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|Size||700 items on 2 microfilm reels|
|Abstract||MICROFILM ONLY. Avery and Marsh families of Petite Anse Island Plantation, later Avery Island, near New Iberia in Iberia Parish, La., and of Baton Rouge, La. Prominent family members were Dudley Avery (d. 1816), medical officer of the Drafted Militia in New Orleans, 1814-1816; his son, Daniel Dudley Avery (1810-1879) of Baton Rouge, lawyer, state senator, judge, and sugar planter; John Craig Marsh (1789-1857), who originally acquired Petite Anse Island Plantation; his son, George Marsh (d. 1859); and his daughter, Sarah Craig Marsh (1818-1878), who married Daniel Dudley Avery in 1837. The collection includes Avery family correspondence and financial and legal records, chiefly 1817-1895. Over half the collection consists of financial and legal papers relating to the operation of the Petite Anse Island sugar plantation and salt mines. These include plantation accounts, bills of sale for slaves (some bills are from New Jersey), bills for merchandise, promissory notes, and receipts. Correspondence includes letters from Dudley Avery serving as a medical officer in New Orleans during and after the War of 1812; letters, 1828-1845, between John Craig and George Marsh at Petite Anse and their relatives in New York and Rahway, N.J., about family and plantation affairs; letters, 1846-1847, about life in New Orleans and other matters; and family letters from Baton Rouge and other locations in the 1850s. Correspondence after the Civil War is chiefly to and from Daniel Dudley Avery and his business associates about the salt mines and plantation operations, and between Avery and members of his family about plantation and personal affairs, including the struggle to hold onto the family property. The originals of materials described in this finding aid were transferred to Avery Island, Inc. in September 1999.|
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The Marsh family and the Avery families were united by the marriage of Sarah Craig Marsh (1818-1878) to Daniel Dudley Avery (1810-1879) in 1837.
Daniel Dudley Avery's parents were Captain Dudley Avery (d. 1816) and Mary Ann Browne Avery (fl. 1807-1828). In 1807, Captain Avery left Onondaga County, N.Y., for Cincinnati, where he met and married Mary Ann Browne, daughter of Reverend John W. Browne. The Averys moved to Baton Rouge, La., where Captian Avery worked as a physician. He also served in the state legislature, and in 1813, was appointed justice of the peace of East Baton Rouge Parish.
Sarah Craig Marsh's parents were John Craig Marsh (1789-1857) and Eliza Ann Baldwin Marsh (d. 1826). John Craig Marsh was born at Cherrry Bank Farm, Rahway, N.J., on 28 July 1789. He acquired Petite Anse Island Plantation, later known as Avery Island, ten miles south of New Iberia in Iberia Parish, La., probably in early 1818. Petite Anse Island is a salt dome which rises approximately 180 feet above the surrounding marsh. Besides mining salt, Marsh operated a sugar plantation on the island's fertile soil.
John C. Marsh took with him to Louisiana his wife, Eliza Ann Baldwin Marsh; his older son, John C. Marsh, Jr.; his daughter, Sarah (Sally) Craig Marsh; and several other relatives. He left George Marsh, his second son, with his parents in Rahway. Two other daughters, Margaret (who married Ashbel Burham Henshaw) and Eliza Ann (who married William Robertson), were born on Avery Island. John C. Marsh, Jr., died in 1820 and Eliza Ann Baldwin Marsh died in 1826. After Eliza's death, John C. Marsh married Euphemia Craig, widow of his close friend and business partner, William Stone (fl. 1819-1827).
John C. Marsh was assisted in operating his sugar plantation by his second son, George Marsh (d. 1859), who appears to have joined his family at some point and was the primary manager of the plantation during the 1840s. In 1849, John Marsh sold his interest in the plantation to two of his sons-in-law, Daniel Dudley Avery and Ashbel Burnham Henshaw. He eventually returned to New Jersey and died there in 1857.
