During my youth, I recall everything relating to our family history was stored in a rectangular tin box with the name, Frank E. Ayres lettered on one end. The box was kept in a closet off of our living room. I recall perusing through the contents of the box from time to time. Among the contents were many original documents and letters including the will of Zebulon Ayers, written in 1828. Unlike most of my peers, history was my favorite subject in school and the contents of the box obviously intrigued my curiosity. At the University of Arizona, I majored in history.
While at the university, my parents moved to Arizona. I recall a time at our mountain home when I inquired about the whereabouts of the box. No one seemed to know. Apparently, it disappeared sometime during the move to Arizona. I was very disappointed.
Many years passed. Following the death of my dad in 1972, I helped my mom in her move from the mountain to Sedona. The tin box reappeared during this move. What a treasure I had found. Regrettably though, the contents of the box would stimulate many questions that no one other than my dad could have answered. I began to interview my mom about her life. I did not want to face yet another lost opportunity.
I also began to do research. I was absolutely amazed when I found quite a few facts about Obadiah and Joseph Ayers at what I thought was a very unlikely spot, the library of the University of California, Santa Barbara. This discovery really aroused my interest. Next I searched the Mormon archives at the temple in Santa Monica. I also found quite a bit of information in the genealogy room of the Los Angeles Public Library. Eventually I traveled to the Mormon library in Salt Lake City.
During the summer of 1977, our family made a tardy Bicentennial grand tour of the United States. We stopped to explore many of the places where our ancestors had once lived including Romulus, the town in New York where Zebulon died. We found his grave. My wife and two daughters had to endure too many cemeteries to count. In our nation's capital, I took a two week genealogical course at the National Archives. We stopped in several other libraries including the Newberry in Chicago and the New Jersey state archives in Trenton.
Since that time I have extended our family history not only well beyond what was originally revealed in the tin box, but also to include my wife's side of our family. http://trees.ancestry.com/fhs/home.aspx?tid=5725144
In the future I hope that it can be expanded even further to include the families of my daughters' husbands.