Samuel Avery (1731 - 1806)

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Birthplace: Groton, New London, Connecticut Colony
Death: Died in Owego, Tioga County, New York, United States
Managed by: Steven Avery Kelley
Last Updated:

About Samuel Avery

A Patriot of the American Revolution for VERMONT with the rank of Private. DAR Ancestor #: A004012

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THE GROTON AVERY CLAN, Vol. I, by Elroy McKendree Avery and Catherine Hitchcock (Tilden) Avery, Cleveland, 1912. p 226-229

Samuel Avery was in Capt. Robert Denison's company in the campaign of 1755; in Seth King's company, first Connecticut reg't, 1762 (French and Indian War Rolls, 1:10 & 2:318). He was educated for a lawyer. He emigrated to Vermont where he thought that he had acquired a large tract of land. Col. John Henry Lydius, an Indian trader, had bought 13,000 square miles of land of the Mohawk Indians in 1739. This was confirmed to him by Gov. Shirley of Massachusetts, in 1744. He sold to Samuel Avery and his associates, two townships, one of 28,000 acres lying north of Otter Creek, and the other of 24, 000 acres lying south of the same. Samual Avery had great difficulty in maintaining his claim. In 1772, he and his associates petitioned the New York government ot confirm their grant. After much delay and expense, letters patent were issued to them, Aug. 16, 1774 (New York Land Papers, 30:142 & 60:129). But they had reckoned with the new and growing power of Vermont, in the territory of which the land was situated. When first presented, Vermont refused to allow the claim. Feb. 16, 1781, Samuel Avery of Windsor, "a friend to this and the United States of America." petitioned the general assembly of Vermont, setting forth the difficulties under which he had labored and humbly asked that they would confirm him in the tract above described.

   The petition did not avail; nor was it until 1789 that he was able to secure the passage of a resolution granting him 52,000 acres of "unlocated land to be found therein for such moderate fees as shall be deemed just and equitable." He had to take the land in parcels wherever he could find it. The largest tract was in Orleans County and contained 11,000 acres; the next was in Essex County and contained 10,685 acres of mountainous land. He located 9,723 acres in Franklin County; 8,744 in Addison County; 5,970 in Chittenden County; 2,936 in Caledonia County, and 1,318 in Windham County (New Hampshire State Papers, 26:617 at seq.) he never received anything like an adequate return for the time, labor, anxiety and cash that they had cost.
   Samuel Avery served in Capt. John Petty's company, Col. Williams's regiment of Vermont militia in 1777 (Vermont Revolutionary Rolls, 36). He was living in Cumberland County, Vermont, in 1780; was deputy-sheriff and keeper of the jail at Westminister in 1782 and 1784, when certain Cumberland men wereindicted for riotous resistance to Vermont authority (Governor and Council, Vermont, 3:239).
   About 1795, Samuel Avery emigrated to the Susquhanna Valley, near Athens. He had long been interested in this region; we find his name on the list of proprietors of the company claiming lands in the Wyoming country, Aug. 28, 1761.
   He frequently visited the Wyoming region. However, he was living in Norwich, Conn., Oct. 12, 1779, when he deeded to the "sons of my father -- Humphrey, William, Solomon, James, Palmes, Waitstill, Isaac," a family burial-lot "for my father's descendants forever." Already were buried there his father and mother, his wife, Sybil, his brother Solomon's wife, and others of the family.
   About 1796, he began improvements on his extensive estate in the Susquehanna region, but was soon in litigation with those who claimed from the heirs of William Penn. In the end, he lost heavily. In 1802, he was one of a committee to settle the difficulties between Pennsylvania and the Connecticut land companies. He reviewed the whole matter in a pamphlet, entitled; "The Susquehanna Controversy Examined. The Material Objections against the Connecticut Title or Claim Answered. With some general reasoning on the whole matter. Done with Truth and Condor. Blessed are the Peacemakers."
   In 1793, he offered the state of New York two shillings an acre for 20,000 acres of land between Lake Champlain and Wood's Creek; 3s. an acre for 5,000 acres of land west of the Delaware and joining the Pennsylvania line; 3s. an acre for a township ten miles square north of the Mohawk line (New York State Papers, 56:40).
   About 1802, he moved to Owego, New York, purchased much land, built an elegant mansion, and at his death was one of the most wealthy and popular men in the state.

