James Franklin Ayars
A Pioneer of Lincoln County, Oklahoma

b. 16 Dec 1841 Lewis Co., MO
d. 28 Oct 1916 Tulsa, OK

(J.F. Ayars Family)
Front row: James F. Ayars, Catherine (Mitchell) Ayars (1847-1928),
Dollie Ayars McGaughey (1876-1967)
Middle row: Jimmie (James) Ayars (1883-1959), Minnie (Margaret) Ayars Kennedy (1868-1952),
Maude Ayars Tichnor (1874-1943)
Back row: Grace Ayars Bateman (1880-1950), Fanny Ayars Mackey (1870-?)
(Photo taken about 1900 in Chandler, Oklahoma Territory)

The following is from
"Portrait and Biographical Record of Oklahoma",
Chicago, Chapman Publishing, 1901.
(Note: Some statements in this auto-biography are not consistent with known facts and are so noted. After the writing of this biography he became President of First State Bank of Prague, Oklahoma. In 1904 James and Catherine moved to Tulsa where he operated a drug store and remained active in the Masons and the Grand Army of the Republic.)

J. F. AYARS, county treasurer of Lincoln county, is one of the public-spirited residents of Chandler and is especially worthy of praise owing to his endeavors an behalf of the railroad at this point. Realizing the great need of transportation before Chandler could attain any size as a city, he used all of his influence to secure the Frisco extension, and it was, to a large degree, the result of his labors that the right of way was finally secured through the county. The value of this road to Chandler and he surrounding country is admitted by all.

At Monticello, Lewis county, Mo., Mr. Ayars was born in 1841. His father, Jephtha, a native of Cumberland county, N. J., was a son of James Ayars, whose father came from Scotland and settled on a farm in New Jersey, remaining there constantly until has death. [Actually, James is a descendant of Robert Ayars and Katharin ---. She died in Rhode Island in 1685 and he later migrated from Rhode Island to Southern New Jersey where he died in 1719.] The grandfather served in the Revolutionary War. [Actually, James was born in 1785 and could not have served in the war. But his father, Robert, certainly could have served.] When a young man, Jephtha Ayars removed to Missouri, where he engaged in contracting and building. In 1845 he settled in Potosi, Grant county, Wis., and there engaged in lead mining for many years, but finally removed to Kansas, where he died. In slavery days he was noted as a strong abolitionist. He married Margaret Thomas, who was born on the Green river in Kentucky, and whose father, James W. Thomas, was a companion of Daniel Boone and a pioneer of Missouri. Like his illustrious friend, Mr. Thomas was exceedingly fond of hunting. Many of his happiest days were spent with his gun, in search of the wild game that roamed through the forests of Kentucky and Missouri. At one time he owned slaves, but becoming convinced of the injustice of the system he freed all of the negroes on his plantation. Afterward he went to California, and while there, on a hunting expedition, he was accidentally killed by his horse falling over a precipice. He was then more than eighty years of age. His daughter, Mrs. Margaret Ayars, died in Kansas in 1898. Of her six children, all but one are living. One of the sons, J. B., is a farmer in Lincoln county, Okla.

The oldest of the family, J. F. Ayars, was reared in Wisconsin and received his education principally in the Lancaster high school. In July, 1861, he enlisted in Company F, Tenth Wisconsin Infantry, and was mustered into the service at Milwaukee, from which city he went to the front. From that time forward he participated in many hard-fought battles and severe campaigns. He was present at the battles of Bridgeport, Ala., Perryville, Ky., Murfreesboro, Tenn., the siege of Vicksburg, the battle of Black River Bridge, the engagements at Champion Hill and Fort Gibson, and the burning of Austin, Miss. At Coleman's Corners, Miss., his regiment was surrounded by the enemy and was forced to cut its way out, in the midst of a baptism of fire. Later he took part in the battles of Milligan's Bend and Duck River Shoals, and went with General Banks on the Red River expedition. It was during this expedition that he was a participant in the capture of a fort. Later he was a member of the body guard of Gen. A. J. Smith, with whom he was at Lake Village, Ark., and Greenville, Miss. In January, 1863, he was honorably discharged from the service. However, he soon afterward re-enlisted, becoming a member of the Mississippi Marine Brigade, with a commission as first sergeant. In the fall of 1864 he was placed ashore at Vicksburg, where he did garrison duty until the close of the war, being mustered out in June, 1865, at Vicksburg, and receiving an honorable discharge from the service. His record as a soldier was one of which he and his might well be proud. He was always to be found at his post of duty, and was prompt, efficient and reliable, as well as patriotic.

