A. O. Ayer

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Dr. A.O. Ayer was born in 1804; died in 1876. He was a native of Kingston, Tenn., and married Esther Durham Johnson, near Knoxville. He moved to Kentucky in 1834. The years of his Kentucky life began with the early history of Owensboro, and extended through the eventful periods of prosperous slave times, disastrous war, and decline of public and private enterprise after the war. He was one of four physicians who in the early history of this part of Kentucky practiced in the large stretch of country now embracing the counties of Ohio, Mulhenburg, McLean, Daviess and part of Henderson counties.

Travel to Kentucky

He came from Kingston by water, in the latter part of the winter of 1834, thus traversing almost the full length of the Tennessee River, and a large part of the Ohio, which was obstructed to a great extent by floating ice. The trip occupied several weeks, as it was made on a boat made by unskilled hands. One boat bearing his family and slaves, and a raft with stock, household, and farm articles, brought them safe to the new country. There was no place near here where they could get the necessary conveniences of every-day life, so they brought all they could with them. The now wealthy town of Henderson, when they floated past it, was known as the landing of “Red Banks,” and the county seat of Daviess, as “Yellow Banks.” The latter landing was found to be a marshy level, with a few houses on the bank of the river. Here they disembarked, and after a survey of the surrounding country, they concluded to move further into the interior, to the hills, where there was better water, and less chills and fever.

Life in Owensboro

Here, within twenty miles of Owensboro, a plantation was cleared up, and after a few years a comfortable and pleasant home was established. His farm was for years one of the places for holding Daviess County elections, under the old dispensation of three days’ voting. The different musters were held here also, and magistrate meetings. Dr. Ayer’s home was known far and near for open-hearted hospitality and free welcome to all. During the war, though his four sons were all rebels, he was conservative. He lived to see the sad effects of the war in this part of Kentucky, all around him. The spirit of thrift seemed to have departed from that part of the country, and the condemned marshy land around Yellow Banks came to be the desirable part of the country. McLean was made, and the elections changed to Calhoon, its county seat. The plantation of slavery times came to be the quiet home of an invalid man, retired from active life. He ended his days in peace with God and man, in 1876, leaving a wife and six children, four sons and two daughters.

Source: History of Daviess County, Kentucky. Chicago: Interstate Publishing Co., 1883. Print.