(1863-1943) Son of Elisha Averett and Sarah Jane Witt

James Lafayette Averett, son of Elisha and Sarah Jane (Witt) Averett, was born April 10, 1863 in Washington, Washington County, Utah. He was of a family of eight boys and six girls. He was the tenth child. His mother, Sarah Jane, died in Heber City, Wasatch, Utah, giving birth to her fourteenth child, on 31 December 1875. Her new son, David, followed her in death on 4 January 1876.

When James was a small boy he was playing on the ice. A group of young people were skating on a pond near his home. A large boy circled near the child resulting in a collision. Both boys went down. A point of one of the skates tore into James' skin. This developed into serious trouble for many years and eventually left him a cripple. His mother cared for him until she passed away from childbirth. This left James at the tender age of twelve, along with eight other children still at home (ages ranging from twenty-one to four years of age). The older four were evidently married. The older brothers and sisters help care for Elisha's children now. Elisha kept James with him doing all the help he could to care for his leg. At times pieces of bone would break loose and cause a running sore until the bone piece would work out to the surface.

Not long after burying his wife in Heber City, Wasatch, Utah, Elisha, at age 65, continued to work as a building missionary for the Church. He went wherever he was called to use his special talents in the Lord's vineyard. He lived in Kanab for some time and finally settled in Glendale, Kane, Utah. He died there on 22 October 1890 when James was twenty-seven.

In the winter of 1893-94 seeking work, James went to Arizona where his brother George was living. The following April he came home to Glendale and married Laura Maxwell on the 31st May 1894. That day the young couple took to raise Jamesís nephew, a son of his sister Lucy and her husband Sam Griffith. James Wesley (Dick as he was known) had a deep love for his Uncle Jim and Aunt Laura.

After they were married James worked for Martin Cutler. The following summer he rented the Scott Cutler Ranch on North Fork. They milked cows and made cheese and butter. Jim would freight it to Salina, Utah the closest railroad point, then bring back a load of merchandise for the Martin Cutler store.

On the 4th of September 1896 in Glendale, Kane, Utah their son, Charles Ray was born. Afterwards James bought a piece of land from M.D. Harris. There they built a nice little house where two of their children were born: Jacob Eugene Averett on 2 November 1898 and Laura Eulalia Averett on 31 March 1901.  

When their baby, Laura Eulalia, was three weeks old James sold the home and left Glendale. On April 23, 1901, along with his brothers Robert and Byron and their families, they headed for the Big Horn Country, Wyoming. His brother George and family had gone there the year before with Haskell H. Jolley. 

While in Glendale, the brothers formed an orchestra. George played the violin, Robert played the guitar, Byron played the mandolin, and James called for the dances.


While in Glendale Jim had a serious time with his leg. Proud flesh set in and the pain was so severe that tears rolled down his cheeks. When he could endure the pain no longer he had me get a bottle of carbolic acid and pour it, undiluted, into the sore. The infected flesh would turn white and in time it healed over until he would get it bumped again. Then his leg would gather and run until a sliver of bone would work out. 

Leaving Glendale we went up through Huntington to Price, Utah, then took out through Uintah County to Vernal and over the Indian reservation. We stopped a few days with Elish Campbell, the son of James's sister, Kizzie Ann Campbell. It was April and the rivers were high. The evening before we left a crowd of neighbors spent the evening giving advice regarding the road. As the Green River was high and dangerous, they told us of a road over the mountain. 

Near the top the snow was deep so the men put all six horses on our wagon since it was loaded lighter than the other two. They put Bob's family in with me and my children. When we were about half way up the lower wheels went into soft snow. The upper wheels were in icy snow and wagon turned over. The Lord was with us as the bows and cover caught on a large tree that kept us from going several hundred feet to the bottom. A faithful old mare also held the wagon until a twig left a wedge along her side. No one was hurt but everyone was a bit stunned. The men got the wagon turned over then took the six horses after the other two wagons. No more trouble occurred after the road was broke but we spent all day getting on top to the smelter. We found a warm house to sleep in and a warm barn for the horses. The next morning we found one track was washed deep with running water. We mothers walked with our children. As before luck was with us. Nobody got sick from the exposure. The next morning we headed for Green River (Wyoming). It took us three days to go eighteen miles. The road was so corroded. It was built up with tree limbs and brush covered with dirt. The snow and thaw took its toll there. The limbs would break and skin the horse's legs.

By the time we got to the Green River ferry the river was so high that trees and stumps were rolling down stream. It looked terrible. The old ferryman said he could not take us over, as it was too dangerous. He came over and talked to the men and they finally decided to try it. He took our wagon first. The other men watched. They were to signal if they saw anything coming. We all got across safely but after making camp our faithful old mare had a fold. So Jim hitched in a two-year-old filly that had never had a rope on. She refused to budge. Finally he had to put the old mare in again, as we were helpless. We had many frightening experiences in Wyoming. 

