
The decline in prices in Missouri in consequence of the breaking out of the Civil War, and the large demand by the Government for the use of the army, gave him the opportunity for profitable investments, and, at the close of that period he was a millionaire. He subsequently bought the "Sullivant" farm, of 20,000 acres, afterwards called "Broad Lands," situated in Champaign County, Ill. He soon experienced many reverses, losing many cattle by Spanish Fever, and large sums of money by the repudiation of certain railroad contracts for shipments, his losses in one year aggregating $350,000. These misfortunes produced a crisis in his affairs, and by a failure to sell his "Broad Lands," for which the agreements had been partially drawn up, he was compelled to assign his entire estate for the benefit of his creditors, the late Marshall P. Ayers, of Jacksonville, becoming the assignee and manager. Notwithstanding the fact that his liabilities exceeded $1,200,000, his estate paid his creditors dollar for dollar. He retained a considerable portion of his large estate at Alexander, in Morgan County, where he continued to reside up to the date of his death, which occurred August 22, 1876.
Mr. Alexander was married at the age of twenty-four years to Miss Mary
DeWeese, and they reared a family of eight children.
ALLYN, WALTER H., M.D., and ALLYN, PAUL, M.D., physicians and surgeons, Waverly, Morgan county, Ill. It is not often that the biographer has the pleasing task of writing the lives of two brothers, who, while not born twins, are so similar in characteristics and tendencies as to lead almost identical lives. R. T. and E. E. (Henderson) Allyn, parents of the brothers mentioned, were originally of Scotch descent, although natives of Illinois. Of their children, Walter H. and Paul early showed inclinations for a professional life, and, what is rather unusual in similar cases, both selected the field of medicine. Walter H. Allyn was born in Modesto, Macoupin County, Ill., July 16, 1876, and Paul, on April 10, 1879.
The education of both was along similar lines. Walter graduated from the High School near his home in 1891, after which for two years he attended the school at Waverly. Later he spent four years in the college at Eureka, Ill., obtaining the degree of A.B. in 1899, and thereafter entering Barnes University, at St. Louis, Mo., from which institution he was graduated in 1902. He was so fortunate as to secure the position of interne in a city hospital for twelve months, a position which because of the varied experience it furnishes, is eagerly sought by medical students. In the spring of 1903 Dr. Allyn came to Waverly, and a year later was joined by his brother who became the junior member of the firm, whose practice is large and continually increasing. Dr. Allyn is a member of the I.O.O.F., the Elks, K.P., Modern Woodmen, M.P.L., A.F. & A.M., Loyal Americans and D.A.K.K. fraternities.
Paul Allyn's education, as has been suggested, was very similar to that
enjoyed by his senior brother. He graduated at Waverly High School, and
later attended Eureka College. He also graduated from Barnes University,
at St. Louis. In 1902, and for eighteen months in the Centenary and City
Hospitals, had all the advantages of an interne's experiences, after which
he removed to Waverly and became connected with the firm of Drs. Allyn
& Allyn. Dr. Paul Allyn has recently taken a post graduate course at
Chicago. He does not belong to the order of Elks nor to the Masonic fraternity,
but is connected with the Court of Honor; otherwise he is affiliated with
all the organizations with which his brother is associated, while both
belong to the City Hospital Alumni Medical Society, and to the American
ANDERSON, JAMES S., one of the most worthy and successful of the pioneer residents of Jacksonville, Morgan County, Ill., was born in Loudoun County, Va., on Gladstone's birthday, July 22, 1810, the son of Robert and Sarah Anderson. In 1815 Robert Anderson journeyed with his family to Jefferson County, Ind., where he settled on a tract of land which he cleared of timber.
