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Benjamin ^, Avers — hia ancestr7r and 


Mrs. Rebecca Graham (Avers) Andrevv- 













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"The glory of children is their Fathers." 

My sister, Elizabeth A. Ayars gathered a 
record of the Ayars family; descendants of Rob- 
ert Ayars the first settler of that name in South 
Jersey. From her manuscript, I have traced the 
line of Benjamin A. Ayars, our father, and have 
added a biographical sketch. I trust the infor- 
mation contained in the following pages may be 
of service to those who are interested in this par- 
ticular branch of the family. 

Rebecca Graham Ayars. 

[Mrs. Bessie Ayars Andrews.] 

Vineland, N. J. May i, 1912. 



The Ayars family is very old. It is said in 
England complete records exist going back to 
1060 the time of William the Conqueror. 

The name has many synonyns: Ayars, Ayers, 
Ayer, Ayre, Eyre. Ayr. 

The legend concerning its origin dates back 
to the eleventh century and is found in Thorp's 
"Catalogue of the Deeds of Battle Abbey." 

"Legend: The first of this family was named 
Truelove who was one of the followers of Wil- 
liam the Conqueror at the battle of Hastings in 
1066. The Duke was tiung from his horse and 
his helmet beaten into his face, which Truelove 
observing, pulled off and horsed him again. 
Duke William said to him, "Thou shalt liere- 
after instead of Truelove be called Eyre or Ayr; 
because thou hast given me the air I breathe " 

After the battle the Duke found him severely 
wounded, his leg and thigh having been struck 
off. He gave him lands in Derl)y, a coat of 
arms — the leg and tliigh in armor cut off — and 
an honorary badge yet worn by all the Eyres in 
England. Arms: Argent, on a chevron sab'f, 
three quarters foils or crest: An armored leg 
couped at thigh erect per ]ioIe, Motto: L(i<h' 
lie If Jhnt/il, 


Robert Ayars emigrated from England in 
1664, first settling in Rhode Island, where he 
married Hester Bowen, remaining there about 
twenty years. 

In [684'5 he left Hopkiuton, where he had 
located in Rhode Island, and removed with his 
family to Back Neck, Cumberland County, New 
Jersey, on Cohansey River in what was then 
known as Shrewsbury Neck, just across the 
river from Greenwich. 

He purchased 20d acres from thi daughters 
of John Oilman and 600 acres of Restore 
Lippincott, from a tract of one thousand acrv:;s 
purchased of John Fenwick. This section south 
of the Cohansey river was surveyed as early as 
1678 by Fenwick's deputy surveyor, Ricliard 
Hancock, who laid off 500 acres for William 
Worth, the first white person to settle on that 
side of the river; he was however soon followed 
by others. 

November 21, 1795, Robert Ayars purchasjcl 
2200 acres of land covering the present site of the 
village of Shiloh, of Dr. James Wass, a London 
physician who bought 5,000 acres July 12, 1675 of 
Johu Fenwick before he sailed for America. Phis 
tract was located and surveyed in 1694 by Jolm 
Worledge a deputy surveyor. It was resurvey- 
ed October 15-18, 1705 by Jacolj Barkstead and 
2200 acres conveyed to Robert Ayars, late of 
Rhode Island, gentleman. 

"The first Virginia councils were composed al- 
most entirely of men of title The spirit of ad- 
venture which had brought Hawkins, Drake, 
the Oilberts and others such honors and renown 

drew the younj; gallants fresh from tlieir father's 
estates or from the wars in the low countries, and 
the term 'Gentleman,' as showing one of the 
arms bearing class is constantly found in the 
list of immigrants." 

