Tuesday, July 17, 2012

More Photos from South Dakota: Henley Ayres

Henley and Minerva Ayres left Raysville, Indiana in 1879 for Nebraska and then South Dakota.  Henley seems to have vanished from the scene and forgotten by his Indiana relatives.  The story is complicated because he gave up his first son for adoption after his first wife died.  William F. Ayres never lived with his father and he remained in Indiana.  William must have passed along a few photos to his daughter Anna Ayres (Gulde), but the the people in the photo were forgotten and no one in our day really knew if we were even connected to the people in these photos.  Then, thanks to the efforts by folks both here in Indiana and in South Dakota, we have been able to identify a few more photos of the South Dakota cousins.  To learn more about Henley Ayres click on the link below.  The historic images were digitally restored by Gayle Bowman.

Carolyn "Carrie" Ayres Williams and her children c. 1895 in Gettysburg, South Dakota--Carrie was a half-sister to William F. Ayres.  They both shared the same father--Henley Ayres.

A photo of Native Americans sent to the Ayres family in Indiana from their South Dakota cousins c. 1895



Henley Ayres Photo Found in Gulde-Ayres Collection

Henley Ayres with his wife Minerva and daughters Carrie and Anna in Gettysburg, South Dakota c.1895
We did not know it, but we already had the photo of Henley Ayres sent to us by the Dakota Museum in Gettysburg, South Dakota.  Restored by Gayle Bowman, the picture is virtually the same except there is an extra person in the picture! That extra person turned out to be his other daughter Carolyn "Carrie" Ayres Williams. She married Andrew Guppy Williams, the first mayor of Gettysburg, South Dakota.  Someone at one point has written in "Great Grandpa Ayres." Then they crossed it out and wrote in someone with the name of Henry.  The photo was clearly sent by Anna Ayres Williams as a Christmas note.  Other photos showing Native American scenes will be posted soon.  We never understood why we had these photos.  It is all coming together. To learn more about Henley Ayres click on his name below.

I would like to thank Peg Williams, my distant relative, for information regarding Henley Ayres and in South Dakota.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Found! Henley Hartley Ayres (1826-1910)

Henley Hartley Ayres (1826-1910) has been an elusive character for many of the Indiana descendants of the man.  Who was he?  What became of him?  Family lore stated that he was a an abusive man so his son, William Franklin Ayres (1854-1934), ran away from home and lived with Alexander and Jemima Swain Whitworth in nearby Raysville, Indiana.  (more on this couple in another post) Family members spoke in hushed tones about Henley Ayres, yet no one really knew him or had any concrete facts about him.  Some of us thought he would be lost in history.  Then, Carol Strode, the great great grandchild of Mr. Ayres started finding a paper trail.  That path would lead us to place we never expected in Gettysburg.....South Dakota.

Henley H. Ayres was born Belmount County, Ohio on February 18, 1826. Little is known of his childhood or even who his parents might be.  So far, he does not turn up in the 1830 or 1840 Federal Census.  However, by 1850 at age 24 he lived in Tipton, Indiana with the William G. Williams family. He was listed as a carpenter.  Curiously, three other men living in the home were also listed in the same profession.  It is unclear how he knew the Williams family or if he was just in town to help with a construction project. Others living in the same household included: William G. Williams, 29, carpenter; Jane Williams, 22, wife and housekeeper; Susan Williams, 5, daughter; David Williams, 1, son; Harvey Rood, 19, carpenter; William Stivens (Stivers), 24, tailor; John R. Williams, 37, carpenter.

By 1852, he had made his way to Henry County, Indiana where he met nineteen-year-old Anna Swain.  She had been living with Alexander and Jemima Swain Whitworth first in Cambridge City and later in Raysville, Indiana.  It is unclear at this time if Jemima Swain Whitworth was her aunt as she could not have been her mother.  The Whitworths were Quakers who moved from Guilford County, North Carolina to get away from slavery.  They never had any of their own children, but they raised at least four orphans.  Anna might have been one of those orphans.  On December 16, 1852, Henley Ayres married Anna Swain and started a family in the Knightstown-Raysville, Indiana area.

