Henry Clay Avent and wife Sarah C. Spencer
Henry Clay and Sarah moved to Mississippi around the year 1841 settling near Old Cumberland in Webster County were they lived till they died.
Their home was described as a two story building constructed of hewn logs, located on a tall, red hill overlooking fertile valleys and surrounded by large, oak trees. This home was later destroyed by fire (no date).
Henry Clay was a farmer, owning slaves and was a pioneer school teacher, teaching (1845) in the first public school building in Webster County located near Bellefontaine.
Before the War he had a store in Old Cumberland, then known as Choctaw Ridge. The 1860 Census of Choctaw County showed Henry Clay had land value of $3,000 and personal property valued at $6,870.
Received E.A. & E.C. degrees in Greensboro Lodge #49 in 1843, demitted in 1850. Charter member & 1st senior warden of Adelphian Lodge #174 in Bellefontaine, Mississippi (chartered 7 Jan 1853). Demitted in 1856 and charter member & 1st secretary at New Hope #224 (chartered 29 Jan 1858. Lodge moved to Maben in 1890 or the next year. He became affiliated with Eldorado Lodge #184 at Old Cumberland and was a member until his death.
Upon enlisting in Choctaw County with the 6th (Orr's) Battalion Mississippi Infantry, soon redesignated as the 31st Mississippi Infantry, Henry Clay was elected 1st Lieutenant in B Company on February 28, 1862. Four months later on June 25th, 1862, he was promoted to Captain of his company. On April 4, 1863, he resigned his captaincy. Ever afterwards he was known throughout the area as "Ole Captain Avent".
After serving as Alderman Henry Clay became the first sheriff of Webster County from 1879 to 1883. His son, Alexander, served under his father as a deputy sheriff and then later was elected Sheriff.
Soon after his death the Masonic Committee wrote the following :
Tribute of Respect of Brother H. C. Avent
He was born in 1820 in Tobbert (Talbot) County, Georgia and departed this life August 18th, 1897. He was over 50 years a Mason and as zealous the day he died as on the day he was initiated; when 78 years we deposited his mortal body in Cumberland Cemetery, Webster County, Mississippi.
He has lived a long and useful life. All who knew him will bear testimony to his ever cheerful, bright temperament. Of him as ne'er of mortals can it be said; he never made a brow look dark, nor caused a tear but when he died. Companions and brethren, with us it is yet today. May we so use it that when our tomorrow cometh, whether here or beyond the vale where angel's hands stand always ready to throw open the Golden Gate, it may be more abundant and those left to mourn our passing through, may, taught by our example, say how blessed the righteous when he dies.
For nearly a quarter of a century, all our Masonic life, the writer has been closely associated with him. In the Masonic bodies, we feel that one of the strongest links in the Masonic chain has been lost to us.
To him we say, the day has come, not gone, the sun has risen, not set, thy life is now beyond the reach of death or change, not ended, but begun. Oh noble soul, oh gentle hear, HAIL AND FAREWELL,
D. W. Williams,
J. R. Thomas,
J. Q. Durham,
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