GEORGE WASHINGTON GILL AVERETT
(1824-1902) Brother of Elijah Averett
By George Washington Gill Averett
Additional history by his granddaughter Effie B. Syphus
George Washington Gill Averett was born in Maury County, Tennessee, on January 20, 1824. He lived at the place of his birth with his parents John Averett and Jennett Gill Averett, and his brothers and sisters until sometime in the year 1830. Then, he and his family migrated to White County, Illinois, somewhere near the Saline Salt Works. They stopped there only a short time. His father traded his farm in White County for a farm in Hamilton. They only lived there perhaps three months. They then moved to Hamilton County about thirty miles from Shawneetown on the Ohio River and about nine miles south of the county seat of Hamilton County. Hamilton County was then known as the Mayberry settlement on the North fork of the Saline River, which was near a swamp called the Scaters. The Wheeling and Tennilles Creeks spread out and made a vast swamp.
Being in an inland portion of the country quite secluded from the things of the more populous part of the country, John Averett’s family lived a quiet sober life, seeming to appreciate the comforts and blessings of life. We had but small advantages of education, having to walk three miles for all the schooling that we, as children, obtained in this place. My father bought 40 acres of land, most of the same under cultivation; and being land that did not produce very heavy crops of grain my father didn’t become very wealthy, seeming to lose more instead of making it. He raised some cotton and flax, and we manufactured the same with our own hands into clothing for our own use, both for Sunday and every day. We always went barefooted in summer time and in shirttail. Sometimes both the boys and girls went barefooted both in winter and summer, except in very cold weather.
About the year 1832, my father went into raising tobacco quite extensively thinking to help him and family by so doing. He bought several hog-heads of tobacco and shipped them along with his own to the city of New Orleans only to have them condemned by the city inspection. So, he lost all of his tobacco, which hurt him financially.
In the following year two of my brothers, Elijah and Elisha, and my brother-in-law Elbridge G. Porter enlisted in the Black Hawk Campaign under Captain A. Bigerstaff of Hamilton County, Illinois. This matter somewhat frustrated my father in his calculations and he slacked his efforts in the tobacco business. He betook himself more to the raising of corn and wheat. Sometimes he had to borrow money to keep his promises and to pay his debts, although he had plenty of farmland and stock land, yet was poor.
By this time two of my sisters and one of my brothers were married: Jennett to Samuel Alexander Kelsey; Mary to Eldridge G. Porter; and Elijah to Miss Cherrizade Grimes. Things passed along for about two years without any remarkable event worth mentioning. About 1833 or 1834, Obed Webb took my sister Sarah and married her without the consent of my father and mother. Soon after they were married Obed abused Sarah by whipping her. He abused her in a most ridiculous manner.
About 1835 the Latter Day Saint work found most of my folks. Elisha Groves and Isaac Higbee, Latter-day Saints missionaries, came through our part of the country and stopped at my father's house. They preached to all of the family that was at home at that time. They baptized my father, mother, 3 sisters, and 2 brothers. During the sojourn of Groves and Higbee, there came into the settlement William Ivey and Milton Homer. They assisted in the labors in that part of the country. They baptized 30-40 persons. The power of the Lord was made manifest to the believers. They spoke with new tongues and gave the interpretations of the same. The sick were healed. The hearts of the believers had cause to rejoice in the goodness of God. The writer of this biography had a testimony given to him by his Heavenly Father of the truth of the Latter-day work, although he was only a child of about nine years of age. The Lord answered his humble prayer and made manifest his power by healing him instantly of a disease the first time he had ever to ask the Lord for a blessing. He saw and heard his mother and sister and many others speak with new tongues and give the interpretations of the same. He had many other manifestations of His powers to the saints when they loved one another and the Lord blesses them that serve Him the true and living God.
