George Bucher Ayres: A Letter to His Niece

George Bucher Ayres
The Man.
George Bucher Ayres (1829-1905) was neither an unknown nor an insignificant man. He is famous for having hand-painted photographs of Abraham Lincoln, originally taken by Alexander Hesler. You see, he had purchased the man’s studios and found the glass negatives.

But George Bucher Ayres was not a singularly talented man. He was an historian, a photographer, a newspaper editor, an author, so forth and so on. Search for him by name and you will learn a number of things about him. One of his most interesting adventures was when George Bucher Ayres booked Swedish Nightengale Jennie Lind (formerly employed by Phineas T. Barnum) to make a public appearance in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania.

George Bucher Ayres – Artistically Inclined

Yes, George Bucher Ayres was also into music. He was a musical instructor. He worked with various musical persons, including a niece, Susan Bucher Ayres, the daughter of his brother. I have transcribed a letter from George Bucher Ayres to Susan. It is a touching letter. In it, for example, he mentions with fondness, his deceased wife, Mary.

George Bucher Ayres
George’s Timeline

Read with Me Now

Bloomsbury New Jersey Sept. 24.

My dear Sue~

I will begin a reply to your letter although I shall not be able to finish at this sitting.

Your letter found me here, where I arrived July 3d. Don’t imagine I am on a vacation, + consequently am having an easy, good, lazy time. I don’t come out for that, + have not time for anything of the sort.

I simply remove my studies, & though I have been here ten weeks + more, you may be surprized to learn that I took one day, “holiday,” – to visit Easton. This is not a studied restriction, but so long as I enjoy the country air all about me (+ that’s what I came for), why not work?

To explain: I load up with a big lot of Lincoln photographs, which require finishing with the brush + thus I work while I am “outing.” If I did not, I would not be prepared to supply my agents at Christmas time, which is my ‘harvest.’ However, my orders continue through the summer also, + I fill them from wherever I am.

This is the first time for several years that I have remained here for Hayfever time, but don’t think I shall do so again. The air has become vitiated by neighboring Cement Works, + the smoke (of soft coal) + gas from the two railroads, whose trains seem to be endless. Last year I was on Mt. Pocono. I always begin my outing here.

You doubtless know why I come here. It was Mary’s home and her last resting place. I have my own gravelot, + of course, in God’s own time I shall lie here also.

George Bucher Ayres
His Mary
Thirty-seven years have elapsed since I first saw the village, + great changes have occurred in its population. I have remained by the favor of God, but nearly all whom I met in 1866, have “fallen asleep.” The boys and girls “then” are the men and women – the fathers and mothers – of today; and I am a sort [of] Rip Van Winkle among them! Why not,? since I am the surviving patriarch! of our own family.

My general health continues good, + my faculties not sensibly impaired; I am writing this letter without spectacles.

But (+ there is always a ‘but,’ you know), my heart pain – angina pectoris – quite outdoes me sometimes. It will be singular for you to know that a few of my worst attacks have been relieved by music! My mind runs after the music, + diverts the nervous sensation from my heart; isn’t that ridiculous! But it is positively true.

I am highly gratified to learn that your expectations for [Plegh?] have been fully realized. Unquestionably, any business implying ‘brains’ find its best opportunity in the city! So the teaching of music is so largely a matter of reputation. I hope you cultivate the best musical associations + acquaintainceships. Reputation enables many to attain high rates as teachers, whose pupils could learn just as much – perhaps more – from teachers of lesser grade. There is something in a name, – sometimes – Shak[e]spe[a]re to the contra[ry] notwiths[tanding.]

I would be glad to send you some of my “musical thoughts,” but for the slavery of having to copy them. When I am “struck” I jot it down in pencil, + I have a lot of tunes in this way, which I somehow can’t get at writing them in ink even in my mss. book. But I will hold this letter until I can get a couple for you. Singularly, all my themes are religious; + I wonder, Can it be the inherited spirit of my gr-grandfather, Rev. John Conrad Bucher? By the way, a biography of him – your distinguished ancestor as well – has been lately published in a magazine, + I will try to send you a copy. I have always felt that I should attribute my musical passion to him; he is known to have been a fine singer, + I possess his mss. book, which is as perfect a specimen of musical chirography as you can imagine.

Yet I must not forget that the gifts of the father were bestowed on the son – my own grandfather Bucher – in whose “copybook,” which I have, is to be found a long list of tunes which he played on the flute, when a young man. You see now, that my flute-playing is even hereditary.

Well, I am writing too much, I fear. Have you a picture of me? If not, let me know. When you get your next cards printed, it would improve them to have more space between Miss |Sue| B.

I understand that all are well at Tyrone, + my girls ditto. If you go to Monongahela City, convey my kind remembrances to Vanemmon Lawrence + his daughter Virginia. She called on me at Buffalo, + made an ineffaceable impression; “her bright smile haunts me still.”

I hope your mother + all are well, my love to all.

Your affectionate uncle

George Bucher Ayres
Geo. B. Ayres

Note: You might also enjoy Wm Ayres & Sons Inc Horse Blankets 5/A

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2 thoughts on “George Bucher Ayres: A Letter to His Niece

    • There are more, but really, these family tree members are out there, and not in close to the trunk. I come across them as I seek those closer in. And truth be told, they are so interesting, I almost dig them up!

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