After a residence of upwards of twenty years 
on his estate at Shrewsbury Neck, Robert Ayars 
took possession of his new purchase. He was one 
of the early Baptist settlers and is thought to have 
been a Seventh Day Baptist, as most of his df 
scendants adhered to that branch of the Baptist 
denomination which keep the seventh day of 
the week as the Sabbath. He sold oflf his tract 
to those of the same faith, who naturally settled 
in the neighborhood, the better to carry out their 

The place was called Cohansey Corners, but a 
short time after the establishment of the Church 
of the Sabbatarian order in 1737, the name was 
changed to Shiloh, after the Biblical Shiloh. in 
the land of Canaan that was consecrated to the 
worship of God. 

In a deed to his grandson C.ileb .Vyars, jr , the 
the name was written Ayers, by the person who 
wrote the deed, but when Roljert signed his 
name he wrote it Ayars, and his descendants 
have generally followed his way of spelling 

Robert Ayars' will is dated F'ebriiary 25, 1716 
-17. He probably lived for sometime after that 
as the will vvas not proved until May i, 1719. 
His wife and Henry Buck were named as execu 
tors. Tile inventory of his personal estate, made 
by Dickasou Sliepherd, ainounted to £\(^1 6.7, 
including books valuc-d at £1 (^- 

Robert Ayars' family consisted of nine child- 
ren, as follows: 

I. Isaac 2. Stephen 3. Judah 

4. John 5. Robert 6. Caleb 

7. Joshua 8. Hester g. Ann 

Isaac, eldest son of Robert( i ) , married Hannali 
Barrett, and has many descendants in West Jerse> 
one of whom, James Hunt, participated in the 
"Tea-Burning" at Greenwich in 1774. 

Stephen, the second son of Robert (i) died 
in 1726. His will is dated February 27, 1725-6, 
and Joseph Reeve. William Garton and Samuel 
Johnson were witnesses An inventory of his 
personal estate was made by the two first named, 
April 12, amountin.ej to ^45 12: the will was 
proved the next day. His brother John was 
the executor. 

Judah, third son of Robert (i), is said to have 
returned to Rhode Island*. 

John, fourth son of Robert(i), married Cecilia 
Colwell. He was constable in 1729, his death 
occurred in 174 1. 

Robert, fifth son of Robert (i) married Sarah 
Burgin. She was a descendant of John Burgin. 
first settler of that name, who in 1651, married 
Mary Winthrop of Dudley, Mass. and came from 
that province to New [ersey. The Burgin family 
was of considerable importance in England, Bur- 
gin Castle being situated in the county of Nor- 
folk, a few miles from the town of Great Yar- 

On the Burgin coat of arms is seen a sword 
and key crossed, with the motto, "Sud Spe." 

Robert died in the year 1735. 

Caleb, sixth son of Robert (i), married Rebecca 
Berrymaii, he died January 24, 1760, nged 67. 

Rebecca died September 19, 1774. aged 75. 

Joshua, seventh son of Robert (i), born in 
1695, married Kezia Brooks, daughter of Rev. 
Timothy Brooks. His second wife was Anna 
Swinney. Joshua died May 5, 1759. 

Hester, eighth child of Robert (i), marritd 
John Jarman. 

Ann. ninth child of Robert (i), remained sin- 

The children of Robert (2), and Sarah Bur- 
gin Ayars, fifth son of Robert (i), and Hester 
Ayars, are as follows: 

I. James 2. Burgin 3. Robert 

4. Temperance 5. Sarah 6, Ann 

James, first son of Robert (2), married Han- 
nah Ayars, he died in 1796. 

Burgin, second son of Robert (2), was born in 
I 726, he married Susanna Gilman. 

Robert, third son of Robert (2), no record. 

Temperance, fourth child of Robert (2), mar- 
ried Henry Paulding. 

Sarah, fifth child of Robert (2), married Jo- 
seph Paulding. 

Ann, sixth child of Robert (2), no record. 

Burgin, second son of Robert (2), of whom 
Benjamin Ayars was a descendant, was born in 
Shiloh. New Jersey, in 1720. He settled in Up- 
per Pittsgrove, Salem County about 1750-60 
He married Susanna Gilman May 28, 1754. 

