Bio: Hughes, Rev. Jacob Van Rensselaer (Commemorative Bio - 1895)

Poster: Crystal Wendt


Rev. Jacob Van Rensselaer Hughes

Rev. Jacob Van Rensselaer Hughes, pastor of the Presbyterian Church at Merrill, Lincoln County, was born September 11, 1844, at Cape May, N. J., where, in 1689, Humphrey Hughes, the first of the family to come from Wales, made a settlement-indeed four brothers came to America at the same time, Humphrey being one of them.

Jacob Hughes (a farmer), great-grandfather of our subject, was born in 1711, and died in 1773; married Priscilla Hughes, who was born in 1710, and died in 1758. Jacob Hughes, grandfather of our subject, was born August 9, 1746, and died March 20, 1796; married Ann Lawrence, who was born in August, 1753, daughter of Rev. Daniel Lawrence, and after the death of Jacob Hughes she married Jeremiah Edwards; she died November 27, 1817. James R. Hughes, her youngest son by her first husband, was born in Cape May County, N. J., in 1791, and was married January 9, 1815, to Eliza Eldridge, who was born at Cold Springs, N. J., July 6, 1791. Twelve children were born this union, named respectively: Ann L., Jeremiah E., Daniel L., Joseph L., William G., Harriet N., James P., Hannah E., Mary B., Emma M., Amelia F. and Jacob Van Rensselaer. Three of the sons- Daniel L., James P., and Jacob Van R. are ministers of the Gospel; and three of the daughters are married to ministers, to wit: Harriet N., to Rev. C. M. Oakley, Emma M., to Rev. John S. Roberts, who has been a missionary to China for the past ten years; and Amelia F., to Rev. John Kershaw, of Brooklyn, N. Y. The father, though devoting the greater part of his life to agricultural pursuits, was a well-educated man, possessed of a thorough academic education, and taught school many years.

The subject proper of this sketch attended school at Cape May, N. J., until he was eleven years of age, and then studied at Edgehill School, Princeton, N. J., under the preceptor ship of his brother James, who was one of the professors of that institution. While there he united with the First Presbyterian Church, was graduated at Princeton (N. J.) College in 1867, and then entered the Theological Seminary at the same place, graduating from there in 1870, in the spring of which year he was licensed and ordained to preach by the Presbyterian Church of New Brunswick, N. J. Mr. Hughes then taught in Bellefonte (Penn.) Academy, from April, 1870, till June, 1873. His first charge as pastor was at Unionville, Center Co., Penn., where he was installed in 1874, remaining there about five years, or until 1878, when he accepted a call to the Presbyterian Church at Kilbourn City, Columbia Co., Wis. Here he continued three years, at the end of which time, in 1881, his health failing him, Mr. Hughes resigned the charge, and was looking about him for other fields of labor when his friends prevailed upon him to accept the postmaster ship of Kilbourn City, which was open to him, and he held the incumbency over four years. Having by this time regained his health, he received a call to a Presbyterian Church at Shawano, Wis., which he accepted, and here he labored in the vineyard from 1886 until October, 1894, the time of his coming to Merrill to fill the pulpit of the Presbyterian Church at that place.

Rev. Hughes has been twice married; First time July 27, 1870, to Miss Elizabeth C. McGinnis, daughter of Rev. J. Y. McGinnis, of Shade Gap, Penn., by which union there were four children: Lyda, Mary F., Harold D., and Alice M., the first named dying in infancy. The mother of these died May 11, 1888, a true Christian woman, greatly beloved by all who knew her. On September 17, 1891, Mr. Hughes was married in New Jersey to Miss Mary C. Ayres, a native of that State, born in December, 1858, daughter of Samuel and Margaret E. (Vail) Ayres, well to do farming people, also of New Jersey birth, who were the parents of four children: Fredrick V., Mary C., Emma L., and Arthur. The parents are yet living. Mr. Ayres was twice married, and by his first wife had two children: Henry C. and Jane L. the Ayres family trace their ancestry as far back as 1637, to John Ayer (for so the name was then spelled), who came in that year from (probably) Nottinghamshire, England, to Newbury, Mass., and of his nine children all except, Obadiah remained in New England, where they have numerous descendants. Obadiah Ayer married Hannah Pike, and in 1669-70 moved to Woodbridge, N. J.; he also had nine children, the fourth of whom was named Obadiah. This Obadiah had ten children, all born at the old homestead near Strawberry Hill; Robert, the seventh of these, had seven children; of whom, Frazee, the eldest child; had five children. Ellis, the first born of these five, had eleven children, and Ezra, the seventh child, had ten children, one of whom is Samuel Ayres, the father of Mrs. Jacob V. Hughes. The Vail family trace their ancestry in England as far back as 1630; those of them in this country were farmers in New Jersey; and it is known that several skirmishes during the Revolutionary struggle were fought on their farm. By his second marriage Mr. Hughes has two children: Margaret Vail Hughes and Arthur V. Our subject is a genial, whole-souled, popular man, broad and charitable is his views, and, withal, a thorough Christian gentleman.

---Source: Commemorative Biographical Record of the Upper Wisconsin Counties of Waupaca, Portage, Wood, Marathon, Lincoln, Oneida, Vilas, Langlade and Shawano. publ. 1895 by J. H. Beers & Co., Chicago 1110 pages, illustrated; Page 228-230


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