Francis Woodruff & Ezra Ayers Families

Mary Jane Trowbridge

Mary Jane Trowbridge

Francis Woodruff

Francis Woodruff

On March 16, I posted an update on members of the Francis Woodruff family. There were four children: Emma (b. 1846), William (b. 1849), Matthias (b. 1851), and Phebe (b. 1855). You may recall that Phoebe and Matthias had married siblings from the Ezra Ayers family: Phebe married Isaac J. Ayers, and Matthias married Mary S. Ayers. I did a bit of digging on the Ayers family and emerged with the below family tree. There were nine children in all!

 1-Ezra Ayers b. Jun 1821, New Jersey 
  +Mary Ann b. Oct 1823, England
|--2-Sarah M. Ayers b. Cir 1846, d. After 1910
|--2-Isaac J. Ayers b. Jan 1848, New Jersey, d. After 1910
|   +Phebe M. Woodruff b. 11 Oct 1855, Union Twp, Essex, NJ
|  |--3-Anna W. Ayers b. Aug 1875, Newark, Essex Co., NJ
|  |--3-Charles S. Ayers b. May 1878, New Jersey
|  |--3-Amy M. Ayers b. Jul 1888, New Jersey
|  |--3-Isaac Ayers b. Abt 1880, Newark, Essex Co., NJ
|--2-Francis Ayers b. Abt 1851, d. After 1910
|--2-Mary S. Ayers b. 1853, d. After 1910
|   +Matthias Woodruff b. 1851, d. 6 Apr 1892, Chatham, Morris Co., NJ
|  |--3-Frances Woodruff b. Abt 1875, d. After 1910
|--2-Emma Ayers b. Abt 1856, New Jersey, d. After 1910
|--2-Samuel Ayers b. Abt 1858, New Jersey, d. After 1910
|--2-Joseph Ayers b. Abt 1860, New Jersey, d. After 1910
|--2-Elizabeth Ayers b. Abt 1862, New Jersey, d. After 1910
|--2-Judith Ayers b. Dec 1863, New Jersey, d. After 1910
|--2-Annie Ayers b. Abt 1866, New Jersey, d. After 1910

In August 1850, when Ezra was 29, he and his wife were living in Woodbridge, Middlesex Co., NJ, with Sarah (age 4) and Isaac (age 2). His occupation is listed as a tailor and he has declared real estate with a value of $1,200 (roughly $35,000 today). He was born in NJ, while his wife was born in England.

Trolley Cars Running Near Newark Courthouse Circa early 1900s
(Charles Cummings and John O’Connor. Newark: An American City)

I hit pay dirt with the 1870 census (both records freely available on Family Search, by the way) which shows the couple with all nine children living in the Tenth Ward of Newark, Essex Co., NJ. Isaac is 48 by now and listed as a retail grocer. His real estate is now valued at $12,000 (nearly $210,000 in today’s currency) and his personal estate at $1,500 (about $26,000 today). Wife Mary is still “keeping house” (with nine children, I can’t imagine what else she would be doing!), but now daughter Sarah (24) is a clerk in a “Fancy Store” and Isaac (22) is a “Grocers Clerk”, likely in his dad’s store. Son Francis is 19 with no occupation listed for him. In school are Mary (16), Emma (14), Joseph (10), and Elizabeth (8). Little Annie, age four, born when mother Mary was 41, is still at home. Interestingly an Isaac Jones is also in residence. He is 76 and listed as born in England, so it seems likely he is Mary’s father. The census shows that her mother was born in England as well.

Newark Public Service Terminal, 1917 View (copyright-free image)

How the Ayers and the Woodruffs became acquainted, I do not know. Francis was a farmer so perhaps he sold his produce at Ayers’s market. In any case, it was not long after this 1870 census that the two marriages–those of Matthias Woodruff to Mary S. Ayers, and Isaac J. Ayers to Phebe Woodruff–took place. Although Phebe is the younger of the two Woodruff siblings, I’ll begin with her. She (19) married Isaac Ayers (26) on October 23, 1874, in Union, NJ. A Google search on Isaac J. Ayers name revealed a website for a restaurant at 13 Waverly Place in Madison, NJ, called Poor Herbie’s. Their website information reveals that the building their restaurant is located in was operated as a grocery store by Isaac J. Ayres in 1877, the year a major fire destroyed a large commercial area. The fire allegedly began in that very building. [For an image of the building as it appears today, click here. Poor Herbie’s is on the left.] Isaac remained in the grocery business; the 1880 census lists him as a grocer in Newark, NJ.