Daniel Dudley Avery was born in Baton Rouge on 12 April 1810. After his graduation from Yale College in 1830, he studied law with Thomas Gibbs Morgan and was admitted to the bar in 1832. He settled in Baton Rouge, where he built up an extensive law practice. Also in 1832, he was elected to the General Assembly as the representative from Baton Rouge. He also served as prosecuting attorney for the Florida District and was elected circuit judge in 1860. He resigned that position in 1862 when New Orleans was taken by Union forces. Avery held joint ownership of Petite Anse Island Plantation with George Marsh and Ashbel Burnham Henshaw until 1854, when he bought Henshaw out.
Daniel Dudley and Sarah Marsh Avery had six children: Mary Eliza (b. 1838); Sarah Marsh (b. 1840); Dudley (b. 1842); John Marsh (1844-1891); George Marsh (b. 1846); and Margaret (b. 1848).
During the Civil War, Avery went first to Petite Anse Island and then to Texas to avoid Union soldiers. His son Dudley enlisted in the Delta Rifles and fought under Albert Sidney Johnston in the Shiloh campaign. He was wounded and, after recuperating, joined the 18th Louisiana Regiment west of the Mississippi under Lt. General Richard Taylor. Avery's son John deferred going into the army to produce salt for the Confederacy at Petite Anse. John Marsh Avery later enlisted in the army.
After the war, both Dudley and John Marsh Avery became active in Louisiana politics. Dudley served as president of the Police Jury of Iberia Parish, state senator, and delegate to the Democratic National Convention. John served as state senator. Dudley married Mary Louise Richardson, and John remained a bachelor.
Mary Eliza Avery married Edmund McIlhenny, and Sarah Marsh Avery married Paul B. Leeds. George died in infancy.
(This note was adapted from a sketch written in 1951 by Joseph S. Clark, descendant of the Averys.)Back to Top
The collection contains Avery family of Louisiana correspondence and financial and legal records, chiefly 1817-1895. Over half the collection consists of financial and legal papers relating to the operation of the Petite Anse Island sugar plantation and salt mines. These include plantation accounts, bills of sale for slaves (some bills are from New Jersey), bills for merchandise, promissory notes, and receipts.
Correspondence includes letters from Dudley Avery serving as a medical officer in New Orleans during and after the War of 1812; letters, 1828-1845, between John Craig and George Marsh at Petite Anse and their relatives in New York and Rahway, N.J., about family and plantation affairs; letters, 1846-1847, about life in New Orleans and other matters; and family letters from Baton Rouge and other locations in the 1850s. Correspondence after the Civil War is chiefly to and from Daniel Dudley Avery and his business associates about the salt mines and plantation operations, and between Avery and members of his family about plantation and personal affairs, including the struggle to hold onto the family property.Back to Top
Chiefly correspondence between Captain Dudley Avery and his wife, Mary Ann Browne Avery. Between 1814 and 1816, Dudley Avery wrote numerous letters to Mary Ann from New Orleans where he was apparently serving in the legislature. In his letters of 1814, he mentioned General Jackson, the progress of the War of 1812, and some of the discussions in the legislature. He also wrote of acquiring items for his family in New Orleans and efforts to recover a runaway slave. In December 1814, Avery wrote about the troops that were in New Orleans, expectations of attack, and later, two battles that had taken place. He served as a medical officer in a regiment of Drafted Militia during the Battle of New Orleans and continued to wrote several accounts of the conflict. Dudley Avery's last letter, dated June 1816, is headed "Schooner Industry, Belize." A letter from September 1816 refers to Avery's death. Also included are a few scattered papers of John C. Marsh, who had not yet left New Jersey.
