By Muriel Bristol | September 5, 2021
Joseph Howard Avery was born in Acton, ME, June 29, 1844, son of John and Mary (Nealey) Avery.
JOSEPH H. AVERY, an enterprising business man of Milton, and an ex-member of the New Hampshire legislature, was born in Acton, Me., June 29, 1844, son of John and Mary (Nealey) Avery. The Avery family were early settlers in Parsonsfield, Me., and Joseph H. Avery’s great-grandfather was the first to break a road through the woods to that town from Rochester, N.H. John Avery has spent the greater part of his life in Acton, and has followed the carpenter’s trade in connection with farming. He is now  eighty-six years old, and is still active both mentally and physically. He wedded Mary Nealey, a native of Sandwich, N.H., who has borne him eight children. Of these five are living: namely, Charles, George, Lorenzo, Jeremiah and Joseph H. (Biographical Review, 1897).
Joseph H. Avery appeared twice in the 1860 Census, first with his parents in Acton, ME, and then again residing in the household of a Milton shoemaker, John H. Crane, presumably as Crane’s apprentice.
John Avery, a farmer, aged forty-nine years (b. ME), headed an Acton, ME, household at the time of the Eighth (1860) Federal Census. His household included Mary Avery, a seamstress, aged fifty years (b. NH), Charles Avery, a farm laborer, aged twenty-four years (b. ME), Thomas Avery, a farm laborer, aged twenty-two years (b. ME), George Avery, a farm laborer, aged twenty years (b. ME), Lorenzo Avery, a farm laborer, aged eighteen years (b. ME), Joseph H. Avery, a farm laborer, aged sixteen years (b. ME), Jeremiah Avery, aged fourteen years (b. ME), Mark Avery, aged eleven years (b. ME), and John J. Avery, aged nine years (b. ME). John Avery had real estate valued at $100 and personal estate valued at $50.
After receiving his education in the schools of Acton, Wakefield and Milton, Joseph H. Avery learned the shoemaker’s trade in this town and followed it for four years (Biographical Review, 1897).
John H. Crane, a shoemaker, aged forty-seven years (b. NH), headed a Milton (“Milton P.O.”) household at the time of the Eighth (1860) Federal Census. His household included E.M. Crane, aged thirty years (b. NH), Frank P. Crane, aged seven years (b. NH), Harriet A. Crane, aged eight months (b. NH), and Joseph H. Avery, aged fifteen years (b. NH [SIC]). John H. Crane had real estate valued at $200 and personal estate valued at $150. Their household appeared in the enumeration between those of Nathan Jones, a shoemaker, aged thirty-five years (b. NH), and Jacob Staples, a shoemaker, aged fifty-four years (b. NH).
He next went to Boston, where he worked in a restaurant for three years. In 1866 he returned to Milton, and since that time has had a varied as well as a successful business career (Biographical Review, 1897).
Joseph H. Avery married (1st) in Milton, May 26, 1866, Thestah D. Hanscom, he [and she] of Milton. He was twenty-one years of age and she was twenty-four years of age. Rev. James Doldt performed the ceremony. She was born in Milton, January 13, 1846, daughter of Adaline Hanscom.
(In Classical antiquity, Thesta had been sister of the Syracusan tyrant Dionysus the Elder. Her noble reply to her tyrant brother in support of her husband, Polyxenus, who had escaped into exile, appeared in Plutarch’s Lives. She was regarded as a model of feminine strength and rectitude).
By his first wife, Thestah (Hanscom) Avery, there were two children: Herman, who died at the age of nine years; and Addie, who is the wife of O.W. Brown of Sanford, an enterprising business man (Biographical Review, 1897).
Son Herman A. Avery was born in Milton, circa 1867. Daughter Addie M. Avery was born in Milton, May 7, 1868.
Joseph H. Avery, works for shoe factory, aged twenty-five years (b. ME), headed a Milton household at the time of the Ninth (1870) Federal Census. His household included Thesta Avery, keeping house, aged twenty-four years (b. NH), Hermon A. Avery, aged three years (b. NH), Addie Avery, aged two years (b. NH), Betsey [(Tibbetts)] Hanscom, aged ninety years (b. ME), and Susan M. Hanscom, aged sixty years (b. NH). Their household appeared in the enumeration between those of Stephen Drew, a physician, aged seventy-nine years (b. NH), and Moses Downs, works for shoe factory, aged fifty-three years (b. VT).
