Sunday, November 6, 2011

Backward Glance - Russell Hugh Avery

Emma, Nettie & Hugh
Russell Hugh Avery was the second child, first son, of Austin and Nettie (Osborn) Avery. He was born in Woodston, Rooks County, Kansas, on March 14, 1886. He was the grandson of Russell Scott Osborn who was the Kansas Secretary of State, serving from 1893-1895. Hugh, as he was known, had two half-siblings who were older than he. They were Judson A. (1870) and Ethel (1872). He also had two more sisters, Emma (1884) and Iva (1891), as well as another brother, Byron (1890). Ethel died in 1889, at the age of 17, and is buried in the Woodston Cemetery near the Avery home in Lowell Township, Rooks County.

Austin Avery Home (photo 2005)
When Hugh registered for the World War I draft on September 12, 1918, he'd been married to Corinne Mae Brownell for almost exactly two years. According to the draft card, Hugh was a tall, slender, blue-eyed, brown-haired farmer in Woodston. He served as a private in the Kansas State Guard, Company D, 22nd Battalion, headquarter in Stockton.
  • "Company D participated in Red Cross relief work, and in removing debris after a tornado. The organization attended various meetings held in public halls and churches in the interest of a deeper patriotism, and reported regularly for drill, twice a week during the summer of 1918; did guard duty during the harvest time in the summer of 1918. Took part in memorial services on Memorial days, and Memorial services held in honor of soldiers killed in action. The unit attended the funeral rites of Melvin LaRue, who died in hospital, Great Lakes training camp. Watched and kept down improper propaganda; fostered loyalty, and promoted patriotism throughout the community." (Transcribed from History and Roster of the Kansas State Guard, August 6, 1917, to November 11, 1919, printed by Kansas State Printing Plant, B. P. Walker, State Printer, Topeka. 1925. 10-4436 )
Hugh's signature, WWI draft registration
In 1942, Hugh registered in what was called the "Old Man's Draft," registering men between the ages of 42 and 64. He was living in Bakersfield, Kern County, California. His physical description gives a height to his 'tall' of the earlier registration. He was 5'11" and weighed 178 pounds. By then, his hair was brown and gray. At that time, his occupation was a self-employed truck gardener working on the Edison Highway. In a 1944 voter registration listing, his occupation was 'Bowling Alley Employee.' He was in Pismo Beach, San Luis Obispo County, California.

Corinne and Hugh were married on September 13, 1916, in Phillips County, Kansas. Corinne was the daughter of James Orson and Minnie May (Harper) Brownell. She was born in Leona, Doniphan County, Kansas, but her family relocated to Rooks County between 1910 and 1915. Hugh and Corinne had one child, Carl Orson, who was born on September 25, 1917, in Woodston. The family seems to have moved around quite a bit, as they are found on the 1920 census in Lowell Township, Rooks County; the 1925 State census in Osborne, Osborne County; and on the 1930 census in Oakley, Logan County, all in Kansas. Some time after 1930, Hugh and Corinne were divorced.

According to Hugh's daughter-in-law, Luella, Hugh was a truck driver. After Lu and Carl were divorced, Hugh would stop by to visit his grandchildren in Grinnell, Gove, Kansas. This was around 1938 or 1939. Given what we know, it appears he moved to California between 1939 and 1942, where Carl was already living in San Luis Obispo County.

On October  26, 1957, when Hugh's only child, Carl, died in San Luis Obispo, Hugh was living nearby in Grover City. Russell Hugh Avery died less than a year later, also in San Luis Obispo. He was 72 years old. Both Hugh and Carl are buried in the Arroyo Grande Cemetery in San Luis Obispo.

Hugh (3rd from left) with cousins and sister, Emma

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