At Piedmont near Green River a large outfit was shearing sheep. Bert Allred and Bill Adams of Lovell were there among the shearers. Our men sheared sheep for a week. After being paid they went to get their checks cashed. They were being watched by a stranger who asked where we were going. He then advised us to stop at a definite place saying no water was to be had for another day's drive. I felt uneasy but he was so definite. Bob felt as I did so they filled the barrels and watered up the horses. We then went about a mile over a ridge and camped. In the night I heard a sound. I woke Jim and told him I was sure someone was coming on a horse, and fast. He also heard it and woke Bob and Byron. The fellow went around the wagons and started driving the horses off. Jim grabbed his gun and took off shooting. Soon the filly with the bell became quiet. All went well until a few days later. 

We had made our camp and the men had gone to locate grass. A man came down from the timber. I collected myself to answer many questions. Among them was "Where are the men?" I tried my best to speak casually and told him they were just after rabbits. Then he wanted to know how many men there were. I told him five but did not say that two were rather little men. He left thinking the men would be back any minute. Needless to say, we were three happy mothers when the men returned. 

When we came to Lander, Wyoming, the Indian agent was on his way to the July 4th celebration. He told the men there was plenty of grass and to turn the horses on it for which they were grateful. After turning the horses out some Indians came. The leader wanted them to pay $4.00 each for our seven horses. At this Byron unwisely called him a name. Jim spoke up and told Byron to let him handle it. After much talk they agreed on $7.00 for the bunch. Then Jim asked if their horses would be left alone. The Indian said, "W'eno," and they left. The next morning he returned and said, "See, no lie," and Jim told him, "Heap wino."

At Shoshoni we were told we could not cross the Wind River. The only other way was to go over the mountain. They hitched the six horses on Bob's wagon. We walked and carried our babies. The double tree broke, letting the wagon roll back. It turned and hit a tree, so we were all day getting on top. When we got to Thermopolis no feed was to be bought. The men fed the horses a few potatoes that we had. This had to do until we came to Basin where feed could be had. We arrived in Lovell, Wyoming on July 14, 1901. I must say it was a happy birthday for me. It had been four months since leaving Glendale all the while living in a wagon. (It was actually three months.) 

We had a pretty rough time that winter. My husband was fortunate to get work so we did not suffer for something to eat. We lived in a 10 x 12 foot tent until our log house was built. It had muslin partitions. When Hyrum Morris moved to Arizona we bought their range stove. 

(Lula Averett was born two years after the Averetts moved to Lovell. She was born on 7 October 1903, at Lovell, Big Horn, Wyoming.) 

When our fifth child, Clarissa Maud Averett, was born 24 February 1906, Lovell, Big Horn, Wyoming, Jim bought a farm west of Lovell on the river bottom. We lived there thirteen years. When the highway went through, he built a log house across the street west from the present city water plant. 

(While living here the last three children of James and Laura were born. James Lafayette Averett Jr. was born on 2 October 1908; George Wesley Averett was born on 7 February 1911; and Ivan Osher Averett was born on 12 October 1913.) 

In 1916 the Great Western Sugar factory came in. My husband sold the farm and bought a farm on the bench south of Lovell, Wyoming. We have sweet memories as well as the sad. June 22, 1924 our daughter, Lula, (at the time she was working in Laurel) was on her way to Billings, Montana with others in the car. The car was in a wreck with another car and she was killed. 

On. December 16, 1928, our married son, Charles Ray, died of ulcers. (He died of general peritonitis, as a result of a ruptured ulcer, at St. Vincent's Hospital, Billings, Yellowstone, Montana.) 

After coming to Lovell the Averett brothers played in a band under L.M. Sorenson. James L. Averett did a great deal toward building up the pioneering of the Big Horn Basin. He assisted in building the Lovell canal and a canal at Worland. He worked on the railroad that went through Lovell. He spent two years on the road through Wind River Canyon, on both the road and the railroad. He worked on the St. Vincent's Hospital at Billings, Montana. He and a brother built a vault for the first Powell bank. He worked on the old Strong Dance Hall, the Armada Theatre, and the first L.D.S. church building in Lovell. 

Being away a great deal he was not active in his church, although he had a firm testimony of the gospel. His religion motivated him to be honest in his dealings with everyone. He was always charitable in his feelings toward the less fortunate. For example: a lonely boy came to his home asking where his brother was. Not knowing the boy or his brother he was given sympathetic understanding in telling his situation. These kind people again opened their door to a child of God who needed parental sympathy and understanding. 

