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Capt. Charles Marsh Averell (1824-1889)
Born Philadelphia, PA, raised in Buffalo, came to Bay City in 1859.

Biogrpahy 1890. (Added April, 2011)

Cyclopedia of Michigan: Historical and Beographical Sketches - 1890


Of Bay City, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on the sixth day of May, 1824. His father, James Marsh Averell, was a native of Cherry Valley, Otsego County, New York, but early in life moved to Philadelphia. James M. Averell went to sea at the age of eighteen years, and finally became master of a vessel sailing between Charleston and Philadelphia. In 1839 he removed to Buffalo with his family, but continued in the business of sailing and management of vessels to the time of his death, which occurred in Buffalo, in 1873, in his sixty-seventh year. It was in Buffalo that Captain Averell acquired his early education, which was broad enough and thorough enough to carry him through a busy and successful career. He studied book-keeping, which in later life became of great practical use to him, not alone in the matters pertaining to his own business, but also in the capacity of trustee or assignee in closing out large business interests. It is quite probable that this branch of study and the practical use made of it had much to do in developing one of the prominent traits of his character. He was prompt and accurate in all his business transactions. On becoming of age, Captain Averell, true to his early training and surroundings, bought an interest in a vessel; and a few years later, so rapid had been his progress in the business, he built, as part owner and captain, the Montezuma, one of the finest brigs then on the Lakes. The name of this vessel and the captain's connection with her are facts still fresh in the memory of many of the older fresh-water sailors.

In 1849, Captain Averell accompanied his father to New York City to prepare himself, by a short course of study in navigation, for the position of first mate upon the steamer New York, of which his father was captain. This vessel was built for coasting and navigating the Sacramento River in the early days of the California gold excitement. In attempting the ship around the Horn, and when several hundred miles below Rio de Janeiro, the steamer was disabled and nearly wrecked. The old captain finally succeeded in getting her back to Rio, where, after nearly a year's negotiations , she was abandoned to the insurance companies, and the captain and his son returned to New York, the latter as mate on a steamboat in the South American trade. Later on, in 1852, Captain Averell purchased the Mark H. Sibley, and sailed this vessel up to 1860.

In 1859 he removed to Bay City, and still followed the vessel business. He afterwards became interested in several business enterprises in Bay City, and finally turned his attention mainly to real estate and permanent investments. Coming to Bay City at so early a date in its history, and possessing great business ability and some means, he became very closely identified with the growth and material prosperity o the city. By a strict attention to business, integrity, and economy, he accumulated a competence, and at the time of his death he owned two handsome brick blocks, both of which were built under his personal supervision – the Averell Block, on Center Street, in 1867; and the New Averell Block, on Washington Street, in 1886. He was by nature, disposition, and training, a man of affairs; and even in his later years, and after he had made large accumulations, Captain Averell took an active part in the growth of the city. He was assignee of the Pipe Works and receiver of the Lake Huron and Southwestern Railway Company during the last ten years of his life. Both of these positions required considerable time, good business ability and integrity, and in both of which Captain Averell so conducted affairs as to receive the commendation of the various persons in interest. He was public-spirited and loyal to his own city. He gave freely to aid in securing railroads and manufacturing industries, no only of his money, but devoted time in securing money from others. He was charitable, and in his charities he was unassuming. None but those nearest to him knew of his benevolence. He never spoke of these things. He was an honey man, clean and upright. The intelligent and pure-minded in the community always had unlimited confidence in him. Like all successful men he was subjected, to a limited extent, to the jealous attacks of the weak and vicious; but with his strong character and his loyal friends, he was not affected by such things.

Captain Averell married, April 2, 1854, Agnes L. Humphrey, a daughter of Thomas J. Humphrey, of Battle Creek, Michigan, who originally came from Vermont, and, settling in Michigan many years ago, became a useful and respected citizen. Mrs. Averell was born in Lockport, New York. She was of great assistance to her husband, whom she survives , all through his busy life, by her devotion to his interests, her sympathy, and her unassuming Christian character. Captain Averell died January 9, 1889, of heart difficulty, aged sixty-four years. Of his personal appearance and characteristics a familiar friend and acquaintance says; “In his broad, sturdy figure, his clear complexion, and prompt and decisive ways, he looked and acted just what he was – a retired sailor; and was best known and like among the business men he was thrown in contact with, a circle where a man finds his true level sooner than anywhere else.” In politics, Captain Averell was a stanch and intelligent Republican. Above all else, he was a consistent Christian gentleman, and his ripe judgment and exemplary and useful life will be deeply felt in Bay City, where he so long lived, and with the growth of which he was so closely associated.

Additional Notes.

    1870 – Census: Bay City, Mich.

  • Averell, Charles – age 44, b. Penn.
  • Agnes, wife – age 36, b. Mich.

    1881 – Directory: Bay City, Mich.

  • Averell, Capt. Charles M. - real estate and vessel owner and assignee Lake Huron & Southwestern Ry, Office 109 Center, Averell Block, res. s e cor. Center and Jackson.

    1909 - Michigan HIstorical Collections, Vol. 38. 1912.

  • Mrs. Agnes L. Averell, Bay City, died in 1909.
Related Pages/Notes

Averell Block
Washington Ave.

Related Pages:
None at this time.
People Referenced
Averell, Charles M. (subject)
Averell, James M. (father)
Humphrey, Agnes L. (wife)
Humphrey, Thomas J (f-inlaw)
Subjects Referenced
Averell Block
Battle Creek, MI
Bay City, M
Buffalo, NY
Cherry Valley, NY
Lake Huron & S.W. Ry
Lockport, NY
New Averell Block
Otsego Co., NY
Philadephia, PA
Rio de Janerio
Sacremento River
Vessel: Mark A. Sibley
Vessel: Montezuma
WRITINGS: History As It Was Written Then.