An American Family History

Temperance Bonham Ayers

It was common for bequests to include wearing apparel.

Temperance Bonham Ayers was born about 1710 at Maidenhead, Hunterdon County, (now Lawrence, Mercer County), New Jersey. She was the daughter of Hezekiah Bonham and his second wife.

According to Monnette, in 1728 or 1750 she married Zebulon Ayers (Ayars). Zebulon was born on August 4, 1708 in Woodbridge Township, Middlsex County, New Jersey. His parents were Joseph Ayers and Phoebe Camp.

At least one researcher, John Ayers, wrote

Zebulon's wife, Temperance is obviously not the same Temperance Bonham that is cited in Monette's First Settlers. [Monette is known for its many inaccuracies.] She is not the daughter of Hezekiah Bonham.  She was not born in 1710, nor did her marriage to Zebulon take place in 1828.   

Children of Hezekiah Bonham:
  • Mary Bonham
  • Samuel Bonham
  • Hannah Bonham Stout
  • Sarah Bonham Runyan
  • Hezekiah Bonham
  • Nehemiah Bonham
  • Zachariah Bonham
  • Zedekiah Bonham
  • Amariah Bonham
  • Temperance Bonham Ayres
  • Amaziah Bonham
  • Malachiah Bonham
  • Jeremiah Bonham
  • Ephriam Bonham
  • Josiah Bonham
  • Zephaniah Bonham
  • Uriah Bonham
  • Obadiah Bonham
  • Hunterdon County was originally part of Burlington County, West Jersey. It was set off from Burlington County on March 11, 1714. It included Amwell, Hopewell, and Maidenhead Townships.

    New Jersey's first permanent European settlement was in 1660.



    Lawrenceville, Mercer County, New Jersey was founded as Maidenhead in 1697, as part of Burlington County in the colony of West Jersey. In 1714, the village became a part of Hunterdon County.

    from The History of the Treman, Tremaine, Truman family in America, Volume 2
    Zebulon Ayers
    . (Joseph, Obadiah, John) 321305. He was born Aug. 4, 1708, at Woodbridge, N. J. He married, in 1750, Temperance Bonham, a direct descendant of Nicholas Bonham the founder of the village of Bonhamtown, which was the point where he located the 120 acres that were allotted to him previous to 1690 at the time of the settlement of Piscataway township. There is no record of his death.

    The History of the Treman, Tremaine, Truman Family in America ..., Volume 2 by Ebenezer Mack Treman

    Joseph Ayers. (Obadiah, John) 160550. He was born April 4, 1674, at Woodbridge, N. J. He married, Jan. 5, 1698, Phebe Camp. Residence, Woodbridge, N. J. Children:

    Phebe. Born March 5 (o. 3), 1699.
    Joseph. Born March 18, 1701.
    Jonathan. Born May 29, 1704. Died in 1777.
    David. Born Jan. 2, 1707. Died in 1743.
    Zebulon. Born Aug. 4, 1708.

    The American Flag was adopted in 1777.


    from First Settlers of ye Plantations Piscataway and Woodbridge by Orra Eugene Monnette
    Temperance Bonham, daughter of Hezekiah Bonham Senior, was born at Maidenhead, in 1710, and married 1728, Zebulon Ayres, born 8-4-1708, son of James and Phebe Ayers, James Ayers lived in Woodbridge.


    The Dutch were the first Europeans claim land in New Jersey. The region became a territory of England in 1664 when an English fleet sailed into New York Harbor and took control of Fort Amsterdam.

    John Ayres [1998, revised in 2005 and 2008]
    ... the succession of generations through Obadiah, Joseph, Zebulon and Zebulon, [Ayers] is enigmatic. Early 20th Century family records that show this sequence do[es] not stand up to close scrutiny. Specifically, the chronology for the births of the children of the first Zebulon and his wife, Temperance defy logic and as a consequence cast doubt about the relationship of the two Zebulons.

     Two apparently unrelated sources, the 1901-03 family record and Monnette's First Settlers [1930] substantiate both the birth date of the first Zebulon Ayers [August 4, 1708] and his marriage to Temperance Bonham. Monnette also cites the date of the marriage as 1728. Various records of different origin record the birth of eight children, but not beginning until 1755.