By 1854, the couple welcomed their first son, William Franklin Ayres.  Within a year, twenty-two year-old Anna Swain Ayres was pregnant with their second child.  Sadly, the young woman died shortly after giving birth to George A. Ayres on March 19, 1856.  The infant died a few months later.

Anna Swain Ayres died in 1856.  Sadly, her stone in the Glencove Cemetery in Knightstown,  Indiana needs restoration.  Perhaps we can remedy this situation.  

Ayres plot in Glencove Cemetery in Knightstown, IN. L to R:  Harrie Ayres died 1860 (son of Henley and Minerva Fithian Ayres), George Ayres died 1856, Anna Swain Ayres died 1856


Here is where the story becomes murky.  Perhaps, Henley Ayres felt he could not raise a two-year-old son by himself. Henry County records indicate that William F. Ayres became a ward to Alexander and Jemima Swain Whitworth in 1856.  This is the same couple who had helped to raise Anna Swain.  Now the middle-aged couple would raise her son.

How much contact Henley had with his son is unknown.  William lived in Raysville, a village just minutes away from Knightstown, along the National Road.  The 1860 Federal Census reveals that Henley moved into a hotel in Knightstown.  On September 18, 1860, he married Minerva Fithian (1839-1898), a considerably younger woman. Their first child, Edward Ayres arrived in 1860.  Did William, who was by now six years old, ever meet his half brother?  In 1864, tragedy struck the couple when an infant named Harrie died after only moments on this planet.  The couple buried the child next to George (an infant from Henley's first marriage) and near his first wife Anna Swain Ayres in the Glencove Cemetery in Knightstown.  Two daughters eventually entered the scene and likely brought joy to the couple.  Carrie Ayres was born in 1867 while Anna Ayres arrived in 1873.  There is no evidence that Henley and William had any contact during this time.  William, at age nineteen, was still living with his adopted parents. Why didn't Henley welcome him back into the home?  The 1870 Federal Census reveals that Henley owned a home and that he had a personal estate worth $5,500.  Perhaps, William did not want to live with his biological father.  Small narrative accounts reveal that Williams's adoptive parents, the Whitworths, were kind people.

In 1879, at the age of 51 Henley Ayres moved his family to the village of Tecumseh in southeastern, Nebraska. His 25-year-old son, William remained in Indiana and may never have seen his father again.  Accounts written by family members indicate that the more than middle-aged Henley struggled under the harsh conditions of the Plains.  In 1884, the Ayres moved north to Blunt and then Gettysburg, South Dakota.  They faced a harsh life of brutal winters and few conveniences.  Carrie Ayres, the daughter of Henley and Minerva, became a school teacher.   She eventually married Andrew Williams who became the first mayor of Gettysburg.  (According to his memoirs, he was also the first in town to have a bathtub, an automobile, and a Victrola.)

Henley became an ordained Methodist minister and was instrumental in founding the Gettysburg Methodist Church.  He was a trustee and was part of the building committee in 1888.  In 1895, he gave the benediction prayer for the first commencement of graduates at Gettysburg High School. He also served as the president for the Gettysburg Cemetery Association.

By all accounts, "Father" Ayres as he was referred to by members of the town, was much loved and respected.  His daughters at the very least seemed very devoted to him.  He and Minnie Ayres first moved in with their daughter Ann S. Ayres Boyle in Gettysburg in the 1890s.  Her husband James Boyle was the Auditor for Potter County, South Dakota.  Henley's beloved wife Minerva died suddenly of "brain fever" in 1898.  Two years later, both his son Edward, now living in Nebraska, and his daughter Ann died.  This must have been a very difficult time for Henley Ayres.  The widower then moved in with Carrie Ayres Williams in a home he built for his daughter and son-in-law.  It was likely the biggest home in Gettysburg for that time period.