Correspondence shows that John C. Marsh was settled on Petite Anse Island by the fall of 1818 with his brother Stewart following a few months later. Marsh's wife Eliza and his partner William Stone joined them in 1819. Materials in this subseries are chiefly bills of sale for slaves and indentures executed by Marsh and Stone. Some of the bills of sale for slaves include a form, signed by the slave, agreeing to move to Louisiana. Such forms apparently reflect complications Stone encountered with authorities in New Jersey. John C. Marsh received a letter from Jesse McCall, his overseer who appears to have been operating the plantation in Marsh's absence, in the summer of 1818 about money and supplies.
Other letters between 1818 and 1827 are to Marsh from relatives in New York and New Jersey. Subjects include Marsh's appointment as magistrate, the purchase of slaves, and family illnesses and the death of Marsh's mother. Letters also show that William Stone died sometime in 1826 or 1827.
Materials relating to John C. Marsh and Petite Anse Island Plantation after the death of William Stone. In 1828, Marsh married Euphemia Craig, William Stone's widow. He wrote and received letters about plantation operations and also received a few letters from New Jersey relatives about family matters. Also included in this subseries are plantation accounts, 1826-1828, with numerous entries relating to salt production. There are also notes and documents about the settlement of William Stone's estate. A few documents relating to Daniel Dudley Avery appear. In 1828, Avery entered Yale College from which he wrote to his aunt in Groton. Documents show that he returned to Baton Rouge after graduation in 1832 and was admitted to the Louisiana Bar in 1832.
In 1836, George Marsh, John C. Marsh's son, evidently moved to Petite Anse Island Plantation and began assisting in its management. In 1836, he received a letter from Anthony Marsh in Rahway, N.J., congratulating him on the success of the "first enterprise on your plantation" and describing the poor quality of the crop in New Jersey, a serious fire at Brook and Market Streets in New York, and the rapid growth of Rahway, including the coming of iron factories to the area. During the 1840s, John C. Marsh spent an increasing amount of time in New York and New Jersey, leaving the management of the plantation to George. Much correspondence between father and son about plantation affairs was generated by this separation. There are also letters to George from other family members, mostly about family news. Also included are bills of sale for slaves, a certificate of John Marsh stating that a mulatto man who had been his servant had served his term, and the record of a $4,800 mortgage held by the Union Bank of St. Louis against Marsh. There are also four love letters dated 1837 from Daniel Dudley Avery to Sarah Craig Marsh. The couple married on 17 August 1837.
Chiefly letters from Daniel Dudley Avery to his wife Sarah Craig Marsh Avery while he was serving in the Louisiana state legislature and she was at the Petite Anse Island Plantation with her children. Letters discuss family matters, epidemics, deaths of friends, runaway slaves, and New Orleans social life.
In 1849, John C. Marsh sold one-third interest in the Petite Anse Island Plantation to Daniel Dudley Avery and anther third to Ashbel Burnham Henshaw, husband of Marsh's second daughter Margaret. George Marsh retained one-third interest. Document in this subseries are chiefly fianancial items relating to the plantation under the three-way partnership. In 1854, Avery bought out Henshaw and controlled a two-thirds interest. Included are mortgages; itemized accounts and bills, some of which relate to medical treatment for slaves; a jail fee for a runaway slave; and detailed records from the wholesale brokerage firm of Bogart, Foley, and Avery for marketing sugar and molasses. From 1850 to 1855, accounts show luxury items purchased in New Orleans and shipped to the plantation.
Papers also include tax receipts, promissory notes, accounts for wages paid to skilled laborers, and accounts for insurance, freight, and drayage. A document dated 1854 shows the terms of purchase under which Daniel Dudley Avery secured Henshaw's interest in the plantation for $40,000. According to an April 1854 document, John C. Marsh forgave at his death the $31,825 still owed to him by Daniel Dudley Avery. A May 1856 document shows that Marsh freed several mulatto slaves in accordance with an agreement made with their fathers.
Marsh died in April 1857, apparently in Baton Rouge. In September 1859, Daniel Dudley Avery took his son Dudley to Princeton. Young Avery placed in the sophomore class. On this journey, Avery wrote to George Marsh giving him detailed insttructions for handling plantation operations. George Marsh died in December 1859, and various items relate to the settlement of his estate.