    I have found no reason to doubt the birth date of Zebulon. However, the 1871 family record gives 1811 as his year of death in which case he lived a very remarkable 103 years. A mostly obliterated inscription on a tombstone in the Metuchen Presbyterian churchyard marks the grave of a person, evidently a man who died in 1811. This could be the grave of Zebulon as it is located next to the plot of Elizabeth who according to family sources was the name of his last child. Even more remarkable though would be the 110 year longevity of Temperance [1710-1820].

    Yet it is the birth dates of the children of Zebulon and Temperance that make the succession of generations apocryphal. The birth and death dates of who were reckoned to be their first and last born can be substantiated. Ezekiel was born in 1755 and died in 1814. Elizabeth was born in 1765 and died in 1851. These statistics can be verified from sources including the inscriptions on their tombstones. The obvious explanation suggests that there is a missing generation for the children of Zebulon and Temperance and that Ezekiel was among the children of an unrecorded Zebulon born after 1728. 

    To the contrary though, a Dunham-Ayers bible record indicates that the parents of Simon Ayers were Ezekiel and Charlotte Cotheal Freeman and Simon's grandmother was Temperance Bonham. Land deeds also support this otherwise illogical lineage. In an 1804 deed, Ezekiel Ayers and his wife, Meribah conveyed to Zebulon Ayers, Jr. part of a farm formerly belonging to Zebulon Sr. In an 1806 deed, Zebulon Sr. and his wife, Temperance sold land, part of which had been conveyed to Zebulon by his father, Joseph in 1747. This deed is particulary significant as it proves the relationship of Joseph to this Zebulon still living in 1806. In a contiguous deed, Zebulon Ayers and his wife, Sally were also involved in the conveyance of land to Frederick Mundy who was also a party in land exchanges with both Zebulon Sr. and Jr. Do the deeds and the Dunham-Ayers bible record not appear to establish three generations succeeding Obadiah: Joseph, Zebulon Sr. and Temperance, and Zebulon Jr.? Yet, was Zebulon Jr. the same Zebulon that was married to Sally? There is no way of knowing. However, the Mundy connection suggests it was probably the same Zebulon.

    This takes us back to the enigmatic recording of Zebulon and Temperance's children beginning in 1755.  It is incongruous for twenty-seven years to pass following their marriage before Temperance gave birth to eight children, all after Temperance was forty-five years of age.

     To further confuse the matter, the birth date for the second Zebulon appears questionable as an altered family record indicates. The 1756 date fits into a normal succession of births following that of Ezekiel, but the 1775 date can be verified from two contemporary sources: a monument in the family burial plot in Mount Green Cemetery in Romulus, New York and a 19th century family record. Other evidence also supports the latter date. A 1793 enrollment of the citizens of Woodbridge Township included Ezekiel Ayers, age 37 and Zebulin [sic] Ayers, age 18, a fact that fits the birth years of 1755 and 1775. In either case though, it is ludicrous to consider that both of these births came from the marriage of Zebulon and Temperance in 1728.

    Although the lineage of the two Zebulons will probably never be fully understood, there is ample evidence showing they were indeed, father and son and that the Ayres [Ayers] ancestry continues through Obadiah, Joseph and John who is our family's immigrant ancestor.

    Following years of research and reflection, this conundrum may have a rather simple explanation. Zebulon's wife, Temperance is obviously not the same Temperance Bonham that is cited in Monette's First Settlers. [Monette is known for its many inaccuracies.]  She is not the daughter of Hezekiah Bonham.  She was not born in 1710, nor did her marriage to Zebulon take place in 1828.   

    I have a Family Record that appears to have been written about 1820 [with clarification of some illegible dates on a clearly written copy dated 10 October 1871].  Thet record shows the date of Temperance's death as 24 August 1820.  It records Zebulon's death as 24 May 1811.  It also records the death of two of their children: Mary in 1815 and Isabel in 1826.   It records the birth of the junior, Zebulon on 22 January 1775 and his death on 25 July 1828. The record evidences two Zebulons. 

    Apparently Ezekiel, born in 1755 was the first of Zebulon and Tempenance's children while Zebulon was probably the last.  The Family Record, the various land deeds that I had cited earlier and the Dunham-Ayers bible record confirm that there were two Zebulons and that the lineage of our family descends through Joseph and Phoebe Camp, Zebulon & a Temperance Bonham, and Zebulon and Sally Scudder. 

    It would appear that the wife of the first Zebulon was much younger than her husband.  


    Early European settlers in the American colonies were mostly farmers and craftsmen. They had to work hard to provide daily neccesities for themselves.