Ben Ayers was born into slavery in North Carolina in 1832. It is not known when or under what circumstances that Ben Ayers came to Attala County, however, it is known that he was owned by Lansford Ayers. The 1850 Slave Schedule for Attala County reflects that Lankford Ayers owned ten slaves, five males and five females.
Lansford Ayers was born in Lynchburg Virginia in 1815. It is likely that Lansford arrived in Attala in the mid 1840's. It is not clear if Ben's parents migrated to Attala County with Lansford or if they were acquired after his arrival to Mississippi. In any event, shortly after Lansford's arrival, Lansford married Elizabeth "Bettie" Long Andrews, the widow of Joseph Andrews who died on 4 September 1842. Elizabeth had a daughter, Joseph Ann Andrews that was about one year of age when Joseph died.
The 1850 Federal census for Attala County reflects that Lansford Ayers and his family lived on a farm in Township 16, Range 6 East. Household #637 begins on page 135A and was enumerated on 1 October 1850. In this census, Lansford's name was misspelled as Lankford. Joseph A. was indicated to be a male of 9 years of age. Subsequent censuses will reveal that Joseph Ann Andrews was a female and was Lansford Ayers step-daughter.
1850 Federal Census - Attala County
||Place of Birth
|Elizabeth||32||F|| ||North Carolina|
|Joseph A.||9||M|| ||Mississippi|
|James D.||8/12||M|| ||Mississippi
Ten years later when the 1860 Federal census for Attala County was taken, the Ayers family was living in Township 15, Range 5 East in the area that would become known as Hesterville. Lansford valued the farm at $460 and reported his occupation as a machinist and farmer with a personal estate valued at $14,700. Household #1103, Family #1217 (pg 434) was enumerated on 9 September, 1860.
1860 Federal Census - Attala County
||Place of Birth
|Joseph A. Andrews||18||F||Teacher||Mississippi|
|Elizabeth||44||F|| ||North Carolina|
Jamesa D. Ayers, Lansford and Elizabeth's first born daughter was reported, mistakenly, as a male in the 1850 census. Jamesa died 17 September 1858 at 8 years of age. She is buried at Andrews Cemetery where Elizabeth's first husband, Joseph is buried. A son, Henry Andrews who died 10 September 1845, at age 7, is also buried in this family plot.