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Home: Regional: U.S. States: Michigan: Saint Clair County

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Hon. Alexander R. Avery - St. Clair Co., MI (bio)
Posted by: Stephanie Sampson Date: February 22, 2002 at 15:35:34
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Biographical sketch of HON. ALEXANDER R. AVERY from the book entitled, "Biographical Memoirs of Saint Clair County, Michigan," published in 1903 by B. F. Bowen Publishers in Logansport, Indiana.

This bio spans three (3) pages: 427-429


In the legal profession, which embraces some of the most brilliant minds of the nation, it is not always easy to win a name and place of prominence. Many aspire to distinction, but few attain it. In commercial life one may start on a more advanced pane than others; he may enter into a business already established and carry it still further forward. But not so in the legal profession, where merit alone is the true touch stone of success. Here one must commence at the very basic principles and by close and patient mental application work gradually upward and achieve reputation and emolument through the expenditure of brain power and vital force. People do not place their legal business in unskilled hands; it is the man of recognizes attainments and power in the profession that commands patronage and attains to distinction. A conspicuous example of this class of successful lawyers was the late Alexander R. Avery, of Port Huron, who rose to prominence at a bar long noted for the high order of its legal talent and made for himself a name and reputation such as few achieve. Mr. Avery was the scion of an old colonial family that figured prominently in the early annals of Connecticut, his ancestors settling in that part of New England in a very early day. On both sides of the house the subject was of English descent, and his paternal great-grandfather, with other members of the Avery family, bore distinguished parts in the war of the Revolution. Anthony R. Avery, father of Alexander, was a New Englander by birth, as was also his wife, who bore the maiden name of Sarah Hilborn, both having been born and reared in the state of Connecticut. Some years prior to the birth of the subject Anthony Avery and wife moved to Ontario county, province of Ontario, and it was there that Alexander was born on the 14th day of November, 1846. He remained in that country until about sixteen years of age, at which time the family moved to St. Clair county, Michigan, and it was here the lad grew to manhood and received the principal part of his educational training. After completing the common school course, he attended for two terms the State Normal School at Ypsilanti, and then began the study of law at Lexington, Michigan, in the office of Nims & Beach, prominent attorneys of that place. The better to prepare himself for efficient service in his chosen calling, Mr. Avery subsequently entered the law department of Michigan University at Ann Arbor, which he attended one term and in the spring of 1872 was admitted to the bar in the city of Port Huron. While prosecuting his legal studies he defrayed his expenses by teaching of winter seasons in the schools of St. Clair and other counties and earned the reputation of a very capable and painstaking instructor.

Mr. Avery began practicing in Port Huron and soon succeeded in building up a large and lucrative business. He took high rank among the enterprising and successful attorneys of St. Clair county, and his name appears in connection with many of the important cases tried at the Port Huron bar during the years of his active practice. With a natural predilection for the political arena, Mr. Avery early became greatly interested in partisan politics and it was not long until he was a recognized force in the councils of the Republican party in Port Huron and the county of St. Clair. He was chosen as delegate to the various nominating conventions local, district and state, and always made his presence felt in the deliberations. The year of his admission to the bar he was elected circuit court commissioner of St. Clair county and two years later was his party’s choice for the more responsible position of prosecuting attorney. Mr. Avery was triumphantly elected prosecutor in 1874 and with such signal ability and universal satisfaction did he discharge the functions of the office that he was chosen his own successor at the ensuing election two years later. From the expiration of his second term in 1878 until his appointment as postmaster of Port Huron by President Harrison, Mr. Avery attended closely to his professional duties, adding continually to his reputation and prestige as an able, judicious and eminently successful attorney. His abilities, both natural and acquired, well fitted him for his chosen calling and for a number of years the amount of business which he carried through the various courts was as great perhaps as that of any other attorney of the local bar. His success in a professional way offers the best evidence of his capability in this line. He was careful in the preparation of legal papers, clear and logical in their presentation and on the trial of cases was uniformly courteous to court and opposing counsel. He was a strong advocate and, being familiar with all the minutiae of practice, so conducted his cases as generally to win victory for his clients. Mr. Avery proved a popular postmaster and his management of the office was eminently satisfactory to the public. In 1897 he was appointed by the late President McKinley collector of customs for the district of Port Huron, which office he held until his death and in which he so deported himself as to add to his already well established reputation as a capable and conscientious public servant.

Mr. Avery was a Mason of distinguished standing, having attained to a high degree in that ancient and time honored fraternity; he was also identified with the Ancient Order of United Workmen and the Modern Woodmen of America and took an active interest in the welfare of both organizations. Public spirited in all the term implies, he used his influence in behalf of anything tending to advance the interests of Port Huron, materially or otherwise, and few, if any, enterprises for the general good were inaugurated without his liberal assistance and hearty co-operation. He possessed high intellectuality, broad human sympathies and tolerance, and was imbued with fine sensibility and clearly defined principles. His standards of manhood and right were high and he hated hypocrisy and scorned what was little and narrow in human kind. Honor and integrity were synonymous with his name, and to say that he enjoyed the respect, confidence and high regard of the people of the city in which the greater part of his life was spent and his success achieved is to state what is cheerfully conceded by the entire populace of Port Huron.

Mr. Avery was married at Jeddo, Michigan, on the 22d of July, 1866, to Miss Martha Locke, daughter of Thomas Locke, of that place, which union was blessed with the birth of three children. The career of Mr. Avery abounds in many valuable lessons and incentives, besides furnishing a striking example of what a young man, plentifully endowed with a good common sense, backed by a well defined purpose, can accomplish in rising to useful and honorable positions. Throughout his life there was ever dominant that hidden but potent moral force which always pointed out the higher way and led to noble achievement. He lived well and the world is better because of his having lived. His body is dead, but the blessed influence of such a life dies not. He needs no mausoleum to perpetuate his memory, for the hearts and affections of his kindred and friends constitute an abiding monument. The death of Mr. Avery occurred on the 6th day of May, 1901.


PLEASE NOTE: I do not have any personal interest in researching the AVERY surname or the St. Clair county, Michigan location. I am merely posting a select number of the biographical sketches found in the above-referenced book *upon specific written request* as a service to the genealogical community; these transcriptions are intended for personal use and are not being done for profit. Please do not contact me with regard to research interests in the above as I have no personal ties. Thank you.

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