Numerous branches of the Avent family tree can be found in TN, and it would be impossible to trace them all, or to sort out the ancestry of all the Avent families that now live there. Here is a brief listing of some of the earlier Avent emigrations to TN. (Much of this is speculative on the webmaster’s part, so please feel free to correct him if you find any mistakes.)
From "Hardeman Co.,
TN, Historical Sketches", by the
“Peter Avent was born in
VA about 1781. Peter and Sarah Avent joined the adventurous group who
left VA, lived for a while in NC and moved later to TN. They arrived in
Hardeman Co. during the 1830's. Ten children were born to Peter and
Sarah; Jane married James Vickers, Rebecca married Alexander McDaniel,
Mary married N.B. Lallier, Lucinda married a
Avent, son of Peter and
Sarah, was born in NC in 1816. He was living in Hardeman Co with his
parents in 1850. He married Frances A. Wells of Tippah Co., MS and
lived in MS until after the Civil War, when he returned to Hardeman Co.
His home was near
Greensville Co., VA, Wills, Vol 3, Page 191:
Son Peter Avent-1 negro Mingo
James Avent-1 negro boy slave named George
which he carried with him to the state of
This John Avent was the son of John Avent (1706-1755) and wife Margaret (later Solomon) of Sussex Co., VA, who was the son of Col. Thomas Avent.
As is evident from John’s will, Peter had a brother named James who also moved to TN, in 1820. James was the progenitor of many interesting and prominent Tennesseans.
He was born ca. 1788 in Greensville Co., VA, and it is thought that he married his cousin Mary "Polly" Avent, daughter of William Avent and Sarah "Sally" Ward of Nash County, N C.. As seen above, he moved to TN in 1820 and appears to have lived in Davidson, Rutherford and Hardeman counties. There is one reference stating that he is buried in Limestone Co., AL, which was the home of his sister, Elizabeth Woodruff Walton:
James Avent born Jan 09, 1788 died Sept 15, 1866
Mary Avent [wife of James] born July 23, 1787 died Sept 04, 1830.
Whether or not this is the same James Avent, there was a James Avent, born in VA in 1788, living in Rutherford Co., TN in 1850 with wife Martha, born in GA in 1808. Martha is clearly not the first wife of James since they also have a child living with them, Washington Avent, who was born in 1820, so this does not conflict with what we know of James Avent, son of John Avent and Elizabeth Grizzard.
It should be pointed out here that the genealogy given here of James Avent and his family, and the TN Avents in general, is based mainly on census records, which are often unclear and can be deceptive, so this information should not be seen as beyond contradiction.
It appears that James and Polly had at least three children:
Benjamin Ward Avent, b. ca. 1812
James Monroe Avent, b. ca. 1816
Benjamin Ward Avent was born in Greensville Co., VA in 1812. Benjamin lived in Rutherford Co., TN and was a physician and the Surgeon-General of the Army of Tennessee during the War Between the States. See the page “Avents in American Wars” for more information about him.
That this Benjamin Ward Avent was related to
Mary (Polly) Avent seems likely due to the fact that Mary (Polly),
daughter of William Avent and Sally Ward of
James Monroe Avent was born in Greensville Co., VA in 1816 and
became an attorney and judge in
prominent and wealthy attorney of
James M. Avent's boyhood's days
were spent on the farm and in the schools, differing from the
experience of many lads of his day, insomuch that his education was
superior to that of the ordinary youth. He secured a good literary
education at the Clinton
February 27, 1837, Mr. Avent married Mary W., the daughter of the late Maj. John W. Childress, of this county. The result of this union has been five children, the following four now living: Frank, James M., Bettie B., and Sarah W. Mr. Avent is a Democrat of the old "Jacksonian school," and has always been an active and zealous worker for his party, but never aspired to office. He has frequently been appointed judge pro tem of our courts, and discharged the duties of this highly responsible position in a manner that indicated his superior qualities as a jurist. He is a prominent member of the Masonic fraternity, and has been identified with all public and private enterprises that were calculated to promote the prosperity of the city and county. He was one of the organizers of the Stone's River Creamery Company, of which he is now president. Himself and wife have been life-long members of the Methodist Episcopal Church South, and he is justly and universally reocognized as one among the leading and successful citizens of our county, a lawyer of fine judgment and ability and a consistent Christian gentlemen.”
