George Avis

This article submitted by Jim Avis and Dale O. Wiley.
     George Avis spent his life in Logan County, Virginia (now West Virginia) 
after arriving here from England. George was born April 22, 1818, SOMEWHERE in 
England. It is believed that he left England June 6, 1835 under duress and 
arrived in the USA in 1835, at 18 years of age.  No records can be found of his 
arrival. George's parents are unknown.   
     The rumors from another Avis family are: (1) his family never heard from 
him after leaving England and (2) that he fought with or killed a soldier for 
beating a horse. With this rumor is a possible relative, John Avis, maybe brother, 
father, or uncle, who was in the Coldstream Guard (Horse Guard). John served 
almost 22 years. The parish shown on John's discharge is Henstridge, a small 
community on the boarder of Somerset and Dorset Counties in England. John enlisted 
in the Coldstream Guard at 21 years of age, April 23,1807. One known son of John 
was Robert Avis who  served over 21 years in the Royal Artillery.  Robert enlisted 
October 10, 1848, age 18, and was discharged August 3,1872.

     Since George named his first son, Hugh Caperton Avis, some believe that he may 
have worked for Hugh Caperton, a member of the Board of Directors of the James River 
Canal Project, (a project to connect navigable rivers), or he may have worked as a 
carpenter on the Hugh Caperton mansion in Monroe County which was built between 1835 
and 1838.

     George married Elizabeth Ellis in 1838, the daughter of Phillip Ellis and 
Elizabeth Hinchman. Their children were:: Harriet, Hugh Caperton, Burwell, Ann, 
Thomas, Elizabeth, Minerva, and George Jr.  George Jr. lived only 3 months after 
his mother's death May 16, 1861.  George is not mentioned in any of his children's 
family Bibles.  George married an Amelia ? sometime between May 1861 and his death in 
August 1862. The marriage may have occurred due to the birth and care of George Jr.

     George was granted, starting in 1848, about 141 acres of land atop the mountains 
between the Guyandotte River and Island Creek where he lived.  WHY? Maybe because of 
his problems in England. Most other families lived in the valleys. Later he moved to 
the valley.

     Prior to 1858, the 129th Regiment of the Virginia Militia was organized in Logan. 
The list of volunteers show many  Logan people.  Most were well-known, and were some 
of the early settlers. This list can be  found in the Virginia State Library in 
Richmond and the National Archives in Washington DC. George was appointed First 
Lieutenant of Company 1 and later Captain of Company 4 of the 129th.

     In those days, the militia officers were appointed or elected by the Militia 
members.  This would indicate that George Avis was a strong leader in the local 
community.  In one early family record is found the following: "On September 10, 
1858, the record (of the 12th Regiment of the Virginia Militia) is transferred to 
that of the 129th and is kept by Ulysses Hinchman. His first entry tells of a meeting 
at which John DeJournette was elected Colonel; P.K. McComas, First Major; Reece Browning, 
Second Major; and Ulysses Hinchman, Clerk.  "Officers attending the meeting were Captains 
George Avis, James H. Hinchman, John Starr, John Hatfield, John Chapman, and Barnabus 
Carter, and Lieutenants Martin Doffs, George Bryant, Granville Riffe, Louis White, 
Charles Station and Green A. Clark."

     So, it is seen that George Avis was a long time leader in the Logan County, 
Virginia, area.  The last we know of George Avis was from his military records of 
November 13, 1861, when he was 43 years old.

     What happened between then and August 17, 1862, when George died?  This was a 
period of nine months.  George had obviously been a strong man. Then why did he die at 
the age of 44?

     By November 1861, the local (Logan County) 129th Militia was down to 60 to 70 men. 
Some of these men belonged to the Black Striped Company.

     On January 12, 1862, the Union Army came to Logan to break up the Black Stripers. 
The Union Troops ran into a few skirmishes with the local troops. They also burned the 
Logan County Court House, a factor in the later, 1990's search for George's history.

     The record shows that every Logan man with a gun took up positions and opened fire 
on the Union Troops. The Court House was burned January 15, 1862.  

     Based on the above, did Captain George Avis, age 43, remain in Logan County and 
probably lead the defense of the county and the Court House in January 1862?

     Assuming that George did stay and did fight, was he wounded to such an extent 
that he died seven months later?

     Then, by accident, it was discovered that George had a second wife. He was 
married between his first wife's death, apparently in childbirth of George's 8th 
child, on May 16, 1861, and his own death on August 17, 1862.

     Surely, the answers to these questions would be found in the courthouse 
records of Logan County for 1861 and 1862. These records had been moved to the 
Virginia State Library sometime after 1865 and included birth, marriage, and 
death records. These records were looked at in 1993 by Dale Wiley, a great great 
grandson of George Avis. None of the records were legible - all had water damage 
from the fire in the Logan County Court House in January 1862.

     Thus, the mystery about George Avis resulted from the non-understandable fact 
that of seven adult children of George, none had him listed in their family Bibles, 
plus the damaged Court House Records that forever hid part of his life, marriges, 
and death - and damage that  probably, George had tried to prevent and which effort 
possibly led to his death.

     When George died in 1862, his children were 8,11,13,15,18, 20, and 23 years old.

     In 1867, Hugh Caperton Avis, George's first son, was the administrator of 
George's estate.  In 1867, Hugh had a summons issued to the Sheriff of Calhoun County, 
West Virginia, to have George's children appear at a court hearing in Logan County in 
reference to the protection of George's minor children.

     The question then arises: did the second wife take the children to Calhoun County 
and treat them in such a way as to cause them to not list her or their father in their 
family Bibles?

     Hugh Caperton Avis was in the 129th and later was assigned to the State Line 
Calvary Brigade, the 36th Regiment of the Virginia Infantry, known as the Logan 
Wildcats. Hugh with wounds from the battle of Cedar Creek on October 19, 1864, was 
captured at Waynsboro, Virginia, March 2, 1865 and was sent to Fort Delaware Prison 
March 9, 1865. He was released  June 19, 1865, and walked back to Logan.

     Hugh Avis, later became a prominent business man in Logan County and died at 
the age of 91 in Logan, in 1933. The Logan County Records of Deeds show that Hugh 
had 75 entries in purchase deeds and 100 entries in sales deeds.