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 Christopher Avery

Christopher Avery, the immigrant ancestor and progenitor of the Avery family, was born in Ippleden, Devonshire, England about. 1590. He was a weaver by trade, and came to this country and located at Gloucester, Mass. where he was selectman in 1646, 1653 and 1654. At a court in Salem he took the freemans oath 6-29-1692 and was chosen clerk of the baird, constable and clerk of the market. His wife did not come to this country.


In 1658 he sold land in Gloucester and removed to Boston, where on the 16th of March, 1658-9 he purchased land a small lot, about twenty-six by forty-six feet. His plot was a part--or at least adjoined, the site of two notable resorts of later days. The Winthrop estate was not far away, and near by in after years, Benjamin Franklin was born. Christopher Avery did not long retain this property, for March. 22, 1663, he sold land to Ambrose Dew, for forty pounds. Christopher Avery now followed his son James to Connecticut. and on August 8, 1665 purchased a house, orchard and lot of Robert Burrow in New London. Here he claimed exemption from watching and training, on account of age, in June 1667, and was made freeman of the colony Feb, 1669. He died March. 12, 1679, by Minor diary in New London, New London County., Connecticut.


  1. Title: The Groton Avery Clan
    Author: Elroy McKendree Avery and Catharine Hichcock (Tildon) Avery
    Publication: Higginson Book Co., Salem, MA, 1912
    Page: 27

  2. Title: History of the Town of Stonington
    Author: Richard Anson Wheeler
    Publication: Press of the Day Publishing Company, New London, Connecticut, New London, CT, 1900
    Page: 199



James Avery

James Avery was born about 1620 in Exeter, Devonshire, England and came to America with his father in 1630 on the 'Arabella'. James was an early land owner at Gloucester as it is shown by extracts from the town book containing an account of 'Land laid out and to whom;' 9 mo. (16)45. 'Andrew Lister had 8 acres of upland upon Planter's Neck, running from Lobster Cove to the sea, the 24th lott next to James Averies.' 1 mo. (16)47, 'James Averie Given 6 acres of upland at the hed of Little River to be laide out.' 26. 3. (16)51. 'Also the said Richard Beefor bought of James Avery three acres of upland.' 15. 10. (16)53. James Avery had marsh at Chebacco. The following items are from the Salem quarterly court records and files. 1: 11: 1645. James Avery of Gloucester took the oath of freeman. 25: 10: 1649. James Averey grand juryman from Gloster. 24: 4: 1650. James Averey grand juryman.


In studying the record of these days, the careful student is strongly impressed with the fact that Capt. James Avery was a very remarkable man. Living as he did in stirring times, he was a leader among strong men, enjoying their confidence and respect because he deserved them. Especially it is to be noted that although the state took cognizance of affairs that we now call private and interfered in the details of family life and personal relations in a way that would not now be tolerated, he was never censured or 'presented' for any shortcoming or alleged dereliction of duty of propriety.


Eminent in all the relations of life, his descendants look upon him with pride and affection as one 'sans peur et sans reproche.' Capt. James Avery, the only child of Christopher Avery was born 1620. Came to America with his father and lived at Gloucester for several years and sold his possessions there in 1650 to his father and returned to New London. Capt. James acquired large tracts of land at what is now Poquanor (sp?) Bridge, Groton, east of New London. He married 1st, November 10, 1643 Johanna Greenslade born about 1622 and died 1693. He married 2nd Mrs. Abigail (Ingraham) Cheesebrough, widow of Joshua Holmes, July 4, 1698. He died April 18, 1700 in Groton, New London County., Connecticut. His widow was living as late as 1714.


  1. Title: The Groton Avery Clan
    Author: Elroy McKendree Avery and Catharine Hichcock (Tildon) Avery
    Publication: Higginson Book Co., Salem, MA, 1912
    Page: 42, 43

  2. Title: Genealogy of the Descendants of William Chesebrough of Boston, Rehoboth, Mass
    Author: Anna Chesebrough Wildey
    Publication: Press of T. A. Wright, 1903
    Page: 17

  3. Title: History of the Town of Stonington
    Author: Richard Anson Wheeler
    Publication: Press of the Day Publishing Company, New London, Connecticut, New London, CT, 1900
    Page: 199, 200


Samuel Avery

Samuel Avery was born August 14, 1664, at New London, Conn.; married October 25, 1686, at Swanzey, Mass., Susannah Palmes, dau. of William and Ann (Humphrey) Palmes. She was born about 1665, and was of royal lineage.  Like his three brothers, Samuel Avery was an extensive land owner. He bought the rights of his brothers, Thomas and John, in their grandfather's land on the General Neck, in 1685. In 1693, he received from his father, James' Avery, the homestead farm on which his father was then living. Uncas, the Indian chief, deeded to him several hundred acres of land, the consideration being an Indian woman, Betty, who was one of the captives taken by James' Avery in the King Philip war.


Samuel Avery spent most of his life on his farm in Groton and there his children were born. He calls himself husbandman and merchant. He early took a leading part in Groton affairs. In December, 1705, he and his brother James were members of a committee to make up the accounts with New London. Upon the legal organization of the town, December 1, 1705, he was made first townsman and moderator; he held that office until his death. He was one of the committee authorized in 1706 to sell two hundred acres of the town's land to pay its debts.


When the schoolmaster was engaged. May 28, 1706, to teach the children in the different houses until the school-house was built, he was to teach first in Mr. Samuel Avery's house. April 12, 1710, Samuel Avery was one of the commission to allot lands. March 20, 1715-16, he was a member of a committee to seat the meeting-house. He was town clerk from 1718 until his death, and justice of the peace from 1719 to 1722 inclusive.


In the division of the Nawayunk (Noank) lands, he received lot No. 35. He also took an important part in the affairs of state, being deputy to the general court from New London in 1693, and from Groton in 1709, 1716, 1718, and 1719. He possessed the same military spirit as his brothers, being commissioned ensign by the general court in May, 1705, lieutenant in May, 1710, and captain in May, 1716. May 15, 1717, he was witness to a deed given by his father to his brother James. Samuel Avery the youngest of four brothers, was the first of them to die, May 1, 1723.


He was buried in Ledyard, then the northern part of Groton. His widow, Susannah Avery, was in full communion ''at the ordination" of the First Church of Groton, Nov. 22, 1727. She died October 2, 1747, at Groton.

  • Note: VITAL RECORDS OF NEW LONDON, NEW LONDON CO., CONN. Samuel Avery ye sonne of James & Joanna Avery - was born ye 14th day of August 1664.

  • Susannah was the daughter of William Palmes and Ann Humphrey. She has royal lineage. Ann Humphrey's parents were Elizabeth Pelham and John Humphrey Esq. Elizabeth Pelham's parents were Lady Elizabeth West and Sir Herbert Pelham. Lady Elizabeth West's parents were Lady Anne Knollys and Sir Thomas West Kt, 2nd Lord de la Warr, MP. Lady Anne Knollys parents were Catherine Carey and Sir Francis Knollys. Catherine was the daughter of Mary Boleyn. 

    Marriage 1 Susannah PALMES b: 1665 in Swansea, Bristol Co., Massachusetts



    • Married: 25 OCT 1686 in Swansea, Bristol Co., Massachusetts

    1.  Samuel AVERY b: 11 AUG 1687 in Groton, New London Co., Connecticut

    2.  Grace AVERY b: 02 JUN 1712 in Groton, New London Co., Connecticut

    3.  Jonathan AVERY b: 18 JAN 1689 in Groton, New London Co., Connecticut

    4.  William AVERY b: 25 AUG 1692 in Groton, New London Co., Connecticut

    5.  Mary AVERY b: 10 JAN 1695 in Groton, New London Co., Connecticut

    6.  Christopher AVERY b: 10 FEB 1697 in Groton, New London Co., Connecticut

    7.  Humphrey AVERY b: 04 JUL 1699 in Groton, New London Co., Connecticut

    8.  Nathan AVERY b: 30 JAN 1702 in Groton, New London Co., Connecticut

    9.  Lucy AVERY b: 17 APR 1703 in Groton, New London Co., Connecticut

    10.  Waitstill AVERY b: 26 MAR 1708 in Groton, New London Co., Connectict                            

    11. Title: The Groton Avery ClanAuthor: Elroy McKendree Avery and Catharine Hichcock (Tildon) AveryPublication: Higginson Book Co., Salem, MA, 1912

    12. Title: History of the Town of StoningtonAuthor: Richard Anson WheelerPublication: Press of the Day Publishing Company, New London, Connecticut, New London, CT, 1900


Humphrey Avery

Humphrey Avery, a younger son of Capt. Samuel and Susannah (Palmes) Avery, was born July 4, 1699, in what is now Groton. From 1732 to 1/43, inclusive, he was one of the Deputies from Groton to the General Assembly. He was a skilled surveyor, and in 1733 was appointed by the General Assembly one of the Surveyors of Lands in and for New London County. From 1735 to 1751, inclusive, he was a Justice of the Peace in and for New London County. In 1737 he was one of the Commissioners for Connecticut appointed "to perambulate" the Connecticut-Rhode Island boundary-line. About 1744 or '45 Humphrey Avery removed with his family from Groton to the town of Preston, adjoining Norwich, in New London County, and in 1747 he was a Deputy from Preston to the General Assembly. In the "Colonial Records of Connecticut," IX : 537, we find in the proceedings of the General Assembly for May, 1750, the following: "Upon a memorial of Humphrey Avery of Preston, shewing to this Assembly the great difficulty and distress himself and family are brought to by his dwelling-house and household goods, cloaths, &c, being consumed by fire ; praying for relief from this Assembly. Resolvedhy this Assembly that the memorialist have out of the pubfick treasury of this Colony the sum of £2,100 in bills of credit of the old tenor on the Colony of Rhode Island or New Hampshire, for the space of two years, interest free—provided he give bond with good and sufficient sureties * * for the repayment of the like sum at the expiration of said two vears." Mr, Averyrepaid this loan in 1754.