Going to Kansas in 1866, Mr. Ayars became a clerk in the quartermaster's department at Fort Riley, and later located in Ellsworth, where he built the first house in the town. This was known as the Ayars house and was used as a hotel during the building of the town. On account of the hostility of the Indians, it was necessary to have a guard every night for some time, to prevent depredations, and the various men in the town took turns in acting as guards. Next Mr. Ayars improved a farm on Clark's creek, and on it he continued until 1870, when he began to mine at Georgetown, Colo., remaining there and at Silver Plume for some time. Returning to his farm in Kansas, he gave his attention to agricultural pursuits for a time, then going to the Black Hills. The year 1877 found him mining there, after which he was similarly occupied in Central City, Colo. Again going to his Kansas farm, he turned his attention to the stock business. In 1881 he settled in Junction City Kans., where he bought a drug store and embarked in the drug business. A year after settling in that place, he was elected probate judge, and his service in the office was so satisfactory that he was twice re-elected, serving six years altogether. His next location was in Geary county, Kans., where he remained until January, 1889. From there he came to Oklahoma at the opening of the territory. His first location was Guthrie, where he opened a real estate office and at the same time located a claim one and one-half miles north of the city. After a time he started a drug store at Guthrie, which he conducted until January, 1892, and then sold in order to settle in Chandler. For a time after he came to Chandler he was connected with Mr. McElHinney, later was with Mr. Wright until his election as county treasurer.

The distinction belongs to Mr. Ayars of having been one of the organizers of the State Pharmaceutical Association of Kansas, and it was largely through his endeavors that the pharmacy bill was passed by the Kansas legislature. After coming to Oklahoma, he performed a similar service, lobbying the pharmacy bill through the territorial legislature. He aided in the organization of the Territorial Pharmaceutical Association. As the nominee of the Republican party, in 1898 he was elected county treasurer, receiving a far majority over the fusion candidate. Assuming the duties of the office in January, 1899, he has since devoted himself to their efficient and honorable discharge, and has won the confidence of the people as reliable, honest and painstaking official. He has served as a member of the city council of Chandler and for two years served as a member of the school board, of which he acted as clerk.

In Junction City, Kans., Mr. Ayars married Miss Kate F. Mitchell, who was born in Pittsburg, Pa., and in 1854 was brought by her father, Henry Mitchell, to Kansas, the latter building and operating a mill on Clark's creek. Six children comprise the family of Mr. and Mrs. Ayars, namely: Minnie, Mrs. Kennedy, of Kansas City, Mo.; Mrs. Fannie Mackey, of Chandler; Mrs. Maud Tichnor, of New Mexico; Mrs. Dolly McGaughey, of Chandler; Mrs. Grace Bateman, of Wellston, Okla., and Jimmie, a student in the Christian College of Fulton, Mo.

During his residence in Junction City, Kans., Mr. Ayars was made a Mason. He assisted in organizing Guthrie Lodge No. 2, A. F. & A. M., of which he served as secretary. He took the Royal Arch degree in Junction City and was past high priest of the chapter at that point, afterward becoming a member of Guthrie Chapter No. 1, in which he still holds membership. He was made a member of the Commandery at Abilene, Kans., and later was a charter member of Guthrie Commandery No. 1, K. T., with which he is still connected. He assisted in the organization of Chandler Lodge No. 10, of which he was the first master, holding the office for four years, but refusing further election. At the organization of the Grand Lodge of Oklahoma, he was elected the first custodian, and held the Office until it was abolished. He is also connected with the Knights of Pythias at Chandler, and Chandler Post No. 35, G. A. R., of which he is past commander. Though not identified with any denomination, he assists in the maintenance of the Episcopal Church, to which his wife belongs.

Transcribed by John K. Matthews, September, 1991.


Return to Lincoln County Page

This page was last updated Wednesday, 14-Jun-2023 04:38:54 EDT.