Samuel was educated to be a lawyer, and soon after his marriage he removed to Vermont where he expected to acquire a large quantity of land. An article by Pliny H. White, of Coventry Vermont in the Burlington "Free Press" gave this account (from the Avery source):

   "There are three Avery's Gores in the State, one each in Addison, Ess ex, and Franklin Counties. In the former days there were three others, and perhaps more, but they have ceased to exist. Samuel Avery, whose name they bear, was in 1782, and at least two years later, a deputy Sheriff for cumberland county, and keeper of the jail at Westminster. There is still on file in the Secretary of State's office, an account of his services in connection with the trial of Timothy Church, the Phelpses, and other Cumberland men, who were indicted for riotous resistance to the authorities of Vermont. Avery continued to live at Westminster till 1799, and perhaps longer.
   Many years previous to 1780, Avery and his associates had bought of Col. Henry Lydius, two townships, one of 28,000 acres lying north of Otter Creek, and the other of 24,000 acres, adjoining and south of Otter Creek. Lydius was an Indian trader and a land speculator at Albany, N. Y., who, in 1732 had what purported to be deed executed by certain Mohawk Indians, conveying tow immense tracts of land, one of which extended 60 miles from the mouth of Otter Creek and was 24 miles wide. He divided this into 35 townships, of about 26 squares in each, and sold several of them. In 1744, he procured from Gov. Shirley, of Massachusetts, a paper confirming, in the name of the King of England, the title acquired from the Indians. The State of New York, however, wholly ignored the title of Lydius, and granted the same land to other persons. (See "Halls Early History of Vermont, Appendix 8).
   In 1780, Avery petitioned the Legislature of Vermont for a confirmation of his title to the lands purchased of Lydius, but it appeared upon examination that they had already been granted by the State to other persons, and it was thus made impossible to comply with the petition. He had previously entered a caveat against making such grants, but probably the caveat was not in season. The next year the petition was renewed. It affirmed that Avery had been nearly 20 years trying to perfect his title; that he was 'forty days in the wilderness' without shelter, surveying them; that after the Lydius title was treated as void he was delayed seven years procuring a confirmation from New York, and then only succeeded by paying fees to the amount of £800, and incurring other expenses am ounting in all to about £2,000, which nearly exhausted all his resources, and what he probably thought would be the most influential with the Legislature, that he had ever been a fast friend of this and the United States, and, early and ever, publicly and privately, espoused the cause of these New Hampshire Grants against the proceedings of New York. The petition, however, did not avail; nor was it till 1789 that he was able to procure the passage of a resolution granting him 52,000 acres of un-located lands to be found therein, for such moderate fees as shall be deemed just and equitable.
   Avery could not locate his land, nor even a fourth part of it, in one body; and accordingly he located it in parcels wherever he could. The largest parcel was in Orleans County, west of Newport, and contained 11,080 acres. The next parcel in size was in Essex County, south of Norton, and contained 10,685 acres. It is mountainous land, and remains uninhabited to this day. He located 9,723 acres in Franklin County, south of Montgomery; 8,744 acres in Addison County, east of Ripton; 5,970 acres in Chittenden County, northeast of Kirby; and 1,318 acres in Windham County, between Athens and Grafton. Some of these lands he lost by means of 'squatter sovereignty', and it is not likely that he ever received for them all anything like an adequate return for the time, labor, anxiety and cash which they cost. The Gores in Essex and Franklin Counties still retain their original proportions, but all the others have been extinguished, partially or totally, by annexation to neighboring towns."
   Avery source continues with this:
   "After the Revolutionary war, in the settlement between New York and Vermont, the State of Vermont appropriated $30,000 for the benefit of the New York settlers.
   Taking these alphabetically, the first claim is that of Samuel Aver y, who for a considerable time was a resident of Westminster, in the County of Cumberland. He appears to have been one of the favored inhabitants of the New Hampshire Grants, to whom patents were freely issued by the New York government. His grants were of a late date, when it had become an object for the earlier city speculators to strengthen their interest in the territory, in order to overcome the formidable resistance of the settlers to their iniquitous claims. One of Avery's claims was founded on a patent issued to him and twenty-three other associates for 24,000 acres, bearing date August 16, 1774. On the 17th and 18th of the same month, these twenty-three associates conveyed their shares to him. Another claim was for 28,000 acres patented to Humphrey Avery and twenty-seven others, September, 1774, all of whom, on the 29th of that month, conveyed their titles to him, thus vesting in him the whole 52,000 acres, and showing very clearly that the grants were made for his benefit. these tracts adjoined each other, and were in the easterly part of the present county of Addison. These with a claim for 200 acres in Durham and 1,000 in another town, of which Samuel Avery was the grantee, made up the 53,200 acres, for which he was allowed the sum of $2,655.03. These grants were made by Lieutenant-Governor Colden.
   About the year 1800, Mr. Avery emigrated to the Susquehanna Valley, near Tioga Point, now Athens, in Pennsylvania, and but a few miles south of the New York State line. He was one of a committee to settle difficulties between Connecticut and Pennsylvania land companies in 1802. Here he purchased a large quantity of land and began improvements, but was soon brought into litigation with those who had purchased of the heirs of William Penn. This was a long and costly suit and finally terminated in the defeat of Avery, who not only lost the land, but his money also. He now removed to near Owego, and made another purchase of land, the rise of which, coupled with an extensive law practice, soon brought him affluence. He built an elegant mansion, and was at his death one of the most popular and wealthy men in that part of the State."