In October, 1752, Capt. William Witter was appointed by the General Assembly Surveyor of Lands in and for New London County "instead of Mr. Humphrey Avery, who has moved away."

At Eastern, Pennsylvania, only a few days before the abovementioned drawing of lots took place, the "Court of General Quarter Sessions of the Peace and Gaol Delivery in and for the County of Northampton" convened, and action was taken with reference to the alleged riots at Wyoming—which was probably the most important business of the term. Amos Ogden, John Murphy, Charles Stewart, Alexander Patterson, John Dick and Thomas Craig were examined under oath by the Grand Jury, whereupon that body made a presentment to the Court, the formal document being drawn up by the Hon. Andrew Allen, Attorney General of Pennsylvania, and reading, in part, as follows*:

Humphrey Avery undoubtedly lived in Windham County, Connecticut, from 1758 till 1759. In the year last mentioned he located in the town of Norwich, New London County, and there he resided until within a few years of his death, when he moved back to Groton. From 1760 to 1773, inclusive, he was a Justice of the Peace in and for New London County. May 14, 1772, he wrote from Norwich to Capt. Zebu Ion Butler at Wilkes-Barre as follows: "Christopher, Samuel and William [Avery] intend soon to be with you, and mean to plant what they can. Remember me to Mr. Johnson, * » and be kind to Mr. Johnson." (This was the Rev. Jacob Johnson, formerly minister of the Groton Congregational Church, and then at Wilkes-Barre.) Humphrey Avery died at Groton March 28,1788. His wife was Jerusha Morgan, and they were the parents of ten sons who "were great travelers and land-owners. They all owned land—some in New Hampshire, some in Vermont, others in Pennsylvania and others in New York."

Humphrey married (1) Jerusha MORGAN, daughter of William MORGAN and Margaret AVERY, on 5 Feb 1724 in Groton, New London Co., Connecticut. Jerusha was born 14 Jul 1704 in Groton, New London Co., Connecticut. She died 20 Sep 1763 in Groton, New London Co., Connecticut.

They had the following children:

i      Humphrey AVERY was born 10 Mar 1725 and died before 29 Jan 1790.

ii     William AVERY was born 13 Sep 1726 and died 1800.


iii    Solomon AVERY was born 17 Jul 1728 in Groton, New London Co., Connecticut. He died Aug 1728 in Groton, New London Co., Connecticut.

iv   Solomon AVERY was born 17 Jun 1729 and died 23 Dec 1798.

v     Samuel AVERY was born 17 Oct 1731 and died 4 Aug 1806.

vi   James AVERY was born 13 Aug 1733 and died 22 Feb 1794.

vii   Jerusha AVERY was born 7 Jun 1735 and died 6 Mar 1810.

viii  Palmes AVERY was born 7 Jun 1737 in Groton, New London Co., Connecticut. He died after 1795.


THE GROTON AVERY CLAN, Vol. I, by Elroy McKendree Avery and Catherine Hitchcock (Tilden) Avery, Cleveland, 1912. Found in the DAR Library, Washington DC. Pages 157 & 158.

    Died after 1795, unmarried.


ix    Christopher AVERY was born 3 May 1739 in Groton, New London Co., Connecticut. He died 3 Jul 1778 in Westmoreland Co., Pennsylvania.


THE GROTON AVERY CLAN, Vol. I, by Elroy McKendree Avery and Catherine Hitchcock (Tilden) Avery, Cleveland, 1912. Found in the DAR Library, Washington DC. Pages 229 & 230.

    With his brothers, he was a grantee of Chiswick and of Lisbon, NY, in 1764; he was one of the propretors of the Susquehanna land company. His name is found on the list of "Yankee Prisoners" taken by the Pennsylvanias in 1774. He moved in the Wyoming Valley as early as 1769; was sent thence as a delegate to the Connecticut legislature in 1769; was sent thence as a delegate to theConnecticut ligislature in 1769 and 1774. He was in the government employment in 1775.


    On June 1, 1778, he was commissioned by Governor Turmbull as justice of the peace for the county of Westmoreland, Connecticut (Pennsylvania). He was an ensign in the Contenental army. June 30, 1778, a body of British troops and seven hundred Indians entered the Valley of the Wyoming, and demanded the surrender of Forty Fort, the principal fortification. After a desperate battle, the fort surrendered; some of the survivors were massacred and most of the others were forced to flee from the valley. Among the killed was Christopher Avery.

x      Waightstill AVERY was born 10 May 1741 and died 13 Mar 1831.     (Tillett)

xi     Isaac AVERY was born 27 Oct 1743 and died 24 Dec 1799.                  (Potter) 


xii    Nathan AVERY was born 20 Nov 1746 in Preston, New London Co., Connecticut. He died Jul 1749 in Preston, New London Co., Connecticut.

Humphrey also married (2) Martha C. COIT 1, daughter of Rev. Joseph COIT and Experience WHEELER, after 1763. Martha was born 1713 in Stonington, New London Co., Connecticut.

THE HISTORY OF STONINGTON, CONN., by Richard A. Wheeler, page 640.

    45. Martha C. COIT, b. 1713.


In Perpctuam Memoriam
Coi.onei. John Durkeb  

Founder and Namer of Wilkes-Barre\

Fama Semper Vivat.






Author Ok "A History Of Lodge No. 61, F. & A. M.", "the Harvey Book", 
"A History Of Irem Tbmplb", Etc. 

Illustrated With Many Portraits, Maps, Facsimiles, Original
Drawings And Contemporary Views

Pages:  661-665



Waightstill Avery

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Waightstill Avery (10 May 1741 in Groton, Connecticut – 13 March 1821 in Morganton, North Carolina) was an early American lawyer and soldier. He is noted for fighting a duel with future U.S. president Andrew Jackson in 1788.

Avery was descended from the Plantagenet Kings of England, as well as several Magna Charta Sureties and William Marshal (1st Earl of Pembroke) through his grandmother Susan / Susannah Palmes (c. 1665 - 2 October 1747, Groton CT). He was a descendant of Christopher Avery (born England, died 12 March 1670) who had come to America in 1630 aboard the Arbella as part of the Winthrop Fleet.

Avery married Leah Probart Francks (dIED 13 January 1832) on 3 October 1778 in New Bern, North Carolina.

A grandson, Isaac E. Avery, served as a colonel in the Confederate States Army during the American Civil War, perishing at the Battle of Gettysburg. Another grandson was William Waightstill Avery, speaker of the North Carolina Senate and a member of the Confederate Congress.

Avery was elected to the colonial assembly in 1772 and served as attorney-general for the Crown. In 1775 and 1776, Avery was elected to the North Carolina Provincial Congresses and in that capacity helped draft the first North Carolina Constitution. He was the first Attorney General of North Carolina (1777–1779) and a colonel in the state’s militia during the American Revolutionary War; he also served in the North Carolina General Assembly (the House of Commons in 1782, 1783, 1784, 1785, 1793, and the Senate in 1796). He was among the early instigators clamoring for the colony's independence from Great Britain.

According to the Dictionary of North Carolina Biography (ed. Powell, Vol I. p. 70) "In 1780, while occupying CharlotteCornwallis ordered the burning of Avery's office; of his books and papers, only those stored at the home of his friend Hezekiah Alexander were saved. This evidence of displeasure was visited only upon those whom Cornwallis considered leading offenders.”

