More on William Green Avera & Family

Image Detail: William Green Avera, circa 1913

Found a bit more on William Green Avera (1855-1944), life-long educator  and Superintendent of Berrien County Schools, who lived near Ray City, GA.

William Green Avera was the eldest child of Stephen Willis Avera and Martha Elizabeth Akins. When an infant,  his parents brought him to the newly formed Berrien County, where his father engaged in farming.

“During the war he [Stephen Willis Avera] enlisted and became a soldier of Company E of the Fifty-fourth Georgia Infantry. His command joined the western army under Generals Joseph E. Johnston and Hood, and stubbornly resisted Sherman’s advance all the way from Dalton to Atlanta. After the fall of the latter city he went to Hood’s army, participating in the battles at Jonesboro, Franklin, Murfreesboro and Nashville, and after the last named engagement he was sent home on detached duty, the war closing before his recall to the front.”

“Laying aside the musket he again put his hand to the plow, and was engaged in farming in Berrien county until 1887, when he sold out and bought a farm in Colquitt county which he still occupies, having reached the good old age of seventy-six years. He married Martha Elizabeth Aikins, who was born in Clinch county, a daughter of William Green and Winnie Ann (Moore) Aikins. Stephen W. Avera and wife reared eleven children, whose names are William Green, Winnie Ann, Polly Ann, Sarah O’Neal, Daniel M., Lyman H., Phebe V., Lou, Junius H., Cordelia and Martha.”

The image detail above is from a family photo taken circa 1913:

The Avera family photo appeared in the 1956 Berrien Centennial edition of the Nashville Herald with the following caption:

MEN IN HISTORY – Above are four men who played a part in the history of Berrien County.  Top left is the late W. G. Avera, better known as “Uncle Billy,” who spent his life working for better education, serving as a teacher and County School Superintendent.  He was also a leader in religious fields. Lower left is Willis Avera, father of W. G. Avera. He fought in the War Between the States. Upper right is I. C. Avera, sheriff of Berrien County for 16 years. Lower right is Daniel Griner, father of Mrs. I. C.  Avera, whose family settled on lands in the eastern part of Berrien County, now part of Nashville. The land was first farmed and later sold as home sites.  The baby is Phin Avera, grandson of the four. The two on left are his maternal grandparents, and the other two his paternal grandparents.

Photo as it appeared in the 1956 centennial edition of the Nashville Herald.

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Professor Avera Lived Near Ray City, GA

 

 

Image detail: William Green Avera, circa 1905. Image courtesy of Berrien County Historical Society, http://berriencounty.smugmug.com/

William Green “Bill” Avera

 

Bill Avera was a lifelong educator of Berrien county who lived in the vicinity of Ray City, GA. He was born August 1, 1855, in  Clinch County Georgia. His father was Stephen Willis Avera and his mother was Martha Elizabeth Aikins. William Green Avera was the oldest of eleven children, his brothers and sisters being  Winnie Ann, Polly Ann, Sarah O’Neal, Daniel M., Lyman H., Phebe V., Lou, Junius H., Cordelia and Martha.

Upon the organization of Berrien County,  Stephen and Martha Avera brought their young son to establish the family homestead in the new county in 1856. During the Civil War, Bill’s father enlisted and became a soldier of Company E of the Fifty-fourth Georgia Infantry. Stephen Avera saw action defending Atlanta from Sherman’s approach and later in the battles at Jonesboro, Franklin, Murfreesboro and Nashville. The war ended while he was at home in Berrien County on detached duty.  After the war, Bill’s father continued to farm in Berrien County.  In 1877 Bill Avera married and established a household of his own near Ray City, GA.

The home of William Green Avera was located about five miles northeast of Ray City, GA.

In addition to his work as a teacher and superintendent William Green Avera worked for teacher education, being frequently involved in the organization and presentation of “teacher institutes.” In the spring of 1895, Avera co-presented with James Rembert Anthony at a teacher institute held at Sparks, GA, on Saturday, March 16, 1895, their presentation: “Grammar, the Actual and Relative Importance of Parsing and Diagramming.” J. R. Anthony was a teacher from Valdosta, GA. Among others on the program was Marcus S. Patten, who presented “Reading: Teaching to read using Holmes as the text.”

In his 1913 work, A History of Savannah and South Georgia, Volume 2, author William Harden gave the following account of William Green Avera:

   PROF. WILLIAM GREEN AVERA. The career of a man who for the greater part of a life time has been identified with the training and education of the youth is always one of the most valuable assets of a community. Probably no educator in south Georgia has been so long or so closely connected with educational progress and the practical work of the schools as the present superintendent of the Berrien county schools, Prof. William Green Avera. He belongs to a family of pioneer Georgians, and was born on a farm in Clinch county, the 1st of August, 1855.

*****

  Reared in a good home and trained to habits of industry, William G. Avera early manifested special inclination for study and the pursuit of knowledge, and made the best of his early opportunities of schooling. He has been a lifelong student, and when he was eighteen he was entrusted with his first school, located three miles east of Nashville. For thirty-three years, an entire generation, he was in the active work of the schoolroom, and he taught children and children’s children during that time. The aggregate length of his service out of those thirty-three years was twenty-five full years, a third of a long lifetime. In 1907  professor Avera was elected superintendent of the Berrien county schools, and by re-elections has since served continuously in that office. His administration has been marked by many improvements in the county educational system.

   In 1877 Professor Avera was united in marriage with Miss Eliza J. Sirmans. Mrs. Avera was born in Berrien county, daughter of Abner and Frances (Sutton) Sirmans. She died at Sparks in 1905. In 1911 Professor Avera married Margaret McMillan, a native of Berrien county and daughter of Randall McMillan. The following children were born to Professor Avera by his first marriage, namely: Sirman W., Marcus D., Bryant F., Aaron G., Alice J., Homer C., Abner J., Willis M., Lona, and Lula. Marcus D., Homer C., Abner J., and Lula are now deceased. Aaron G. married Fannie Key, now deceased, and has one son, William. Sirman W. married Annie Young and has a daughter named Georgia. Bryant F. married Mary Patton. Alice J. is the wife of William T. Parr, and has four children, J. W.,Stella, Saren and Gladys. Lona married Austin Avera, son of I. C. Avera, sheriff of Berrien county.

   In 1878 Professor Avera settled on a farm eight miles southeast of Nashville, and that was the home of his family until 1904, when it was temporarily removed to Sparks that the children might have the benefit of the superior educational advantages available in the Sparks Collegiate institute there. Prof. Avera’s present home is at Nashville, the county seat of Berrien county. He still owns the old home where all of his children were born and reared, and where his beloved deceased wife and children are buried. Sacred is the memory of this home to the man who has given the best years of his life to the educational and moral upbuilding of this section of Georgia. 

   Professor Avera and wife are members of the Primitive Baptist church, and in politics he is a Democrat.