Waightstill Avery was a Patriot and the first Attorney General of the State of North Carolina. He was instrumental in establishing the state constitution as well as supporting the Continental Congress in its vote for Independence.
Avery graduated from Princeton in 1766 then studied law in Maryland. He moved to North Carolina circa 1770 and was one of the men who wrote the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence, which stated that British laws were no longer in effect. It was drafted more than a year before the Declaration of Independence.
In 1778, Avery fought a duel with Andrew Jackson, which was an accepted way to settle disagreements in those days. However, each man shot over the other's head.
Avery married Leah Probart Francks on 3 October 1778 at New Bern, North Carolina. He sent his wife Leah, his children, and his slaves to Burke County, North Carolina in the late 1770's. They settled on a tract of land which he called Swan Ponds. He joined them there after the Revolutionary War.
When he was past 60 years old, he was seriously injured in a fall from a horse. Despite this, he continued to serve as a judge in the county court.
Waightstill Avery died while in the judges' chambers at the Burke County courthouse.
SOURCES: article by Louise Avery Bost in BURKE COUNTY HERITAGE VOl.1; notes in the Avery family file folder in the Morganton Public Library; and talks with Mr. Bob Avery, a descendant.