In 1788, Avery was challenged to a duel by Andrew Jackson, then a young territorial lawyer. Avery, also a lawyer, would often proclaim "I refer to Bacon"—meaning The Elements of the Common Laws of England, the noted law text written by Francis Bacon—when making a point. Jackson once replaced a copy of the text with an actual side of bacon in Avery’s saddlebags. When Avery criticized him for levity in the courtroom, “Old Hickory” issued the duel challenge. The two men met on the field of honor, each intentionally missed the other while firing, and they left fast friends.

Avery County, North Carolina was named for him, as is the Waightstill Avery Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution in Brevard, North Carolina.

The Swan Ponds plantation home built by his son Isaac Thomas Avery in 1848, was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973.

  1. Jump up^ National Park Service (2010-07-09). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service.

Avery, Waightstill

by Isaac Thomas Avery, Jr., 1979

10 May 1741–13 Mar. 1821

Duel challenge written by Andrew Jackson and addressed to Col. Waightstill Avery on August 12, 1788. Item H.1998.153.1 from the North Carolina Museum of History. Used courtesy of the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources.Waightstill Avery, first attorney general of North Carolina, represented Burke County in the House of Commons for five years and in the senate for one.

The first Avery to settle in this country was Christopher Avery, who, with his young son James, came from England in the ship Arabella and landed at Boston in 1631. James Avery married Johanna Greenslade. The youngest of ten children of this marriage was Samuel (b. 14 Aug. 1664), who married Susanna Palmes, daughter of William Palmes of the Province of Munster, Ireland, on 27 Oct. 1686. Humphrey Avery, sixth child of Samuel and Susanna Palmes Avery, was born 4 July 1699, married Jerusha Morgan, and had twelve children. The tenth son was Waightstill Avery, born in Groton, Connecticutt.

Waightstill Avery and his younger brother, Isaac, were prepared for college by the Reverend Samuel Seabury. Waightstill Avery was graduated from Princeton, then called the College of New Jersey, in 1766; awarded first honors in his class, he delivered the Latin salutatory. He taught at the college for a year and then read law with Lyttleton Dennis, a prominent Maryland lawyer. Moving to North Carolina in 1769, he entered the colony at Edenton, where he had letters of introduction to such prominent people as James Iredell and Joseph Hewes. He was admitted to practice in the colonies on 4 Feb. 1769 and lived in Salisbury a year; he then moved to Charlotte, where he lived and boarded at the house of Hezekiah Alexander. During this period he renewed contacts with Ephraim Brevard, Adlai Osborne, and others from his Princeton years. While in Charlotte in 1772, he was elected a member of the provincial assembly and appointed attorney general for the Crown.


In May 1775 he was a member of the committee that passed the famous Mecklenburg Resolves and was among the signers of that document. In August he became a delegate to the provincial congress held at Hillsborough, which placed the state under a military organization. In September he was appointed one of the thirteen members of the provincial council, which had been given great powers by the provincial congress. On 10 May 1776 he resigned his commission as attorney general. He was a member of the congress that met at Halifax on 12 Nov. 1776 and served on the committee that drew up and reported the first North Carolina Constitution.

Governor David L. Swain said later that an examination of the records would indicate that more of the constitution of 1776 was in the handwriting of Waightstill Avery than was in that of any other member of the committee.

Swan Ponds, Morganton vic., Burke County, North Carolina, built in 1802. Image courtesy of Library of Congress.After the formation of the state government, Waightstill Avery was elected to the first General Assembly, which met at New Bern in 1777; by that body he was named the first attorney general of North Carolina.

He married, on 3 Oct. 1778 at New Bern, Mrs. Leah Probart Francks, daughter of Captain Yelverton Peyton Probart of Snow Hill, Md. Mrs. Francks had a large farm in Jones County, where they settled.

Avery was made one of the governor's council on 26 Oct. 1779, and in 1779 he resigned the office of attorney general to become colonel of the militia of Jones County in place of Nathan Bryan, who resigned. In this capacity he was engaged for more than two years.

In the meantime, he had purchased Swans Pond plantation in Burke County and sent his wife, two young daughters, and his slaves there; he joined his family there late in 1781, when it became apparent that independence had been won.

In 1780, while occupying CharlotteCornwallis ordered the burning of Avery's office; of his books and papers, only those stored in the house of his friend Hezekiah Alexander were saved. This evidence of displeasure was visited only upon those whom Cornwallis considered leading offenders.

Avery was elected by Burke County to the House of Commons in 1782, 1783, 1784, 1785, and 1793 and to the senate in 1796. In 1801 he was rendered helpless in his lower limbs by paralysis, but he continued to practice his profession from Raleigh to Jonesboro, Tenn., until a few years before his death in 1821.

Avery, an avowed Presbyterian of puritan extraction, accepted a challenge to a duel from Andrew Jackson, then a young lawyer at Jonesboro court, as a result of a courtroom incident. In a criminal case before the court, Avery had been severe in his comments on some of the legal positions taken by young Jackson. Family stories handed down for generations state that it was Avery's custom to refer to Bacon, the noted English jurist, and then to pull his copy of Bacon's reports from his saddlebags to bolster his opinions. Jackson, in playing a prank on him, substituted a side of bacon for Bacon's book and caused Avery much embarrassment. Avery took Jackson to task for such levity in the court, and Jackson, of a certainty, replied with a challenge to a duel. Avery accepted the challenge saying, "This evening after Court is adjourned," and they went on the field. Jackson fired first, with no effect, and Avery fired in the air; then Avery walked up to Jackson and delivered him a lecture. They left the grounds very good friends.

Avery was a gentlemen of the old school and until his death wore knee britches, powdered wigs, and full dress of the times of Washington. He was a man of great dignity and demeanor but was remarkably courteous in his language and manner, even toward young people.

Colonel Avery had three daughters and a son. His daughter Elizabeth married William Lenoir and settled at Lenoir City, Tenn. Louisa married Thomas Lenoir, another son of his old friend General William Lenoir, and settled first at Pigeon River in Haywood County and afterward at Fort Defiance, the old Lenoir homestead. The third daughter married first a Mr. Pore and then a Mr. Summey and lived on Mills River in Henderson County. Avery's son, Isaac Thomas, married Harriet Eloise Erwin.

Avery died at Morganton and was buried in a family graveyard near there.


Samuel A. Ashe, ed., Biographical History of North Carolina, vol. 7 (1908).

Elroy McKendree Avery and Catharine Hitchcock (Tilden) Avery, The Groton Avery Clan, vol. 1 (1912).

Additional Resources:

Public Library of Charlotte & Mecklenburg County, Signers' Biographies & Signatures:

Avery Family of North Carolina Papers, 1777-1890, 1906 (collection no. 033). The Southern Historical Collection. Louis Round Wilson Special Collections Library. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. (accessed February 8, 2013).

"Waightstill Avery." N.C. Highway Historical Marker N-28, N.C. Office of Archives & History. (accessed February 8, 2013).

The Avery Museum: #

Waightstill Avery in the North Carolina Digital Collections.



Avery, Isaac Thomas

by Isaac Thomas Avery, Jr., 1979

22 Sept. 1785–31 Dec. 1864


Isaac Thomas Avery, politician, planter, and banker, only son of Waightstill Avery and Leah Probart Avery, was born at Swan Ponds, Burke County. He had little formal education: he received an adequate education in the classics and some knowledge of science under Samuel Doak at Washington College near Jonesboro in Washington County, Tenn., but he left the college at the age of sixteen when his father, Waightstill Avery, became incapacitated. He returned home to shoulder the responsibilities for the family's prospering estate and slaves as well as to accompany his father as he continued the practice of law.

The young Avery showed an early interest in politics, representing Burke County in the legislature for the first time in 1809 at the age of twenty-four and returning to the lower house in 1810 and 1811. After that time he never again sought public office but continued to be a formidable figure in western North Carolina politics as an advisor to the governor, being three times appointed to the governor's council. In 1824 he was a presidential elector from North Carolina, at which time he initially supported Calhoun, who championed internal improvements. When Calhoun's star faded, however, he reluctantly supported Andrew Jackson over William H. Crawford. He was also a presidential elector for John Quincy Adams in 1828. In 1815 he married Harriet Eloise Erwin, daughter of William Willoughby and Matilda Sharpe Erwin, both members of prominent families. Mrs. Erwin was a daughter of William Sharpe, a Salisbury lawyer who served on the Holston River Treaty Commission with Waightstill Avery. Isaac Thomas and Harriet Erwin Avery had twelve sons and four daughters, six of whom died in infancy or childhood.

In 1829, Avery was appointed head of the Morganton branch of the North Carolina State Bank, a position he held for thirty years. At this time, gold mines at Brindletown in southern Burke County were producing profitably, and Avery was extremely optimistic about the future of this industry in western North Carolina. However, because of the lack of transportation, it was extremely difficult for any enterprise other than agriculture to prosper in Burke County. It was almost impossible to get the products out of the county.