Documents relating to Petite Anse Island Plantation and Avery family of Louisiana members during the Civil War. Included are a few 1862 letters relating to salt production.
John Marsh Avery, second son of Daniel Dudley Avery, secured a temporary deferment from military service in September 1862 to remain on the plantation to supervise salt mining. Also in 1862, the State Geologist of Mississippi conducted an analysis of the rock salt from the plantation. In June 1864, Lt. Dudley Avery wrote to Major-General R. Taylor to secure a deferment for the overseer of the plantation so that he could continue to raise crops and mine salt.
There is little family correspondence for the war years. Daniel Dudley Avery took his wife and daughters to Houston, Tex., in the spring of 1863 and did not return to New Iberia until April 1865. Documents show that in Houston Avery was associated in some type of business venture involving C. S. Longcope, formerly of New Iberia, who corresponded with Avery after his return to Louisiana. John Marsh Avery served as an ordnance officer in the Confederate army during 1864 and 1865. There are numerous ordnance requisitions bearing his signature.
Other documents include promissory notes relating to George Marsh's estate; tax receipts; clothing bills; canceled checks; and salt accounts. In June 1863, Sarah Avery received a letter from an old friend in New Orleans about the gaiety of the city and the return of soldiers. She also heard from a friend in Houston, telling of local conditions after the Averys' departure, including the desertion of the former slaves and the plight of the planters. Also included is a copy of Daniel Dudley Avery's plea for amnesty and a printed copy of President Johnson's Amesty Proclamation of 1865.
Documents relating to the fortunes of the Averys after the Civil War. The chief topic in the years immediately following the war was the salt mines on Petite Anse Island and the family's attempts to make a successful enterprise from salt mining. According to geological reports, the salt deposit was extremely valuable, but correspondence indicates the difficulty the Averys had in obtaining capital to mine the salt and the growing indebtedness of family members.
Following their return from Texas, Daniel Dudley Avery and his family took up permanent residence at the plantation on Petite Anse Island, which came to be known as Avery Island. Edmund and Mary Elizabeth Avery McIlhenny also lived on the island. In 1866, there are letters to Daniel Dudley Avery in New Orleans from his son John Marsh Avery, who was apparently managing the plantation in his father's absence. John wrote about crops and about clothing to be bought for former slaves, many of whom had returned to work the plantation. A few letters in 1866 discuss the workers' dissatisfaction and attempts to devise acceptable contracts.
In 1866 and 1867, there are numerous letters to Daniel Dudley Avery about the salt mines and efforts to resume production. Other business letters about Avery's financial affairs and about George Marsh's estate are also included. In July 1867, Daniel Dudley Avery received a letter from his nephew R. M. Walsh of Baton Rouge about financial matters and stating that "Negroes [were] registering very rapidly and have their candidates for Mayor, etc." In 1868, John Marsh Avery spent some time in New Orleans where he enjoyed an active social life. He also undertook some business activities for his father.
After 1870, there are fewer business letters to Daniel Dudley Avery and more family letters. Avery and John went to St. Louis, Mich., in 1870 to "take the Water" and wrote home describing Saginaw, where they may have been investigating a saw mill. John Marsh Avery corresponded with his friend Daniel Thompson of Chicago about the Chicago fire. Several letters in 1872 reveal John and Dudley Avery's growing interest in Louisiana politics. Also in 1872, there are letters about the drought, when cisterns ran dry and water was sold on the streets of New Iberia. In Setpember 1872, Dudley Avery wrote to his father in St. Louis, Mich., about his appointment as Police Juror and his election as "chairman of the Parish Executive committee of the Liberal Party, a position of some power and responsibility."
