|Death: ||Jul. 20, 1889|
Also spelled Averill. See also Ralph E. Cole.
James Averell was born in 1851 in Renfrew County, Ontario, Canada. In 1871, at the age of 20, he enlisted in the U.S. Army and served in the 13th Infantry until his discharge in 1876, described as a "good honest reliable soldier." Less than a month after his discharge, he reenlisted with the 9th Infantry, serving until his discharge in 1881 at Fort Fred Steele, Wyoming Territory.
The following year Averell married Sophia Ann Jaeger in Illinois and the couple moved to Wyoming, settling north of Rawlins on Sand Creek. The Averell's first child, born prematurely in August of 1882, died shortly after birth, and Sophia died several days later of puerperal fever. The baby was likely buried near their cabin, while Sophia's body was returned to her home state of Wisconsin for interment there.
Averell remained in Wyoming, and in February of 1886, he filed a homestead claim for 160 acres of land near Independence Rock in what is now Natrona County, Wyoming. He established a store and saloon there, and served as postmaster and a justice of the peace. Two years later, Ella Watson claimed 160 acres of land adjacent to Averell's. The two neighbors became friends, with Watson reportedly working at Averell's saloon while improving her property.
Averell and Watson quickly became involved in a dispute with Albert J. Bothwell, a large landowner and powerful stockman in the area who claimed that he owned their land. The homesteaders stood their ground, with Averell writing letters to the Casper newspaper critical of the greediness of the cattle barons. The stockmen retaliated with claims that Averell and Watson were stealing their cattle. The dispute ultimately led to the kidnapping and lynching of Averell and Watson on July 20, 1889 by Bothwell and several of his cattle baron friends. Bothwell and five others were arrested, but none were convicted of the murders.
Sophia Ann Jaeger Averell (1860 - 1882)
Baby Averell (1882 - 1882)*
Created by: Barb Walker
Record added: Aug 20, 2010
Find A Grave Memorial# 57378206