Avery was a member of the board of internal improvements from 1821 to 1822 and was for many years president of the Catawba Navigation Company, which attempted to make this river navigable from its upper reaches to the South Carolina line. The project was unsuccessful, apparently because of inadequate capitalization, incompetent technical assistance, and the eventual development of the steam locomotive as a more efficient mode of transportation.

As the Avery family grew, the old brick house that Waightstill Avery had built became inadequate, and a new and larger house was erected in 1848. Isaac Avery of necessity administered large agricultural holdings, but he was considered a man of culture and learning and, like his father, primarily a classical scholar. He collected copies of the works of the Latin writers, as well as Shakespeare, and is reported to have read Latin easily even in his advanced years.

Four of his sons served in the Confederate army, three of them as colonels. Three were killed during the Civil War on the field of battle, and the fourth son died shortly afterward as a result of wounds received during the war.

Avery was buried in the family burial ground at Swan Ponds. A grandson said he seemed to give up his will to live when a servant returned with news of the death of his third son in battle.

About 1900

The Avery family of Swan Ponds, Burke County, NC

Waightstill Avery, who founded and built the Swan Ponds plantation, was born in 1741 in Groton, Connecticut. He was educated at Princeton University. In 1778, in New Bern, NC (on the east coast) he married a young wealthy widow, Leah Probart Franks. After a few years in eastern N.C., Waightstill and Leah moved to Burke County, N.C. in the foothills of the Appalachian mountains in western N.C. Swan Ponds plantation, just outside Morganton, was established. They had four children – Polly Mira Avery, Elizabeth Avery, Isaac Thomas Avery, and Selina Louise Avery. Leah and Waightstill lived at Swan Ponds until their respective deaths. Waightstill Avery died in 1821 and Leah died in 1832.


Their son, Isaac Thomas Avery (1785-1864), inherited the plantation and some portion of the enslaved population. In 1815 he married Harriet Eloise Erwin (1795-1858). The Erwins were a wealthy local family. They owned a plantation called Belvidere and, presumably, some of those enslaved by the Erwins went with Harriet to Swan Ponds. They had ten children (that survived into adulthood): William Waightstill Avery, Isaac Erwin Avery, Mary Martha Avery, Justina Harriet Avery, Alphonso Calhoun Avery, Laura Myra Avery, Willoughby Francis Avery. Three of their sons – William Waightstill Avery, Clark Moulton Avery, Isaac Erwin Avery – died in the Civil War.  f Their father died in 1864 after hearing of the deaths of William and Clark.

Swan Ponds, a historically significant antebellum home and 77-acre farm near the Catawba River, will remain perpetually undisturbed following a decision by the owners to legally protect the site with a historic preservation and conservation agreement.

Jimmy Furr and Mary Lou Avery Furr and their daughters, Lydia Furr Daniel and Kathryn Furr Patten own the site of the 1848 Greek Revival home.

They entered the agreement with Preservation North Carolina, protecting the Burke County landscape that has been in Mary Lou's family since shortly after the Revolutionary War.

"The Furr family members were willing to give up their development rights in order to see the land and house preserved," said Mike Stout, director of Preservation North Carolina's Northwest Regional Office.  Stout said the historic preservation and conservation agreement ensures that the architectural integrity of the house, outbuildings and historic cemetery will remain intact. It also protects the rural character of the land. "This property will not become another housing development but will continue to reflect the area's agrarian culture," Stout said. "A historic preservation and conservation agreement is a wonderful way to ensure the protection of historic and conservation resources for perpetuity."

The agreement limits future development of the property, and the loss of those development rights is considered a charitable gift that will provide significant federal and state income tax benefits to the family.  Mary Lou said the financial incentives will assist them in caring for the 5,000-square-foot home and farm buildings.  The fertile acreage along the river in Burke County was settled in the late 1700s by Waightstill Avery, a lawyer and a member of the North Carolina Provincial Congress who helped draft the first North Carolina Constitution. Avery also served as the state's first attorney general from 1777 to 1779 and fought in the Revolutionary War. His son, Isaac Avery, constructed the house he called Swan Ponds near Waightstill Avery's original home.  When the property belonged to Waightstill, there were 12,000 acres," Mary Lou said. The fact that the once-immense plantation had dwindled considerably as it passed down through the generations prompted Mary Lou to consider her options for keeping the remaining land and house intact.  "I studied this and began to see that if we kept chinking it apart, we would lose the site's integrity," she said. "So I started reading about easements and going to some workshops."  She also discussed the issue with her sons-in-law, Warren Daniel and Thomas Patten, and six grandchildren.  She said, "My husband and I wondered how everyone would feel. But after I explained what would happen if the land kept on being subdivided, they were supportive and enthusiastic."

The agreement was recorded on Dec. 21. Stout praised the Furrs' efforts to protect the family land and home, which he called "one of the most important antebellum plantation houses" in the area.  "This property is important for historic and conservation purposes," Stout said. "Not only will this easement ensure the protection of the historic house, one of the most important antebellum plantation houses of Burke County ... it will also ensure that the surrounding land is not developed, which will protect the view shed of the house. Also, since the land borders the Catawba River, it will help provide protection for the areas water supply."  Mary Lou grew up on the property, which her father, Warlick Avery, operated as a dairy farm for many years. The center-hall-plan, brick plantation house has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1973 and recently received Century Farm Designation.

Waightstill Avery was born in Groton, Conn., in 1741 and graduated from Princeton College in 1766.  He came to North Carolina to practice law, initially living in Salisbury before settling in Charlotte in 1769. Avery roomed with the patriot and blacksmith Hezekiah Alexander, engaged in protests against tax support for the Church of England and, in 1771, became a trustee of Liberty Hall (Queen's College).  Avery's law practice took him from Raleigh to Jonesboro, Tenn., which was then part of North Carolina.  In 1778, he accepted a dueling challenge from Andrew Jackson, who was reacting to Avery's criticism of Jackson's legal positions in a Jonesboro criminal case.  History records that each of the two combatants fired well above the other's head, and that the two men left the encounter as friends.

In 1777, Avery bought the tract of land known as Swan Ponds from "Hunting" John McDowell and a year later married a widow, Leah Probart Franks of New Bern. The family relocated to Swan Ponds after Tories burned his library and office in Charlotte in 1780

Avery County, founded in 1911, was named after Waightstill Avery.

Submitted by Renee Elder, director of communications for Preservation North Carolina.

GENERATION 7.               The Four CSA Avery Brothers

Avery, Alphonso Calhoun

by Isaac Thomas Avery, Jr., 1979

11 Sept. 1835–13 June 1913

Alphonso Calhoun Avery, Confederate officer and judge, was born at Swan Ponds in Burke County, the fifth son of Isaac Thomas and Harriet Erwin Avery. While his father was a wealthy man, he believed that his sons should know farming thoroughly and raised them to follow the plow for at least one season. Once this training was over, young Avery was prepared for college at the Bingham School in Oaks, Orange County, and then entered The University of North Carolina; he was graduated with the A.B. degree in 1857, excelling in Latin and mathematics and standing first in his class.

Avery spent the next two years in Yancey, now Mitchell, County, in charge of a grass and stock farm for his father. He began to study law under the well-known teacher Richmond Pearson, later chief justice, at Logtown and within a year, in June 1860, was licensed to practice in the county courts. He was preparing to stand for his examination for license to appear before the superior court when the war intervened. On 27 Feb. 1861, he married Susan Washington Morrison, daughter of the Reverend R. H. Morrison of Lincoln County and granddaughter of General Joseph Graham of Lincoln County. The Reverend Mr. Morrison was a Presbyterian minister and the first president of Davidson College.

Three months later, Avery was helping his brother Isaac Erwin raise a company in the Sixth Regiment, North Carolina troops, and was granted a commission as first lieutenant in the same regiment. As a lieutenant in Company F, commanded by his brother, Captain I. E. Avery, he saw action in the battles of First Manassas and Seven Pines. After the Battle of Seven Pines, Captain Avery was placed in command of the Sixth Regiment, and shortly thereafter, A. C. Avery was promoted to captain and became the commander of Company E, Sixth Regiment. With his keen mind and legal education, however, he was considered to be of more value at headquarters than in the field and consequently was transferred to the staff of his brother-in-law, Major General Daniel Harvey Hill, in December 1862. There he was promoted to major and served for some time as assistant inspector general of Hill's division in the Army of Northern Virginia. In 1864 he went with the ill-fated Hill to the Army of the West, where his brother-in-law served for a time as a corps commander. When General Hill returned to Richmond, after a disagreement with General Braxton Bragg, Major Avery remained in the West, serving on the staffs of generals John C. Breckenridge, Thomas C. Hindman, and John B. Hood; he was with Hood in the retreat from Dalton to the Chattahoochee River.

