Averett Family of Halifax County, VA

Dr. Thomas Hamlett Averett (1800-1855) and his wife, Martha Coleman Wootton (1803-1880) settled in Halifax County, Virginia.  Dr. Averett was a practicing physician who also served in the Virginia State Senate and as a Representative in the 31st and 32nd U.S. Congresses (1820-1823). Among their ten children, Dr. Averett and his wife had three sons who went to the University of Virginia: Edmund Berkeley Averett, Joseph James Averett, and William Wootton Averett.

Edmund Berkeley Averett (18 Jan. 1823-1858) attended the University in session 20 (1843-1844) and studied Chemistry, Medicine, and Anatomy & Surgery. He is listed as a physician in the 1850 U. S. Census for Halifax County.

Dr. Edmund B. Averett was mentioned in his father’s will: “Clause 2nd. I [Thomas H. Averett] appoint [James Young] trustee for my son Dr. Edmund Berkeley Averett, it being my will that his share in my estate be held in trust to be used and enjoyed at the direction of the said trustee so that the principal shall not be disposed of during the lifetime of my said son, while he shall enjoy income or profit therefore at the discretion of his trusteee as aforesaid.” This leads one to surmise that Dr. Edmund B. Averett was a spendthrift, and that his father wanted to protect his son’s inheritance from being frittered away.

Edmund Averett died between 2 Sep. 1857 when his will was written, and 26 Apr. 1858, when it was presented at court for probate. The exact date was most likely within the first four months of 1858, since wills were normally presented at the next county court that occurred after a death. (Cook; Halifax County Court)

Joseph James Averett (24 Dec. 1827-23 Feb. 1898) attended the University in sessions 28-29 (1851-1853), during which he studied Ancient Languages, Mathematics, and Chemistry. He became head of Halifax Academy in Halifax, VA, after his father’s death in 1855.

The Danville Female Institute (1854-1858) was founded by William Isaac Berryman. After the Female Institute closed, Nathan Penick moved to Danville and opened the Baptist Female Academy in the same location. Penick’s wife, Jane Averett Penick, taught in the new school. In 1859, the name of the school was changed to Union Female College. Jane’s brother, Joseph James Averett, taught briefly at Union Female College. In 1864, the school again changed its name, this time to Roanoke Female College. Jane’s and Joseph’s brothers, John Taylor Averett and Samuel Wootton Averett, served as co-principals from 1873 to 1887; John served as president from 1887-1892. The institution is known today as Averett University. (Averett website)

Joseph married Rose Celestia [surname unknown] (b. ca. 1834); their children were Emma W. Averett (1856-1909), and Edmund Berkeley Averett (d. young). The family lived at Sedge Hill in Halifax County, VA. In 1862, Joseph Averett enlisted as a private in Company A (Holland’s Company) of the 18th Virginia Infantry Regiment, C.S.A. He was wounded 27 Jul. 1862 at the battle of Gaines Mill, a shoulder wound that caused “atrophy of the muscles and entire inability to raise or otherwise use the arm.” (Certificate of Disability for Discharge, 10 Oct. 1862) The Certificate of Disability also gives a description of J. J. Averett: 5 feet, 11 inches tall, fair complexion, blue eyes, and light hair.

William Wootton Averett (11 May 1830-2 Oct. 1867) attended the University in session 28 (1851-1852), and studied Chemistry and Law. In 1859, he was appointed to manage the postal route between Richmond and Danville. In the Civil War, he enlisted as a private, and served as a clerk in the Post Office Department. He appears on a list of prisoners of war who surrendered in Lynchburg, VA, on 15 Apr. 1865. There is no evidence that he ever married or had children. W. W. Averett died on 2 Oct. 1867 in Memphis, TN, a victim of one of the annual epidemics of yellow fever suffered by the people of that city. He is probably buried in Memphis, but I have found no proof of that. (Daily Dispatch 1867; Memphis Daily Appeal 1867; Papers of and relating to Military and Civilian Personnel; “Post Office Affairs”; “W. W. Averett, Death Record 10775.”)