For a short period of his early boyhood Mr. Anderson attended the subscription schools, meanwhile assisting his father on the farm during the summer. At the age of fifteen years, he went to Bethlehem to learn the trade of a cabinet maker. Thence he accompanied his employer to Nutford, Ohio, where he worked at his trade for three years. His employer having died Mr. Anderson went to Cincinnati, Ohio, where he secured employment in a furniture store, making furniture by hand. Having received an encouraging letter from his brother, John, who had located in Morgan County, Ill., he persuaded his father to sell his property, and the family started for Illinois October 24, 1830, the fall preceding "the deep snow". On arriving in Morgan County, his father entered a section of land nine miles south of Jacksonville. After assisting his father to clear a patch of the land and erect necessary buildings, a few weeks later James S. went to Jacksonville to work at his trade. As all work was stopped by the deep snow, he remained with his brother that winter on the latter's farm. In March, 1831, he returned to Jacksonville and entered the employ of James Hurst, who had a furniture store on East Main street. Later he was employed by a Mr. Ament. Subsequently he and a fellow workman, named Ross, went to Carrollton, Ill., to commence a business together, but Mr. Anderson became sick and returned to Jacksonville, where he established himself in the furniture trade in connection with Mr. Ross. Mr. Ament had failed and they occupied his old stand, where they conducted their business for eight years. At the end of that period, Mr. Anderson bought the interest of Mr. Ross, and soon afterward located on the northeast corner of the Public Square. Near that corner, in 1840, Mr. Anderson erected a frame building, in which he conducted his business until the present brick store was erected by him. He took a prominent part in mitigating the ravages of the cholera epidemic in 1833, nursing the sick and burying the dead, and sleeping in houses which had been vacated by those who had fled from the town.
In 1833 Mr. Anderson was united in marriage with Sarah J. Thompson, who was born in Lexington, Ky., and their union resulted in eight children, of whom but one survives - Samuel T., of Jacksonville.
In politics Mr. Anderson was first a Whig and afterward a Republican.
He served one term in the City Council of Jacksonville. Religiously, he
was a member of the Christian Church from early manhood, and officiated
as Deacon for a long period. He served as a soldier in the Black Hawk War.
Mr. Anderson died July 1, 1899, and his widow passed away on July 19th,
following. He was a man of excellent traits of character, diligent and
energetic in business, and highly respected.
ANDRE, M. F., father of H. M. and G. B. Andre, now retired from active farming life, is living in a pleasant home at 329 Clay Avenue, Jacksonville. He was born in Aubagne, France, now a part of Belgium, February 13, 1833, the son of John and Susan (Walsing) Andre. John Andre, the father, was a soldier of the "Old Guard", and assisted in winning the victories of the Great Napoleon for thirteen years, and also fought in the ranks at the close of his military career on the memorable plains near Brussels in the historic Battle of Waterloo, dying in France at the age of fifty-eight years. M. F. Andre came to America in 1851, first locating in New York and later in Wisconsin, but in 1854 came to Meredosia in Morgan County, where, for a time, he worked for others, making his first purchase of land in 1858, when he secured 20 acres east of Meredosia. He has from time to time added to the original tract and has sold some of his land, but still owns a well-improved farm of 142 acres. A good farm residence with substantial outbuildings, shade trees, orchards, and well-cultivated fields, at once proclaim the owner a thrifty and prosperous farmer. Of late years he has followed general farming, but in former times paid considerable attention to the breeding and feeding of cattle. He was married December 28, 1858, to Elizabeth A. Graham, daughter of L. D. Graham, an extensive land-owner and farmer in the northwestern part of Morgan County. Mr. and Mrs. Andre became the parents of five children, viz: Linda F., wife of Theodore Raglin, of Quincy, Kans.; Roland Lee, who married Anna, daughter of William Holscher; Henry Milton and George Bertram, who are in partnership in the mercantile business in Jacksonville, and Harriet V., who is bookkeeper for her brothers. In the spring of 1904, M. F. Andre retired from agricultural pursuits to his home in Jacksonville. He served his district for eighteen years on the School Board and was Commissioner of Roads for many years. In politics he is a Democrat.
ANDRE & ANDRE. - This firm is classed among the leading and progressive mercantile houses of the city of Jacksonville, and their extensive business as "High Grade House Furnishers" is not confined to the city, the county, or the State. While they are transacting a very large and growing business at home, they ship goods to many points in all the Western States. The heads of this establishment are the brothers H. M. and G. B. Andre, doing business under the firm name of Andre & Andre.
