JAMES W. AYNES. The commercial spirit of Jacksboro is largely in the ascendancy and is exemplified in the establishment of a few mercantile enterprises which dominate the town and surrounding country and bring to the city’s urban limits a patronage ample to maintain it easily as the metropolis of the county. The Aynes Dry Goods Company is conspicuous among these dominant enterprises, and of its guiding and leading spirit, James W. Aynes, it is our purpose herein to speak. Reared in an atmosphere of domestic commerce and schooled in the marts of trade by teachers who were past-master in the art, these influences have brought to him an endowment and an equipment for the sphere that he fills unusual in a rural community like this.
A glace at the history of the Aynes family reveals its Kentucky origin and shows Samuel Aynes, our subject’s grandfather, to have been one of its early founders. His birth occurred in the state of Virginia in 1795 and he lived in Denton and Jack counties, Texas, from 1857, dying in the latter county in 1867. His forefathers are said to have been Scotch-Irish and Welsh and his wife was Miss Elsie Malare, who passed away in Jack county in 1867, being the mother of James, who died in Kentucky; John, whose life closed in the same state; Elton became the wife of Squire Penn and died in Henry county, Kentucky; Fannie married Frank Robinson and died in Fort Worth; David S.; and Elizabeth, who died in El Paso as Mrs. Mark Harper.
David S. Aynes, father of our subject, was born in Henry county, Kentucky, December 18, 1832, passed to maturity there, was liberally educated and his introduction to the serious affairs of life was in the capacity of a teacher of a country school. He came to Texas in 1857, stopped in Denton county, married and taught a few terms of school. He came to Jacksboro in 1860, began raising cattle and conducted a general store, and also filled various county offices, being assessor, collector, treasurer and sheriff of the county. In 1864 he returned to Wise county and while there held the office of sheriff. Returning west, he was for some years a resident and merchant at Belknap and later on in life opened a store in Gainesville and sold good till 1895, when he disposed of his interests there, came to Jacksboro, the scenes of his early and vigorous life, and retired. In politics he has never been a Democrat and in fraternal matters a prominent local Odd Fellow, and a consistent member of the Christian church.
For his first wife, Mr. Aynes married Emily, a daughter of Dr. George Harper, formerly from Naples, Illinois. His wife died in Jacksboro in 1875 and he then chose Helen Scott for his companion, who bore him a son, Daniel, and a daughter, Roxie, wife of John Montgomery, of Amarillo, Texas. By his first marriage he was the father of James W., of this notice; Eliza, who married E. W. Nicholson, of Jacksboro; David N., of Jacksboro; John S., who passed away at fourteen years of age; Elsie, who married T. N. Brown, a leading merchant of Jack county, at the county seat, and Hattie, wife of W. R. Sikes, of the metropolis of Jack county.
April 21, 1860, James W. Aynes was born in Denton county, Texas. The first four years of his life was passed in Jacksboro and his fifth and sixth years in Wise and Denton counties. From 1866 to 1876 he was again among the boys of Jacksboro, but the latter year entered the public schools at Denison for a year, then farmed as a hand till 1878, when he went to work on the Denison Herald as a typo for a year. In 1879 he returned to Jacksboro and took a clerkship with D. C. Brown, remaining ten years, and succeeded that gentleman in business with a partner, J. F. Marshall, which firm stood until 1894, when Mr. Aynes conducted the business alone until 1897. The Aynes Dry Goods Company was organized in 1900 and he was chosen president and manager of the concern and its business affairs.
Mr. Aynes helped organize the Jacksboro Mill and Elevator Company and has been its secretary ever since. He hold stock in the concern and also in the First National Bank of Jacksboro, which was organized fifteen years ago, and Mr. Aynes was elected one of its directors and has served in that capacity continually to the present time. Other enterprises looking toward the good of the town have received substantial encouragement at his hands and his material support of the Presbyterian church of Jacksboro is a factor toward its permanency in this church and also in the Pythian Knights of the city.
March 23, 1888, Mrs. Aynes married Miss Kate Wolffarth, a daughter of Edward Wolffarth, for many years a military guide at Fort Richardson, later county clerk of the county, and who died here in 1898 at seventy three years of age. He was a New York man and a veteran of the Mexican war and served in the Federal army many years. Mr. Wolffarth married at Fort Belknap Miss Chattie Sanders and the eleven children resulting all grew up. Mr. and Mrs. Aynes’ children are: Hattie, Annel, David Edward, Marie and Edna.
Source: B. B. Paddock, History and Biographical Record of North and West Texas (Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1906), Vol. II, pp. 571-572.