J. I. Ayer, book and music store, Mattoon; was born in Medford, Mass., Feb. 3, 1854. In 1866, the family moved to Elizabeth, N. J.; in addition to his common-school education, he enjoyed the advantages of a boarding-school at Nazareth, Penn.; this school was of a military character, and he here pursued a course in civil engineering; at the age of 15 years he entered the firm of Roberts & Co. (dealers in books and stationery), at Elizabeth, N. J., to take charge of his father’s interest, he being a member of the firm. In the fall of 1870, he came West to Illinois, and settled in Mattoon, and engaged in engineering on the Decatur, Mattoon & Sullivan and the Grayville & Mattoon Railroads; he was thus employed about three years; in 1874, he was employed as book-keeper in the Essex House, and remained till March, 1878; in November, 1877, he purchased his present business, and since March, 1878, has given it his personal supervision. He was married in August, 1876, to Mary L. Cleveland, a native of Melrose, Mass.; has one daughter-Mary L., born Aug. 20, 1878. Mr. Ayer is a relative of the world-renowned Dr. J. C. Ayer, of Lowell, Mass.