Athens Review, Aug. 2, 1901 Mrs. Dull Avriett
There are but few, if any inhabitants of Henderson county that have been within its confines longer than the subject of this sketch. She was born in 1834 in Maringo county, Alabama. Came to Texas with her mother and settled in this county on Nov. 22, 1847, when she was a girl less than 14 years old. She is now 67, vigorous and intellectual. She said she did not mind telling the writer of this, her age, as she did not expect to marry again. She is the daughter of Thomas Anderson Holland and Elizabeth Holland. Her father died when she was only one year old. Her mother died in 1855 and is buried here in Athens. Her mother married Judge Brown, known on our records as Jno. Brown (Red), in the year 1850, which was the first couple married in Athens. Her step-father, Judge Brown, R. R. Powers, James A. Mitcham and Joab McManus constituted the first commissioners' court of this county. Mrs. Avriett claims the honor of having named Athens. She suggested the name to Judge Brown, who had the commissioners to adopt the name Athens. Mrs. Avriett was married at Brownsboro to R. J. Thompson in 1851 and came to Athens the next day and has lived here ever since except when absent on a visit one year to Johnson county.
She says the way she got to this county, is that while traveling through some prairie country a norther blew them south into this, Henderson county. They stopped out on Caney creek and camped at Samuel Whitehead's near where Jim Avriett's farm now is. While there Mercer, propagator of Mercer's colony, came along and in order to have his colony settled gave to her mother and each of her three brothers a colony of land certificate each of which is located in this county. Afterwards in passing their camp Mercer issued to her a certificate which her mother sold. Samuel Whitehead, Asa Dalton, Billy Daniels, Mr. Fancher, father of Dad Fancher, and W. W. Loop are some of the ones she recollects were here when she arrived. When she came to Athens Joab McManus, E. A. Carroll, Mr. Meredith, Mrs. Racina Clark, Dred Thompson with his niece, Miss Jurusha Ingram now Mrs. Walker, lived in Athens or near there. The two latter are the first two people that ever moved to Athens to make it their home and Mrs. Walker is here among us yet. She and her uncle moved here in the morning and Joab McManus and family moved in that afternoon. Ida Butcher, now Mrs. E. W. Fulton, was the first child born in Athens. Mrs. Avriett thinks that Bell Collins, daughter of Dr. Jno. Collins, and wife of Judge Jno. Young Gooch, was the next.
After Mrs. Avriett and Judge Thompson married they first lived at the place now occupied by Mrs. Collins, having improved it. They lived there about a year. They next improved the place known as Gilreath place and lived there for awhile. Next they built and lived on a place where the fine residence of Dr. C. R. Johnson now stands. Then they built the hotel now known as the Deen hotel. It was fitted us for business at the May term of the district court in 1860, at the same term of the court at which the noted Hanks Pelham trial was had. In the fall of 1860 a big secession ball was given at the hotel. Sinclair was running the hotel where the old frame residence of L. E. Brown stood so long. One little board shanty store run by Carroll & Meredith was the only business house in Athens when Mrs. Avriett moved here. The town was then an infant of eight months old. She remembers well when the old alcalde, O. M. Roberts, held the first court under the historic red oak tree. A. J. Fowler was district attorney; James Ball, Sheriff; Wm. C. Bobo, Deputy sheriff; John Ledbetter, clerk, usually called "Whiskey John."
In the winter of 1850 before Mrs. Avriett was married, she came up to Athens to spend Christmas. Miss Emma Butcher, afterwards Mrs. Emma Carroll, who then lived whit her mother out on a place about where Sam Adams' pasture now is, accompanied her to the infant city, and there they spent Christmas, two gay young girls, with the family of Joab McManus.
Her husband, Mr. E. J. Thompson died during the war in 1861. He joined a company at Dallas and died within four weeks. He therefore never got into the war. She married Mr. James Avriett, Sr. in 1866 and lived happily with him for ten years when he died leaving her with two small children, but had provided for her and children well financially. She is now living with her son, Jas. (James) Avriett, Jr., enjoying life as well as one can at her age. She has ever been regarded true to her friends. In her younger days she took quite an interest in politics and always wielded great weight. This perhaps grew out of her association as her step-father Judge Brown, was somewhat of a politician, and also both her husbands, the former having been our county clerk for many years; and one of her brothers, B. C. Holland, having been district clerk for many years.
She remembers well when Kellogg Strong ran a little store in a tent on the Whitehead place just north of Athens on Caney creek before Athens was located. In her younger days she attended parties; but she says parties those days meant something. That it was the custom to go to them along in the afternoon and dance on till supper, have a fine supper and then dance on till day.
She has long since laid aside that means of enjoyment and is now a member of the Methodist church and has been for many years. Is as true as steel to the teachings of the Bible and now takes great interest in the church know whom to go to when they want a fine quilt worked. I do not intend to flatter her, but speak as admitted truth when I say there is not a lady in town that can equal her in fine needle work. Texas and Henderson county are not ashamed of the men and women that they raised in an early day.
Mrs. Avriett refuses to give any incidents that have happened since the war, says she can't recollect them like the scenes of her youth and early married life; besides, she says they are too modern.
The writer looked at her album and it is a history of Athens. The pictures of Jeff E. Thompson, Dr. D. M. Mabray, E. A. Carroll, Tom Derden, Maj. Martin, Jno. Collins, and many other of our old and departed friends are there.
Biographies, Henderson Co. TX
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