H. M. Andre, the elder member of the firm, was born on his father's farm in the northwestern part of Morgan County, June 20, 1967, the son of M. F. and Elizabeth A. (Graham) Andre, the former a native of France, who came to America in 1851and located as a farmer in Morgan County three years later. H. M. Andre attended the schools in his neighborhood and the Meredosia High School, assisting in the farm work, teaching in the vicinity, and later graduating from the Gem City Business college, at Quincy, Ill. His first business venture was in connection with his uncles, George W. Graham and H. S. Hysinger (Hysinger & Graham), prominent merchants in the village of Meredosia. Sometime later he went to Marble, Colo., and there spent two years in the mountains engaged in mercantile pursuits. He then returned to Morgan County, and in 1894 secured the position of bookkeeper at the Central Hospital for the Insane at Jacksonville, after which he made a second trip to the Colorado mountains, which was more a journey for pleasure than business.
Mr. Andrew was married April 28, 1897, to Louise E. Reyland, daughter of E. E. L. Reyland, formerly a merchant of Morgan County, but now a resident of California. Mr. Andre is a member of the Episcopal Church, in which he holds the position of vestryman; is also affiliated with the Modern Woodmen of America and the Tribe of Ben Hur, and supports the principles of the Democratic party.
The firm of Andre & Andre was established June 1, 1898, when the two brothers succeeded to the business of S. A. Fairbank on the north side of the Public Square, Jacksonville. The business was then of small dimensions, but under the able management of Andre brothers, has become one of the leading establishments of its kind in this part of the State. The needs of their business require their entire large brick store building, three stories in height with basement, the show room on the ground floor being 40 feet wide by 180 feet in depth. This commodious structure is completely filled with a valuable stock of up-to-date goods pertaining to their line of business.
G. B. Andre,
the younger brother of the firm of Andre & Andre, also born on his
father's farm, spent his younger days in attendance at the local schools
and making himself generally useful. He was born May 18, 1876; finished
his education in the High School in Meredosia, and then started on his
business career in the spring of 1894, as a clerk for J. H. Osborne in
Jacksonville, being later with W. L. Alexander. In these two positions
he spent four years and in 1898 was therefore well qualified to join his
brother, H. M. in establishing their present business. He was married June
16, 1897, to Jennie L. McFalls, daughter of James McFalls, a retired farmer
of Morgan County, and they have one child, Gladys. G. B. Andre is a member
of the order of Elks, Knights of Pythias and Masonic Fraternity, and belongs
to the Christian Church, in which he is a Deacon. In political relations
he is independent.
ASKEW, JOSEPH R., M.D., (deceased), formerly a well known and prominent physician of Jacksonville, Ill., was born on a farm near Winton, Hertford County, N. C., May 25, 1819. He was a son of Jere Dergan Askew, born in 1777, on the same place, and a planter and slave holder of some means. His grandfather came from Scotland to Virginia before the Revolutionary War.
In boyhood Dr. Askew attended various private academies, and in October, 1838, when nineteen years old, entered Jefferson Medical College, at Philadelphia, from which he graduated in 1841. In 1843 he went to St. Louis by boat, and then located at Milton, Pike County, Ill., where he commenced the practice of medicine. Soon after his arrival at Milton, he had all his clothes stolen, twenty-five cents being left for breakfast. He practiced at Milton and Bethel, Ill., for some time, when he located at Jacksonville, where he continued in professional work until 1894. His death occurred February 11, 1904. At intervals during his professional career, he turned his attention to farming, and in both pursuits met with notable success.
In September, 1845, Dr. Askew was united in marriage with Nancy L. Evans, who is now in her eighty-third year. She was born January 15, 1823, at Mercersburg, Pa., and her parents were early settlers in the vicinity of Milton, Ill. Dr. and Mrs. Askew became the parents of six children, namely: Alice, wife of John Chambers; Joseph R., who lives in Los Angeles, Cal., where he is engaged in the real estate business; Anna; Edward, an attorney-at-law; Nell and Edith.
In politics Dr. Askew was a Democrat. Religiously, he was a member of
the Christian Church. He was a man of excellent traits of character and
exceptional skill in his profession, and commanded the respect and esteem
of all who knew him.
AYERS, JOHN ALLEN - The evolution of the banking business in Jacksonville is illustrated in the history of the Ayers National Bank, organized under its present form May 1, 1901, by its President, John Allan Ayers, but originally established by his father, Marshall Paul Ayers, in December, 1852. As the embryo institution was the outcome of the need of its facilities fifty years ago, so this twentieth century institution, situated in a commercial and financial center and surrounded by a great and productive agricultural region, meets the requirements of diversified and complicated energy, of permanency, solvency and stability in business, and of matured, trained skill in management.