Thestah D. (Hanscom) Avery died of consumption in Milton, March 16, 1875, aged twenty-nine years, two months, and three days.
Son Herman A. Avery died of a fever in Milton, in September 1875, aged nine years.
[J.]H. Avery & Co. appeared in the Milton business directory of 1880 as a Milton excelsior manufacturer.
Joseph H. Avery, an excelsior manufacturer, aged thirty-seven years (b. ME), headed a Milton household at the time of the Tenth (1880) Federal Census. His household included his daughter, Addie M. Avery, aged twelve years (b. NH), his help, Agnes Moore, a domestic servant, aged thirty-three years (b. Nova Scotia), and his boarders, Luman Drake, an excelsior mill worker, aged twenty-nine years (b. MA), and Frank Dillingham, an excelsior mill worker, aged twenty-six years (b. ME). Their household appeared in the enumeration between the households of William H. Gerrish, works on shoes, aged twenty-seven years (b. NH), and Elizabeth Rouch, does serving, aged seventy-eight years (b. ME).
J.H. Avery & Co. appeared in the Milton business directories of 1881, and 1882, as a Milton excelsior manufacturer. (S.M. Bragdon, i.e., Stephen M. Bragdon (1836-1909), took over as the excelsior manufacturer in 1884, 1887, and for some years thereafter).
J.H. Avery, of Milton, NH, registered as a guest at the American House hotel in Boston, MA, in early November 1881 (Boston Globe, November 7, 1881). (Lewis W. Nute and his wife had checked in there, again, just a few days earlier; they were more or less regular residents).
Joseph H. Avery married (2nd) in Milton, November 24, 1881, Emma C. Hanscom, both of Milton. He was an excelsior manufacturer, and she was a lady. Rev. George Sterling performed the ceremony. She was born in Milton, December 8, 1851, daughter of James C. and Sarah (Jones) Hanscom. (She was a cousin of Avery’s deceased first wife).
His present wife, who was before marriage Emma Hanscom, is the mother of one daughter, Elsie (Biographical Review, 1897).
Daughter Elsie G. Avery was born in Milton, April 28, 1882.
One source had a Milton citizens’ group erecting a mill in 1884, with other sources claiming that J.H. “Howard” Avery built both the mill and its associated dam. Possibly Avery headed the citizens’ group. The mill was said to be “his” in 1885 and 1893. (He would in 1904 be a “promoter” of a similar group: the Milton & Lebanon Building Association (with, among others, Frank H. Thayer))
In 1884 an organization composed of citizens of the town erected a shoe factory 160 x 40 and four stories high, with other accessories, at Milton, at a cost of $12,000 which was leased to Burley & Usher in 1885, who were afterwards succeeded by N.B. Thayer & Co., the present occupants. Misses’ and children’s kid and Dongola spring heel slippers are manufactured, and employment is given to 100 or more hands. Steam and water are used for power and the firm is not exempt from taxation (NH Bureau of Labor, 1897).
LEBANON, ME. Howard Avery has let one room in his new mill for parties to manufacture boat oars. Now is a good chance for farmers to sell a little good timber (Farmington News, December 18, 1885).
Politically he acts with the Republican party. He was Chairman of the Board of Selectmen during the years 1886, 1887, and 1888, was Representative to the legislature in 1889 and 1890, and was again elected a Selectman in 1896. … His official duties have always been discharged with a zeal and efficiency that have earned the hearty commendation of his fellow townsmen (Biographical Review, 1897).
REAL ESTATE TRANSFERS. J.Q.A. Toppan to J.H. Avery, land in Milton, $20; J.Q.A. Toppan to J.H. Avery, land in Milton, $100; S.E. Dixon to J.H. Avery, land in Milton, $50 (Farmington News, July 8, 1887).
