Santa Cruz Mountain Orchardist

Bio - Sawyers

A man who gave his best effort for the preservation of the Union and has also done much to improve and buildup the horticultural industry in Santa Clara County is Volney Averill, a native of Vermont, born near Highgate Springs, Franklin County, August 12, 1847, a son of Mark Richard and Adah (Durrin) Averill, both natives of Vermont who lived on their New England homestead until 1852, when they removed to Whiteside County, Ill, and were farmers near Prophetstown until they retired and their demise occurred there.

Of their eight children, Volney is sixth and the only one now living.  Like the farmer boys of that day, he assisted his parents of the farm while attending  the public school near by.  Thus his education was not neglected.  However, his patriotism was stirred to such an extent that, having obtained his fathers consent, he left his books and enlisted in October, 1864, in Company B, Thirty-fourth Illinois Volunteer Infantry and was sent south.  In a detachment of the Fourteenth and Twentieth Army Corps he took part in the battle of Nashville under General thomas, after which he guarded the block house near Chattanooga until March, 1865, when he was sent with others via Washington to Wilmington, N. C., joining his regiment in Sherman's Army of Goldboro, N. C.  After the military operations were over he marched to Washington, and had the pleasure of taking part in the Grand Review.  After this he was stationed at Louisville, Ky., until he received his honorable discharge, July 12, 1865, being mustered out at Chicago, Ill., July 17, of that year, still under 18 years of age.  He attended school that winter in Sterling, Ill., then spent a year working on a farm, when he went to Cedar Rapids, Iowa, as traveling salesman for an agricultural implement house for two years and then spent a year as a clerk in their store.

In the fall of 1869 he came to California, living in the Santa Cruz Mountains where he was employed on a ranch for a year and then returned to Iowa and engaged in farming for two years, but the call of California and its splendid climate was too strong, so in the spring of 1873 he returned to Santa Clara County and immediately took up ranch work in the Santa Cruz Mountains.

On June 2, 1873, Mr. Averill was married to Miss Alice Schultheis, who was born n the old Schulteis ranch on the summit in this county, a daughter of Martin Schultheis, a pioneer, who with his wife Susan (Byerly) Schultheis, crossed the plains in an ox-team train in the early fifties and located in the mountains above Lexington and there reared their family. becoming successful farmers and valued citizens.  In 1874 Mr. Averill bought fifteen acres which he cleared and set out to orchard and as he prospered he bought land adjoining until he owned 75 acres, 35 acres being devoted mostly to French prunes.  His orchard lies well to the summit, on the Santa Cruz and Santa Clara County line, his residence being in the latter county.  Mr. Averill was one among  the first to engage in raising prunes for commercial purposes in his section, an he has been a close student of conditions of soil and climate, and has cared for this orchard in the most scientific way.

Mr. and Mrs. Averill's union was blessed with seven children:  Anna, Mrs. Flynn, passed away leaving three children; Fred resides in Seattle; Mrs. Mamie Piper died leaving one child, as did Mrs. Florance Banich at her death; Bessie, Mrs. Romes, lives near Palo Alto.  Alice  assists her mother to preside over the house; Arthur E. owns the home ranch is married and has two children.  Mr. Averill is a popular member of  the E. O. C. Ord. Post 82 G. A. R. at Los Gatos, and is a stanch Republican.
Transcribed by Carolyn Feroben, from Eugene T. Sawyers' History of Santa Clara County,California,  published by Historic Record Co. , 1922, page 861

Company "B" 34th Illinois Infantry

AVERILL, Volney Recruit Prophetstown Oct 16, 1864 Mustered out July 12, 1865
AVERILL, William Recruit Prophetstown Oct 16, 1864 Died at Evansville, Ind., Jan 11, 1865