Glendale, California †Biographies

Samuel A. Ayers

Samuel A. Ayers, who passed form this life May 17, 1922, was born March 12, in 1855, at Ft, Madison, Lee County, Iowa. His parents came there from Connecticut the year preceding his birth. His fatherís name was Ebeneezer and his motherís maiden name was Louisa Anna Overall. He attended the district schools until the age of fourteen, when he began clerking in a dry goods store at Muscatine, Iowa. Even at that age he appreciated what education would mean in his future so set to work valiantly to earn money to pay his way through Benton Commercial College. This took time and courage, as he also had to pay all of his living expenses from his meager salary. However, h e finally graduated, and obtained a position as bookkeeper for Walker Northrup & Chick, of Kansas City, Missouri. After a short stop at Ft. Madison he completed his journey to Des Moines, selling his horse, within twenty miles of his destination, taking a note in payment. This note was never paid.

He remained with Mr. J.B. Stewart for a year, then was induced to go to Council Bluffs, Iowa, to audit the books of a bank. That task completed, he was taken to Sioux City, Iowa by Georgia Weir to assist in organizing and opening a bank, which was located in a log building and did business under the firm name of Wier, Allison & Company. While in the employ of the bank he was approached by a man who had $10,000.00 he wished to invest in a commercial business. Desiring the service of Mr. Ayers, he offered him a $1,000.00 share in the business, which offer was gladly accepted. Soon after the business had gotten nicely under way his partner turned to drinking heavily. This so disgusted Mr. Ayers that he proceeded to get his money out of the business and had just succeeded when the place burned to the ground and on which no insurance was collected.

Mr. Ayers then enlisted in the Union army, was sent to Jefferson City, Missouri, equipped for service and sent on a forced march which completely exhausted him, necessitating his being sent to a hospital from which he was discharged eight months later as permanently disabled for military duty. Returning to Des Moines, he became a deputy auditor in the state auditor's office and a few years later was made chief deputy auditor. These positions he filled through the successive terms of the different state auditors for thirteen years. In February 1874, because of ill health, he resigned from his position in the sate house and went to South Sioux City, Nebraska, to reside on land he had pre-empted while in the employ of the bank in Sioux City, Iowa. He remained there only a few years, then returning to Des Moines, opened up a large china and silverware business which he conducted until 1883. His health again failing he sold the business and came to Southern California. He bought twenty acres at $80.00 and acre and the residence which he built in 1904 at 1121 South Central Avenue, occupies a part of that original purchase.

He built a house on the acreage the first year, which was the first residence on Central Avenue. He set out fruit trees and grape vines and for several years was a successful fruit grower. In 1890 he sold eight acres. Since then the remaining acreage has been sold in acre lots, excepting the plot occupied by Y. Goto, for a nursery, and the Central Avenue home where his widow now resides. He established the first insurance agency in the valley and which he disposed of only a few years ago. He was a charter member of N.P. Banks Post, G.A.R.

At Mt. Pleasant, Iowa, December 27, 1866, Mr. Ayers married Minnie Menefee, a native of Virginia, daughter of Philip and Katherine (Pendalton) Menefee. Her father was a planter and slave owner in the ante-bellum days, and she was reared under the watchful care of a black mammy. Four children were born to Mr. and Mrs. Ayers: Mary, who became the wife of Harry Banker, died following the birth of her child, Marion, who was raised by Mrs. Ayres as her own; Edgar S., of San Francisco, who graduated from Stanford University, is a consulting engineer; Minnie, is the wife of Charles H. Moser, of Glendale; Nelson, who is secretary of the State Dairymenís Association, is a resident of San Francisco. Mrs. Ayers is a charter member of the Ladiesí Aid of the Presbyterian Church. Mr. and Mrs. Ayers were charter members of the First Presbyterian church of Glendale, and transferred their membership to the Tropico Presbyterian church upon its organization, and were also charter members of the Missionary society. Mrs. Ayers in the early days suggested that their street be named Central Avenue and in due time, after being voted on, it was so named. In 1916 Mr. and Mrs. Ayers celebrated their golden wedding, all members of the family being present.

All through life Mr. Ayers was a splendid example of enterprise and courage. His determination and foresight let him to overcome obstacles and to win through difficulties that would have daunted one of less spirit.

From History of Glendale and Vicinity by John Calvin Sherer. The Glendale Publishing Company, c. 1922 F. M. Broadbooks and J. C. Sherer. P. 311-315.