In April 1836, my sisters Eliza, Jennett and her husband, Samuel A. Kelsey, and brothers Elisha and Elijah in company with a number of our neighbors, migrated to Caldwell County, Missouri. They settled on Steve Creek some two miles from Far West. The spring following in 1837, my father, mother, sister Pyrenia, and my brothers John and Murray, migrated to Caldwell County, Missouri. They settled on Shoal Creek about one and one half miles from Far West on a fertile spot of land. We cleared off some land and fenced and sowed to turnips. This country seemed to teem with all the blessings that mortals should wish for: convenient range one thousand acres of grass and the fertile prairie suitable for mowing for hay and easy to be brought into cultivation. The country seeming to teem with all the blessings that our hearts could desire: honey, deer, turkeys and prairie hens, quails, and the streams full of fish easy to catch, beautiful groves of timber, and convenient wild fruit and nuts too numerous to mention. My father rented some corn that had been planted before he arrived at Far West, raising some of the best corn and sod that I ever beheld raised on sod land. Everything seemed to grow and prosper in this land that was put into the ground and cultivated. Another blessing that this country offered was the very best of spring water in abundance. This land seemed to be a choice land in every deed and to the writer of these lines this land seemed to be a heaven in every deed. Everything seemed to smile with blessings too numerous for my pen to describe or my tongue to express. Although but a small boy I rejoiced exceedingly in this land of Zion. I felt to give God the praise and to bow before him on my bended knees and call on his great name for his blessing. I also felt to thank him for the light of the gospel and for the many great blessings, which he was blessing on us within that goodly land of Zion.
During the summer of 1837, my brother Elisha was married to a widow by the name of Dorcus Witt. She was the widow of Robert Witt who was killed in an affray or fight in McLeansboro, Hamilton, Illinois. He was to have been killed by a man of the name Bum Gamer along with some other man. She had 3 children by Robert Witt: Kizian, John, and Sarah Jane. They came in the same company as Elisha when he moved to Missouri. They settled in the neighborhood of Far West, Missouri in the summer of 1837.
In the months of July and August the mobbers of the neighborhood and the joining counties of Ray, Clinton, and La Fayette, Jackson and Davies began to howl like bloodthirsty wolves. They appealed to their neighbors for help and declared that the Mormons and Joe Smith would overrun the country. At the same time they made all manners of lying, slandering reproaches against the Latter-day Saints and especially against Joseph Smith, the prophet of the Lord. They drove the Saints from time to time from Jackson County, Ray, Clay, and Clinton, robbing them of their homes and property. Each time they had to make themselves new homes in Caldwell County and Davies, one of the joining counties.
In August of 1837 at the election polls in Gallatin, Davies County, Missouri, some of the mobbers decided that the damned Mormons shouldn't vote. In consequence of their undertaking one of the Saints by the name of Butler and some several of the mob got into a fight. Butler got the better of all whom engaged in the fight. He came out victorious in the skirmish by being an expert in welding his cudgel. This affair still enraged the mobbers, still more in Davies and the adjoining counties.
Sometimes during that fall a portion of the Saints who lived at DeWitt on or near the Missouri River were driven from their homes and full-grown fields of corn. They would have been murdered if it had not of been that the hand of the Lord was over his people for good and the prophet Joseph was awake to his duties. Also, Joseph went to their welfare with some of his brethren of the Saints and assisted and guarded them to the city of Far West in Caldwell County, Missouri.
Before the Saints left DeWitt one of the mobbers approached the night guard, a man by the name of Alexander Williams shot their guns at him. Without any affect and breaking to run he, Williams fired his gun at one of them striking him near the mouth. Williams made the mobber call on his God he thought for the first time in his whole lifetime. It was stated that Williams shot his chew of tobacco out of his mouth.
Soon after this occurrence, difficulty occurred betwixt the Saints and the mob in the neighborhood of Haun's Mill. The two parties met together and held a treaty of peace. They agreed to be at peace with each other and before the Saints who were assembled at the treaty of peace. The mobbers, contrary to their solemn agreement returned and commenced some 200 hundred of them to fire on the unsuspecting Saints, men, women and children. They massacred them in a most brutal manner, so much so that my ability is inadequate to describe the extent of the same after satisfying their hellish desires by the shedding of blood. Some of them mangled the bodies of the slain after death. One man, by the name of McBride’s had his body horribly mangled by being cut to pieces with a mowing scythe. It was also told that some of the mobbers fired at some of the women of that place, shutting them in their place after they had done all the meanness by killing all the men they could find alive. They murdered two small boys to satisfy their hellish disposition. All of this shouting happened at or near the Haun's Mill, where there was a small house. Amongst the worst, there was one blacksmith's shop, which the most part of the murders was committed. After the affair was all over seventeen of the slain were buried in an old well. The well was near the shop by the few men and women that were left alive.