Isaac and Phebe Ayers had four children: Anna W. (b. 1875), Charles S. (b. 1878), Amy M. (b. 1888), and Isaac Jr. (b. about 1880). Only the older three children appear in the 1900 census, so I gather Isaac Jr. must have died young. The 1900 census lists Isaac Sr. as a farmer who owned his farm free and clear. Anna (24) is not working, Charles (22) is a real estate clerk, and Amy (11) is at school. Ten years later (in 1910), the census record shows Isaac still as a farmer in Union, NJ. The record says at “Truck place”–I have no idea what that means, but he is listed as an employer. Wife Phebe and daughter Annie (34) are at home, while daughter Amy (21) is listed as a public school teacher. That is, thus far, the extent of what I know about this family.

Now, back to Matthias (b. 1851), who greatly intrigues me; he married Mary S. Ayers (b. 1853) on November 21, 1872, in Newark, Essex Co., NJ. They had a single child, a son, Frances, who was born about 1875. Matthias died on April 6, 1892, in Chatham, Morris Co., NJ, in the couple’s twentieth year of marriage. So what was going on with Matthias for those twenty years and why did he pass away relatively young? I could not find him in 1880 or 1890 census records. I did find Mary in 1900 and 1910, but, of course, by then Matthias was already long gone.

Suffrage Hikers in Newark, NJ, 1913
(copyright-free image)

In 1900, Mary (47) is back living with her elderly parents, Ezra and Mary Ann Ayers, and sister Judith E. Ayers (36). Their residence is listed as 130 Elm Street, Newark City, NJ. Ezra, 76, is listed as a dealer in dry goods, owning his own home free and clear. Mary states all 9 of her children are still living. This time she lists herself as born in England and her parents as having both been born in Wales.

Newark Paper Boys, 1909*
(Photo Credit: Shorpy website, see link to large Shorpy photo at end of post)

By 1910, Ezra must have passed away. Mary, 85, is listed as the head of the household at 130 Elm Street. Once again, she lists all nine children as still living. Matthias’s widow, Mary Ayers Woodruff (now 56, working in dry goods, store retail), is still living there, as is her son Frances, age 35, single, and a dentist. Also resident are daughter Emma J. Brown, a widow, aged 50, working as a sales woman in dry goods; daughter Judith E. Ayers (44; single, no occupation); daughter Annie M. Ayers (40; single, no occupation); and a 17-year-old servant named Helen Lannigan.

Matthias’s son Frances would have been 17 when he (Matthias) died. Perhaps Frances’s path to dentistry was owed to his great uncle John Dickinson (a dentist) who was married to Emma Woodruff (Francis Woodruff’s sister and Matthias’s aunt). What happened to Frances? I gather he never married, but who knows, maybe we will find out differently.

Dentist in His Office, Unknown Artist, American; Date: 1900s (Metropolitan Museum collections, visit http://www.metmuseum.org)

I found a death record for a Frances Woodruff born on August 18, 1874. If this was “our” Frances, he lived to the ripe old age of 93, passing away in February 1967 and last residing in Orange, Essex, New Jersey. But, I’ll need to see the death certificate to know for sure whether that’s him.

Relevant to Matthias’s whereabouts for those twenty years of marriage, I recall coming across some letters a long time ago that revealed a bit about Matthias’s relationship with his father Francis Woodruff. Matthias wrote the letters either from Wyoming or North Dakota. As I recall he talked about farming wheat. Perhaps Matthias was working land out there to support Mary and Frances, but the way he spoke in the letter, it sounded like he had a boatload of kids to support, but now I know there was just Frances. He also, as I recall, asked his dad Francis Woodruff for money. I will try to find those letters and include them in the blog.

Well, enough for today. Until next time!

*Shorpy Image: click here.

Categories: Ayers, Newark, Essex Co., US Federal 1870, US Federal 1880, US Federal 1900, US Federal 1910, Woodruff | Leave a comment

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