Because his three older brothers had already been killed in action and his father was dying, Major Avery was granted a leave of absence by General Hood in the summer of 1864; within a month or so he was transferred to the Department of North Carolina. In the fall of that year, at the suggestion of the adjutant general of Western North Carolina District, he was authorized to organize a battalion that was subsequently enlarged to a regiment and used for the protection of the northwestern frontier of North Carolina. For a few months, Avery's battalion served a useful purpose, but it was unable to cope with the large Federal force that was moved to East Tennessee in the spring of 1865. At this time, Major General George Stoneman, with a division of Federal cavalry, moved into western North Carolina on a mammoth raid, and Major Avery was captured while doing military business at the Confederate army headquarters in Salisbury. With other captured prisoners, he was marched back to Tennessee and confined at Camp Chase until August 1865, at which time he was paroled.

Avery returned to Swan Ponds to begin the practice of law in Morganton. However, he was in no way returning to the life he had left. Led since childhood to believe that he would assume a favored position in the community, he was profoundly disillusioned to learn that in the ferment following the war years, his economic status had abruptly changed. There developed for him and others like him a ceaseless struggle against the blight of poverty and the crush of debt. Families were as large as ever and as demanding as ever, but money was almost nonexistent and the people were in no position to pay for services. As soon as he returned home, he became actively engaged in politics and in 1866 was elected to the state senate from a district composed of BurkeCaldwell, and McDowell counties. During his tenure of office, he originated and secured the passage of an act implementing the extension of the Western North Carolina Railroad to Old Fort. With the passage of the Reconstruction Act by the U.S. Congress in 1867, however, the Conservative Democrats were swept out of office and the Republican party was formed and took over. Composed of blacks, die-hard Unionists, disaffected Confederates, carpetbaggers, and scalawags, it ruled the state in a tempestuous fashion until 1877, a period of almost ten years.

With this turn of events, Avery joined an underground resistance movement instituted by the Conservative politicians of the state. A leader in the organization of the Ku Klux Klan in western North Carolina, he rode with the vigilantes. The Klan was a powerful resistance movement against the Republican party, its principles, and its policies. Confederate soldiers and respected citizens manned its ranks. It functioned actively and effectively during the late sixties and early seventies and promptly disbanded when it was no longer needed. There was no resemblance between it and subsequent organizations of the same name.

Avery was elected a Conservative delegate to the North Carolina Constitutional Convention of 1875. This body revised the state constitution, which had been rewritten by the Republicans in 1868. In 1876 he was a Democratic presidential elector. In 1878, with the return of the Democrats to power, he was elected a judge of the superior court of North Carolina. The same year he professed his faith and became a member of the First Presbyterian Church at Morganton. On 2 Nov. 1879 he was ordained and installed as a ruling elder in this church, an office that he fulfilled in an exemplary manner for more than twenty-five years. In 1886 his wife died, and three years later he married Sara Love Thomas, daughter of Colonel W. H. Thomas, a prominent political figure in western North Carolina. In 1889, Trinity College conferred on him the M.A. degree, and in the same year, The University of North Carolina honored him with the LL.D. degree.

Avery rode the circuits as a superior court judge for ten years and in 1888 was elected an associate justice of the Supreme Court of North Carolina. He served on the supreme court for eight years and during this time filed more than five hundred opinions, in which he displayed an absorbing passion for the rights of man. In 1892, the year Trinity College was moved to Durham, he assumed the burden of its struggling law school as dean and teacher, serving in this capacity for more than a year.

After his retirement from the bench in 1897, Avery conducted a private law practice in the courts of western North Carolina and also taught a law class in Morganton. He was a member of the Southern Historical Society and a prolific writer, not only on legal matters, but also on historical and biographical subjects. His Life and Character of General D. H. Hill has been recognized as the best sketch of this famous Confederate officer. At the time of his death he had just completed a History of the Presbyterian Churches at Quaker Meadows and Morganton but never had the opportunity to proofread it.

Avery had eleven children, among them Isaac Erwin Avery, the local editor of the Charlotte Observer whose untimely death in 1904 shortened what might have been a brilliant career in writing. Other children of Avery and his first wife, Susan Washington Morrison, were Harriet Eloise, Morrison Robert, Susan Washington, Alphonso Calhoun, and Alfred Lee. Avery's children with his second wife, Sallie Love Thomas, were Lenoir, Gladys (Mrs. Charles Tillett, a special representative of the United States to the United Nations), and Edith.

Father of Gladys Love Avery Tillett
Etched in blood: The story of Col. Isaac Avery
Mortally wounded at Gettysburg on July 2, 1863, Col. Isaac Avery of the 6th North Carolina
scrawled these words in his own blood on a piece of paper before he died.

By Richard Clem

With trembling hands and blurred vision, the elderly, grief-stricken father read the heartrending dispatch:

                                           Morganton / 11 o’ clock / July 8, 1863
                                            My Dear Father: No letters or private
                                           telegrams arrived tonight, but news in
                                           the paper, announcing a victory for our
                                           army at Gettysburg contains very sad
                                           distressing news for our family. The
                                           papers state that Col. Avery of North
                                           Carolina was killed – it must be either
                                           Moulton or Isaac – one of your beloved
                                           sons has fallen I fear – William Avery

As fate would have it, three brothers, Col. Clarke Moulton Avery, Col. Isaac Erwin Avery and Lieut. Willoughby Francis Avery were struck down on the bloodstained field at Gettysburg. (2)  The one difference, Clarke Moulton and Willoughby would recover to fight again, but Isaac had fought his last battle and never would return to the Land of Cotton.

Richard Clem

Considering the date on the correspondence and time it took to reach North Carolina, the body of Col. Isaac Avery had been buried in a shallow grave overlooking the Potomac River at Williamsport, Md., about 40 miles south of Gettysburg. 

Isaac Erwin Avery was born Dec. 20, 1828, on the old Swan Ponds Plantation near Morganton in Burke County, N.C. Named after his father, he was the fourth child of 16 to Isaac Thomas Avery and Harriet Eloise Avery. Only 10 of the Avery’s children lived past childhood. Owning large tracts of land this influential, prestigious family of western North Carolina was extensively engaged in the fields of law, education and politics on local and state levels. 

After a year of study at the University of North Carolina, young Isaac was sent to manage another plantation owned by his father in Yancey County. With the coming of civil war and facing threat of an invasion from the North, Isaac put aside “planting the soil” and along with his younger brother, Alphonso, raised Company E, 6th North Carolina Infantry. Isaac was appointed captain of the newly formed regiment known locally as the Sixth North Carolina State Troops. 

In June 1862, as the War of Yankee Aggression pushed deeper into the South, Capt. Avery’s regiment was sent to defend Richmond. Here, during the Peninsula Campaign while driving the enemy from the steps of the Confederate capital, Capt. Isaac Avery shed his first patriotic blood at Gaine’s Mill, Seven Pines and Malvern Hill.  

Fighting with distinction at Antietam (Sept. 17, 1862), the 6th N.C. having suffered great losses in the ranks was earning the title, “The Bloody Sixth.” The recently promoted “Colonel” Avery, however, was recovering from wounds received in Virginia and escaped the “bloodiest single day of the Civil War.”  

The 6th N.C. Infantry was unique in being the only Confederate outfit to claim ownership of a “personalized” regimental belt buckle. These extremely rare waist belt plates contained the legend: 6th INF – N.C.S.T.” The raised letters represented: “Sixth Infantry – North Carolina State Troops.” Manufactured late 1861, in a small railway shop in Greensboro, the oval cast-brass plates were personally financed by the regiment’s first commander, Col. Charles F. Fisher. A Yankee bullet through the forehead at First Manassas put Col. Fisher in an early grave. 

In the battle at Chancellorsville (May 2, 1863) Gen. Robert F. Hoke leading a North Carolina brigade (6th N.C., 21st N.C., 57th N.C.) was struck down, leaving Col. Avery in command of the brigade. Although a decisive Confederate victory, this engagement cost the South perhaps its greatest single loss in the death of Gen. Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson.

Confident from the recent victory at Chancellorsville, Gen. Robert E. Lee decided once again to take the war into enemy territory. This campaign reached a sudden climax at a small crossroads village in Pennsylvania called Gettysburg. Fought between Gen. George G. Meade’s Army of the Potomac and Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia, the three days of bloody warfare (July 1-3, 1863) would be recorded on pages of history as the turning point in the War Between the States.