Daughter Addie M. Avery married in Milton, July 26, 1887, Orlando W. Brown, both of Milton. She was a lady, aged nineteen years, and he was a clerk, aged twenty-four years. Rev. Frank Haley performed the ceremony. Brown was born in Wolfeboro, NH, in 1859, son of Bradley M. and Lucilla J. “Lizzie” (Mason) Brown.
One of his [John Avery’s] sons, Joseph Howard Avery, an active, energetic business man, is located at Milton. He has a family of wife and two daughters, the eldest the wife of a Mr. Brown of Tuftonboro. The youngest is but six years of age (Dearborn, 1888).
PERSONAL. J.H. Avery will start a toothpick factory in Milton, which will give employment to fifty persons (Farmington News, May 18, 1888).
The Milton Selectmen of 1888 were J.H. Avery, Charles C. Hayes, and Chas. Hayes. (Charles C. Hayes (1822-1893) was a farmer and setter of water wheels; Charles Hayes (1844-1892) was a farmer).
Milton elected Joseph H. Avery to the NH House of Representatives for the 1889-90 biennium. (The biennium ran from June 6, 1889 to December 31, 1890). He was credited for 170 miles of [roundtrip] mileage reimbursement, which suggests a much more circuitous route than those presently available. (The representatives from neighboring Farmington, NH, were credited with 156 miles). He filed a bill in June 1889: “By Mr. Joseph H. Avery of Milton, ‘An act to incorporate the Nute High School and Library in the town of Milton'” (NH General Court, 1889; NH Secretary of State, 1889).
MILTON. Mr. James Hanscomb, for many years a resident of Milton, died Wednesday morning about 9 o’clock of pneumonia, following la grippe. Mr. Hanscomb was a man highly esteemed in the community and his loss will be felt. His wife was taken away but a few months ago, since which time he has lived with his daughter at the old home. Mr. Hanscomb was about 70 years of age and the last surviving member of a large family of brothers and sisters. He leaves two children who have the sympathy of many friends in their bereavement, the unmarried daughter mentioned above and Mrs. J. Howard Avery of this village (Farmington News, [Friday,] January 31, 1890).
MILTON. J. Howard Avery went to Concord, Tuesday, he being a member of the legislature (Farmington News, December 5, 1890).
MILTON. J.H. Avery has sold his flour and grain business (Farmington News, January 30, 1891).
MILTON. At the republican caucus Saturday afternoon, the following delegates were chosen to the different conventions. State – E.W. Fox and Frank Horner; Congressional – R.M. Kimball and C.D. Fox; Senatorial – Luther Hayes and B.B. Plummer; Councillor – Chas. A. Jones and S.W. Wallingford; County – Fred B. Roberts and C.W. Gross; Town Committee – Chas. H. Looney, president, B.B. Plummer, secretary, Luther Hayes, C.A. Jones, J.H. Avery, W.H.H. Pinkham, Fred B. Roberts, S.W. Wallingford, Charles D. Fox and Charles W. Gross. The democratic flag raising took place last Thursday evening. Hon. S.D. Felker of Rochester and Isaac Pearl of Farmington addressed a large audience at A.O.U.W. hall (Farmington News, September 9, 1892).
The shoe factory operated by N.B. Thayer & Co. was erected by him [J.H. Avery] and he constructed the dam on the Salmon River which supplies it with power. His building enterprises have contributed much to the town’s improvement. He now ranks as one of Milton’s most enterprising and progressive business men (Biographical Review, 1897).
MILTON. Howard Avery is to build an addition of seventy feet to his shoe shop for N.B. Thayer‘s use. The stones for the foundation are being hauled (Farmington News, March 24, 1893).
MILTON. J.H. Avery has received a part of the lumber for the building of the extension upon the shoe shop occupied by N.B. Thayer (Farmington News, April 13, 1893).
The Milton Selectmen of 1896-97 were S.W. Wallingford, Joseph H. Avery, and Freeman H. Lowd. (Hon. Samuel W. Wallingford (1837-1899) was a Plummer’s Ridge farmer and former NH State Representative; Freeman H. Lowd (1853-1933) was a Milton Mills storekeeper (his wife was a daughter of Ira Miller)).