Soon after this occurrence the mob grew more and more enraged. Some small skirmishes took place after this and some took place before. At Crooked River one bloody fight took place. This was where a number of the mob that was killed and wounded and several of the Saints were wounded and one noble man of the Saints was killed, David Patten, and one of the twelve apostles, a noble spirit much lamented by all the Saints. One of the Madge family and one of the Henricks family was also shot and badly wounded at that encounter at Crooked River, but both recovered after a long time suffering.
Sometime in the fall of AD 1837, the governor of the state of Missouri ordered the militia of the state of Missouri to go in numbers of some five to seven thousand to drive the Saints from the state of Missouri, or to exterminate them indiscriminately. Joseph Smith the prophet, saw the militia and the mob being moved against the Far West. The mob seemed determined to massacre all the Saints, so Joseph in wisdom gathered his brethren together to protect the interests of the Saints. There were some three hundred in all able bodied men, old and young, to defend the helpless.
After several days of maintaining their positions on the borders of the city there was a treaty of peace agreed upon. There also was a flag of truce placed betwixt the two armies. The mob and militia marched into Far West, Missouri. The treaty was on the conditions that the Saints lay down their arms and leave the state of Missouri and they shouldn't be harmed. So, General Blake and his men marched into the city of Far West, Missouri and formed themselves around the Saints in masse and ordered them to lay down their arms with a promise that they should receive them again.
As soon as the Saints left, and the mob and militia got possession of the city, they commenced to plunder the Saints' property in every quarter. They took goods and chattels in every direction, pretending that that was their goods. They said that the damned Mormons had stolen them from them, often claiming men' horses that they never had seen before and taking them straightway with them biding defiance to all opposition. The writer of this sketch was a witness of some of their thefts in the following manner: He and his younger brother was in a corn field that their father and brothers had raised for their own use to make them bread and to feed their stock. The unprincipled mob came into their field of corn in great numbers and swept the corn as they went, asking no odds of the owner. They made their way up to the writer and made a proposition to the affect that they would make these boys haul their corn to their camp. They would have had to carry the mobs hellish plans into effect had not there have been one among them that had more human principle than the rest of his kind, riding up right in the nick of time and telling them to leave the boys alone.
As soon as this opening presented itself, my brother and myself hastily left for home taking with us what corn that we had gathered, without waiting to gather a full load. Things moved on in about this manner until the Saints left the county of Caldwell, Missouri for the state of Illinois. They left in cold weather, thinly clad and poorly furnished with provisions. In the winter and spring of 1838, the Saints left their homes in Caldwell, Davies, and Clinton County to their enemies without asking for any remuneration what so ever. My father left quite an improvement some two miles from Far West without any remuneration what so ever. My brothers left similar ones near Far West. The foregoing brother’s names were Elijah and Elisha Averett. They endured many hardships during the persecution of the Saints in Missouri and in Illinois.
Early in the spring of 1838, myself, father, mother, four brothers Elijah, Elisha, John and Murray and sisters Eliza and Pyrenia landed with the body of the church in the state of Illinois. At first most of the church stopped in Adams County. They rented land as they best could. The people of Adams County were kind to the Saints and especially the people of the city of Quincy, Adams County. My father and my brother-in-law, S.A.P. Kelsey crossed the river at Hannibal, Missouri. Then they turned their course to Millville, Illinois and from there to Payson. In Payson they rented forty acres of land from one of the old settlers by the name of James Rollins, paying him for the rent of the same, the breaking of the same.
Now they had to prepare for the crop that they must raise that same year of corn. Being a bad bargain as it was they attempted for one crop of corn and one crop of wheat but they made the best of a bad bargain that we could. We raised some corn and worked it, breaking prairie and other pursuits to obtain employment through that summer and fall. In the spring of 1839, my father, mother, sister Pyrenia, brother Murray, and my sister Mary Porter and her husband E.G. Porter moved from Adams County, Illinois to Pike County, Illinois. They settled one half mile from a small place then called Fairfield, which was changed to the name of Pleasant Hill. They lived in the south portion of Farfield on the waters of the creek, which was about five miles from the Mississippi River. On the second bottom of the same, there was a rich fertile county. My father bought forty acres of land and followed the pursuit of farming in the same neighborhood until his death. Some years after, my mother also died and finally two brothers and two sisters and one of the sister's children and many nephews and nieces died in the same neighborhood. Most of them were buried in the McCullen graveyard.
