Wednesday, December 7, 2016

My 3rd Great Grandfather John Warren Avery (1835-1900) Was Probably Run Out of Winston County, Mississippi by the Ku Klux Klan

After some research I have come to the conclusion that this Rev John Avery, testifying about his experience with the Klan, is my ancestor.  "Affairs in Mississippi: To the Editor of the Chronicle," Macon Beacon (Macon, Mississippi), 12 August 1871, page 2, col 4; digital image, Chronicling America (http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn83016943/1871-08-12/ed-1/seq-2/ : accessed 7 December 2016).


John Warren Avery (1835-1900) was born in Winston County, Mississippi, and although he had moved around a little he had appeared in records in Winston as late as the 1870 Census as a farmer (no mention his being a reverend).  By January 11, 1873 he was a resident of Lafayette County, Mississippi (as evidenced by his court appearance and signature in claiming his small part of an uncle's inheritance).  We were not clear until now just why he had moved, except that maybe there were better opportunities elsewhere.  Thanks to the digitized newspapers at LOC's Chronicling America, I now realize that he was run out of the area by the Ku Klux Klan for running a free school (taxpayer funded).  Apparently the Klan did not want free schools for either black or white children and were brutal in enforcing this, and were clearly not above threatening family members.



From the same story, and includes statements made by Rev. Murff, who was Alexander W. Murff (1821-1880), a Methodist Episcopal elder, former guardian at litem for John Avery in 1853, and also John Avery's brother-in-law (he married John's sister Nancy Caroline Avery).


From statements by Cornelius McBride, another victim of the Klan, made to the Senate concerning the Klan activities.  In the index of this publication John Avery is referred to as John W. Avery.  "Index to the Reports of the Committees of The Senate of the United States, for the Second Session of the Forty-Second Congress. 1871-'72."  Government Printing Office (Washington, DC). 1872; digital images, Google Books (https://books.google.com/books?id=EwtYAAAAcAAJ: accessed 7 December 2016).


I was dismayed, although not surprised, that I have these relations in the Klan, but I was also impressed that John Warren Avery had tried to make a difference in his community.  It also helped me figure out what his religious denomination was, something I wasn't quite sure about.

John must have had a hell of a time for many years, considering his Civil War experience on the losing side, and then the loss of camaraderie and support of many of his remaining relatives to the Klan.



© 2016 Copyright, Christine Manczuk, All Rights Reserved.

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