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 • Lorain County
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Ephraim Kingsbury Avery
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Birth: Dec. 18, 1799
Coventry
Tolland County
Connecticut, USA
Death: Oct. 23, 1869
Pittsfield
Lorain County
Ohio, USA

First minister in America to be tried for murder. While working as a pastor in Bristol, Rhode Island was acquitted of killing textile mill worker Sarah Maria Cornell in nationally famous 1833 trial. Married Sophia Wells. Children Edwin (died young), Edwin, Catharine, Maria, Francis, Josephine. On December 21, 1832, John Durfee discovered Cornell's body tied by cord around neck to haystack pole on his farm in Tiverton, Rhode Island. A local Methodist minister identified her as Sarah Maria Cornell, a Fall River, Massachusetts factory worker who had been in Tiverton for only a few months and attended his church. Investigation revealed she was pregnant and her body possibly bore signs of an unsuccessful abortion attempt. Letters in her trunk suggested that Avery, the minister of the church she attended when they both lived in Lowell, was the father. Local jury called by coroner initially ruled death a suicide. Determination later changed to homicide after second search of Cornell's effects produced December 20 note indicating that he should be questioned if anything happened to her. John Durfee went to Bristol to arrest him, but local Justices of the Peace refused to extradite him to Tiverton. He left town and went into hiding in New Hampshire. A committee of Fall River citizens located him, arrested him and returned him to Rhode Island. Acquitted at month long trial in May 1833. Prosecution presented circumstantial evidence connecting him to crime, but his lawyers succeeded in making victim's character an issue, including charges of lewd behavior, shoplifting, previous dismissals from Methodist congregations for unbecoming conduct, and possible treatment for venereal disease. Methodist church also dismissed claims of murder and adultery, allowing him to remain a minister. After acquittal he mounted speaking tour to vindicte himself but it was unsuccessful. Moved to Connecticut, then to upstate New York. Later resigned from ministry, moved to Ohio, and became a farmer. Author, "The correct, full and impartial report of the trial of Rev. Ephraim K. Avery."  
 
Family links: 
 Spouse:
  Sophia H Avery (____ - 1876)*
 
*Calculated relationship
 
Burial:
South Pittsfield Cemetery
Pittsfield
Lorain County
Ohio, USA
 
Created by: Bill McKern
Record added: Apr 23, 2006
Find A Grave Memorial# 14047818
Ephraim Kingsbury Avery
Added by: Bill McKern
 
Ephraim Kingsbury Avery
Added by: Robinqm
 
Ephraim Kingsbury Avery
Added by: TJ
 
 
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