Mr. Ayers represents the third generation of his family to thus contribute to the solid upbuilding of Morgan County. He was born in Jacksonville, Ill., August 2, 1847, the son of Marshall Paul Ayers, and a grandson of David B. Ayers, both of whom are mentioned at length in another part of this work. Mr. Ayers may be said to have stepped into a business opportunity already fashioned for his acceptance. His youth was devoid of the pressure of necessity, yet the fact did not dull his ambition, or render him less the advocate of honest, intelligent labor. In 1869, soon after completing his course as a student in Illinois College, he entered his fathers bank as a clerk, gradually advancing in position as he carefully mastered every detail of the banking business. In 1886 he purchased the interest of William S. Hook, a partner in the concern, and thereupon became one-third owner in the firm of M. P. Ayers & Company, the other proprietors being his father, Marshall P., and his uncle, Augustus E. Ayers. On May 1, 1901, the bank was incorporated as the Ayers National Bank of Jacksonville, and November 2, 1902, John A. succeeded his father as President of the institution.
On November 3, 1875, Mr. Ayers was united in marriage to Lucia E. Brownell,
who was born in Cleveland, Ohio, a daughter of Hon. A. C. Brownell, a native
of Rhode Island. Mr. Brownell was an early settler and banker of Cleveland,
and Mayor of the town in 1856. Mr. and Mrs. Ayers are the parents of four
children: Nellie, wife of W. H. Garrett, Professor of Mathematics at Baker
University, Baldwin, Kans.; Allan B., with the Denver Trust Company; Wilford
S., a senior at Williams College, Mass.; and Helen Louise, a student at
Illinois College. Mr. Ayers has been prominent in Republican politics for
many years, and was a delegate to the Republican National Convention of
1888, which nominated Benjamin Harrison for the Presidency. He has been
substantially identified with many phases of civic growth, and on all occasions
has sustained the family reputation for integrity, public spirit and dis-interested
loyalty. Mr. Ayes served as City Treasurer of Jacksonville for four years,
has been Treasurer of the Institute for the Deaf and Dumb for a like period,
and for a number of years has been Trustee and Treasurer of his Alma Mater,
Illinois College, and an influential factor in promoting the interests
of that institution.
AYERS, MARSHALL PAUL, (deceased), pioneer of Morgan County and banker, was born in Philadelphia, Pa., February 27, 1823, and died in Jacksonville, Ill., September 30, 1902. He was a son of David B. and Eliza (Freitag) Ayers. The Ayers family was founded in America in 1632 by English ancestors who, in that year landed at Plymouth Rock. The family in succeeding generations became quite numerous, and many of its representatives have distinguished themselves in the various walks of life. One of them, a grand-uncle of David B. Ayers, served in New Jersey troops during the Revolutionary War, and two members of the family were hanged by the British for their loyalty to the Federal cause in providing the American troops with beef, in defiance of the orders issued by the British commander.
David B. Ayers, a native of Philadelphia, removed to Jacksonville, Ill, in May, 1830, and, locating on the site now occupied by the Ayers National Bank, established the first drug store in Illinois. He was one of the first Trustees of Illinois College and of the Jacksonville Female Academy, was deeply interest in educational and religious work generally, and was regarded as a man of philanthropic disposition. His entire life in Jacksonville was spent in the conduct of the drug business. His death occurred in 1851.