About the year of 1845 or 1846 my father sold out his possessions consisting of two 40 acres of land. One timber on the neighborhood of Pleasant Hill, Pike County sold to John Venabel, and moved about four miles near a village named Martinsburg, Pike Co., Illinois. He bought 40 acres of land and improved the same. He cleared out a small farm and buildings. He lived on the same place until the day of his death. On that memorable day, the 19th of April 1847, he was able to work hard at rolling logs and clearing up land for the spring plowing. He took sick about sunset and before late bedtime he came to his death. His mother was left alone and somewhat helpless on accounts of her health, but he left her some means. So, by good earning she was supplied with necessities of life for several years. Her daughter Mary Porter moved into her house and lived with her when she was at home, but some part of her time she lived with her daughter Pyvenia Harper.
Sometime before the death of my father I, the writer of this sketch, by invitation of my father took it in hand to learn the wheelwrighting business, and worked for some time with father, and succeeded to the extent that I could do considerable work in that line. After father's death I kept doing journeywork round about the home of mother and relatives. Through the winter months I would take my ax and go to the river bottoms for the sake of being with my acquaintances. Several times I went to Nauvoo to spend a few months with my connections, my friends the Saints, and also having brothers and sisters living there.
Nauvoo was situated about 190 miles from St. Louis. Nauvoo was a city on a bend of the Mississippi River. It was a beautiful, sightly situation in which city the saints built a House to the name of our Lord and dedicated the same to his name and did some work for the living. After the saints were driven from Nauvoo, some unprincipled wretch burned the Temple. Afterwards it was torn down and hauled off the ground. About 1847, I took myself to the business of wheelwrighting, guns, wagon making. I traveled from farm to farm doing those things, which the farmers had to do. I made my home at my sister Mary Porter's, since her husband left her in 1839. I helped take care of her three small children, two girls and one boy. The boy, George A. Porter died and was buried in the McMullen Graveyard).
AT THIS POINT IN GEORGE WASHINGTON GILL AVERETT’S HISTORY, HE GOES ON AN EXPEDITION TO DISCOVER GOLD IN CALIFORNIA. THIS HISTORY WILL BE RECORDED ELSEWHERE.
Sometimes on the Mississippi River we had to stop because the fog was so dense in daytime that we could not see how to steer the vessel. Arriving safe at the city after about 16 days from the Bay of Honduras, I think our passage to New Orleans cost us each $25, and on the Pacific Ocean it was $40. Taking in New Orleans a few days, we took passage to St. Louis, costing $15, taking five or six days. Here we found ice so thick on the river that the regular "Pockets" could not run, so we took passage on a steer wheel boat to Clarksville, 10 or 12 miles from home. Clarksville is on the Missouri side of the river.
We crossed the river about sundown, and crossed the bottom some 5 miles to Clarksville on foot. Being sick, I "sat down to rest" and my companions soon missed me and came back. By talk and some brandy, telling me it was good for me, I soon mustered courage, but I had to stop several times before we reached Pleasant Hill. There I stopped with David Copiln (Copeland?) all night. The next morning after breakfast I started to walk the remainder of my way home. The rest of my companions went on the night before. Before I had gone far from my lodging place, one of my nieces, Eliza T. Porter met me on horseback and I rode home. I was glad to meet my connections, especially my kind old mother. I was so overcome by the journey and sickness that before night I had to be helped from the bed to the fireplace.
Through good care and diet I recovered, so I could walk about and visit my old friends and comrades. That was the end of a 10,000-mile trip in 2 years from home. Early in the spring of 1851, I regained my health enough to start my business of Wheelwright. I followed this business for a livelihood. For many years, I was considerably in debt when I got home. I owed to my being so sick enroute for home. I thought I had money enough before I started to pay my entire expenses home. I think that in making change in San Francisco, I was robbed of considerable gold dust. At least I was compelled to borrow money from my brother-in-law. This, with the interest, and board bill, took me nearly two years to get out of debt.
Paying strict attention to business in every available manner that I could with honesty and hard work, I finally cleared away my debts and married my wife by the name of Nancy Ann Turnbeaugh, on February 24th, 1853, by Alexander Hemphill, in Pleasant Hill, Illinois. She was the daughter of John and Ruth McLain Turnbeaugh. Being short of means to start housekeeping, we stopped with my wife’s father, a widower for two or three months. His wife died April 7th, 1852. We stayed there until I had time to build a log cabin on a 5 acre piece of land, which my wife’s father gave her of his land that he lived on.
