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Mrs. Avery and I have the opportunity to be docents at Faust Park, St.
Louis County. Two or three weekends during the summer we docent in
the Conway House which was built between 1957 and 1860. On Halloween
weekend Halloween Haunting is held at the Historic Village. Mrs.
Avery and I are at Thornhill, which was built in the 1820s.. This
is the residence of Missouri's second governor, Frederic Bates.
Mrs. Avery in in the bedroom talking about the early practices that took
place immediately following a death in he home. I am in the parlor
explaining what would take place curing the wake, funeral and burial.
We participate in other Village events as our schedule permits.
Mr. & Mrs. Avery in the
Mrs. Avery in the
Undertaker & Widow Avery are pictured here at the "Halloween Haunting"
Educational & Entertaining Event, Faust Park, Chesterfield, Missouri. Thornhill was the estate of Frederick Bates who was elected the second
governor of the State of Missouri in 1824. In the early 1800's, the
Capital of Missouri was in St. Charles, Missouri, which is just across
the Missouri River from Thornhill. During the "Haunting," Mr.
Avery portrays an Undertaker as he explains Victorian funeral practices.
The Widow Avery talks about the ridged mourning practices of the time.
In 2005 we had the
opportunity of being present at the Chatillon - DeMenil Mansion.
Avery and I gave a continual afternoon program of Victorian Mourning
practices. I also had my 1860s hears on
display near the front of the Mansion.
the Christmas season, at which time the Mansion
was exquisitely decorated, We provided seasonal music in the parlor.
May 2005, saw the
final interment of Civil War Veteran, Cpl. John Payton Byrne. He
cremate remain where discovered resting in a mausoleum in
California by a distant relative. They were brought back to
Memphis, Missouri, where John live during his childhood. Along
with the Sons of Union Veterans and the ladies organizations, reenacting
groups took part in the final visitation and graveside burial of
Cpl. Bryne. I was privileged in leading the funeral procession to the
cemetery with my 1860s hearse.
As preparation for the
burial of Cpl. Bryne, many of those participating
took the opportunity while at Keokuk, Iowa, to practice standing guard
and becoming acoustomed to placing and retrieving the coffin from the
Keokuk, Iowa, April 2005. I found a beautiful area to set up my
embalming surgeons tent. What I didn't know was that it was
supposed to rain that night. It poured with me at the lower side
of a hill. I spent much of the night recovering and resetting my
tent poles along with freezing in the rain.
The Battle of Corinth was the National
event for 2005. The site was the best I have had a an event as far
as being about to see the battles. Unfortunately, the event
followed the Hurricane Katrina. Many of the "southern boy." were
not able to attend. Many of them lost everything in the
devastation. Our prayers continually go out to
reenacting brother and sisters.
The undertaker participated in the event
at Col. William Fultkerson Farm, "Hazel Dell,"
It is on of the mandates
of the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War that we should
searcb out the graves of Civil War Veterans and be sure their graves are
marked and in good order. As a member of the U.S. Grant Camp #68,
SUVCW, he participates in ceremonies to mark our Veterans. There
were marked in 2005.
They are Cpl. John Payton Bryne, Major William C., Inks, Col.
Edward M. Paine and Sgt. Chris Hinterberger
Col. Edward M. Paine's marker, Bellefontaine Cemetery,
St. Louis, MO
Dedication Service for
Chris Hinterberger, Mt. Hope Cemetery, Belleville, IL
year there is a ceremony ton April 15th., to remember President Abraham
Lincoln on the day he died from an assassins bullet.. the Ceremony
takes place at the Lincoln Memorial, Oak Grove Cemetery, Springfield,
School programs are very important to
many of us in the SUVCW. This is the Embalming Surgeon's setup in
readiness for the 400 Rockwood School District middle school student.
This is a two day event designed to inform and pass on to the next
generation the history of the Civil War.
A Rig! Mr. Avery purchased this 1860's horse drawn hearse in 1999.
During the next year he dismantled it down to the last bolt and restored
and repainted it. As best as can be determined, the undercarriage
and box were made in Quebec, Canada (of that we are sure), in the
mid-1860's. The hand made and carved top were added not long
after. This was a "poor man's" hearse, or possibly a second hearse
in a fleet or livery. It is smaller than most hearses and has
curtains rather than glass at its openings.
The Undertaker & Widow (John & Peggie Avery), taken in 2000 at the
Manchester Days Parade. This was the first parade In
which we appeared with the hearse. We participate in a number of
parades in the St. Louis, MO area each year. I drive my
1860's hearse and Widow Avery respectfully follows behind. Here you see
the Undertaker, his 1860's Hearse and Cheval. The second photo is of
the Undertaker and the Widow Avery taken the same day.
Undertaker & Widow at Fort Davidson Battle Field, Pilot Knob, Missouri.
We participate in many reenactments and living histories at various
Confederate soldiers are assisting the Undertaker in removing a coffin
from the hearse. This was taken at Vicksburg II, Raymond, Mississippi.
Undertaker, the Widow and the 1860's Hearse. Mr. & Mrs. Avery, with the
help of many others produced an event in Manchester, Missouri called
Victorian Days 2000. The event consisted of period crafters, musicians,
and The Illinois Funeral Directors Traveling Funeral Museum. Also
featured was a late 1800's fashion show and a Civil War era Worship
Service. The event was centered around a mock funeral for a Civil War
Widow Avery praying at her husband's grave at Jefferson Barracks
National Cemetery, St. Louis Missouri. This Veteran's Cemetery is the
final resting place for approximately 12,000 Union Veterans and 1140
Confederate Veterans. The Avery's with their hearse lead the Memorial
Day Parade and Observance at the Barracks each year.