Coming from the direction of Harrisburg, Col. Avery’s Brigade (Ewell’s Corps – Early’s Division) missed the first day’s fighting at Gettysburg; however, as the sun set there were more than enough “Blue Coats” still standing.

Late afternoon July 2nd, Avery’s North Carolinians along with Gen. Harry Hays’ “Louisiana Tigers” on the right were ordered by Gen. Early to attack a massed Federal force on East Cemetery Hill. Defended by infantry and several artillery batteries, the Union held elevated heights were one of the most heavily fortified enemy positions on the field. 

The two brigades started their charge from a stream bed (Winebrenner’s Run) on the Henry Culp farm just southeast of Gettysburg. Climbing over rail fences and stone walls for almost a half-mile, the advancing forces topped a small rise that had been shielding them. Immediately, the Southerners were caught in a deadly artillery crossfire. A Federal gunner remembered the slaughter: “It was one solid crash, like a million trees falling at once.” 

In front of his troops mounted on a white horse, Col. Avery was hit by shrapnel or a musket ball at the base of the neck and knocked from the saddle. Appearing on the scene, Gen. John B. Gordon from Georgia would write years later: “Resting on his elbows, I could see the gallant young Avery in his bloody gray uniform among his brave North Carolinians.” Once the smoke settled over the field, the 6-foot-2 frame of the fallen Rebel officer was transported with care to the Culp farm. 


In the Culp’s beautiful two-story brick farmhouse, the mortally wounded Avery was made as comfortable as possible. (12)  All the skills of regimental surgeons Drs. William L. Reese and John G. Hardy proved to be in vain. Knowing the end was near, Isaac’s last thoughts were of his aging father home in Morganton. Paralyzed on the right side, he desperately tried to remove a piece of scrap paper from the pocket of his blood-soaked uniform. Becase Avery apparently was unable to speak, a comrade and close friend, Maj. Samuel McDowell Tate (6th N.C.) knelt by his side holding firm the coarse writing paper. The dying man slowly dipped a small stick or some unknown pointed object in his own life-giving substance and scribbled with his left hand: “Major, tell my father I died with my face to the enemy.” 

Shortly after scrawling the crimson-stained parchment the 35-year-old officer’s soul slipped into immortality. Col. A.C. Godwin (57th N.C.) took command of the brigade and later spoke of Avery with highest admiration: “In his death the country lost one of her truest and bravest sons, and the army one of its most gallant officers.”  A member of Company E, 6th N.C. wrote home to Burke County: “Col. Avery he was wounded one Evening and died the next night I am very Sory that he got killed for I liked him beter than any body I was under but he is gone now he was acting brigadier general.”  This private’s grammar and spelling may not be perfect, but his heart and loyalty can not be questioned.

Col. Isaac Avery died on July 3, the same day his older brother, Col.Clarke Moulton (33rd N.C.), fell also with “... his face to the enemy” during Longstreet’s assault against Cemetery Ridge – better known as “Pickett’s Charge.” Clarke Moulton survived, only to be killed the next year in the Battle of the Wilderness. Lieut. Willoughby F. Avery (43rd N.C.), Isaac’s youngest brother, was also wounded on the first day at Gettysburg. 

Like other Southern officers during the Civil War, Col. Avery employed the services of a plantation slave. The main job of these black servants was to prepare meals for their masters and tend to their horses. As in some case,s a bond formed between Isaac and his servant, “Elijah.” 

Three days of deadly combat disastrously failed to drive the Union army from its strong defensive position on Cemetery Ridge. Lee then turned his face south toward Williamsport on the Potomac, where his seemingly invincible army crossed just nine days before. Now with regret the General spoke in despair: “We must now return to Virginia.”   Early morning July 4, Independence Day 1863, under a steady rain, Elijah carefully loaded Avery’s body in a horse-drawn wagon determined to take “Marse Isaac” home to North Carolina. 

In advance of the Confederate exodus from Pennsylvania, slowly rolled a 17-mile-long mud-splattered wagon train filled with wounded, dying humanity.  One quartermaster wagon driven by a slave carried the lifeless form of what once was his master. Under command of Gen. John D. Imboden, the ambulance “train of misery” finally reached the small riverfront town of Williamsport where discovered the Potomac was at flood stage – too deep and treacherous for crossing. Rain plus intensive heat rapidly increased decomposition of the Confederate dead. A decaying corpse was not only offensive to human smell, but carried highly infectious diseases as cholera and typhoid fever. The undesirable situation of a pursuing victorious enemy and rebel bodies quickly deteriorating, Elijah reluctantly gave up the idea of returning the deceased colonel to Burke County. 

Sometime around July 7, the devoted slave buried Col. Avery’s earthly remains in the public Riverview Cemetery at Williamsport. In his “The Battle of Gettysburg,” W.C. Storrick mentions Avery was: “… buried under a pine tree in a small cemetery overlooking the Potomac River.” Today, local residents of Washington County are still being interred in the well-maintained Riverview Cemetery that contains graves dating to the Revolutionary War. 

In 1869, Governor of Maryland, Oden Bowie, (1869-1872) decided it was “… altogether fitting and proper” and overdue for a decent burial of the Confederate dead from battles of South Mountain, Antietam and Gettysburg now scattered in hastily-dug graves throughout Washington County. Bowie choose three men from Sharpsburg to physically search and compile a registry of all Confederate grave sites known to exist in the county and surrounding areas. The descriptive list would include the soldier’s name (if known) and a rough location of the grave. Three years later, approximately three acres of land at Rose Hill Cemetery in Hagerstown was purchased for re-interment of the “Rebel Bones.” The new site would be called the Washington Confederate Cemetery. The arduous task of exhuming and moving the Confederate remains to Hagerstown was completed by 1874. 

According to “Bowie’s List,” one Southern soldier re-interred at Washington Cemetery was recorded as originally: “Buried in the public graveyard at Williamsport.” Under ground for almost ten years the skeletal remains of this Rebel was exhumed and registered as: “Col. J.E. Ayer, 6th N.C.S.T., July 3, 1863.” Two mistakes are found in this entry. First, the letter “J” should be an “I” for Isaac. Second, “Ayer” should be spelled “Avery.” These two minor errors were common during the Civil War and are understandable when considering the marker at the grave site, more than likely made of wood, and after ten years would have been badly weather-beaten and barely legible .Remembering also, assuming Elijah crudly-carved the headboard, most slaves couldn’t read or write. Fortunately, in 1863, someone with foresight took time to place and inscribe a marker of some sort for Avery’s grave or otherwise Bowie’s workers would have had no idea it ever existed or who was buried there. 

At the head of Washington Cemetery a cast-bronze marker mounted on granite was erected in the late 1800s. This layout map contains 346 names of the “known” Rebel dead buried there arranged according to each soldier’s individual state.In the same sacred soil are 2,122 Southern soldiers listed simply – “unknown.”

One name found on the heavy plaque listed from North Carolina is: “Col. J.E. Ayer.” This would be Col. Isaac Erwin Avery. Military records prove there was “only one” colonel attached to the 6th North Carolina State Troops who, according to Bowie’s ledger,died on “July 3, 1863.” After studying all official documents and using the source of elimination, there can be no doubt -- the remains of the Confederate soldier resting in the North Carolina section of Washington Cemetery belong to Col. Avery. 

Three sons of Isaac Thomas Avery were killed during the Civil War while one died later from the results of injuries suffered during the conflict. Only Major Alphonso Avery survived the bloodshed to live to an old age. Over a period of time all bodies were brought home and buried in Morganton; however, as far as the family knew, Col. Avery was still beneath Yankee terrain somewhere in the North. 

Eventually, Elijah made it home to Swan Ponds Plantation with the Colonel’s sword and pocket watch. In sorrow with sympathy, the slave told the Averys he had buried Isaac on a bluff along the Potomac River at Williamsport -- whereever that may have been. Years passed as the elusive final resting place of the Colonel was mostly forgotten. On the last day of 1864, with the war still raging, Isaac Thomas Avery passed away. The sacrifice of three sons to the Southern cause was more than the broken heart of a 79-year-old grievous, caring father could endure. 

Around 1895, Alphonso Calhoun Avery, a North Carolina Supreme Court Judge, traveled to Williamsport with the object of locating the long-lost grave of Col. Avery. The Judge was the same younger brother of Isaac who helped organize Company E, 6th N.C. Regiment back in 1861. Judge Avery’s companion on the journey was Capt. J.A. McPherson of Fayetteville. The Captain had fought along side the Avery boys in Company E on various blood-contested fields. 


Thirty years after the war, any trace of Avery’s first (original) grave had vanished. At least 20 years before Alphonso’s visit to Washington County, Gov. Bowie’s laborers had removed the Colonel’s remains from Riverview Cemetery and would have also removed any crude marker indicating the grave ever existed. Of course, Judge Avery had no knowledge of "Bowie’s List" or heard of a Confederate cemetery in Hagerstown, several miles north of Williamsport.