Bishop Asbury in his writings informs us of 
preaching at .Murphy Meeting House now Friend- 
ship. He says, "after service we came to thy 


widow Ayars, the mother and daughter are se- 
rious and the son thoughtful." Mrs. Susanna 
Ayars, of whom Asbury here speaks was one of 
the first Methodists in Pittsgrove. She first re- 
ceived the Lord's prophets in that place. She 
died in peace in 1807. 

The children of Burgin and Susanna Ayars are 
as follows: 

I Temperance 2 Robert 3 Sarah 

4 Elizabeth 3 John G. 6 Burgin . 

7 Ann 

Temperance, first child of Burgin (3), remain- 
ed single. 

Robert, first son of Burgin (3), was born in 
1750, married Elizabeth .Morgan, he died in 1828 

Sarah, third child of Burgin (3), was born 
March 2, 1755, married Joast Newkirk, she 
died November 14, 1831. 

Elizabeth, fourth child of Burgin (3), married 
Stephen Garrison. 

John G., second .son of Burgin (3), was born 
about 1764, married Mary Sparks, who was 
born November 14, 1768, died December i, 
1821. He died September 29, 1838, aged 74. 

Burgin, third son of Burgin (3), married Han- 
nah Early. 

Ann, seventh child of Burgin (3), married Rev. 
Jeptha Abbott. 

The children of Robert and Elizabeth Morgan 
are as follows: 

James 3 Susanna 

Burgin M. 6 John 
Samuel 9 Rebecca 


I Elizabeth 


4 Sarah 


7 Temperance 


10 Marv 

I [ 

Elizabeth, first child of Robert (4), was 1 orn 
in 1783 and died in the year 1803. 

James, son of Robert (4), was born June 12, 
1785, married Deborah Abbott, who was born 
January 18, 1785; died December 6. 1S43 He 
married for his second wife, Elizabeth Riggins, 
and died April 29, 1862. 

Susanna, third child of Robert (4), died young. 
Sarah, fourth child of Robert (4), was born 
in 1787, married James Tebble. 

Burgin M , second son of Robert (4). born 
in 1789. died unmarried January 20, 1862. 

John, third son of Robert (4), born in 179 1 . 
died young. 

Temperance, seventh child of Robert (4), was 
born ill £792, married George Anderson. She 
died in March r875. 

Samuel, fourth son of Robert (4), was born 
in 1794, married Catherine Dendlebeck, whc 
was born in 1808, and died September 16, 1891. 
Samuel died February 3, 1864. 

Rebecca, ninth child of Robert (4), was born 
August 12, 1796, married Simon Wilsey. 

.Mary, tenth child of Robert (4), was born in 
1800, married Charles Cassady. 

Robert, fifth son of Robert (4), born in 1S02, 
died young, 

James Ayars, first son of Robert (4), was the 
writer's grandfather, who remembers him as a 
genial, jolly old man, loving his grandchildren 
as they visited him at the Ayars homestead and 
farm in Upper Pittsgrove. about one mile from 
old Pine Tavern. A short distance back of tlie 
house was a charming strip of woodland where 


were piue trees that grew cones in clusters which 
were preserved as curiosities. Along the mossy 
roadside the wintergreen berries grew in such 
abundance that the pockets of each grandchild 
visiting this ideal woodland were filled to their 
greatest capacity on returning to the homestead. 

After the death of his wife in 1843, he remain- 
ed on his farm until 1846, when he sold his per- 
sonal effects, rented his farm and made his home 
for a few years with his eldest son, Benjamin 
Abbott Ayars, in Greenwich. During this peri- 
od he made a visit to his sons in Kansas; return- 
ing from the West the attractions of the old 
homestead drew him thither again. Reengaged 
a competent housekeeper, Miss Elizabeth Rig- 
gins, whom he afterwards married, and spent 
the remaining years of his life on the farm. 