William Smith Averett (7 Feb. 1841-22 Apr. 1864), attended the University of Virginia in the 37th session (1860-1861), studying Latin, Greek, and Mathematics. There is no indication in the Matriculation Books who his parents were, and he does not appear in the genealogies of Thomas H. and Martha Averett. His guardian in 1860 was John O. Holt of Lynchburg, VA. On 5 Jul. 1861, W. S. Averett enlisted as a private in Company G of the 11th Virginia Infantry Regiment. By the end of 1863, he was promoted to corporal. Corporal Averett died 22 Apr. 1864, of “Vulnus sclopeticum” (damage from a gun wound) after being shot in the shoulder during the Battle of Plymouth (April 17-20, 1864) which was fought near Weldon, NC. Averett was buried in the Weldon Confederate Cemetery; however, he also has a tombstone in the Spring Hill Cemetery in Lynchburg, VA, so his body may have been moved. There is no evidence that he ever married or had children. (“11th Regiment VA Infantry”; Findagrave.com; Service Jacket; Siniard; UVA Matriculation Books; Williams)

[Note: My thanks to Patrick Wasley, Digital Resources Librarian and Archivist, Mary B. Blount Library, Averett University, for his help in locating sources on the Averett family. The birth dates above are from the U.Va. Matriculation Books, and the death dates from newspapers, military records, and tombstones.—JLC]


  • “11th Regiment VA Infantry.” Richmond (VA) Enquirer, Volume 61, Number 80, 6 May 1864, p. 1.
  • Averett, Joseph J. Certificate of Disability for Discharge, 10 Oct. 1862, in Compiled Service Records of Confederate Soldiers Who Served in Organizations from the State of Virginia. Record Group 109, NARA M324, roll 597. (accessed through Fold3.com)
  • Averett, William S. Service Jacket in Compiled Service Records of Confederate Soldiers Who Served in Organizations from the State of Virginia. Record Group 109, NARA M324, roll 498. (accessed through Fold3.com)
  • Averett, William W. Papers of and Relating to Military and Civilian Personnel, compiled 1874-1899, documenting the period 1861-1865. Record Group 109, NARA M347, roll 011. (accessed through Fold3.com)
  •  “Averett History,” in Averett University. [website] c2011. http://www.averett.edu/ir/history/index.php
  • Averett University.  “Averett Family Tree” http://www.averett.edu/library/collections/0402_averett_tree.pdf (Accessed 6/22/2011)
  • Cook, Kenneth H. “Physician, Mason, legislator.” News and Record (South Boston, VA). 6 Oct. 1977.
  • Halifax County (Va.) Chancery Causes, 1753-1913.  “Martha C. Averett etc. vs James Young, Exr. of Thomas H. Averett etc. 1857-005” Local Government Records Collection, Halifax County Court Records. The Library of Virginia, Richmond, Virginia.
  • J. C. Holst & Co., Undertakers, “Report of the Health Officer (dated 5 Oct. 1867).” Memphis Daily Appeal (Memphis, Tenn.) 6 Oct. 1867, p. 3.
  • “Post Office Affairs.” Daily Dispatch (Richmond, VA), 30 March 1859, p. 1.
  • Siniard, Diane. “Civil War Medical Terminology.” [webpage] 2005-2011. http://nccivilwar.lostsoulsgenealogy.com/medterms.htm
  • University of Virginia Matriculation Books, 1825-1904, Accession #RG-14/4/2.041, Special Collections Dept., University of Virginia Library, Charlottesville, Va.
  • [Untitled.] Daily Dispatch (Richmond, VA), 5 Oct. 1867, p. 3.
  • “Virginia, Deaths and Burials, 1853-1912,” index, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/XR9M-MVR : accessed 07 Nov 2013), J.J. Averett in entry for Emma Averett, 1856.
  • “W. W. Averett, Death Record 10775,” Shelby County (TN) Records [website] https://register.shelby.tn.us/
  • Wayland, R. L., Jr., “Exploring Danville’s Past” [website]. c2010-2011. http://www.dangene.net/streets/averett.html  (Accessed 6/22/2011)
  • Williams, Delores, Confederate Soldiers Burying Ground, Weldon, NC. (updated 2015) http://www.ncgenweb.us/halifax/military/confsoldiers.htm
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