Only the Almighty knows how long the two North Carolinians spent “unsuccessfully” searching Riverview Cemetery overlooking the beautiful Potomac. Following distinguished service on the State Supreme Court bench, Alphonso Avery led the law school at Trinity College in Durham, which eventually became Duke University. It may also be noted Alphonso was a brother-in-law to the immortal Stonewall Jackson. The judge was married to Susan Morrison while the Southern  general was married to her older sister, Mary Anna Morrison. Alphonso Avery died in 1913, leaving Col. Avery’s final bivouac a dark mystery to the prominent family. Isaac’s original Gettysburg message in blood is preserved and remains protected in a historical archives in Raleigh, N.C.. 

In October 1905, President Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt (1901-1909) delivered a speech in Raleigh at the unveiling of a statue of the Englishman, Sir Walter Raleigh, from which the state capital of North Carolina takes its name. According to the Atlanta Journal the President’s program contained words he struggled and choked to read from a slip of yellow-aged paper. And then with solemn reverence he gave the note to Lord James Bryce, Britain’s minister to the United States. Slowly studying the few words the minister then handed back the note and quietly confessed: “President Roosevelt, we have nothing to compare with this in the British Museum.”

The short message that left both men speechless that day in Raleigh had been etched in human blood. Written over 40 years earlier, it said all that could ever be asked or all that could ever be expected from a soldier -- North or South: “Major, tell my father I died with my face to the enemy.”

Avery, Willoughby Francis

by Isaac Thomas Avery, Jr., 1979

7 May 1843–24 Nov. 1876

Willoughby Francis Avery, journalist, was born at Swan Ponds, Burke County, the youngest of the sixteen children born of Isaac Thomas and Harriet Erwin Avery. He was the "Benjamin" of a large family. Fifteen years old at the time of his mother's death, he grew up a jolly, carefree boy and entered The University of North Carolina in the fall of 1860. At the university he stood first in a large class but left to volunteer in the Confederate Army.

Avery's first service was as a lieutenant in a company of cavalry raised in Burke County by Colonel T. G. Walton, which became Company F, Forty-third North Carolina or Third Cavalry. In 1862 he was transferred to the Thirty-third Regiment, which was commanded by his older brother, Colonel Clark Moulton Avery. He served as a second lieutenant in Company C, was later promoted to captain and transferred to Company I, and served in this capacity until the end of the war. He was wounded first at the Battle of Sharpsburg and again at Gettysburg; finally, in May 1864, in the Wilderness of Spotsylvania, he was so dangerously wounded that his life was saved only by a very skillful operation. When the war ended in 1865, he was twenty-two years old and had already endured more physical and emotional anguish than most men are called upon to tolerate in a lifetime. Plagued by crippling wounds of the flesh and of the spirit, he survived the war only eleven years.

On 7 Nov. 1866 he married Martha Caroline Jones; she died in less than two years, as did their infant daughter.

Avery chose journalism as a vocation and edited newspapers in Asheville and Charlotte before returning to his native county and establishing a newspaper at Morganton, which he called the Blue Ridge Blade. In February 1875 he married Laura Atkinson of Johnston County, a stepdaughter of W. S. Smith. They had one son, Willoughby Moulton Avery, who later married Emma Sharpe of Greensboro, a granddaughter of Judge Thomas Settle.

Willoughby Avery died when his son was only seven months old; he was buried in the churchyard of the First Presbyterian Church at Morganton, where he had been a member since 1 Aug. 1867. This grave has since been moved to the lawn at the new church site in Morganton.

Willoughby Avery was the publisher of a local newspaper called the Blue Ridge Blade. He was the son of Isaac Thomas and Harriet Erwin Avery. He attended university at the University of North Carolina, but left to join the Confederacy during the Civil War (Co. I, 33rd NC Infantry Regiment). He was wounded three times, but recovered and married Martha Caroline Jones in 1866. She died within two years of the marriage.
He next married Laura Atkinson, and they had one son, Willoughby Moulton Avery.

He married, first, on Nov 7,1866 at Morganton,NC, Martha Caroline "Mattie" Jones. She was born on Apr 18,1843, a daughter of Gen.William Jones and Sarah (Lenoir) Jones. She died in Jul 1868 near Swan Ponds,NC. 

He married, second, on Feb 4,1875 in Johnston Co,NC, Lora Atkinson. She was born there on Nov 3,1853, a daughter of Elijah Atkinson and Polly Ann (Peacock) Atkinson. Following Willoughby's death in 1876, Lora married Henry Pearce and resided at Selma,NC.

from Groton Avery Clan, p.622 . Contributed.

Avery, Clark Moulton

by Isaac Thomas Avery, Jr., 1979

3 Oct. 1819–18 June 1864

Clarke Moulton Avery, from the UNC General Alumni Association.Clark Moulton Avery, Confederate officer, was the second child of Isaac Thomas and Harriet Erwin Avery of Burke County. He was graduated from The University of North Carolina in 1839 with a B.A. degree. On 23 June 1841 he married Elizabeth Tilghman Walton, daughter of Thomas and Martha McEntire Walton.

The newly married couple seemed to be in no financial want, and in 1847 Avery acquired from his father-in-law 915 acres of farm land and a brick house several miles southwest of Morganton. This house, called Magnolia, still stands.

For twenty years, Avery occupied himself with the peaceful and pleasant, though not necessarily profitable, pursuits of a slaveholding planter; and although he took an active part in local politics, he did not seek public office. He was prevailed upon by his friends to run for the proposed state convention in an election on 28 Feb. 1861 and was elected a delegate by an overwhelming majority over one of the most popular Unionists in the county. The delegates did not meet, however, because a small majority of the electors of the state voted "no convention."

Avery reacted vigorously when the institution of slavery came under attack; he became a fiery secessionist and soon was willing to maintain the righteousness of his convictions by force if necessary. On 12 Apr. 1861, hostilities began at Charleston, and on 15 Apr. Lincoln issued his "Proclamation for Coercion," calling on all states to furnish troops to fight to preserve the Union. For North Carolina, this was the last straw, and on 17 Apr. Governor John W. Ellis issued his rejoinder, calling the General Assembly into special session on 1 May; on the same date, the companies of the First Regiment of the North Carolina troops volunteered and by 16 May were formed into a regiment at the state capitol by order of the adjutant general. They called themselves the First North Carolina Volunteers and signed up to serve six months. Company G, the Burke Rifles, was one of the ten companies of this regiment, and Captain Clark Moulton Avery was the company commander. Colonel Daniel Harvey Hill was regimental commander. The entire regiment reached Richmond by 21 May and after camping there for several days, on 24 May moved by rail and steamboat to Yorktown on the peninsula between the York and the James rivers. On 10 June, Colonel Hill's troops, with several Virginia companies, were attacked by a Union force of about 4,400 men at Big Bethel Church. In this small battle the Federal forces were defeated and driven from the field within a few hours. Wrote D. H. Hill in his official report: "Captain Avery Company G displayed great coolness, judgment and efficiency in the battle of Bethel." After that time this regiment was known as "The Bethel Regiment." While the regiment was still at Yorktown, an order received from the adjutant general of North Carolina changed its designation from the First to the Nineteenth Regiment; the officers held a Officers of the 33rd Regiment. Image courtesy of the NC Museum of History.meeting and adopted resolutions opposing the change in a most vehement manner. On 12 Nov. 1861, the regiment was mustered out of service in Richmond; it returned to North Carolina the following day and disbanded. Appointed lieutenant colonel of the Thirty-third Regiment of North Carolina troops, which was in the process of organizing and training at the old fairground in Raleigh (later at Camp Mangum), Avery was promoted to colonel as of 17 Jan. 1862.

He instituted a rigorous training program for his regiment, and their later brilliant record is evidence of the value of such training.

In an action near New Bern, Avery was captured when the Thirty-third and Twenty-sixth North Carolina regiments, after making a valiant stand, were surrounded and overrun by the enemy. He was transported to Old Fort Columbus on Governor's Island, N.Y., and moved to Johnson's Island, Ohio, during the summer of 1862. Here, although the housing conditions were very crowded, the prisoners were furnished sufficient food to keep them from starving. After seven months' imprisonment, Avery was released by exchange. His health had been undermined by the imprisonment, but he would take only a short leave from his troops before returning; he returned to active duty in the late fall of 1862. In December, his regiment played a vital role at the Battle of Fredricksburg in closing the gap between the troops of generals James H. Lane and James J. Archer. Avery received his first disabling wound of the war at the Battle of the Orange Plank Road in May 1863. Soon returning to his troops, he was again wounded at Gettysburg.