After 7 or 8 months, we rented a house in Pleasantville and moved into that village. I went into partnership with a blacksmith and went to making wagons. His name was John L. Brant. My brother worked with me to learn the trade, and we were partners. I paid him wages from the start.
We did well in the business and soon I was able to buy a frame home. The home was hewed log barn with 2 rooms and 40 acres of land. My mother lived with us, having lived with me before my marriage, and still with us until her death. Soon after I bought this place in Pleasant Hill, I sold our place that my father-in law gave my wife in order to enable us to pay for our Pleasant Hill property. I commenced to improve my place, finish the house, put on an extra room and porch, paint the whole house, build a new workshop 30 ft by 16 ft, wide, and fix up in general. I did quite a business at wheelwrighting and gunsmithing. Having plenty of houseroom we took in boarders sometime rented out one room of our stable, which I found in ready demand.
Soon I had enough means to outfit me to go to Salt Lake, where I had been longing to go for many years. Since my mother died, we were left quite lonely, so we were quite anxious to sell out. In the fall of 1858, I sold my place to Jacob Porter for three or four hundred dollars. This time we had a son, Elisha Erastus, born September 12. He died the 12th of March 1859. His death casted more gloom over us, so on March 18, 1859 we started for Salt Lake City. We had a good wagon and team, a good outfit of clothing, provisions, and about $300 in gold.
We went on through Missouri without any unusual event except for one of the most terrific storms that I ever beheld on land or sea. This took place on the exact same ground that Zion’s Camp had camped on Fishing River when Joseph and Zion’s Camp was there. The mobs of Missouri were going to kill them, but the Lord did not design it. The men who were there said that the river was thirty feet deep, so the mob could not get to them. The storm was so turbulent that it blew down our new tent and trees in every direction. My wife took the youngest boy, and I the oldest. My wife suggested that we started for the old Baptist Church, which was still standing. We passed through fallen timbers for about 75 yards. Glad and thankful, we got there in safety and met many of our fellow travelers that had taken refuge in the like manner as ourselves, although not members of that sect. About 10 wagons of us traveled together in a company. We made a start for the next stream, Big Fishing River. When we arrived, we found that it was up so high that we could not ford it. We had to unload our wagons, and float our things across in a skiff, and pull our wagons across with ropes.
We traveled on some distance without any remarkable events, to Weston on the Missouri River. Here we crossed over on a good steam ferryboat, and traveled several miles ahead to Fort Leavenworth. We camped there for a few days to rest and lay supplies to complete our outfit for the plains. We went on through Kansas. One of my team became weary and I bought a yoke of oxen for $40. I traveled with the train I had started with from Pleasant Hill, Illinois. One evening just after dark, a stampede of our stock began, except what we had tied. Some 150 to 200 heads started running, which shook the earth. Our men mounted horses and ran among them for a few miles, soon stopping them, never losing one horse or cow.
We next reached South Platte River. Here we stopped for a buffalo hunt. We fired many shots and only got one buffalo. The writer had his horse get away, so he had a long walk back to camp. The next evening when we crossed South Platte, we had a terrible storm. The storm was right on the riverbanks. Since my wagon was so light, the terrible wind tipped it over. I jumped out just in time to see it going over. As soon as I hit the ground, my hat blew in the river. I had to go to Fort Laramie before I could get another hat. Here I met with the Honorable Horace Greeley. He was on his way to California, by way of Salt Lake City. We reached Salt Lake City on September 3, 1859, and stayed here a few days to rest. Then we went to Fort Union, 12 miles south.
We stayed there a few weeks. My brother Elijah came up from Sanpete County to the October Conference and persuaded me to go home with him to Manti. So I went and built me a house and corral just under the hill. Now the Manti temple stands where I built my house. Staying there one season, raising some grain and garden, I concluded to go with some surveyors to Gunnison. I drove the first surveyor stake there, took up a claim and raised a crop of grain and vegetables.
In the fall of 1861, when so many people were called to Dixie, my brother Elijah was called to go. He wanted me to go with him. Orson Hyde sent word to me that if I wished to go that I would be blessed. Having a great deal of love for him, he being my father in the gospel, I concluded to go with my brother to Dixie. Dixie is where I am writing of this history, August 28, 1891.
