Historical Society plans Civil War series

LAKE COUNTY — In the Spring of 1871, John Merritt Avery along with his wife Sarah (Campbell) Avery and children Adolphus, Nettie, and Amy would start to clear land in the newly formed County of Lake in Northern Michigan.

The raw land of Section 28 in Cherry Valley Township would transform over the next eight years. Estimates of standing white pine were placed at 200,000 feet.

Avery would build a comfortable log home and barn.

The farm would have a yolk of oxen, one cow, three young cattle, eight sheep, one hog and chickens. Avery reported this to Charles Radcliffe, editor of the Lake County Star in 1879 in an article called “Progress in Lake County.” In 1878 John Avery received a land grant from the United States for 160 acres. This land would produce acres of wheat, rye, oats, corn, buckwheat and potatoes. The family also grew during that time with the birth of John E. Avery in 1873.

The Avery homestead would be one of many built in Lake County by veterans of the Union Army from the Civil War of 1861-1865. John M. Avery was born February 8, 1832 in Charlotte, Chauntangua County, New York. At age 33, John answered the call and joined the Union Army in Dekorra, Wisconsin. John served about one year with the 42nd Wisconsin Infantry regiment Company C. John M. Avery died on Feb. 10, 1913 in Nirvana A bronze plaque marks the grave in Cherry Valley Township Cemetery. Descendants of Avery remain in Lake County today.

In the following weeks the Lake County Historical Society will highlight some of the Union Army veterans who walked, settled and were laid to rest in Lake County’s sandy soil.

While some of the names might be common, others like Horation Newton Jenks stories may have never been told until now. Horatio would join the 1st Michigan Calvary Company F at age 22. Horatio’s brother Luther, age 21, would also join the same regiment. Private Horatio Jenks would see fierce action. A prisoner of war at the 2nd “Battle of Bull Run,” he would be exchanged in a prisoner swap at Fort Scott, Virginia. Months later he would be wounded at “The Battle of Gettysburg.” Both Luther and Horatio would settle in Lake County in Pleasant Plains Township. They would both have families and farm. Later they left this area and their place of burials is unknown.

The Lake County Historical Society invites the public to hear stories of these patriots at our next meeting on Wednesday, May, 11, 2011 at 6 p.m. at the Hollister Senior Center. The guest speaker will be local historian, Jane Miller who will speak about Eli Miller who served with the 11th Ohio Infantry Company B and E. Miller homesteaded in Carr Settlement. The Society asks that anybody with stories to tell bring their photos, documents and articles of interest.

The next article will talk about an eighteen year old who fought with the “Iron Brigade,” described as the most tenacious regiment in General Grant’s Army. This young man would live in Luther. To be continued!