Undertaker at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery, St. Louis, Missouri,
Memorial Day, 2001. This is an annual commemoration attended by 1500 -
2000 people. Most all of the Veteran's Organizations participate in
We are proud to be
asked to lead the parade through the Cemetery to the central parade
grounds where the honors are given to all of America's fallen heroes.
and South Together! Members of Co. A, 2nd MO, Sons of Veterans Reserve,
U.S. Grant Camp #68, and Sons of Confederate Veterans, Sterling Price
Camp #145, join together to provide the Honor Guard at the Jefferson
Barracks National Cemetery, Memorial Day, 2001.
North & South marching
to the graves of their fallen at Jefferson Barracks National
Cemetery, Memorial Day, 2001. Members of the 4th Missouri Calvary
provide an escort for the hearse carrying the fallen Union soldier.
& Mrs. Avery are privileged each year to give programs to fifth grade
classes in a number of suburban elementary schools. Both John And
Peggie are former teachers, so this gives them an opportunity to feed
the teaching craving which is in a teacher for life. Towards the end of
the fifth grade year, students study the Civil War in Social Studies.
It is an honor for us to be able to bring that portion of our history to
life for the students. They always have interesting and sometimes very
Widow Avery teaching a class of fifth graders about life and death
during the Civil War. The girls particularly have questions about the
costumes which the proper Victorian lady would wear. They cannot
imagine having to wear seven layers of clothing when it is often 80-90
degrees outside when we visit their school.
Private Avery & James in his fifth grade class. The student enjoys
trying on the
uniform and finding out what he might carry in his haversack. Learning
about a soldiers life in these ways brings the written history alive for
The Undertaker's Tent
at the 140th. Anniversary of the Battle of Antietam, near Hagerstown,
Maryland, August 2002.
J.D. Avery, Undertaker, Embalming a soldier at his field embalming
tent. Notice the simple hand pump and the drain tube going down in
front of the body. The embalming fluid was pumped into the carotid
artery and drained from the carotid vein This was one of three methods
used for embalming during and right after the Civil War. Another method
was using the gravity bottle, which was hung eight to twelve feet above
the body for a period of up to eight hours. The third method, and
probably most used was that of arterial embalming without draining the
the Undertaker's tent of shed, would see the embalming board or table,
there may or may not be a fly for weather protection, and often there
would be a stack of coffins. these may have been made from possibly
barn wood that had been savaged or they may have been secured from a
local town undertaker. The enlisted soldier would simply be placed in a
However, an officer would probably have a coffin of traditional shape.
Not the one in the picture.
Civil War Military Reenactors
& Mrs. Avery dressed for a Military Ball. We enjoy attending dress
balls and other social events for the Civil War Reenactors in our area.
gown Mrs. Avery is wearing was made from a silk sari which was given to
her Mother by her Aunt who was a Missionary in India for many years. We
are most fortunate to have as our seamstress, Miss Holly Turner. She
has made all of our costumes in accurate 1860's style.
& Mrs. Avery are seen here in formal dress at the Millennium Ball which
held in St. Louis, Missouri, over the 2000 New Year Holiday.
Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War
Avery is a direct descendant of at least three Michigan Union Veterans.
It is through this lineage that he is eligible to join the Sons of Union
Veteran of the Civil War. He now is serving his second term as
Commander of U.S. Grant Camp #68, St. Louis County, Missouri. He is
also Patriotic Instructor for the Department (State) of Missouri.
one of the mandates of the Sons is Civil War Graves Registration and
of the Republic (G.A.R.) Post identification and preservation. Mr. and
Mrs. Avery are pictured here at the re-dedication of cemetery and marker
for Private Wilhelm Horstmann in Wildwood, Missouri.
Grant Camp also dedicated a marker at the historic site of the D.N.
Keeler G.A.R. Post in 2001, This site is also in Wildwood, Missouri.
Historic Site Docents
Mr. & Mrs. Avery
volunteer as docents for St. Louis County Parks and are members of Old
Trails Historical Society of the Manchester, Missouri community.
Avery's at Bacon Cabin, Manchester, Missouri. This is a mid to late
1800's log cabin named after one of its earliest owners. It is
presently owned and maintained by the Old Trails Historical Society.
Avery is seen here in the Parlor of the Gen. Bissell Historic Home in
North St. Louis County. Mr. & Mrs. Avery have given programs on
Victorian funeral and mourning practices here and at other venues in St.
Louis and surrounding areas.
Avery's volunteer as docents at Faust Park, a St. Louis County Park, in
They are seen here in
the parlor of the -Conway Home in which they conduct tours during the
summer and fall. Mrs. Avery is seen in both her day dress and an
evening gown and Mr. Avery is in his dress frock suit.
Christmas in the Conway Home is very festive as can be seen here. Mr. &
Mrs. Avery are in the decorated entry hall of the home. Notice the
American Flag which was present in memory of 911, in the year 2001.
& Mrs. Avery are strolling in the garden just outside of the Conway Home
Faust Park, Chesterfield, Missouri. Behind Mrs. Avery you see the Mertz
Cabin and behind Mr. Avery is the summer kitchen for the Conway Home.
Avery seated in the dinning room of the Conway House at Faust Park.
Avery's at the Wildwood Festival, Wildwood, Missouri, September 2002.
The U.S. Gant Camp #68, SUV and the Sterling Price Camp, SCV, dedicated
two Confederate Markers on graves of unknowns and two GAR Stars on Union