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^O f i
Benjamin ^, Avers — hia ancestr7r and
Mrs. Rebecca Graham (Avers) Andrevv-
BENJAMIN A. AVARS
ANCESTRY AND DESCENDANTS
BESSIE AYARS ANDREWS
VINELAND NEW JERSEY
I 91 2
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BENJAMIN A. AYARS
BENJAMIN A. AVARS
ANCESTRY AND DESCENDANTS
BESSIE AVARS ANDREWS
VINELAND NEW JERSEY
I 9 I 2
"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
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
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
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
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-
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
I Temperance 2 Robert 3 Sarah
4 Elizabeth 3 John G. 6 Burgin .
Temperance, first child of Burgin (3), remain-
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
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-
Ann, seventh child of Burgin (3), married Rev.
The children of Robert and Elizabeth Morgan
are as follows:
James 3 Susanna
Burgin M. 6 John
Samuel 9 Rebecca
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 .
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,
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
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
By adoption, James, son of Thomas aiid Mary
Sheppard, born June 15, 1852, married Mary
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.
"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 po.st. 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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