Joseph H. Avery received appointment as Milton postmaster, June 14, 1897. Such appointments were political sinecures. As this one was granted during the term of Republican President William McKinley (1897-1901), one might infer that Avery was a Republican also.
He has recently received the appointment as Postmaster of Milton (Biographical Review, 1897).
MILTON NEWS LETTER. POST OFFICE REMOVED TO ITS NEW QUARTERS. The postoffice, which was to have changed hands July 1, was delayed, and did not come under new management till July 15. Postmaster Avery will have as his assistants his daughter, Miss Elsie Avery, and Harry O. Coles. The new rooms which have been designed for the use of the postoffice are finished and equipped in model style throughout (Farmington News, July 16, 1897).
Henrietta (Jones) Dorsey cast Howard Avery in a negative light in her testimony regarding the Jones Poisoning Murder of 1897.
Mrs. Dorsey spoke very bitterly against Howard Avery, chairman of the Milton board of selectmen. She says that when her mother died Avery desired to administer the estate, but his offer, which included the care of Mr. Jones, was refused by the children. She says that Avery has long desired to get hold of a certain piece of property in Milton that was owned by her mother, and she knows that the relations of her brother with Mr. Avery have been unpleasant (Boston Globe, December 18, 1897).
Of course, Mrs. Dorsey might not have been the best judge of character. At the instigation of the actual murderer, she and her sister had accused falsely their father. Avery having had unpleasant relations with the murderer might have been taken as more of a recommendation rather than otherwise.
Nute High School graduations formerly featured an annual undergraduate prize speaking contest, with judging by invited dignitaries. Miss Elsie G. Avery was said to have been the only member of her Nute High School graduating Class of 1899. She went on to attend Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, NY.
LOCALS. The judges of the prize speaking at the Nute high school on Wednesday evening were the Hon. Henry E. Cobb of Newton, Mass., the Hon. J.W. Sanborn of Sanbornville, and Willis McDuffee of the FARMINGTON NEWS and Rochester Courier. The sole graduate of 1899 was Miss Elsie G. Avery of Milton (Farmington News, June 16, 1899).
Joseph H. Avery, postmaster, aged fifty-five years (b. ME), headed a Milton (“Milton Village”) household at the time of the Twelfth (1900) Federal Census. His household included his wife (of nineteen years), Emma C. Avery, aged forty-eight years (b. NH), and his daughter, Elsie G. Avery, assistant postmaster, aged eighteen years (b. NH). Joseph H. Avery owned their house free-and-clear. Emma C. Avery was the mother of one child, of whom one was still living. Their household appeared in the enumeration between those of George W. Rand, in leatherboard mill, aged thirty years (b. MA), and George E. Jones, a day laborer, aged fifty-one years (b. NH).
The NH General Court authorized incorporation of the Milton Water Works Company, March 21, 1901, with initial board members Malcom A.H. Hart, Charles H. Looney, S. Lyman Hayes, Charles D. Jones, Fred B. Roberts, Harry Avery, George E. Wentworth, Joseph H. Avery, Ira W. Jones, Arthur W. Dudley, Everett F. Fox, Henry F. Townsend, Freeman H. Lowd, William T. Wallace, Frank G. Horne, Charles A. Jones, and Nathaniel G. Pinkham. It established itself July 19, 1899, with Harry L. Avery as its treasurer (NH Secretary of State, 1901).
U.S. President McKinley was fatally wounded by an assassin at the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, NY, in the first year of his second term, September 6, 1901, and died eight days later, September 14, 1901. He was succeeded by Vice President Theodore Roosevelt. (There was not at this time any mechanism for the successor President to appoint a replacement Vice President). Postmaster Avery’s appointment was confirmed or continued under President Roosevelt, October 22, 1901.
MILTON. Miss Elsie Avery is visiting friends in Farmington (Farmington News, August 23, 1901).
MILTON. Miss Elsie Avery returned to Vassar college Tuesday morning (Farmington News, September 13, 1901).
MILTON. Miss Elsie Avery came home from Vassar College Monday in charge of a trained nurse (Farmington News, January 24, 1902).