The writer at the age of 13 attended his fune- 
ral at his home in Upper Pittsgrove. An old 
hair covered trunk used by him on his western 
journey came into her possession; among the old 
papers it contains is the advertisement of his 
vendue in 1846, as follows: 

Will be sold at public sale, on Monday, the 
23d March inst. At the residence of the sub. 
scriberin Pittsgrove, Salem county, near the Red 
Lion School House and Pine Tavern, the follow- 
ing personal property, viz: 2 good work horses, 
cattle, sheep, and swine; i heavy two horse wag- 
on, I light do. and harness, plows, harrows, 
rakes, forks, hoes; hay by the ton, corn, rye 
and potatoes by the bushel; pine and poplar 
boards, pine logs from i to 3 feet through, coal, 


wood Pump logs, &c.; 3 barrels of cider; lie- 
hives. Household Goods — such as stove, cup- 
board, bureau, chairs, carpet, shovels and tongs, 
dishes, andirons, &c.&c. 

Sale to commence at i o'clock, P. M. Atten- 
dance and conditions at sale by 


March 10. 1846. 

A. S. Barber Printer, Woodbury, N. J. 

The children of James and Deborah Ayars arc 
as follows: 

I Benjaman A. 2 Robert 3 Jepthah 

4 James 5 Elizabeth 

Benjamin Abbott, first son of James (5), was 
born in Upper Pittsgrove N. J. January 12, 1809. 
He married in 1835, Mary Barber Sheppard of 
Roadstown N. J. She was born May 14, 1S15, 
her death occurred at Greenwich N, ]. January 
27, 1885. Benjamin A. died March 5, 1870. 

Robert, second son of James (5), was born 
June 28, 1810, married Lydia A. Wood, who 
died in 1858. He married for his .second wife 
Elizabeth P. Stathem. Robert Ayars died No- 
vember 23. 1886. 

Jepthah, third son of James (.s), was born July 
9, 1813; married Margaret Thomas, who was 
born Augu.stg, 1821. Jepthah died May 8, 1S92. 

James, fourth son of James (5). was born on 

the 17th of April 18 15, married first Jane 

second Hannah and died July 24, 1894. 

Elizabeth fifth ciiild of James (5), wa^ born 
March ri, 1820, she married David M. James, 
M. D., settling in Laceyville, Pennsylvania. 
She died March 31, 1S95 


Benjamin Abbott Ayars, eldest son of James 
(5), was the writers father, his mother named 
him after her great uacle, Rev. Benjamin Abbott 
one of the founders of Methodism in West Jer- 
sey; whose grave in Salem is yearly visited by 
many of his admirers. 

Benjamin and his brother Robert were appren- 
ticed to a Mr. Cole of Harrisonville, to learn 
trades. They served their apprenticeship with 
credit; then commenced business for themselves. 
Benjamin married in 1835 and settled in the 
village of Shiloh, the home of his early ancestry, 
remaining there about two years, then removing 
to Greenwich where his brother Robert had pre- 
ceded him. There the brothers entered into 
partnership and carried on an extensive lous- 

Benjamin was of an inventive turn of mind, 
his latest invention being an improved thresher 
and cleaner. A clipping from a Bridgeton news- 
paper gives the following account: 

"We have frequently referred to the impor 
tance of more extended manufacturing in this 
part of the state, and are pleased to learn thai 
Mr. Benjamin Ayars of Greenwich, has been in- 
creasing the manufacture of Threshers and Clean - 
ers-another patent which he has just obtained, 
making his the best machine in the market; they 
are rapidly taking the place of others, and all is 
wanted is a more extended knowledge of them 
when instead of this part of the state being sup- 
plied as heretofore by those from a distance to a 
great extent, Ayars' make will not only supply 

the home demand but will take extensively 
wherever known. One of these machines owned 
by Jonathan Bee of Mannington, Salem County, 
has threshed and cleaned over 75 thousand 
bushels of wheat and is now in good running or- 
der. Mr. Ayars has a good stock on hand, the 
price varying from $190. to $260, according to 
style for horse or steam power." 

The children of Benjamin A. and Mary B. 
Ayars are as follows: 

I Elizabeth A. 2 Mary S. 3 Benjamin H. 
4 Rebecca G. 

