Our Family Legacy
My father John Averett was born in Pittsylvania County, Virginia, April 29, 1780. Father had one or two sisters whose names I haven't got. There was one brother, Elijah Averett, older than my father was. Sometime after the Revolutionary War, my grandfather died either in Virginia or in some of the Southern States, the date and facts in the case I never knew. At least my grandmother and her children moved south to Georgia, and north to South Carolina. While my father was yet a boy his mother bound him out to learn the "hatter" trade. Being something he did not like he served out his time and never worked one day at the business. He turned his attention to shoe and boot making and wagon making. He always had a farm and taught all of his boys to farm. Some of his sons learned trades. Elisha, Elijah and John learned to lay stone. George Washington Gill Averett learned wheelwright and gunsmith.
By some means or other John's older brother, Elijah Averett, came into possession of my fathers part of the Averett estate, either by being administrator or because he was then eldest. It all came to the amount of fifteen hundred dollars about the year 1800 or thereabouts. Elijah Averett moved to Missouri and either was married, or married in Missouri in Cape Girardeau County. Soon after he had his house burned, and lost all the papers to show anything about the affair of the estate of the Averett family. He lost almost all that he was worth. So Elijah and my father, John, lost their interests in the Averett estate which was considerable. Elijah had only one child whose name was William Averett. Soon after the burning out of his home, Elijah, was out with his gun hunting squirrels in warm weather. In stepping back to get a chance to shoot, he came near enough to a rattlesnake that the snake bit him on the heel. He had to be carried to his house and only lived one-half hour.
Elijah's son, William Averett when last heard of was living on the Missouri River, I think in Jackson County. He had a wife and two or three children. He owned a ferry on the river and was attending the same about, or soon after, the Latter-day Saints were driven from Jackson County, Missouri. By some means, unknown, someone bored holes in his boat, and as they were crossing the river near the middle of the stream, they discovered the boat was sinking. They had to swim or drown. Only one passenger whose name was Owens, who had a horse on board that, saved him. All the rest on board were drowned. William Averett swam to shore, looked back and saw one of his hired men in the act of drowning. He turned back to help him and they both drowned. At last account in April 1859, his wife and children still lived near the river. Nothing has been heard from them since, up to this time, December 22, 1959. (Space was left here to write further account of this family, but nothing was learned).
John Averett Sr., born April 29, 1790, in Pittsylvania County, Virginia, the father of the writer George Washington Gill Averett, moved to Georgia and North and South Carolina, while yet in his boyhood. There he lived until he grew to manhood. There he married some woman whose name is unknown to the writer, but soon after the birth of a boy child, name not known, his wife proved to be untrue to him. They separated and ceased to live together forever after. From one of the above states mentioned, he emigrated to Kentucky in the early settlement of the same, and settled in Barren County, where he became acquainted with Jennett Gill, the daughter of George and Jennette Hamilton Gill, who was born December 5, 1786, Barren County, Kentucky.
They were lawfully married in Barren County, Kentucky, May 1, 1806, and had born to them one child, a girl Mary Averett, on February 28, 1807. Soon after the birth of their first child, my father went with a surveying party authorized by the government to survey the wilds of Tennessee, in the region of Cumberland and Duck Rivers. After assisting in surveying for some time, he became satisfied with the country and desired to move to the same. Once returning to Kentucky, he and my grandfather, George Gill, and his family all immigrated to the state of Tennessee. Father settled in Maury County and grandfather, George Gill settled in Giles County or Hickman. My father, John Averett and his wife lived here from about the year 1809, to about the year of 1830. They had born to them during that time the following:
Jennett Averett on Feb. 20, 1809
Soon after the birth of this last child, father in company with some of his neighbors, went to the State of Illinois, to see the country, and bought him a place in White County, Ill. He returned and sold his farm to John Commel and in 1830, immigrated to White County, Illinois. One daughter, Jennett, and husband Samuel Alexander Kelsey accompanied them. They only stayed here a few months, and then he traded his place for one in Hamilton County. It was 9 miles south of the McLeansboro in the settlement known as Mayberry Settlement. It was on the North Fork of the Saline River. They were comfortably situated, owning 80 acres of land, 40 of the same under cultivation, pretty well improved. (On 23 Mar 1829, John, through a federal land sale, bought an 80-acre farm in the adjoining Hamilton Co. for $1.25 and acre. It was located in the Crook/Lasater Township 6S, E2NW of Sec. 10, Range 7E. Researcher: Georgenia Stewart)
He seemed pretty well satisfied to remain here till about 1835. In the spring we were visited by some Latter-Day Saint Elders, Elisha Groves and Isaac Higbee, who preached the principles of life and salvation. My father, mother, Jennett and husband Samuel Alexander P. Kelsey, Eliza, Elijah and his wife Cherrizade Grimes, Pyrenia, and Elisha all embraced the Latter-Day work. Soon the Kelseys, Eliza, Elijah, Elisha went to Caldwell County, Missouri to gather with the Saints, and settled 2 miles from Far West.