Avery’s daughter (of his second marriage), Elsie G. Avery, died of typhoid fever (four weeks duration) in Milton, February 6, 1902, aged nineteen years, nine months, and nine days. She was a student [presumably a Junior]. M.A.H. Hart, M.D., signed the death certificate.
The Milton Selectmen of 1902-03 were H.R. Jewett, J.H. Avery, and F.B. Roberts. (Haven R. Jewett (1856-1924) was a Milton farmer; Frederick B. Roberts (1863-1943) was a Milton lumberman).
Postmaster J.H. Avery served as a pallbearer at the funeral of the Hon. Charles H. Looney on Saturday, April 26, 1902 (Farmington News, May 2, 1902).
Avery’s father, John Avery, died of paralysis in Acton, ME, May 22, 1903, aged ninety-two years. W.E. Pillsbury, M.D., signed the death certificate.
Joseph H. Avery was one of the “promoters” of the Milton & Lebanon Building Association, when it was incorporated in February 1904.
Maine Corporations. Milton & Lebanon Building Association, Lebanon – Capital, $10,000. Promoters, F.H. Thayer, Boston; Joseph H. Avery, B.B. Plummer, J. Gardner Alden, Milton; Ira W. Jones, Lebanon (Boston Globe, February 29, 1904).
The Milton Selectmen of 1904-05 were H.R. Jewett, J.H. Avery, and C.A. Jones. (Haven R. Jewett (1856-1924) was a Milton farmer; Charles A. Jones (1851-1934) was a Milton farmer (Hydraulic engineer Ira W. Jones was his younger brother)).
Grandson Orlando W. Brown, Jr., then about seven years of age, accompanied his mother, Addie M. (Avery) Brown on a visit to his Milton grandparents.
MILTON. Mrs. Orlando Brown and son of Sanford, Me., are the guests of Mrs. Brown’s father, J.N. Avery (Farmington News, June 3, 1904).
Joseph H. Avery received reappointment as Milton postmaster, December 14, 1904.
The Milton Selectmen of 1906 were J.H Avery, B.B. Plummer, and E.A. Wentworth. (Hon. Bard B. Plummer (1846-1919) was a Plummer’s Ridge farmer and former NH State Representative; Hon. Edgar A. Wentworth (1856-1932) was a Milton teamster). By the terms of recently passed forestry legislation, one of the selectman had to be designated annually as the town forest fire warden; and J.H. Avery was so designated for this term (NH Forestry Commission, 1906).
Joseph H. Avery received reappointment as Milton postmaster, December 14, 1908. (He was succeeded by James H. Willey, July 26, 1913).
Joseph Avery, postmaster, aged sixty-five years (b. ME), headed a Milton household at the time of the Thirteenth (1910) Federal Census. His household included his wife of (thirty-five years), Emma C. Avery, aged fifty-eight years (b. NH). Joseph Avery owned their house, free-and-clear. Emma C. Avery was the mother of one child, of whom one was still living. Their household appeared in the enumeration between those of John Varney, an odd jobs laborer, aged thirty-eight years (b. NH), and Hugh Beaton, a B&M Railroad station agent, aged thirty-six years (b. OH).
Local. Asa Dearborn Perkins, a resident of Milton Three Ponds, formerly of Farmington, was drowned in the pond at Milton last Sunday evening. He, in company with Jewel Smith, went out quite late to take a pleasure ride and fishing trip. When about one-fourth of a mile from shore, and about one-half mile above the depot, one of the men attempted to change seats and the boat was tipped over. Their cries were heard by Howard Avery who lives near the pond and he at once went to the aid of the men and succeeded in saving Mr. Smith but was unable to save Mr. Perkins. The unfortunate man was a native of Milton, aged 67 years (Farmington News, September 9, 1910).
In March 1911, the NH General Court approved the incorporation of the Nute Charitable Association (as set forth in the last will of Lewis W. Nute.
Section 1. That Everett F. Fox, Charles A. Jones, M.A.H. Hart, Harry L. Avery, Walter E. Looney, Charles D. Fox, Moses G. Chamberlain, and their successors are hereby made a body corporate by the name of the Nute Charitable Association, and shall have and enjoy all the powers and privileges and be subject to all the liabilities incident to corporations of a similar nature, and by that name may sue and be sued. Harry L. Avery or Charles A. Jones may call the first meeting of said association by letter mailed to each member of said association at least seven days prior to the date set for said first meeting (NH General Court, 1911a).