James Monroe and Mary Avent’s
child Frank Avent, born 7 Mar 1858, went on to make a name for himself
in the legal profession, as did his father. From “A History of Tennessee and Tennesseans :
the leaders and representative men in commerce, industry and modern
activities”, by Will T. Hale. (
AVENT. As secretary and
commissioner Mr. Avent has been identified with the work of the Tennessee State Railroad
Commission for fourteen years, and probably there is not a man in the
state better informed on the technical, legal and commercial details of
In 1906 he was elected to fill an
unexpired term of two years in the commission, and in 1908 was elected
to the full term of six years, representing the middle division of
Mr. Avent was born in
Reared on a farm, Mr. Frank Avent
began his education in private schools, after which he took a special
course for two years in
Frank Avent’s wife Mayna
Treanor (1865 - 1959) was a nationally known artist whose
work is in the collection of the Smithsonian Institute's National
Portrait Gallery. She used as her studio
an old log cabin (built ca.
1845) located in the
The third son of James and Polly Avent was Washington D. Avent, born in Greensville Co., VA on 15 Mar 1819-25. He was married to Nannie P. McKinnie (6 Apr 1829-27 Jan 1886) on 19 Nov 1855. Washington Avent and his wife are both buried in the David McKinnie Family Cemetery in Hardeman Co., TN. "Hardeman County, Tennessee: Family History", by the Hardeman Co. Historical Society, page 18, has this to say about Washington Avent:
"It is said that Washington Avent, a Mount Comfort resident, was the first merchant in the new Hickory Valley. He built an impressive home facing the railroad and adjacent to his mercantile business. He and his son James Monroe Avent played a prominent role in Hickory Valley history during the last half of the 19th century.
James Monroe Avent, planter and sportsman, was born near Hickory Valley. He is a legend to thousands of men and women who go afield with bird dogs or with hounds. For more than half a century his dogs were consistent winners at the Grand Junction Field Trials. He was the first star dog handler in America."
James Monroe Avent was born in 1859 and lived in Hardeman Co., TN.. This James Monroe Avent (there are several) was nicknamed "the Fox of Hickory Valley”, and was described as follows in the March 3, 1930 issue of Time Magazine:
"Most celebrated of contemporary
handlers is James Monroe Avent, 70, a shrewd and tight-lipped
Here he is with National Champion dog "Momoney":
His home is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. From the Tennessee Historical Commission Website:
"James Monroe Avent (1860-1936),
along with Hobart Ames, was responsible for establishing the National
Bird Dog Championship in Hardeman
He and his wife, Emma Graves, are buried in Grand Junction Cemetery, Hardeman Co., TN. Their tombstones read:
Avent, Emma Graves 1868-1950 wife of James Monroe Avent
Avent, James Monroe 1859-1936 husband of Emma Graves Avent.
Two other early Avent emigrants to TN were brothers Amos and Abner Avent, sons of Thomas Avent and wife Rebecca Stephens, of Nash Co., NC (Thomas Avent/Rebecca Stephens => William Avent/Sarah Massie => Col. Thomas Avent/Elizabeth). Abner was born in 1777 and Amos in 1775, and when their father died in 1781 they were left orphans, and raised by other family members.
They moved to TN around 1815. It appears that Amos was married to Matilda Rogers and that they had around 13 children, many of whom moved to MS.
Amos may have crossed paths with Davy Crockett in the Carroll Co., TN, court. From the Court Minutes of Carroll Co., TN, 1822
"Ordered by the Court that Wm. Lightfoot, ... Amos Avin..., David Crockett... be appointed as jurors to the worshipfull Co. Court to be held on 2nd Monday in March next at the county seat of said Co."
And from 1823:
"David Crockett came into open court and made oathe to the killing of 2 wolves.. This day came Sion Rodgers Sheriff of Carroll Co. & returned his venira facias and the following (to wit) Stokely H. Enoch…Amos Avin… out of which the following Gentlemen were chose as grand jurors (to wit) Stokely H. Enouch…."
"Amos Aven", age 69, born in NC, shows up on the 1850 Henderson Co., TN census with wife Matilda and son Green. He cannot be located on the 1860 census so it is assumed he died 1850-60. One reference states without sources that he died 1855.
Abner’s wife was named Mary (maiden name possibly ‘Ward’) and they had at least eight children. He died 1822 in Smith Co. TN. In his will he names his wife Mary and children Polly Evans, Rebekey Fite, Benjamin, Nancy, Elizabeth, Peggy, Thomas. He also mentions a Patsey Anderson, to whom he left $2.00 (another daughter?). In his will Abner left everything to wife Mary "provided she kept his children together and behaved herself in a respectable manner and if not, after one year everything (was) to be sold and equally divided among the children….”