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1. Samuel was educated to be a lawyer, and soon after his marriage he rem

oved to Vermont where he expected to acquire a large quantity of lan

d. An article by Pliny H. White, of Coventry, Vermont in the Burlington "

Free Press" gave this account (from the Avery source):

"There are three Avery's Gores in the State, one each in Addison, Ess

ex, and Franklin Counties. In the former days there

were three others, and perhaps more, but they have ceased to exist. S

amuel Avery, whose name they bear, was in 1782,

and at least two years later, a deputy Sheriff for cumberland count

y, and keeper of the jail at Westminster. There is still

on file in the Secretary of State's office, an account of his servic

es in connection with the trial of Timothy Church, the

Phelpses, and other Cumberland men, who were indicted for riotous res

istance to the authorities of Vermont. Avery

continued to live at Westminster till 1799, and perhaps longer.

Many years previous to 1780, Avery and his associates had bought of C

ol. Henry Lydius, two townships, one of 28,000

acres lying north of Otter Creek, and the other of 24,000 acres, adjo

ining and south of Otter Creek. Lydius was an Indian

trader and a land speculator at Albany, N. Y., who, in 1732 had wh

at purported to be deed executed by certain Mohawk

Indians, conveying tow immense tracts of land, one o fwhich extend

ed 60 miles from the mouth of Otter Creek and was

24 miles wide. He divided this into 35 townships, of about 26 squar

es in each, and sold several of them. In 1744, he

procured from Gov. Shirley, of Massachusetts, a paper confirmin

g, in the name of the King of England, the title acquired

from the Indians. The State of New York, however, wholly ignored t

he title of Lydius, and granted the same land to other

persons. (See "Halls Early History of Vermont, Appendix 8).

In 1780, Avery petitioned the Legislature of Vermont for a confirmati

on of his title to the lands purchased of Lydius, but it

appeared upon examination that they had already been granted by the S

tate to other persons, and it was thus made

impossible to comply with the petition. He had previously enter

ed a caveat against making such grants, but probably the

caveat was not in season. The next year the petition was renewe

d. It affirmed that Avery had been nearly 20 years

trying to perfect his title; that he was 'forty days in the wildernes

s' without shelter, surveying them; that after the Lydius

title was treated as void he was delayed seven years procuring a conf

irmation from New York, and then only succeded

by paying fees to the amount of £800, and incurring other expenses am

ounting in all to about £2,000, which nearly

eshausted all his resources, and what he probably thought would be t

he most influential with the Legislature, that he had

ever been a fast friend of this and the United States, and, early a

nd ever, publicly and privately, espoused the cause of

thes New Hampshire Grants against the proceedings of New York. The p

etition, however, did not avail; nor was it till 1789

that he was able toprocure the passage of a resoultion granting him 5

2,000 acres of unlocated lands to be found therein,

for such moderate fees as shall be deemed just and equitable.

Avery could not locate his land, nor even a fourth part of it, in o

ne body; and accordingly he located it in parcels wherever

he could. The largest parcel was in Orleans County, west of Newpor

t, and contained 11,080 acres. The next parcel in size

was in Essex County, south of Norton, and contained 10,685 acre

s. It is mountainous land, and remains uninhabited to this

day. He located 9,723 acres in Franklin County, south of Montgomer

y; 8,744 acres in Addison County, east of Ripton; 5,970

acres in Chittenden County, northeast of Kirby; and 1,318 acres in Wi

ndham County, between Athens and Grafton. Some of

these lands he lost by means of 'squatter sovere

_____

Samuel, son of Humphrey Avery, was born at Groton October 17, 1731. In 1762 he was still living in Groton, but prior to October, 1769" (see page 518, Vol. I) he had removed to Norwich. In the Summer of 1772 he removed from Norwich to Wilkes-Barre. In The Luzerne Federalist (Wilkes-Barre) of April 4. 1803, it was stated that "the first man who made a fence and cut a road in Wilkesbarre was Samuel Avery, who then (1803) resided at or near Tioga Point (now Athens), Pennsylvania. This statement, undoubtedly, is erroneous. How long Samuel Avery remained in Wyoming Valley we are unable to state. In 1796 he was an inhabitant of Vermont (see further in a subsequent chapter), but about 1796 he removed to Tioga Point, abovementioned. He was the author of a pamphlet of 150 pages which was printed at Wilkes-Barre in 1803 by Asher and Charles Miner, and which was entitled : "The Susquehanna Controversey Examined ; the material objection against the Connecticut title or claim answered, with some general reasoning on the whole matter (done with truth and candour)." Samuel Avery died at Owego, New York, August 14,1805.

view all 11

Samuel Avery's Timeline

1731
October 17, 1731
Groton, New London, Connecticut Colony
1760
1760
Age 28
Groton, New London, CT, United States
1761
1761
Age 29
Groton, New London, CT
1779
June 28, 1779
Age 47
1779
Age 47
1782
November 4, 1782
Age 51
1785
September 9, 1785
Age 53
Westminster, Windham, VT, USA
1787
March 31, 1787
Age 55
1789
May 4, 1789
Age 57
June 24, 1789
Age 57