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Below is a family biography from the book, History of Kentucky, Edition 8a by J. H. Battle, W. H. Perrin and G. C. Kniffin and published by F. A. Battey Publishing Company in 1888.  These biographies are valuable for genealogy research in discovering missing ancestors or filling in the details of a family tree. Family biographies often include far more information than can be found in a census record or obituary.  Details will vary with each biography but will often include the date and place of birth, parent names including mothers' maiden name, name of wife including maiden name, her parents' names, name of children (including spouses if married), former places of residence, occupation details, military service, church and social organization affiliations, and more.  There are often ancestry details included that cannot be found in any other type of genealogical record.

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BENJAMIN FRANKLIN AVERY, the founder in Louisville of one of the largest plow factories in the world, was born in Aurora, New York, and was the son of Daniel Avery, who emigrated to that place from Groton, Connecticut, becoming one of the earliest settlers of Cayuga County. He was a large farmer and land owner, and represented his district two terms in Congress. Benjamin F., the subject of this sketch, was the sixth in a family of fifteen children, twelve of whom lived to middle or old age. All received an academic education, but the boys had to share the work of the farm. This labor was distasteful to Benjamin, who begged permission to go to college. His petition was granted, on condition that his expenses should be deducted from the $1,000 which would be his portion on coming of age, in accordance with his father’s custom. He accepted the condition and entered Hamilton College, but at the end of the first year transferred his connection to Union College, from which he graduated in 1822. At his father’s solicitation he studied law, and was admitted to the bar in New York City. He developed no taste, however, for the profession, his natural mechanical inclinations precluding much interest in any other direction. His earlier experience on the farm had convinced him that there was room for improvement in form and general construction of the plows then in use. Providing himself with patterns, a pocket furnace as it was called, and other apparatus for a small foundry, he started southward on a small coasting vessel; with these and $400 in money as his sole earthly possessions, he sailed up James river to Richmond, Va., desiring to make his first business venture there, but finding indifferent encouragement, he went on to Clarksville, Mecklenburg County, where in company with another young man, Caleb H. Richmond, a practical moulder, he opened his first foundry in a pine-log building, eighteen by twenty feet square, covered with slabs split from pine logs. They bought a single ton of metal to start with; would not run in debt by borrowing money or soliciting credit; attended industriously and energetically to business; lived frugally, and in a short time began to reap their harvest in success. After a few years the owners of the land which they occupied, determining to turn this success to their own account, refused to longer lease their property. This obliged the young men to seek a new field, which they found in Milton, Caswell County, North Carolina. After a few years, the same thing recurring, they went to Meadville, Halifax County, Va., bought land and settled permanently. During all the period of their association Mr. Avery was the business manager, sharing also in the manual work of the foundry, at which his more skillful experienced partner assiduously labored. At Meadville the partnership was ended harmoniously, Mr. Avery always cherishing pleasant memories of his first associate in business. On the death of his father, in 1842, Mr. Avery was appointed executor of the estate, and the next year sold his Virginia property and business to a younger brother, his own time and attention being required at Aurora. Here was residing a nephew, Daniel Humphrey Avery, energetic and desiring new business interests. In 1846, his uncle Benjamin fitted him out with plow patterns and a roving commission to select the best place in the south or southwest for a plow manufactory. With excellent judgment the young man, after looking widely and carefully, selected Louisville as the place, and the next spring began work in Jabez Baldwin’s foundry, on Main street, now the plow factory of Brinley, Miles & Hardy. In a few months, however, he began to feel the need of his uncle’s experience, and urged his coming for a short time. Mr. Avery reached Louisville December 25, 1847, intending to stay a few weeks only. As the weeks lengthened into months, he became so much interested in a business which he had once relinquished, that he decided to spend his winters here, and finally made this his home. The beginnings of the industry were very small. He was sure that he could make a better and cheaper plow than those in general use, but the prejudice against cast-iron plows was so general, that the sale of a single plow, for many months, was an event. Much of Mr. Avery’s outside encouragement in those days was similar to that given by Mr. Jas. Hewitt of “Rock Hill,” near Louisville, who owned large plantations in the south, and who was also a native of Cayuaga County. “My friend,” said Mr. Hewitt, “if you can succeed in introducing your plow, you will have fortune enough, but I don’t believe you can!” After two or three years, the nephew, Daniel Humphrey, engaged in a successful business in Tuscaloosa, Ala., where he died during the late war. Long before the war, Mr. Avery had built a large factory at the corner of Fifteenth and Main streets, the beginning of the immense establishment which the firm now occupies. During the war, his business, which had been almost exclusively with the south, was completely prostrated. Through all those dark and troublous days, he was earnest and outspoken for the Union. When the war was over he recommenced business, and soon restored it to more than its former prosperity. In 1863 he formed a new firm with his son and son-in law (John C. Coonly), as joint partners, under the style of B. F. Avery & Sons. The business was gradually extended until it has become the most important in the western country; employing a large number of work men and making many different kinds of cast-iron and steel plows, besides publishing an excellent semi-monthly paper, called "Home and Farm," which has a very large circulation. Mr. Avery was married by Rev. Dr. Nott, President of Union College, April 27, 1844, to Miss Susanna H. Look, eldest daughter of Mr. Samuel Look, a farmer widely known in central New York. The result of this union was six children, viz: Lydia Arms, wife of John C. Coonley, of Chicago; Samuel Look; Gertrude Arms, wife of John G. Shanklin, of Evansville, Indiana; George Capwell; Helen Blasdell, wife of C. B. Robinson, of Louisville, and William Sidney. The sons are all in the firm of B. F. Avery & Sons, and live in Louisville. Mr. Avery was an exemplary member of the Presbyterian Church. He died in 1885, in the eighty-fourth year of his age. Upon the death of Mr. Avery, his eldest son, Samuel L., succeeded him as president of the plow-works. Samuel Look Avery was born December 9, 1846, in Louisville. He was educated in Louisville and the East, and after leaving school, engaged actively in business. He was vice-president of the large plow-works some ten years before his father's death, when he succeeded to the presidency; George C. is now the vice-president. He was born March 1, 1852, and received a liberal education. The Avery Plow Works are the largest in the world, and their plows are sold in nearly every State in the Union.

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This family biography is one of 195 biographies included in the Jefferson County, Kentucky section of the book, The History of Kentucky, Edition 8a published in 1888 by F. A. Battey Publishing Company.  For the complete description, click here: History of Kentucky, Edition 8a

View additional Jefferson County, Kentucky family biographies here: Jefferson County, Kentucky Biographies

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