Soon after our arrival to Washington, Washington County, it started raining to such an extent that it raised all the streams till they became turbulent. The rain washed out all dams and swept out farms and everything in its path. It left the Rio Virgin River in some places a fourth of a mile wide. It brought down from the mountains thousands of cords of wood which were valuable to us for firewood and poles. Not only the Virgin, but all the streams in the country around was effected, and many adobe houses were caused to fall.
Myself, wife, and three children, John, Murray, and Melzina camped on a lot, which I bought for $20. In the wake of this storm we had no other shelter than our wagon cover for several weeks. As soon as possible I gathered together a few logs and some stone and sank down the ground about two feet. I soon had a shanty built, covered with willows and dirt. It was quite comfortable. I think it was the first shanty built by the 1861 immigrants in Washington. I then went to work to fence my lot for a garden with stone, stake, and willows. I got as such materials as could be picked up along the river in the drifts. Soon we had to go to work on our dam and ditch in the Washington field. At this job I spent most of my time for four months.
During this time I had to go to Sanpete for bread (flour), because I had left Gunnison before I had got my grain threshed. I had about 30 bushels. I left an order that I bought from Brother Millet for 15 bushels, which I never drew and left for tithing for the clerk to do as he thought best.
This dam and ditch work lasted about 25 years. I was at first a helper to make levees, put in gates, dam building, lying off ditches, etc. I mostly helped to build dams. I was next to the Superintendent. In a few years, we got up articles and incorporated on ditches, bridges, and us. In this institution I held office of President. The whole time I was President I had to look after the dams and ditches.
Finally, I was made dam builder and water master. In the course of time I became very tired of such losses as was common for me on the labor. Having bad health through exposure, I declined to accept any more offices in the incorporation.
In the latter part of 1884 I became dissatisfied in Washington so I traded my property to A. Perkins for some in Arizona. I wound up all my business, and paid up debts that were very few and little. Finally on March 27th, 1885, I left for Arizona. My son Elijah lost his best horse, but we managed very well without it. We reached our place near Taylor, but quite disappointed to find the property I had graded for was greatly misrepresented. Also the notes and acts that I had received from Perkins were refused and denied, stock misrepresented, and paid many of them that Perkins had utterly denied. Myself, wife, 5 sons, 4 daughters, one son-in law, Thomas Blazzard were all disappointed with the property, but not so with the country or the society. We found a good, kind, hospitable people everywhere we went. Elijlah, my son, Thomas Blazzard and their families, and myself went to the Gila River. There we found a good farming country. They stayed and I arranged for a place to move to. I went back to Taylor, finding my family had had a hard time of it. On our homeward journey we met a company of emigrants that warned us to turn back or the Indians would surely kill us. Being in a lone wagon, we waited until we could get company to travel with. On our way back we camped almost in sight of the Indians, when they had killed a white boy with stones. We suppose they had killed him in this way to keep us from hearing them so as to know their whereabouts. We got back to our folks in safety in one or two days. After our return at night, the same band of Indians came right into the village that I was stopping at and stole a number of horses. I heard the bell on one of my horses. I suppose it rang when the horse was running from the Indians. Finally, it stopped and became calm. I lay back down and became contented. That night a meeting was held in town. Many of the people were in attendance. When they got home they found their horses gone, so they organized a posse of boys and gave chase with lanterns. They pursued them until 9 or 10 o’clock. They had a hard time knowing if they were Indians or Mexicans. When they got in sight of them, they found that they were in imminent danger by an Indian lying in ambush.
Here, the writer stopped his story, so with the help of others, I, Effie B. Syphus, will try to finish out his life.
George Washington Gill Averett
By his granddaughter Effie B. Syphus
The Indians were causing so much trouble. Some of the family had Malaria fever, so they all loaded their belongings into wagons, and started back to Utah. They only stayed in Arizona 19 months. Before leaving, they had the satisfaction of seeing Gernomino the Indian outlaw captured and banished to Florida. They were able to get back part of their property in Washington. Here they made their home till his death in January 14, 1902.
