Born at “Edge Hill,” a plantation in Buckingham County, VA, Thomas E. Ayres was the son of Matthias Leake Ayres (1813-1853) and his wife, Martha Rebecca Hanes (1825-1855). After his mother’s death, he and his brothers were raised by his mother’s family. (1860 U.S. Census. Virginia)
In June 1863, at age 16, Ayres enlisted as a private in the First Richmond Howitzers, Cabell’s Battalion, CSA. He served until the end of the war, surrendered at Appomattox, VA, then marched from Appomattox to Lincolnton, NC, to join General J. E. Johnston’s army. He surrendered a second time at Greensboro, NC. (White) After the Civil War, he attended the University of Virginia in sessions 45-46 (1868-1870), and then moved to Baltimore, MD, where he was employed as a schoolteacher. In 1872, he was ordained a Methodist minister. Also in 1872, he married Olivia Winfield Blackwell (1847-1930); their only child was Thomas Eldridge Ayres, Jr.
At the time of his death, Thomas E. Ayres was the principal of the Leesburg Academy (1799-1879). The Rev. Ayres was buried in the family cemetery at “Edge Hill.” (White)
- Ancestry.com. 1850-1870 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2009.
- Barnhart, Terry A. Albert Taylor Bledsoe: Defender of the Old South and Architect of the Lost Cause. Baton Rouge, LA, 2011.
- Evans, June Banks. The Blackwells of Blackwell’s Neck. Rev. ed. 2004.
- “Loudoun County Court Complex Collection (SC 0093),” Thomas Balch Library, Leesburg, VA. Leesburg, VA, c2006. http://ead.lib.virginia.edu/vivaead/published/tbl/viletbl00168.document (Accessed 12/29/2011).
- “Thomas E[l]dridge Ayres.” in S. Bassett French Biographical Sketches, p. 276. Library of Virginia.
- White, Paul R. Taproots; a Virginia-Carolina legacy. 2nd ed. Nashville, TN, 1986.