Accompanying his parents to Illinois in 1830, Marshall P. Ayers entered the subscription schools of Jacksonville, and afterward became a student in Illinois College during the period when Rev. Edward Beecher was its President, and was graduated therefrom in 1843. Immediately thereafter he engaged in business with his father, and upon the death of the latter succeeded him in the management of the vast real estate interests of John C. Griggs, of Philadelphia, who owned many thousands of acres of valuable farming land in Central Illinois. During the period devoted to the disposition of these lands, Mr. Ayers was compelled to drive thousands of miles over the State, and thereby in all probability became personally known to a greater number of citizens of the State than any other man of his time. Having suffered great inconvenience from his inability to secure adequate banking facilities for the proper conduct of this business, in 1852 he organized the private bank of M. P. Ayers, subsequently taking into partnership with him Joel Catlin, and still later William H. Campbell, of Cincinnati, Ohio. After the death of Mr. Campbell, he admitted his brother, Augustus E. Ayers, into partnership, About 1866 William S. Hook entered the firm, which was thereupon styled M. P. Ayers & Company. In August, 1886, the interest of Mr. Hook was purchased by John A. Ayers, who, May 1, 1901, organized the Ayers National Bank, of which M. P. Ayers became President. At the time of his death, M. P. Ayers was the dean of the Illinois bankers. It is worthy of note in this connection that an account opened by Mr. Ayers in December 1852, with the American Exchange Bank of New York (now the American Exchange National Bank) has ever since been carried on the books of that institution.
Throughout the Civil War Mr. Ayers campaigned Morgan County in the interests of the Union cause. One of his acts during this period, which alone entitles his name to be perpetuated in the annals of Illinois, was his identification with the material assistance rendered the Christian Commission. In 1863 Jacob Strawn, of Jacksonville, offered to give the sum of $10,000 to assist this commission in its labors, provided other individuals subscribed an equal amount. The offer was immediately taken up, and Mr. Ayers, with the assistance of Rev. C. C. McCabe (now a Bishop in the Methodist Episcopal Church), William Reynolds and A. J. Tyng, of Peoria, Ill., inaugurated a systematic canvass for the requisite subscriptions. They were successful in their undertaking, with the result that more than $20,000 was raised in this way in aid of the commission.
Several enterprises of great importance to the community owed their inception to the progressive spirit always manifested by Mr. Ayers, and others received his unstinted support. In 1871 he became the author of the project for constructing the Jacksonville & Southeastern Railroad, extending from Jacksonville to Waverly. The road was afterward extended to Centralia, and is now operated by the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad Company. In 1856 he and J. O. King, another citizen of Jacksonville, established the Jacksonville Gas Company. He afterward erected the Home Woolen Mills in Jacksonville, which were subsequently destroyed by fire. One of the most important business transactions of his career was his identification with the immense landed possessions of John T. Alexander, an extensive land proprietor and cattle dealer of Morgan County. In company with two trustees, in 1870 he acquired 23,000 acres of land in Champaign County and 7,000 acres in Morgan County, all of which had previously been the property of Mr. Alexander. After securing the title to this land, much of which was greatly improved under their management by drainage and otherwise rendering it highly valuable, they paid off the indebtedness thereon, leaving Mr. Alexander's widow an independent fortune, and disposed of the land at a good profit. After the business had been placed upon a sound basis, its conduct was intrusted to A. E. Ayers & Company, as successors to M. P. Ayers and his associates. The labor of disposing of this great property occupied several years, and formed the most extensive real estate transaction taking place in the history of Illinois.
In early life a Whig, upon the organization of the Republican party, Mr. Ayers became affiliated therewith, voting for General John C. Fremont and all the later presidential candidates of that party. For many years he served as a Trustee of Illinois College. A devoted member of the Westminster Presbyterian Church, he was actively identified with the progress of religious work, and organized many Sunday-schools in Morgan County. He was also deeply interested in the advancement of the temperance cause, and, being a fluent and eloquent speaker, was able to accomplish much good in this direction. His intellect was broadened by wide reading and contact with men; he was independent in thought and possessed of positive convictions on subjects pertaining to the welfare of the public.
On October 29, 1846, Mr. Ayers as untied in marriage with Laura Allen,
a daughter of Rev. John Allen, D.D., a minister in the Presbyterian Church.
She was born in Huntsville, Ala., and accompanied her parents to Illinois
in 1845. Mr. and Mrs. Ayers became the parents of eight children, of whom
seven survive, namely: John A., President of the Ayers National Bank; Lou
W., widow of Edward L. McDonald, of Jacksonville; Walter, of Jacksonville;
Edward A., M.D., of New York City; Effie, wife of E. F. Kaime, of Denver,
Colo; Helen A., widow of E. F. Bullard; Laura A., wife of George E. Moeller,
Decatur, Ill. David B., the third child, is deceased. Mrs. Ayers survived
her husband until 1906, when she died in her home in Jacksonville.
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