Ayers, John Allen – The evolution of the banking business in Jacksonville is illustrated in the history of the Ayers National Bank, organized under its present form May 1, 1901, by its President, John Allan Ayers, but originally established by his father, Marshall Paul Ayers, in December, 1852. As the embryo institution was the outcome of the need of its facilities fifty years ago, so this twentieth century institution, situated in a commercial and financial center and surrounded by a great and productive agricultural region, meets the requirements of diversified and complicated energy, of permanency, solvency and stability in business, and of matured, trained skill in management.
Mr. Ayers represents the third generation of his family to thus contribute to the solid upbuilding of Morgan County. He was born in Jacksonville, Illinois, August 2, 1847, the son of Marshall Paul Ayers, and a grandson of David B. Ayers, both of whom are mentioned at length in another part of this work. Mr. Ayers may be said to have stepped into a business opportunity already fashioned for his acceptance. His youth was devoid of the pressure of necessity, yet the fact did not dull his ambition, or render him less the advocate of honest, intelligent labor. In 1869, soon after completing his course as a student in Illinois College, he entered his fathers bank as a clerk, gradually advancing in position as he carefully mastered every detail of the banking business. In 1886 he purchased the interest of William S. Hook, a partner in the concern, and thereupon became one-third owner in the firm of M. P. Ayers & Company, the other proprietors being his father, Marshall P., and his uncle, Augustus E. Ayers. On May 1, 1901, the bank was incorporated as the Ayers National Bank of Jacksonville, and November 2, 1902, John A. succeeded his father as President of the institution.
On November 3, 1875, Mr. Ayers was united in marriage to Lucia E. Brownell, who was born in Cleveland, Ohio, a daughter of Hon. A. C. Brownell, a native of Rhode Island. Mr. Brownell was an early settler and banker of Cleveland, and Mayor of the town in 1856. Mr. and Mrs. Ayers are the parents of four children: Nellie, wife of W. H. Garrett, Professor of Mathematics at Baker University, Baldwin, Kans.; Allan B., with the Denver Trust Company; Wilford S., a senior at Williams College, Mass.; and Helen Louise, a student at Illinois College. Mr. Ayers has been prominent in Republican politics for many years, and was a delegate to the Republican National Convention of 1888, which nominated Benjamin Harrison for the Presidency. He has been substantially identified with many phases of civic growth, and on all occasions has sustained the family reputation for integrity, public spirit and disinterested loyalty. Mr. Ayes served as City Treasurer of Jacksonville for four years, has been Treasurer of the Institute for the Deaf and Dumb for a like period, and for a number of years has been Trustee and Treasurer of his Alma Mater, Illinois College, and an influential factor in promoting the interests of that institution.