Wentworth and Warren are adjoining New Hampshire townships both of which are connected with the life of Ray R. Averill and therefore I need to credit them both. Ray Rufus Averill was born 10 Nov 1884 in Barton, Orleans Co. Vermont, son of Fred L. & Lizzie (Long) Averill. [Editor’s note: in the official naval records Ray R. Averill’s place of birth is shown as being Wentworth New Hampshire. Many times a child’s birth would be recorded in more than one place. In order to be inclusive here, I’ve connected him to both the place where he may have been born, and the town where he was laid to rest.]
In 1900 at age 16, he was already living on his own, boarding at a home in Laconia New Hampshire, and working as a laborer in a car shop. By 1910 he had moved to Somerville MA where, now aged 26, he was a fireman for the local railroad.
Ray Rufus Averill married on 21 September 1911 in Haverhill New Hampshire to Helen A. “Nellie” Brown, daughter of William & Elizabeth (Emerson) Brown. They had a daughter, Elizabeth Florence Averill born 21 July 1912 in Rockport, Massachusetts.
Orleans County Monitor (Barton, Vermont) 23 May 1917
Roger S. Robinson, a teacher in Providence, R.I. and Ray Averill, both grandsons of the late Capt. Rufus Averill have gone to Plattsburg, N.Y. for three months’ training for army officers. Paul L. Averill, another grandson, is in the New Hampshire barracks awaiting orders.
When WWI was declared, Ray R. Averill already had naval experience, and so he was called back as part of the United States Naval Reserve Force with the rank of ensign. He was at sea aboard the ship U.S.S. Tenadores when he was afflicted with influenza, which quickly developed into pneumonia, and died on 17 October 1918. His death occurred right at the height of the influenza pandemic.
The U.S. Navy Casualties Book of officers and enlisted men shows the following:
AVERILL, RAY RUFUS, ensign, United States Naval Reserve Force (class 3)
Died: on U.S.S. Tenadores
Date: October 17, 1918
Cause: Disease (pneumonia)
Next of kin: Helen B. Averill (wife) Wentworth N.H.
Appointed from Massachusetts
Ray Rufus Averill is buried in Warren Village Cemetery, Warren NH. The person who created his find-a-grave listing gives permission for use of photographs and information, and so with that in mind I have used his photograph (see above) and I repeat his obituary:
“Ensign Ray R. ‘Averill, eldest son of Fred L. Averill and Lizzie O. Averill, and grandson of the late Captain Rufus, Averill of Westmore, Vt., was born in Barton, Vt., Nov. 10, 1883. His death occurred on board U.S. S. Tenadores, Oct. 17,1918, while abroad; the result of pneumonia lobar from developing influenza, which he contracted while’ in the performance of his duty. Mr. Averill was of a studious nature. For some time he was a student at Cushing Academy, Ashburnham, Mass., and upon leaving there entered the U. S. Navy where he spent four years in service. After coming out of the navy he went into the employ of the B. and M. railroad during which time he had passed his examinations for first class engineer. When war was declared upon Germany he took a special course at Harvard University to fit himself for service. He was given a leave of absence from the railroad for an indefinite time, and entered the service where he. received his last summons and gave his all on the altar of his Country. Ensign Ray R. Averill received several promotions. Senior Naval Officer B. Y. Rhodes U.S.N.. said, “I. take pleasure in recommending Mr. R. Averill who was third officer on this ship on her last trip. April 13, 1918, for performing his: duties ‘in a very satisfactory manner and is deserving of any consideration you can show him. (Special mention was made in this particular note of Mr. Averill while on watch at a certain time and first saw a. submarine periscope and was of great help during a certain action. Mr. Averill had made fourteen trips across the ocean.) ” “As an officer, Ensign Ray Averill fulfilled his duties with diligence and justice. As a man and a shipmate, he held the respect and regard of all who knew him. He had a serenity of spirit and cheerfulness of manner …. his memory will be an inspiration. Yours respectfully , T. J. Connelly, Captain U. S .Navy.
Mr. Averill leaves a devoted wife, Mrs.: Helen Averill, and little daughter Elizabeth , a dear mother, Mrs. L.’O . Averill of Springfield, Mass., and sister Hazel of Oriskany Falls, N. Y., and a younger brother, Paul Averill, who is still serving his country in France as 1st sergeant. The body arrived from Norfolk, Va., on the midnight train Saturday Nov. 9th. Brief services held at the grave in Warren New Hampshire Monday afternoon at 3:00 pm. And were conducted by Rev. Enman. After the benediction the flag draped casket was lowered into its last resting place by-five of the R. R. Brotherhood from Boston who came to honor his memory and to lay two costly floral emblems over the grave of their departed brother. There were other beautiful flowers. As was laid away all that was mortal of one who had lain down his life for his country, one could but “think of the sacrifice made by thousands of others of our beloved whose sacrifice had made possible the proclamation of victory.”
Ensign Ray Rufus Averill is recognized on the Honor Roll in Doric Hall at the New Hampshire State House. It is unknown whether he is also recognized in either Wentworth or Warren, New Hampshire.
In 1921 Ray’s widow, Helen B. Averill was living at 616 Union Street in Manchester NH. On 26 December 1934 at Bedford NH Helen Averill, dau of William & Elizabeth (Emerson) Brown married William F. Schonland, son of William F. & Anna (Rabe) Schonland.
[Editor’s Note: this story is part of an on-going series about heroic New Hampshire men and women of World War I. Look here for the entire listing].