After a short time with his family, Avery was again leading his forces at the Battle of the Wilderness, where they were under attack by Grant's troops. He was struck in the right thigh by a bullet and later, while lying on a litter, was again hit in the body and neck, and his left arm was shattered by a minié ball. His left arm was amputated, and he was moved to the Orange County Courthouse, where he was nursed by the women of the community; six weeks later he died from an infection in the leg wound.

A daughter, Laura Pairo, was born to Colonel and Mrs. Avery on 27 May 1864, shortly after he was fatally wounded; she was named for the woman who nursed Avery until his death. He was first buried in Virginia, but his wife, a short while later, took a servant and rode on horseback to Virginia to return his body to Morganton for permanent burial. They both lie now in the church yard of the First Presbyterian Church, Morganton.

Avery was survived by four children: Martha Matilda, who married George Phifer; Harriet Eloise, who married the Reverend James Colton; Isaac Thomas; and Laura Pairo, who married the Reverend John A. Gilmer.


Samuel A. Ashe, ed., Biographical History of North Carolina, vol. 7 (1908).

Isaac Thomas Avery, personal recollections.

Elroy McKendree Avery and Catharine Hitchcock (Tilden) Avery, The Groton Avery Clan, vol. 1 (1912).

Edward W. Phifer, "Saga of a Burke County Family," North Carolina Historical Review 39 (1962).

John H. Wheeler, Historical Sketches of North Carolina (1851).

Additional Resources:

Documenting the American South, UNC Libraries:,%20Clark%20Moulton

Avery Family of North Carolina Papers, 1777-1890, 1906 (collection no. 033). The Southern Historical Collection. Louis Round Wilson Special Collections Library. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. (accessed February 8, 2013).

The Avery Museum: #

Ashe, Samuel A. (Samuel A'Court). Biographical history of North Carolina from colonial times to the present. Greensboro, N.C. : C. L. Van Noppen. 1905. (accessed February 8, 2013).

Search results for Clark Mounton Avery in the North Carolina Digital Collections.

Clark Moulton Avery
Small Heading

Isaac AVERY 1 (Humphrey , Samuel , James , Christopher ) was born 27 October 1743 in Groton, New London County, Connecticut. He died 24 December 1799 in Norfolk, Virginia and was buried in the old church at Norfolk, Virginia.

THE GROTON AVERY CLAN, Vol. I, by Elroy McKendree Avery and Catherine Hitchcock (Tilden) Avery, Cleveland, 1912. Found in the DAR Library, Washington DC. Page 235.
    He wqas one of the grantees of Newport, NH, October. 6, 1761, and of Chiswick, New Hampshire, November. 17, 1764. He went to England, after having studied under the Rev. Samuel Seabury of Groton, and became an Episcopal minister. He was ordained deacon and priest by Richard Yerrick, bishop of London, England, Oct. 18, 1769.

    A descendant, Miss Lola Walton, has his letters of ordination in her possession. They are written on parchment, with great seals of the bishop of London attached and crowned with the mitre and other insignia of the office. He was sent from England to the ministry in Virginia, November 9, 1769 (Gerald Fothergill's List of Emigrant Ministers to America.)

   He became rector of Bethel church, Warwick County. He was a patriot of the Revolution, being chosen one of the committee of safety for Northampton, December 13, 1774. This committee had many duties, one being "to observe the conduct of all persons to and end that all such foes to the Rights of British America may be publickly known and universally condemned as the enemies of American liberty." (William and Mary Quarterly, 5:246).

    He was also a member of the county committee on July 29, 1775. At this time, the committee sent a petition to the delegates assembled atRichmond asking that the law permitting them to export their grain till September 10th be not changed to August 5th as was contemplated. Such a change would work untold hardships.

    Isaac Avery, in a letter to Governor Thomas Jefferson, resigned his commission as county lieutenant of Northampton, March 16, 1781 (Calendar of Virginia State Papers, 1:574). We have not been able to ascertain when he was appointed to this high position. Hening's Statutes of Virginia shows that, in 1634, Virginia was divided into eight shires to be governed as shires in England.

    Isaac Avery represented Northampton County in the legislature in 1787, receiving all but seventy-six votes (William and Mary Quarterly, 6:12).

    His remains were buried in the old church at Norfolk, Virginia. After his death, his children were taken to North Carolina and brought up in the family of his brother Waightstill Avery.

DAR PATRIOT INDEX CENTENNIAL EDITION, PART I, A-F, National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution Centennial Administration, Mrs. Eldred Martin Yochim, President General, Washington: 1990, page 99.
    AVERY, Isaac: b. 10-27-1743 CT, d. 12-24-1799 VA m. Margaret Stringer PS VA.


Isaac married Margaret STRINGER in Accomac County, Virginia.

They had the following children:


i      Isaac AVERY was born 1787 in Warren Co., Virginia.

ii     Margaret Stringer AVERY was born 19 Mar 1789.

iii   James AVERY was born 25 Oct 1791 and died 6 Mar 1872.

iv    Elizabeth AVERY was born 1793 and died 9 Dec 1849.


v     Samuel AVERY was born about 1794. He died before 30 Jul 1794 in infancy.

James AVERY (Isaac , Humphrey , Samuel , James , Christopher ) was born 25 October 1791 in Warren County, Virginia. He died 6 March 1872 in Burke County., North Carolina.

THE GROTON AVERY CLAN, Vol. I, by Elroy McKendree Avery and Catherine Hitchcock (Tilden) Avery, Cleveland, 1912. Found in the DAR Library, Washington DC, page 369.


James married Elizabeth BROWN, daughter of Daniel BROWN and Hannah HOLLINGSWORTH, on 6 March 1823 in Burke County, North Carolina. Elizabeth was born 2 October 1799 in McDowell County, North Carolina. She died 1877 in Burke Co., North Carolina.

They had the following children:


i      Margaret Ann AVERY was born 10 December 1823 in Burke County, North Carolina.


ii     Isaac Theodore AVERY was born 10 July 1825 in Burke County, North Carolina.


iii   Hannah Elvira AVERY was born 22 February1827 in Burke County, North Carolina.


iv   William Brown AVERY was born 25 November 1828 in Burke County, North Carolina.


​v    Mary Matilda AVERY was born 21 January 1832 in Burke Coounty, North Carolina.


vi   Harriet Martha AVERY was born 31 May 1834 in Burke County, North Carolina.


vii   Eliza Murphy AVERY was born 22 May 1836 in Burke County, North Carolina.


viii  Laura Jane AVERY was born 30 September 1838 in Burke County, North Carolina.


ix   Henry Harrison AVERY was born 15 July 1840 in Burke County, North Carolina. He died 6 August 1861 in Yorktown, Virginia, unmarried.

James Avery


Birth: Oct. 26, 1791
Warren County
Virginia, USA

Death: Mar. 4, 1872
Burke County
North Carolina, USA

Son of Isaac Avery and Margaret

(Stringer) Avery.

He married Elizabeth Brown

on Mar6,1823 at Burke Co,NC 
Family links: 
  Elizabeth Hollingsworth Brown Avery (1799 - 1877)
  Margaret Ann Avery Gibbs (1823 - 1887)*
  Isaac Theodore Avery (1825 - 1898)*
  Hannah Elmira Avery Finger (1827 - 1905)*
  William Brown Avery (1828 - 1900)*
  Mary Matilda Avery Perkins (1832 - 1922)*
  Eliza Murphy Avery Franks (1836 - 1917)*
  Laura Jane Avery Carter (1838 - 1929)*
  Henry Harrison Avery (1840 - 1861)*
*Calculated relationship


Avery Family Cemetery #2 
Burke County
North Carolina, USA


Canoe Hill home place
Eliza Murphy AVERY 
Eliza Murphy Avery (James, Isaac, Humphrey, Samuel, James, Christopher) was born May 22, 1836 in Burke County, North Carolina: Married December 9, 1856 in Burke County to the Reverend Robert Potter Franks, Son of Joshua and Prudence (Potter) Franks.  He was born September 19, 1818 in Laurens District, South Carolina.  He served on many important circuits and stations of the Methodist Episcopal Church; was presiding elder twelve years; member of the board of trustees of Columbia College, Columbia, South Carolina for many years.  He died on January 23, 1895 at Lowndesville, South Carolina.
     Children of Robert Potter and Eliza Murphy (Avery) Franks:
i      James Brown Avery, Born on October 22, 1857 at Anderson Court House, Anderson County, South Carolina.  He married Ettie Mahala Baker.  Residence was 112 N.Broad street, Philadelphia, Pennsyvania
ii     Mary Jane Franks, born on February 3, 1861 At Sumter, South Carolina.  She married John F. Perkins. 
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