In 1837 father sold out his place. That spring Father, Mother, Pyrenia, John Jr., Alexander Murray and myself, (George Washington Gill) all went to Caldwell Co., Missouri. We got there in time to help my brothers considerable with their crops and gardens. We settled two miles from Far West on Shoal Creek and cleared, planted and plowed and sowed to turnips some rich brush land. We did some fencing, cut some house logs, cut and hauled a quantity of prairie hay and stacked it on some ground near where father intended to build his house. Father made all preparations to improve the ground and move on to it as soon as time was available and to enter his claim at the Land Office, the land being rich and fertile.
At this time the enemies of the Latter-day Saints began to persecute them afresh (1837). In the fall they became greatly enraged against us and the country around about. We seemed to be full of mobs, murdering and driving our people from Dewitt, Adam-on-di-ahman, Daviess County and other places where any of the Saints had settled. The mobs were murdering, stealing, burning and plundering. Then the Governor of the State, Lilburn Boggs, ordered several thousand of the State Militia to go against the Saints. On Oct 27, 1838, the saints were ordered to leave the State or exterminated. While the Saints were in all this trouble with the neighboring bloodthirsty and unprincipled mobs, General Clark in command of several thousand marched into Far West on Oct 31, 1938. He was held at bay for days until Joseph Smith agreement was obtained through a flag of truce. Clark made an agreement to not harm the Saints, a promise the mob paid no respect to. As soon as they got the Saints to lay down there arms they went to pillaging and plundering all over the country. Myself and my younger brothers, boys of 8 and 10, (our father and older brothers were out helping protect the Saints) were the only help left for our mother and sister. We were obliged to witness many of their outrageous acts, sometimes cutting fences and marching through our fields of corn, stealing and destroying all they could, and making threats of violence toward us, leaving our fences down to the mercy of stock and other like themselves.
When General Clark marched into Far West and obtained possession of the arms of the Saints, he took many of our leaders prisoners. In Nov 1838, the Prophet Joseph Smith, Parley P. Pratt, E. Snow and many others suffered many months in jail in Richmond on false charges. They were shifted from county to county and treated outrageously. Gloom spread all over the country but the Saints who were living their religion rejoiced even under the oppression.
The winter of 1838, my father and family with the rest of the Saints were preparing and moving into the State of Illinois. My father and others crossed the Mississippi River, at Hannibal, going 2 � miles from Payson, in Adams County. My father and Samuel A.P. Kelsey rented 40 acres of new Prairie land. They agreed to break up the land for the crops they might raise. They stayed there one year, then moved south to Pike County, Illinois, 12 miles South of the county seat. In 1840, he bought out 40 acres of timberland from Abraham Zumwalt. It was near Fairfield, later called Pleasant Hill, being what was then called the "Hubbard and Turnbeaugh settlement." They lived here 5 or 6 years, then bought 50 acres of unimproved land six miles north of Pleasant Hill. Father, being in very poor health, labored very hard in clearing the timber from the land for one so old as he was. On April 19, 1847, he had a hard day�s work piling logs and brush and burning them. Near sundown he took sick with an old chronic disease, the cramp colic. He died in a short time that same evening without having time to send for myself or anyone else that was any distance away. I was only 2 or 3 miles away. Going home that night, I was uneasy and not knowing why. I was met at the gate and told of my father's death. This being the most unexpected shock I had met with in my life.
Time passed along dreary and lonesome for several years. After father�s death, mother lived with her daughter Pyrenia Harper and her husband until 1853. After the death of Pyrenia, Mr. Harper acted so unkind to my mother that she and I (George Washington Gill) became dissatisfied with our treatment and we moved into a home I provided for her.
I took myself a wife, and mother lived with us. We lived near Burrville one summer, then moved to Pleasant Hill. On November 20, 1855 Mother died of consumption in Pleasant Hill, Pike County, Illinois. She was buried in the graveyard known as the McMullin or John Sapp plot. The following of my family are burried there: my father (John); my mother(Jennett); my sister( Pyrenia Averett Harper); and an infant daughter of John Averett and Rebecca Haband Averett; a son(George Averett Porter) of my sister, Mary Averett Porter; and a son (Erastus Elisha Averett) of George Washington Gill Averett. He also mentions his brother John's son-in-law.
BIOGRAPHY: LIVED: In the book (976.859 P2gj) Maury Co., Tennesse Wills & Settlements, 1807-1824, page 337 it states: Sale of land of David Copeland, deceased, Purchasers: John Averett, Robert Gill, John Gill, & Thomas Gill. I assume the Gills are relatives of his wife Jennett Hamilton Gill. Researcher: Georgenia Stewart.
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