Aylesworth, BiographyPorter County biographical sketches . . . .

Transcribed biography of Aylesworth


Submitted by Mrs. John C. Aylesworth

In August of 1842 Phillip Aylesworth of Big Prairie, Ohio (Wayne Co.) purchased a 160 acre tract (NW 1/4 Sec. 9, R-6-W) in Boone Township. Soon after his brother Giles bought directly south of the present Aylesworth Switch an adjoining tract of 160 acres from the same mutual friend, Aaron Lytle. Giles became the first member of the family to settle in Porter County moving here from Wayne Co. in the autumn of 1842. He moved here with his wife and 5 children He brought 2 wagons, household goods, various tools, grub hoe, axe and musket. Sealed in a false bottom of a dinner bucket was $2,000 in gold with which he bought the farm. His great-grandson, James Porter Aylesworth, still retains the family farm which now has been in the family 134 years.

Giles' brother Phillip never personally came to Indiana because of advancing age, but sold his 160 acre tract to his second son Ira. Ira moved to Porter County with his wife, and son and daughter in 1845. He became principally engaged in buying and selling horses rather than the actual cultivation at crops. He erected a rude, but stout cabin on the edge of the Grand Kankakee marsh 3/4 mile north of the present Aylesworth Switch. His home was often frequented by Pottawattami Indians who were still living in the area. His family soon learned to "hang out the latchstring" to the native Americans so that they might warm themselves by the hearth during the cold winter nights. It was not unusual for the family (which now included 7 children) to arise and find several nocturnal visitors asleep on the floor. They would quietly leave the house as the family awoke The Indians never bothered anyone, or any property, as they felt quite welcome.

During the years prior to the Civil War Ira purchased several adjoining acres (tracts) of land, many directly from the Federal Gov't. as well as the State Gov't. He was heavily mortgaged when the war broke. The wartime inflation brought overnight prosperity to the county. In 1865 a railroad was constructed through Hebron and the South County. These two factors caused his mortgaged holdings to become solvent very quickly. Upon his death in July of 1875 he owned 1396 acres which was then divided equally in value (larger acreages were given to his children in the Kankakee marsh as it was not fit for cultivation) among his widow and seven children. Of this amount 551 acres are still owned by various descendants and most of it (440 acres) is presently farmed by his great-great-grandsons Michael and Curtis Aylesworth, sons of John Clyde Aylesworth, great-grandson of Ira Aylesworth.

In the latter quarter of the 19th century the 7 offspring of the Ira Aylesworth family lived upon their father's farms, built homes and raised large families. There were often cattle drives through the area from Chicago to the rich grasslands of the marsh. The cattle were the rejects of the stockyards being shipped in "questionable condition" from the railheads in Kansas. Often the drovers would request and receive lodging from the John Aylesworth family (the present home of Lilian Dyniewski). In the return of hospitality the drovers would leave a couple of "doggies" which were too weak to travel further.

By 1910 there were approximately 50 people of the Aylesworth name in Boone township. In 1912 the neighborhood women met for a birthday for one of the Aylesworth ladies. They enjoyed themselves so much that they decided to meet monthly in each other's homes. In 1921 they purchased an old building (which was renovated in 1969) and moved it to its present location. The Aylesworth Community Club has enjoyed 64 years of happy social gatherings in the area.

The advent of the wars mechanization, and rural electricity in 1940 brought about a slow but marked change in the rural atmosphere of that area. Many of the Aylesworth name moved away for better opportunities. There are however, many persons remaining in the area who are descended from both sides of the two original families which came to the area long ago. They are eagerly awaiting the nation's bicentennial and hope to continue to the next 100 years of history in Porter County.

John Clyde Aylesworth married Mary Jane Olson in Chicago, Illinois, in 1942. They are the parents of eight children and nine grandchildren, at present. The Aylesworths live in the home where John was born, built by his father Clyde in 1917.

Four of their children are widely traveled. Michael and Linda and Curtis were all in the Orient during the Viet Nam War. Cheryl has taught in South America, Mexico and Europe. She is now teaching in California. Five of the children are married. Mrs. Aylesworth was a "Top-Ten" Homemaker at the Indiana State Fair in 1965, and she was the Indiana Extension Homemaker to India in 1968. The Aylesworths have traveled extensively, as she was a delegate to the Associated Women of the World Conferences in Oslo, Norway (1971) and Perth, Australia (1974). John is Manager of the Porter County Cooperative on Roosevelt Road in Valparaiso, Indiana. Five of their children are university graduates. One daughter is now attending I.U. at Bloomington, and another is enrolled at Purdue North Central.

Source: American Revolution Bicentennial Committee of Porter County. 1976. A Biographical History of Porter County, Indiana. Valparaiso, Indiana: American Revolution Bicentennial Committee of Porter County, Inc. 180 p.
Page(s) in Source: 76

This biography has been transcribed exactly as it was originally published in the source. Please note that we do not provide photocopies or digital scans of biographies appearing on this website.

Biography transcribed by Steven R. Shook


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