(Jamesís hearing failed him fairly early in his life. His hearing became so bad that to communicate with him verbally one had to almost shout to make him hear. Many times problems arose with him because he didn't understand what was being said to him. Finally in the days when hearing aids were available one was purchased for him. He wore it only a very short time, took it off, and never wore it again. He had been deaf for so many years that he couldn't stand all the noise he could now hear. He preferred the quiet world he was accustomed to.) 

James, failing in health and old age, realized he was not able to do heavy farm work any longer. He decided to leave the farm and move to town in 1938. He helped himself by raising a good garden but he expressed to his family at times how he would like to be back on the farm. His vitality continued to fail. Finally on Saturday while out in the yard he fell and was brought in and put in bed. This is where he stayed until he passed away on September 13, 1943. His family doctor said it was a worn-out heart. (Just before he died, he told a loved one his son, Charles Ray was standing by his bed waiting for him.) He was buried in the Lovell Cemetery. James left behind his devoted wife and five children. (Three children had preceded him in death.) (Jacob Eugene had died at the age of two, in Glendale, Utah on 24 December 1900) 

The first part of this history of James Lafayette Averett was evidently written by Della Tippets, a cousin. The rest was-evidently related to her by his wife Laura Maxwell Averett, who was blessed with a clear memory and unusual sight at the age of seventy-eight. Maurine Averett Moser found this history, written in the handwriting of Della Tippets. She typed it as it was written. Maurine is the granddaughter of James L. and Laura Maxwell and daughter of Charles Ray and Leona Wilcock Averett. This history was re-typed by Charles Ray Averett, Jr., brother of Maurine Averett Moser. He made corrections in spellings, punctuation, and information, where needed, to make reading and understanding easier and better. Other information was added to this history for clarification of certain areas and to give further insight into the life of James Lafayette Averett. The added bits of information are to be found in parenthesis, as are many of the corrections, which were made. 

Corrected points of information

1. James was born in 1863, not 1853 as stated by Della Tippets.

2. James was born in Washington Washington County, Utah, according to the family group sheet of Elisha Averett, and other documents. St. George is about four miles away. The Averetts lived in Washington, but never in St. George.

3. Elisha and Sarah Jane did have fourteen children, but they had eight boys and six girls, not seven of each.

4. If James was born in 1863, he had to have been twelve when his mother died, and not eight. If he had been born in 1853, he would have been twenty-two when she died.

5. Laura mentioned they left Price, Utah, then "took out through Tuilla County, to Vernal." She must have meant Uintah County. That's where Vernal is. Tooele (Tuilla) County is west of Salt Lake City, and borders the state of Nevada.

6. Charles Ray Averett died in 1928, not 1929 as stated. (Death Certificate - Montana)

Since not all the names of Averett children and dates of birth were in this history of James and Laura Averett, they were added to make the history more accurate. This information was taken from the James L. and Laura Maxwell Averett family group sheet, in the possession of Charles Ray Averett, Jr.

MORE STORIES OF THE FAMILY - by Laura Eulalia Averett Clark

I will tell some things that my parents have told me over the years:

When they first came to Lovell, there was no work to be had. They said that Papa went to Yellowstone Park and worked there driving a tourist stagecoach for sight seers for the summertime. We only got to see him when he came home during the wintertime.

After that he drove a freight wagon from Bridger, Montana (which was the end of the railroad at the time) to Lovell. It was the only way the stores could get supplies freighted in. The railroad was not built through to Lovell at that time. Papa did that kind of work for five years. Then we moved out to the farm on the river bottom.

Papa had to travel far to go to work. Often Mama would hitch up the horses to the buggy, fix a lunch, and take us into the field to eat our lunch with Papa. That was the only way we could see him, as he would leave so early in the morning, and get back after we were in bed. Oh what a lark to have a picnic with Papa!

It was a hard life, but a good life there on the farm. Diphtheria was raging in Lovell. Mama was nursing my sister Lula or Maud. I don't remember which, at the time. People were dying. Our family didn't get the diphtheria. The Bishop came and asked Mama if she would go take care of people. She asked how he thought she could do that with the nursing baby and family she had to care for. His answer was, "I will give you a blessing, and if you do as your Heavenly Father wants you to do, I will promise you that none of your family will get sick and all will be well with them". She took him at his word. When she came home at night after being with the doctor all day, Papa would have a tub of hot water, soap, and clean clothes ready for her in an out building. She'd go there bathe in disinfectant and put the clean clothes on before coming into the house with us. None of us got diphtheria.

