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Avery, Henry M.

HENRY M. AVERY (1840- ? )

I cannot tell how the truth may be;
I say the tale as 'twas told to me.
SIR WALTER SCOTT: Lay of the Last
Canto II, Stanza 22

In a blurb in the Saturday Star Journal announcing the forthcoming appearance of "Trap, Trigger and Tomahawk," the author was spoken of as "Henry M. Avery (Maj. Max Martine), a college graduate, Hudson Bay Fur Company factor, free trapper and Indian fighter, chief of the Teton Sioux and guide." "Trap, Trigger and Tomahawk" is a series of disconnected adventures rather than a continuous biography, and it is somewhat difficult to reconstruct from it a biographical sketch. Some data and a fancy portrait, said to have been taken at Fort Benton, Montana, are given in the first number.(1)

Henry M. Avery was born in Bethel, Oxford County, Maine, about 1840. He left home in early life, all of his relatives having died, and went West. In September, 1857, he left St. Louis for a trip through New and Old Mexico, and in 1859 was a guide from Fort Union to Walla Walla, through Montana. For four years he worked for the Hudson Bay Fur Company, then became a "free" trapper south of the Red River of the North and in the Saskatchewan country. He was captured by the Teton Sioux, adopted into the tribe, and married to the chief's daughter.(2) He took part in their expedition against the Blackfeet and reported the result in a very modern way—on his side one slightly wounded, on the other 37 killed, 15 taken prisoners and 160 of their horses captured. After three years, he slipped away from the Indians during a hunting expedition and went to Fort Berthold, and for a short time was a government scout in the neighborhood of Fort Reno. In the winter of 1868-69 he trapped along the Wind River, and in the spring went to Fort Aspenhut, then north to the Indian country where he was again captured, this time by the Blackfeet. He was about to be tortured, when the chief discovered that Avery was a Free Mason, so gave him two horses and a trapping outfit, and he again started north. He was captured by the Cheyennes but soon escaped and served as guide to emigrants from the Platte to Oregon. In 1872 he returned to civilization and became assistant editor of the Warren (Illinois) Sentinel,(3) but evidently longed for his former life, for that paper said:(4) "Our assistant manager Major Max Martine contemplates a trip to the Yellowstone country." Apparently nothing came of this or the trip was short, for a year later the same paper said:(5) "Mr. Henry M. Avery (Maj. Max Martine) (Mohenesto) (Captain) (Detective and Adventurer) (Professor) etc. who has so often contributed to entertainment of our readers, has gone to Chicago to become a student in Rush Medical College. Mr. Avery has been reading with Dr. Pierce this year and has formerly read with other physicians and has attended lectures, so that he expects to graduate with the closing of the spring term, and hang out a shingle with M.D. attached." The Saturday Journal(6) in March, 1874, quotes an item from the Sentinel to the effect that Max Martine is hard at work on another story, but does not give the date at which time the item appeared. He may, therefore, have remained in Warren for some time longer. However, Avery did apparently leave Warren some time later, for in a History of Jo Daviess County, Illinois,(7) 1878, his name is given in heavy black type, such as was used in other places only for prominent citizens of the county whose biographies were given, but under his name there is nothing. He may have gone to Chicago although the records of Rush Medical College(8) show that "No person by the name of Henry M. Avery (Max Martine) ever matriculated at Rush Medical College."

The subsequent history of Henry M. Avery is unknown. There are two brief notices about him in the Saturday Journal but they add nothing to our knowledge. In No. 344, October 14, 1876, it is stated that "Sitting Bull sent a messenger to Gen. Terry's headquarters asking for a white man who was formerly a prisoner with the Sioux, and whose Indian name was Mohenesto," and in No. 370, April 14, 1877, the editor of the Correspondents' Column says: "We don't know Maj. Max Martine's present address." After that, nothing. The City Directories show a certain Henry M. Avery in Chicago in 1878, the year that the newspaper man left Warren, but this Avery is listed as a bookkeeper and later as a commission merchant until 1887. In 1889 an H. M. Avery, typesetter, and in 1890 a journalist, are listed, but there is nothing to show that any of these is the subject of this sketch.

Under the pen name "Max Martine," the following works appeared.

Stair's American Novels. Nos. 83, 111
Dime Novels. No. 285
Saturday Journal. Nos. 129, 394
Pocket Novels. Nos. 67, 100, 148
Boy's Library
(octavo). Nos. 162, 216


1 Saturday Star Journal, III, No. 129, August 31, 1872, to No. 150, January 25, 1873. The biography is in No. 129, p. 4.
2 He was mentioned in Lieutenant Beaumont's report to the Commissioners of Indian Affairs, June 3, 1866, as having a good influence upon the Indians.
3 Saturday Star Journal, August 17, 1872, 4
4 Ibid., No. 135, October 12, 1872. Quoted from the Sentinel.
5 Ibid., No. 191, November 8, 1873, 4. Quoted from the Sentinel.
6 Ibid., No. 209, March 14, 1874, 4.
7 Anon., The History of Jo Daviess County, Illinois, Chicago, 1878, 661. A letter to the present editor of the Warren Sentinel brought the reply that he had no personal knowledge of Mr. Avery.
8 In litteris, E. C. Miller, Registrar Rush Medical College, December 5, 1942.

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