Henley and Minerva Fithian Ayres and daughter, Anna Boyle in Gettysburg, South Dakota c.1895


Of course, living thousands of miles away in Raysville, Indiana, William F. Ayres was busy with his own life.  I wonder how much he knew of the travails and sadness faced by his father out in South Dakota.  William certainly had his own problems after the death of his first wife Marria Barnaby in the early 1890s.  His second marriage to a divorcee with a couple of kids likely raised eyebrows around the small Indiana village.  His new wife, Grace Clavelle (former married name Leek), and he would have three children together with two living into adulthood.  Unlike his father, William after becoming a widower, did not give up any of his children.  In fact, he became much more like the Whitworths when he adopted his new wife's children.

William F. Ayres, the son of Henley Ayres in Raysville, IN c.1895


William most certainly knew of his father's death because the Knightstown Banner carried a small obituary.  Henley Ayres, at age 84 had just received some visitors in his daughter's home on Christmas Eve, 1910.  As soon Carrie Ayres Williams escorted the guests to the door, she turned around and found her father slumped in his chair.   She, along with her children, were now the last of the Ayres family in South Dakota.  She would live until 1938.  Her half-brother, William, died quietly in Raysville, Indiana at the age of 80 in 1934.

The tombstone of Henley and Minerva Ayres in Gettysburg, South Dakota


More research is needed on these very interesting people.  I am indebted to my cousin Carol Strode for her legwork on Henley Ayres and for leading me to South Dakota.  I would also like to thank Peg Williams, the Potter County, South Dakota librarian.  Her husband is also a direct descendant of Henley Ayres!  She has been most generous with her research.  Kathleen Nagel at the Dakota Sunset Museum in Gettysburg, South Dakota not only sent me the first image I have ever seen of Henley Ayres, but she also provided several interesting documents related to the Ayres family. A special thanks to my sister, Susan Gulde, who is also traveling down this road into the past.   I am dedicating this post to Barbara Gulde Schmall, the great granddaughter of Henley Ayres.  She passed away in 2004, but she was the family historian for years.  I, William F. Gulde, am the great great grandson of Henley Ayres.


Sunday, July 15, 2012

Anna Ayres and Joseph Gulde married on May 30, 1921

Joseph Gulde left the US for Europe towards the end of World War One.  He remained there as a soldier long past the war as nations bickered over the doomed Treaty of Versailles.  During his time in Europe, he maintained correspondence with a beautiful young woman named Anna Ayres of Raysville, Indiana.  They met before the war at a party in a home near Knightstown, Indiana, where Joseph was playing the piano.  The two fell in love and upon his return to the US, he proposed marriage to her.  Although his prospects at this point in his life remained unclear, Joseph decided that he would leave his family's hometown of Madison, Indiana and move north.

Joseph Gulde courting Anna Ayres in 1921 in Raysville, Indiana

Marriage License for Joseph Gulde and Anna Ayres--1921

Small blurb in Rushville Republican about the wedding.

St. Elizabeth Catholic Church and Rectory, Cambridge City, Indiana in 2012


For a short stint, he rolled cigars in Cambridge City, Indiana, and maintained his music career both performing and giving private piano lessons.  His sister Mary Newbold Gulde lived in Rushville, Indiana and so Joseph and Anna decided to call that community home.  Before they moved, they married in the rectory next to St. Elizabeth's Church in Cambridge City on May 30, 1921.  Anna was not yet a Roman Catholic so the couple would not have been allowed to marry in the church.  It would be many years before she would convert.  Her father was a Quaker and her mother belonged to a couple of different Protestant churches.

It was a solid marriage as they remained together until Anna's passing in 1982.  Joseph died months later in 1983.  Below are a few photos and documents that record their courtship, marriage, and subsequent anniversaries.

Newspaper article in Rushville Republican, 1971

Anniversary Invitation--1971

60th wedding anniversary announcement in Rushville Republican, 1981

Gulde family celebration, Rushville Republican, 1981