Joseph C. Avery

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Joseph Conant Avery
Legislator in the Provisional Government of Oregon
In office
Succeeded byPosition dissolved
ConstituencyBenton District
Oregon Territory House of Representatives
In office
ConstituencyBenton County
Personal details
BornJune 9, 1817
Tunkhannock, Pennsylvania
DiedJune 16, 1876
Spouse(s)Martha Marsh
Occupationfarmer, merchant, politician

Joseph Conant Avery (June 9, 1817 – June 16, 1876) was the founder of Corvallis, Oregon, United States. Avery was the first postmaster for the community, and served as a legislator in the Provisional Government of Oregon and the government of the Oregon Territory. Avery House (formerly Avery Lodge) at Oregon State University was named after him.[1]

Early life[edit]

Avery was born in Tunkhannock, Pennsylvania on June 9, 1817.[2] He was educated in Wilkes-Barre before moving to Illinois in 1839.[2] Avery then married Martha Marsh in 1841 before they immigrated to Oregon Country in 1845.[2]


After wintering at Oregon City, the family moved south the next year.[3] Joseph Avery settled at the mouth of Marys River where it flows into the Willamette River in the central part of the Willamette Valley of what would become the state of Oregon.[2] At that location he operated a ferry across the Willamette and established a farm.[2] In 1848, Avery went to the gold fields of California and mined for a brief time before using his gold to purchase mercantile goods.[2] Avery then returned to Oregon where he opened a store on his land claim where he then established a town site.[2] He surveyed and platted the area and named it Marysville in 1850.[2][3]

In 1848, Avery was elected and served in the final session of the Provisional Legislature of Oregon that began in December.[4] He was elected to the Oregon Territorial Legislature in 1850[5] through 1852, serving as a Whig and representing Benton County.[6] In 1853, Avery was appointed as a postal agent servicing both Washington and Oregon territories.[2] In 1856, Avery returned to the Territorial Legislature as a Democrat.[7] Joseph Avery, the father of 12 children, died on June 16, 1876.[2] He was buried at the Masonic Cemetery in Corvallis.[3]

Naming controversy[edit]

After the demise of the Expositor newspaper at Eola in Polk County, Avery acquired their equipment and provided Corvallis with its first printing press.[8] He was later accused of using this press to operate the pro-slavery Occidental Messenger; however, the paper's ownership and control of its editorial content is attributed to a pair of men by the names of Hall and Gillis.[9] This connection to the pro-slavery movement led to an inquiry as to retaining the Avery name on the residence hall bearing his name in 2017, with a decision made to re-name the building.[1]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Rimel, Anthony (October 13, 2017). "Historical report connects Corvallis founder to pro-slavery newspaper". Corvallis Gazette Times. Retrieved 21 December 2017.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Corning, Howard M. Dictionary of Oregon History. Binfords & Mort Publishing, 1956.
  3. ^ a b c Transactions of the ... Annual Reunion of the Oregon Pioneer Association. Oregon Pioneer Association. Reunion. 1876. p. 66.
  4. ^ Oregon Legislative Assembly (4th Provisional) 1848-1849 Regular Session. Oregon State Archives. Retrieved on January 30, 2008.
  5. ^ Oregon Legislative Assembly (2nd Territorial) 1850 Regular Session. Oregon State Archives. Retrieved on January 30, 2008.
  6. ^ Oregon Legislative Assembly (4th Territorial) 1852 Regular Session. Oregon State Archives. Retrieved on January 30, 2008.
  7. ^ Oregon Legislative Assembly (8th Territorial) 1856 Regular Session. Oregon State Archives. Retrieved on January 30, 2008.
  8. ^ Martin, Bruce, comp. "Located at Albany..." Editorial. The Corvallis Gazette [Corvallis] 23 Aug. 1873: n. pag. Print. Found in the thesis of Bruce Martin, titled "History of Corvallis: 1846 - 1900" submitted to U of O, June 1938.
  9. ^ Hall & Gillis, ed. Occidental Messenger [Corvallis] 5 June. 1858: 1. Microform. Occidental Messenger/Democratic Crisis/Oregon Union/Oregon Weekly Union (n.d.): roll 13. One of 5 full and/or partial copies of the newspaper, found on Roll 13 in the Corvallis, Oregon Public Library’s microfiche collection