Section 1 was amended by the NH Senate to add the names Bard B. Plummer, and Joseph H. Avery after the name Harry L. Avery (NH General Court, 1911b).
J.H. Avery appeared in the Milton business directory of 1912, as Milton postmaster.
Avery’s surviving child (of his first marriage), Addie M. (Avery) Brown of Sanford, ME, died of cirrhosis of the liver in Milton, September 22, 1913, aged forty-five years, four months, and fifteen days. M.A.H. Hart, M.D., signed the death certificate.
Joseph H. Avery, aged seventy-five years (b. ME), headed a Milton household at the time of the Fourteenth (1920) Federal Census. His household included his wife, Emma C. Avery, aged sixty-seven years (b. NH), and his boarders, Walter R. Atwater, a Milton Ice Co. laborer, aged forty-seven years (b. ME), Peter W. Dwyer, a Milton Ice Co. laborer, aged sixty-eight years (b. MA), and Burley E. Sawyer, a leatherboard laborer, aged forty-two years (b. ME). Joseph Avery owned their house on Upper Main Street in Milton Village, free-and-clear. Their household appeared in the enumeration between those of Walter I. Burrows, a civil engineer for I.W. Jones Co., aged thirty-two years (b. MA), and Martha E. Clements, a leatherboard box finisher, aged fifty-nine years (b. NH).
Joseph H. Avery, retired, aged eighty-five years (b. ME), headed a Milton household at the time of the Fifteenth (1930) Federal Census. His household included his wife, Emma C. Avery, aged seventy-eight years (b. NH). Joseph H. Avery owned their two-family residence on North Main Street, which was valued at $3,000. They did not have a radio set. They shared their two-family residence with the household of Lewis Dwyer, a fibre mill laborer, aged thirty-nine years (b. VT). Dwyer rented their portion of the residence for $10 per month; and he did have a radio set.
Emma C. (Hanscom) Avery died of arterio-sclerosis on Main Street in Milton, November 14, 1933, aged eighty-one years, eleven months, and six days. M.A.H. Hart, M.D., signed the death certificate.
J. Howard Avery died of pneumonia on Main Street in Milton, September 27, 1937, aged ninety-three years, two months, and twenty-eight days. He was was retired merchant, who had resided in Milton for seventy years. M.A.H. Hart, M.D., signed the death certificate.
LOCAL. Several members of Fraternal Lodge, A.F. & A.M., of this [Farmington] town, and other local friends attended the funeral of Howard H. [J.] Avery in Milton, Wednesday afternoon. Mr. Avery was one of the oldest residents and one of the town fathers, having served as postmaster, legislator, selectman and in other public offices over many years (Farmington News, October 1, 1937).
Biographical Review. (1897). Biographical Review: Containing Life Sketches of Leading Citizens of Strafford and Belknap Counties, New Hampshire. Retrieved from books.google.com/books?id=C2sjAQAAMAAJ&pg=PA110
Dearborn, Jeremiah W. (1888). A History of the First Century of the Town of Parsonsfield, Maine. Retrieved from books.google.com/books?id=lgk1AAAAIAAJ&pg=PA350
Find a Grave. (2015, September 16). John Avery. Retrieved from www.findagrave.com/memorial/152381849/john-avery
Find a Grave. (2015, September 16). Joseph Howard Avery. Retrieved from www.findagrave.com/memorial/152380929/joseph-howard-avery
Find a Grave. (2011, August 9). Adeline May “Addie” Avery Brown. Retrieved from https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/74662187/adeline-may-brown
NH Forestry Commission. (1906). Biennial Report of the Forestry Commission for the Years 1905-06. Retrieved from books.google.com/books?id=Iz0WAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA21
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NH General Court. (1911b). Journal of the House of Representatives of the State of New-Hampshire. Retrieved from books.google.com/books?id=iT8tAQAAMAAJ&pg=PA317
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Wikipedia. (2021, August 12). Wood Wool [Excelsior]. Retrieved from en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wood_wool