From January 1873 through December 1876, the Averys were involved in a legal battle to retain their property. Daniel Dudley Avery was in debt to the estate of David Hayes with mortgage notes due in January 1873. Avery was unable to raise the money to pay these notes and Sarah Marsh Avery obtained a judgement against him in 1876 to protect her part of the property. Petite Anse was sold at auction in 1876, with a friend buying it at a very low price. The friend then sold the plantation back to the Averys, who were able to retain control of the property.
Sarah Marsh Avery died suddenly in April 1878, and Daniel Dudley Avery received a note of sympathy from actor Joe Jefferson. Daniel Dudley Avery's death is noted in a letter of sympathy to John Marsh Avery dated 11 June 1879.
Documents reflecting some of the activities of the Avery children. John Marsh Avery served on the Democratic Central Committee in New Orleans. There is also Sarah Avery Leeds's correspondence with the Bishop of Louisiana (Episcopal) about religious matters and a letter to Paul B. Leeds fom John C. Caton of Chicago informing him of a scheme of the Morton Salt Company to ruin the reputation of Avery Island salt.
John Marsh Avery corresponded in 1890 with Senator R. L. Gibson in Washington about the coming election, the lottery, the African-American vote, and concern over what he terms the "Africanization" of Louisiana. They also discussed the fact that the levees were down and Gibson's efforts to secure an appropriation for their reconstruction before the floods came.
In 1890, Dudley Avery received a note from Joe Jefferson about a performance of Sheridan's The Rivals given in New Orleans. In April 1891, the Avery family received letters of condolence on the death of John Marsh Avery. In 1892, Sarah Avery Leeds received two letters from Homer D. L. Sweet about a family history he was compiling. She also received a letter from Frances Cleveland, wife of Grover Cleveland, thanking her for a baby blanket, and a letter from Cleveland himself.
In 1895, Dudley Avery wrote to Sarah Avery Leeds about a property dispute, this time with Myles and Company, a salt concern. Also in that year, Dudley Avery wrote a history of the salt mines.
There are only a few items after 1895. Among these is part of a history of Petite Anse Island, including Marsh and Avery family history that was written by Senator Joseph S. Clark in 1951.
Chiefly undated accounts, but also a few letters, including two to John Marsh Avery from R. L. Gibson.
Volumes of the Avery and Marsh families, chiefly relating to Petite Anse Island Plantation.
Volume 7: Ledger containing list of person receiving announcement of the marriage of Sarah Marsh Avery to Paul B. Leeds, 26 April 1866; an incomplete list of person buried in the family graveyard on the plantation; and other genealogical information, including anecdotes about family servants before and after slavery. #03289, Series: "2. Volumes, 1829-1924. " Folder 54
Included are a copy of the Planter's Banner, 1856; five pamphlets about the rock salt deposits of Petite Anse Island and other parts of the Louisiana coast; a photostatic copy of a publication of the Smithsonian Institution, June 1872, entitled On the Geology of Lower Louisiana and the Salt Deposit on Petite Anse Island; a copy of the Iberia Progress, 12 Aguust 1876, containing public notice of the case of Sarah C. Marsh, wife, vs. Daniel Dudley Avery, husband; an obituary for Daniel Dudley Avery from the New Orleans Times, 12 August 1876; and miscellaneous clippings.
Processed by: Jan Adkins, Shonra Newman, Roslyn Holdzkom, October 1999
Encoded by: Roslyn Holdzkom, October 1999
This finding aid represents the Avery Family of Louisiana Papers collection as it was before the original materials were withdrawn from the Southern Historical Collection in September 1999. The collection is now available at the SHC on MICROFILM only.
Series 1.1-1.7, Series 2, and Series 4 appear on microfilm from University Publications of America as part of the Records of Ante-Bellum Southern Plantations from the Revolution through the Civil War series (Series J, Part 5, Reels 10-11). Series 1.7-1.9 appear on reel M-3289/1 (SHC microfilm, 1993). Series 3 is not available on microfilm.
The originals of materials described in this finding aid were transferred to Avery Island, Inc., Highway 329, Avery Island, La. 70513 in September 1999.Back to Top