It seemed that epidemics would always hit during the winter. Whooping cough came one year; then the measles came around. My sister, Lula, got them real bad. The rest of us didnít have such a hard time. Later on when I was a good-sized girl and my brother George was the baby the whooping cough came around again. My brother, Jim, had a very severe case. The rest of the children were sent down to stay at Bill More's, a distant cousin. Our two families were helping each other out. I meant Ray, Lula, and I went. The others were too young to leave home. Mama had her hands full as Jim nearly died. Then our adopted brother, Dick, was there with his wife who gave birth at the time. To care for Jim and try to keep the little babe from getting the cough was a monumental task, but my mother was a real versatile person. She could do marvelous things. She was really a pioneer lady.

Maurine asked me to tell about Papa's injuries. I have told how his leg became injured. While a teenager, and still having much trouble with the leg, he went up to Salt Lake and dug salt by the lake. That salty water really helped to cure the running sores more than anything. It got him off his crutches. Papa's arm was stiff. I don't remember how that came about but that arm could not be straightened out. He lived and worked with these infirmities without a complaint to anyone.

James and Laura always had someone in their home that they had befriended. Other then the boy I previously talked about, who stayed until he married, there was our cousin Dick. Dick came into their home the day they were married. My Aunt Dorcas had been caring for him, but Papa supported him even before Papa and Mama were married. Dick stayed with them until he was about seventeen.

His mother had been an invalid with poor health. So Papa took Dick, Uncle Robert Wesley took Caddie, and Uncle George took Mae. Later her health improved and she remarried. Dick wanted to see his mother. Papa scraped up enough money to send him to Salt Lake. She had had one or two more children. She didn't even know her older son. She treated him like a servant, with a "Do this" and "Do that" constantly. No "Thanks", and did not even allow him to eat with the family. He had to eat in the kitchen at whatever was left over. It hurt him so much. He wrote and asked if he might come back home. When Dick was older he went back down to Utah and herded sheep. This is when he met his wife.

There was another boy who couldn't get along with his father. The boy had typhoid fever. Mama nursed him through that. He stayed with our family until he married. Then there was a girl whose lover deserted her. She was pregnant and my folks took her in. The man wrote and asked her to come to Nebraska to marry him, but Papa made him come to Lovell to marry her in their home. Then that couple went back to Nebraska.

My sister got a divorce and her two children, Emery and Helen Irene, were taken to Mama and Papa's home to stay until their adult life. I got a divorce and they had my George for a while, but I supported him. Then after Ivan's divorce, they had his Keith. After Maud remarried, Mama wouldn't give up her two children.



My grandparents had a player piano. I can just imagine how very relieved everyone must have been when we left for home and quiet once again reigned in their home.

They had a very large food cellar built up in the orchard. It was built on the slant of the land so that the cellar would always be dry inside. Grandmother raised one of the largest gardens and canned all of it. She had to, to feed the crew that was always there.

As soon as we would arrive to visit she would say to me, "You might as well go get your jar of pickles now!" Off I would go to get a two-quart jar of dill pickles. I would consume them all before we would go home.

The summer before I was married she taught me how to make jelly without using pectin. Grandmother was not a good bread maker. Grandpa was 32 years old when he got married. He had spent so many years in cow camps that he preferred hot soda biscuits over bread. Grandmother did not like creamed vegetables (especially creamed carrots) nor custard pudding which he did. When he came to our home to visit Mother always had creamed carrots and custard for him.

Grandmother as was the custom of that day made all the bedding for the family beds. She made beautiful quilts. She gave me a beautiful star quilt when I got married. I still have a remnant of it.

Every August for my birthday my grandparents would give me the first half or full bushel of yellow transparent apples. I loved them crisp and not ripe. My brothers and sister would do almost anything for me while those apples were still available.

After Granddad passed away, Grandmother's health really went down hill. The doctor warned the family of this. She had such a long siege of constant caring for her husband that her body was working on sheer will power. When the responsibility was gone the will power went also. She got a spot on her lung. She went to the hospital in Basin for a period of time. Bill and I and the children came from Star Valley (Wyoming) to visit her one time.

The year before she died, she became quite difficult to handle. She was placed in a nursing home in Powell where she died on July 21, 1960, at the age of 84. Grandfather died at their home in Lovell, on September 13, 1943, at the age of 80.


LOVELL - (Special) Ė Funeral Services will be held this afternoon for James L. Averett, 80, who died at the family residence in Lovell, Monday. Averett was born April 10, 1863 at St. George, Utah, and has resided in Lovell and the Big Horn basin 42 years. He was one of the oldest pioneers in the community. Funeral services will be held from the Lovell Ward church at 2 p.m., with Bishop Frank H. Brown officiating. Burial will be at the Lovell cemetery under direction of the Ulson Mortuary.