Friday, April 2, 2010

22. Caroline Avery

The next alphabetical student in the roster is Caroline Avery, who was listed as being from Wilmington. She attended the Mordecai's school from mid-1814 to the end of 1816. No adult's name is attached to her account in the ledger. But the Mordecai family's letters mention her often. She arrived at the school in the company of classmate Amanda Kelly (their stays at the school coincide exactly). When Caroline was married in 1822, Rachel Mordecai Lazarus was called upon to remedy a last-minute shoe emergency for the bride. She was considered a fashionable young hostess in the Cape Fear region. Late in 1826, her husband (Mr. VanCleef) died suddenly, leaving Caroline a widow with a young son. Rachel Mordecai Lazarus was less-than-sympathetic about Caroline's loss; she considered her former student a spoiled and childish woman who probably ruined her husband by driving him to drink. In 1829, Caroline Avery VanCleef married a New Yorker, Captain James Seymour, and relocated to Staten Island.

What can we find of this alumna's life online? Brunswick County Marriage Records confirm the marriage of Mary Caroline Avery to John M. VanCleef in September 1822, and the marriage of Mary Caroline VanCleef to Captain James Seymour in November 1829. But beyond that... not much. In this case, the Mordecai family correspondence holds far more details about the student than anything I can find online. So far.

UPDATE 4/14/2013:  I've heard from a family historian about Caroline Avery and her cousin Amanda Kelly.  Amanda Caroline Kelly was the daughter of Hanson Kelly and Susannah Cooke Kelley; Susannah's sister Polly Cooke Avery was married to Jonathan Avery, and they were the parents of  Caroline Avery.  Polly and Jonathan died in the early 1800s, and left their children in the care of Hanson Kelly.  That's a big piece of this family's story filled in--thank you!

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