The first Euro-American settlement of the area now known as Avery was by Joseph and Sarah Goodell, pioneer operators of the hotel and stagecoach relay station. In the 1850s they built a four-room house for a hotel and family home which was later incorporated into the present Avery Hotel. It was called the Half-Way House, so named because it was halfway between Murphys and the Calaveras Big Tree. Following the discovery of the Comstock Lode in 1858, Half-Way House became a busy way-station on the route of the Big Tree-Carson Valley Road, used extensively as an overnight stop by logging and freighting teams.
In 1869 George Avery purchased Half-Way House from the Goodells, greatly expanding the operation. By further pre-emption and homesteading, Avery eventually acquired a total of 800 more acres. Avery enlarged the hotel in 1874, and again in the 1880s. In 1885 a post office was established and the name of the station was changed to Avery. By this time the station consisted of the hotel, two large barns, a stable, drive-through wagon shed, bunkhouse, three large corrals, a post office, store, and dance hall. In 1886, Avery donated land and paid to have a school constructed. As he now had nine children, it was a necessary addition to his settlement.
George Avery used the meadow on the west side of State Route 4 for growing hay and as pasturage for horses and cattle. His son, Morton Avery, owned a water right which brought irrigation water from the Union Ditch down Moran Road to the south side of the meadow where it was used to irrigate the hay. Although the hay was cut, George’s granddaughter Marcelle never remembered the meadow being plowed, the Averys simply cutting the “volunteer” hay crop annually. The ditch was abandoned in the late 1930s (Avery, Eltringham 1986).
In the early 1900s, George and his son Morton went into the lumber business. A year or so later, George, wife Henrietta, and the four youngest children moved to Stockton, dividing the property between their five elder children. Morton and his wife Louise (Reinking) bought out the interest of the other four and continued to operate the store, post office, hotel, and logging business; again expanding the station. During this time they also ran a herd of over 40 head of cattle (Bishop 1984).
The property surrounding the meadow was logged at least three times during the 20th century, once as recently as the 1970s, during the 1940s, and in the late 1920s and early 1930s. In the early years the trees were taken to the Raggio Mill near Arnold (located about one-half mile down Cowell Creek from the Meadowmont Golf Course), and in later years to other mills, where they were cut into boards.
During the late 1920s and early 1930s, a mill was erected at the southwest end of the meadow just above the headwaters of San Domingo Creek. This property was leased by Morton Avery to a man named Flite who built a combination mill, producing shingles and other lumber products. The mill was operated by an underflow water wheel and sat on two concrete footings (extant in 1986), and housed in a large frame building, no longer in existence. Water to power the mill was derived from Love Creek and through the Avery meadow along the original irrigation ditch. After running through the mill, the water was dumped into San Domingo Creek (Avery, Eltringham 1986). During the 1940s the western portion of the meadow was cleared and the old stumps pulled up, piled on the north side, and burned.
When a new highway was built to replace the old Highway 4, the store, post office, and dance hall were moved away from the hotel to the site of the present store. In 1944 the Sam Lodato family purchased the Avery holdings and in 1944 constructed a new store, hardware store, and real estate office and proceeded to subdivide much of the original Avery family acreage. A fire destroyed the Avery barns, wagon shed, and bunkhouse near the hotel.
After World War II, the area began to develop as a supply center for the rapidly burgeoning construction of second homes and retirement homes. The land in the meadow area was subdivided in the late 1960s and new houses and house pads dot the fringes of the meadow (Lodato 1986).
Bishop, Frances E. 1984 Half-Way House, Avery Station. Ms. on file, Calaveras County Archives, San Andreas.
Marvin (Cunningham), Judith, and Julia G. Costello. 1986 Historical and Archaeological Research for the Proposed Jim Winchell Project, Avery, California. Prepared for Weatherby Associates, Jackson, California. Prepared by Foothill Resource Associates, Mokelumne Hill, California.
Theodoratus, Dorothea J, PhD, and Marion Parsons, B.A. 1980 Miwok Ethnohistory. Ms. on file, Calaveras County Archives, San Andreas.
Wood, R. Coke, and Frances E. Bishop, Collaborator. 1968 Big Tree-Carson Valley Turnpike, Ebbetts Pass and Highway Four. Old Timers Museum, Murphys, California.
Avery, Marcelle. 1986 Granddaughter of George Avery and daughter of Morton Avery. Contacted twice in September 1986.
Bishop, Frances E. 1986 Local historian. Contacted numerous times in September 1986.
Brooks, Dale. 1986 Attended Avery School in the late 1930s and early 1940s. Contacted in September 1986.
Davies, Ina Malespina. 1986 Owner of Malespina/Davies Ranch on Moran Road, Avery. Contacted September 1986.
Eltringham, Bill. 1986 Local cattleman who worked and lived in the area from the 1920s. Contacted September 1986.
Golob, Esther Williams. 1986 Resident of the Malespina/Davies Ranch in 1912-1914, who attended Avery School. Contacted September 1986.
Lodato, Jack. 1986 Son of Sam Lodato and one of the owners of the Avery property 1940s-1960s. Contacted September 1986.
Maniey, James Gary, M.A. 1986 Ethnographer. Contacted September 1986.
Moran, Bill. 1986 Cattleman whose family were early residents of the area (Blue Lake Springs) and whose name was given to the road. Contacted September 1986.
Sanders, Lars. 1986 Avery resident who worked in some of the local logging mills in the 1950s and 1960s. Contacted September 1986.
Williams, Julian. 1986 Owner of the Avery schoolhouse in 1986. Contacted September 1986.