The Ayres family can be traced from England through Ireland through Scotland to Pennsylvania, USA. There are other lines of Ayres, but the line we discuss here descends from Samuel Ayres married to Margaret Richmond. Jacob Bucher Ayres, who went by his middle name only, was son of William, son of John, son of William, son of Samuel.
[Jacob Bucher] “Bucher” and George Bucher Ayres, along with six others, were children of William Sr. and Mary Elizabeth Bucher Ayres. Mary had been married once before, in 1812, to one John Swift, having a son likewise named John. The author has not yet attempted to trace that family line. However, there has proved to be an abundance of material, some of it of historical significance, from the union of William and Mary.
First Meet George, His Brother
Although this article features Bucher, his importance is perhaps eclipsed by George, who was his younger brother. Consider the article, George Bucher Ayres: A Letter to His Niece. George made it much simpler for us to understand his brother Bucher, as he acted as family historian. Indeed, he was a prominent public historian (plus many other things) as well.
On to Bucher Ayres
One reference work succinctly states many important facts. It reads,
“Baptized by Rev. N. R. Snowden; educated in the schools of the city and at Dickinson College, Carlisle, PA; commenced civil engineering on State works; entered the service of the Pennsylvania Railroad Co. on the opening September 1, 1849; appointed Superintendent of the Memphis and Charleston Railroad, residence, Memphis, in 1854, and continued until 1861, when he removed to Centre county, Pa., and in 1872 removed to Philadelphia. Appointed by Daniel Webster, Secretary of State, to his Department, Washington city, and detailed as Secretary to the Commissioners from Main and Massachusetts in the negotiation of the Webster-Ashburton Treaty of 1842. Appointed August 19, 1848, Aid de Camp, with the rank of Lieut. Colonel, by Governor Wm. F. Johnston.”
Jacob Bucher Ayres “married well.” He took as his wife Jane Alice Lyon, a strong-looking woman, who came from a most prosperous family. Her father John Lyon was co-owner of the Pennsylvania [iron] Furnace. Her mother, Margaret Agnes Stewart, descended from the royal Stewarts.
Some twenty-two years later, this led Bucher to put together a family brochure, possibly with brother George’s assistance. While multiple copies exist, it was difficult to gain access to one. A “good Samaritan” recognized my plight and provided me with a photocopy. Unfortunately it first had fallen into the hands of one Minehaha Finney, herself a person of interest. Her annotations were not clearly distinguishable from the writings of Bucher Ayres, except by context or when she clearly referred to her own name. All in all, I think I was successful in isolating the original material and the reader will be able to learn much from The History of the Stewart Family.
Hop, Skip, and Jump: Then a Family Home
In the 1850 census, Jacob Bucher Ayres is living with his parents and other family members in Harrisburg, Dauphin County, PA. He is listed as a [railroad] agent. But he leaves sometime between 1850 and 1855, since his oldest daughter, Cleonie, is born in Tennessee in 1855. He is listed in Shelby County in 1860. However, in November 1860 he has another daughter and she is born in Centre County, PA. The 1870 census reflects the fact. So he did not leave in 1861 as the biographical excerpt indicates, but in the latter part of 1860.
You see, he and his wife were given a beautiful home as a present by her father. Bucher and Jane Ayres’ home is listed by the National Historic Register under the title Bucher Ayres’ Farm. It is adjacent the home built by John Lyon, himself, Fairbrook Manor (this 41-acre property is currently for sale, May 2016).
Jacob Bucher Ayres’ Son Lyonel
Jacob Bucher Ayres’ son Lyonel was born in Shelby County, Tennessee. He would grow up and would have some say in the shape of the United States. Lyonel was involved in a dispute involving the boundary line between the states of Minnesota and Wisconsin. He was instrumental in resolving the issue.
Although these Ayres are but distant relations in my family tree, I spent much time in fascination studying these individuals. At times I’d learn by leaps and bounds of their whereabouts and their accomplishments. But much more frequently, I had to glean tidbits here and there with much help from volunteers, ones who spent much time helping me gather the facts. I owe much to their detective work!
Sadly, there is much more I could tell you about the Ayres family, but it would take an inordinate amount of time for me to do so. I hope you can see that doubtless your own family would have much to tell you, if only they were alive to do so. The good news is, the Bible informs us they may well have that opportunity. –Acts 24:15.
Note: You might also enjoy “I Owe My Life to the War of 1812“