Elizabeth Ann, first child of Benjamin (6), 
was born in Shiloh, September 24, 1836; died 
September 7, 1900. 

Mary Sheppard, second child of Benjamin (6), 
was born in Greenwich, February 23, 1840; died 
April 7, 1904. 

Benjamin Homer, first .son of Benjamin (6), 
was born in Greenwich, June 20. 1846. 

Rebecca Graham, fourth child of Benjamin(6) , 
was born in Greenwich, February 28, 1849; mar- 
ried Frank D. Andrews of Vineland, N.J. .April 
10, 1890. 

By adoption, James, son of Thomas aiid Mary 
Sheppard, born June 15, 1852, married Mary 
E. Kirby. 

The children of Benjamin A. Ayars ever re- 
member and cherish their father's nicmor},'. He 
was the simple gentleman, with a good kind 
heart. "Of that best portion of a good man's 
life, are his little nameless acts of kindness and of 
love." He taught his cliildren love, and in nil 
of tlieir business dealings to i)e just and geiic-r 


ous, thiuking not only of theuiselvfs, but the 
benefit others were receivinsj also, and, in review- 
ing his Day- Book and Ledger after his death, 
the many forgiven debts proved he lived his 
teachings. Mr. Ayars represented his district 
in the legislature in 1849 and 1850, postively 
declining a re election in 1851. He was free- 
holder of the township at llie time of his death, 
having filled the position for ten years, he was 
also assessor for fifteen years. 

Mr. Ayars was one of the constituent mem- 
bers of the Greenwich Baptist Church, laboring 
for the advancement of every righteous cause. 

He was an abolitionist, a benefactor to the old 
slaves that frequented his shops, and the last 
time he left his home, the week of his death, was 
on an errand of charity to relieve a destitute col- 
ored family. He died after a sickness of short 
duration March 5, 1870, having been injured a 
few months previously through an accident. 

His funeral was attended by a large number 
of people; a friend whose house the procession 
passed counted two-hundred carriages in line. 

A few obituary notices from the papers of the 
day are here inserted: 

Deceased — Mr. Benjamin Ayars, of Green- 
wich, died at his residence, March 5th. He was 
a member and deacon of the Greenwich Baptist 
Church. He was greatly beloved by all who 
kuew him. His funeral was attended by a large 
concourse of people. The sermon was preached 
by Rev. Andrew J. Hay. pastor of the Church, 
from Rev. xiv, 13 — "And I heard a voice from 
Heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the 

dead who die in the Lord, from henceforth: yea 
saith the spirit, that they may rest from their la- 
bors and their works do follow them." Revs. 
Dr. Murphy, of Salem, Wilder, of Bridgeton, 
and Maul, of Woodbury, participated in the ser- 
vices. Mr. Ayars is greatly missed by his fami- 
ly and the community. A faithful christian has 
left the Church, but the members console them- 
selves with the thought that their loss is his gain. 

Benjamin Avars. 

"The deceased was well known through- 
out this .section of country, having at one time 
represented his district in the Legislature. He 
was a deacon of the Baptist Church at Greenwich 
for many years, and all who were acquainted 
with him speak of his many good qualities of 
head and heart. The funeral was attended by a 
large concourse of relatives and friends, among 
whom were his former pastors. Revs. Murphy, 
Maul and Hay. Rev. Wilder also took part in 
the solemn ceremonies. 

•'The Greenwich Baptist Church speaking of 
the loss of one of their efhcient deacons Brother 
Benjamin Ayars says: He was baptised in 1837, 
became their deacon in 1857. He was for a num- 
ber of years a Trustee of the Association. As a 
husband and father, he was affectionate and kind, 
as a citizen respected and beloved, as a christian 
prudent and liberal, earnest and devoted and al- 
ways at his As an officer of the Church 
.self-sacrificing and lal)orious. He was a good 
man full of faith and the Holy Spirit." 



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