American Medical Biographies/Ayres, Henry P.

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Ayres, Henry P. (1813–1887)

Henry P. Ayres, born in Morristown, New Jersey, was one of the pioneer physicians of Indiana, having settled in Fort Wayne in 1842, which was then a small but promising village. To practise medicine in a small town then meant arduous work for the doctor. There were no roads worth mentioning, and country clients had to be visited on horseback; the distances were often great and the mud deep when the weather was bad. His reputation for skill in obstetrical cases was quite extensive.

He came of old colonial stock. He was a descendent of the seventh generation of Capt. John Ayres of Massachusetts, who emigrated from England in 1635 and settled in Salisbury.

His mother, Comfort Day, also belonged to the Day family which settled in Newark, New Jersey, during colonial times. His father died when he was seven years old and his mother was left with a large family to care for.

He attended his first course of medical lectures in the University of Louisville, Kentucky, 1841–42, and afterwards settled in Fort Wayne, Indiana. In 1845 he went to New York, and in 1846 received the degree of M. D. from the University of New York.

He was one of the organizers of the Allen County Medical Society, also for many years an active member of the Indiana State Medical Society and its president in 1871. In 1860 he contributed an exhaustive article of 138 pages to the Journal of the American Medical Association on "The Education of Imbecile and Idiotic Children." He was an occasional contributor to the Medico-Chirurgical Review, published in Philadelphia by his friend and former teacher, Dr. S. D. Gross, as well as to other journals.

He married Eliza Kate Rowan in 1839 and had six children, three of whom died in childhood. He was very fond of children and had a winning way which made them reciprocate his affection.

Their oldest son, S. C. Ayres of Cincinnati, Ohio, became profesor of ophthalmology in the Medical College of Ohio. Dr. Ayres died in Fort Wayne, Indiana, December 25, 1887. For nearly twenty years before his death he had suffered from paralysis agitans, involving first the left side, and a few years later the right.

Personal communication to the writer.