He fixed the guns for the Indians, which caused him to have many friends among them. The Indians called him "George Fixum" (fix them). He built a good comfortable home for his family. Part of the home was two stories, a long porch on the front of the house, upper porch on both sides, and one along the back of the house. He did most of the work on the house. He cut a fancy cornice around the eaves and fancy trim in the porch posts. He was fond of yellow, so everything got a coat of yellow paint. He was a very skilled and neat man in many trades. I can still remember the big sign out on the corner "G.W.G. Averett, Wheelwright and Gunsmith." He worked as a carpenter for 18 years at the old cotton factory. He and his family made most of the coffins for the burials in Washington, and never took a cent of pay.
They had no means of transportation but their teams and wagons, so grandfather walked to St. George many a time.
When they started to Arizona they needed a bell to put on the stock when they would hobble them out at night. Grandfather found a cracked bell and he brazed it so well that it could be heard for many miles. He held possessions, trust, and responsibility in the building up of Washington. One of his little books has the marks and brands of the cattle while he was brand inspector. He worked on the St. George Temple. How much or how long he worked on it he was too modest to say. His brothers Elisha and Elijah also worked on the St. George Temple as masons. Their brother John also worked on the Nauvoo Temple.
His brother Elisha was a member of the Mormon Battalion. He traveled 500 miles on foot before returning to his family. The families, as far back as we have written history of them, were true-blooded patriotic American citizens. They fighted to defend their country where ever their country needed them. They were there right down to the present world war, where a great many of his grandchildren and great grandchildren served their country at home and abroad; One gave his life in World War II.
My grandfather did a lot of Temple work for his friends and loved ones. He also kept a record of the families from cradle to grave. This diary is a regular gold mine. It is so valuable.
His wife, who died in 1909, was a widow for 7 years. She made her own way by raising a garden, keeping a cow, a good fat pig, and weaving carpet on the back porch for as little as ten cents a yard.
He was a father of eleven children. His children all married and raised large families except one son, Gilford, who died a bachelor. Each of the children had to name some their children George. One daughter named her twins George and George Anna.
Grandfather raised grapes. He made the grapes into wine to sell as a cash crop. He raised fruit, which was hauled away fresh and dried, both to exchange for flour, grain, and foodstuffs. George and Nancy made a trip to Salt Lake and took 6 of their children. They went to the Endowment House, making the trip with team and wagon, to have the children sealed to them, June 14, 1867. The trip usually took 3 weeks to make.
My grandfather was a fine, upright, honorable, religious man. He frowned on vice and sin. He had the love and respect of scores of friends. He stood guard many days and nights away from home to protect and defend his family and friends from the Indians. He had one nephew killed while on guard and raid duty.
He owned the first stand of bees in Washington. He was a horticulturist, equal to many that have their schooling. He would bud and graft his trees, having several kinds of fruit on one tree. He also raised tobacco. He was a good cabinet-maker, considering the tools they had at that time. He made all their furniture.
He had 3 women sealed to him, but never married in polygamy as his brother Elijah did.
The early part of his life was spent as a pioneer or in the homes of pioneers. His parents settled a new country in Tennessee where he was born. They then moved to Illinois, which was still on the frontier. He pioneered Manti and Gunnison, where he drove the first surveyor’s stake, then the Dixie country. By this time he was accustomed to hardships and privations. He had very few of the comforts of life to enjoy. Grandfather kept his face shaven clean. From ear to ear he had a fringe of gray hair under his chin about 2 inches long, and no mustache. His hair was long enough to reach to his shoulders. Although he stood erect, he walked with a cane, and walked quite briskly up to his latter days. He kept a little cart and horse which he drove until his family had to make him stop. Until it was dangerous for him to handle a horse, he would drive out to our farm five miles from Washington to get a cup of cream. He kept active up to the very last and his mind was very keen and alert.
He had very little schooling, but was a man with a practical education, which was gained from experience and hard work. He made a trip back to the "States" and gathered names and dates and information on and about his people to get the Temple work done for them.
At his old blacksmith shop in the back yard, they would let us pump up and down the bellows, which was a special treat. I will always remember the red, hot iron, him pounding them on the anvil, and especially the smell of the coal fire he heated the irons in. They will always be some of my very pleasant memories. He also had a little room or den of his own on the back of the house. He had so many interesting things in it that. We loved to sneak in and snoop around. The old well in the front yard where all the water for the home was drawn up in a wooden bucket, by means of some pulleys will also be one of my fond memories.