Early area settlers Peter Avery and son Allen


For the next few weeks, The Vagabond will discuss some of the folks who settled in the area west and north of Attalla before the Cherokee Indians were removed. This area was located from around Highways 77 and 431 all the way up to Sand Valley Road and over to Reece City.

The area once occupied the site of an Indian village that was of considerable importance during the Creek War of 1813. Some says that Indian relics found in the vicinity are “Tsu-sanya-sah – Ruins-of-a-Great-City.” Nevertheless, this area has some of the most unknown events in American history.

The Vagabond last week discussed Richard Ratliff, Sr., and his Cherokee Indian family that lived what is now the southwest corner of U.S. 431 and Hwy 77.

Years ago, the late historian Jerry Jones wrote an article about Peter Avery and his son Allen Avery, who operated a store when the Cherokee Indians were still living in Etowah County. Jerry also found the store’s ledger book, which listed many of the folks we have been discussing over the past few weeks (and will be the next few.) 

The article reads:

“Bible In Old Trunk Held Family Records – December 19, 1965”

“Recently while looking through an old trunk at the home of Mrs. Jewel Noble, Route 1, Attalla, an old Bible dating back to the early 1700’s was found.     

“The first record was the birth of Peter Avery, born in 1739 in Poughkeepsie, NY. It stated that Peter was the son of Myer and Doricas Fredericks Avery and that he married Mary Yaple.

“The births of their 11 children are listed from Jan. 15, 1779, to Oct. 26, 1805. There are also the birth records for four generations of this family, as well as the birth and death dates of the parents of some of the husbands and wives of the children. 

“Peter Avery came to Alabama soon after it had become a state and settled in what is now known as Murphree’s Valley, near Aurora. He is buried in a grave at the foot of Sand Mountain near the old Morton’s Mill.

“A story that has come down in the family is that on the way to the cemetery, the horses drawing the wagon which carried his body ran away down the mountain. The casket was thrown out, and there was not time to build another one. A grave was dug and he was buried at that spot. A marker was still there a few years ago but cannot be located at the present time.

“Of the 11 children of Peter and Mary Avery only one remained in Alabama. The others migrated to Missouri, Arkansas, Tennessee and Mississippi.

“Allen Avery, born Oct. 26, 1805, and died Aug. 31, 1859, was the son who remained. He married Sarah McBrayer, the daughter of David and Mary Young McBrayer from Buncombe County, NC. They built a log house in Sand Valley, which is still standing today. 

“Mr. Avery was a farmer and a merchant. In the same trunk in which the Bible was found, an old ledger of the accounts to Allen Avery was discovered. It contained the names and amounts owed of over 100 families for the years and was known as Avery, AL. He is buried in the historic Noble Hill Cemetery near his home.

“Mr. Avery owned several farms, including the Noble farms in Sand Valley and the Whorton farm on Big Wills Creek in Attalla. Both farms are owned by descendants of Allen Avery.

“In 1787, North Carolina legislators approved a road act, which ordered a road [Avery Trace] to be cut and cleared from the south end of Clinch Mountain to Nashville. Peter Avery blazed this trail to mark the route.

“Peter had an unerring woodscraft and was never at a moment’s loss to tell the points of the compass. As a result, he was known as ‘Old Compass Head.’

“Peter Avery and Mary Yaple Avery migrated to Alabama from Tennessee about 1818. At least two of their sons, David and Allen, also lived in Alabama. Peter Avery was one of the “Over-the-Mountain-Men” who took up arms against the British and their Indian allies during the American Revolution.

“Peter was baptized in the Dutch Reform Church and enlisted in Capt. Isaac Terbush’s company in Dutchess County, NY, on June 21, 1761. He was described as being 22 years of age, with fair complexion, grey eyes, fair hair, and a cordwainer (leather worker) by trade. When he married Mary Yaple, he married as Peter Efferlie.

“Avery was a non-pensioner Revolutionary War soldier. No record of his war service has been found, but he no doubt saw service against the Indians, and probably in specialized services, such as scouting.

“His great-grandfather was Edward Avery, who was born in Cornwall, England, and immigrated to America. 

Edward passed away in Yonkers in Westchester County, NY.

“Peter Avery died Oct. 21, 1816. His son passed away right before the start of the Civil War on Aug. 31, 1859.”

Next week: German immigrants settlers before the Cherokee were removed.

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