History of Taylor County, Iowa: from the earliest historic times to 1910 by  Frank E. Crosson. Chicago, The S.J. Clarke Publishing Co. 1910
(transcribed by Linda Kestner: lfkestner3@msn.com)
Page 282
The ranks of the Civil war veterans are fast being decimated.  Year by year many respond to the last roll call, and it is fitting that while some of the boys in blue survive they should be honored by their fellow-townsmen for the service which they rendered to the country during the darkest hour in all its history.  Mr. Avey is among those who for three years or more did active duty on southern battlefields, and in days of peace he has been equally loyal to his country and is now numbered among the public-spirited citizens of Blockton.  At the present time he is living retired, but for many years was a progressive farmer of Union and Taylor counties.  He comes of a family whose representatives were numbered among the early pioneers of Ohio.  Born in Clermont county, that state, on the 11th of March, 1842, he is a son of Joseph and Sarah (Cazel) Avey.  The father was also a native of Ohio and was there reared and married.  His parents were among the first settlers of that state and aided in the improvement and development of the section of country in which they resided.  Joseph Avey followed the occupation of farming in Ohio, where he passed away, and his wife, long surviving him, died at the ripe old age of ninety-two years.
James A. Avey was reared in the state of his nativity and there acquired his education in the common schools.  He remained at home, assisting his father in the work of the farm, until twenty years of age, when he responded to his country's call for aid and, in 1862, enlisted as a member of Company F, Fifty-ninth Ohio Volunteer Infantry, which became a part of the Army of the Cumberland.  Throughout his term of enlistment he saw much active service, participating in several hotly contested battles, among the most important being the engagements at Stone River, Chickamauga, Missionary Ridge and Chattanooga, while he was also in the Atlanta campaign and helped to take Jonesboro and Atlanta.  There was a time when, for a period of nearly two months, he engaged in either a battle or skirmish every day.  Later he did guard duty and participated in many minor engagements, serving faithfully and efficiently until the close of the war, when he was mustered out at Nashville, where he was honorably discharged on the 29th of June, 1865.
Returning home with a most enviable military record, Mr. Avey remained in Ohio for two or three years, being employed by the month, and then, in 1868, he went to Knox county, Illinois, where he worked at farm labor for about two years.  The year 1871 witnessed his arrival in Iowa, where he located in Union (page 285) county, near Creston, opening up a farm of eighty acres there.  This he continued to operate for five years, at the end of which time he sold the place and in 1877 purchased land in Gay township, Taylor county.  The farm consisted of one hundred and sixty acres, which was only partially improved and upon which stood a little cabin.  With characteristic energy he set about the development of the place, cultivated the unimproved land, replaced the cabin by a good comfortable house, erected substantial barns and outbuildings, set out a fine grove and orchard and added to his original purchase a tract of eighty acres, so that his farm, which subsequently consisted of two hundred and forty acres, became one of the finest in the locality, lacking in nothing that goes to make up a model farm of the nineteenth century.  In addition to general farming he engaged in the stock business, raising and fattening hogs and cattle for market, and this branch of his interests proved a most profitable one.  He remained on his farm for several years, actively engaged in its operation, and then, in 1903, feeling that the creditable degree of prosperity to which he had attained justified his retirement from active business, he left the farm and removed to Blockton, where he purchased a comfortable residence.  He also owns a half block of town property and four acres in another tract.  His home is one of the attractive ones of the city and its hospitality is enjoyed by a large number of Mr. Avey's friends.
Mr. Avey laid the foundation of a happy home life by his marriage, March 13, 1878, in Clermont county, Ohio, to Miss Mary Jane Thompson, who was born and reared upon a farm adjoining the old Avey homestead and attended the same school as did he who was to be her future husband.  She is a daughter of Thomas and Mary (Cramer) Thompson.  Her father, a native of Delaware, went to Ohio during the period of the Civil war, settling in Clermont county, where he was married.  He entered a tract of land, which he cleared and improved, and later he sold his farm and removed to Batavia, where his remaining days were spent.  After his death his wife resided with her daughter Mrs. Avey, until she passed away in 1898 at the venerable age of eighty-five years.  The home of Mr. and Mrs. Avey was blessed with three sons and one daughter, as follows: Professor Harry Avey, a teacher in a mission school in India, who is a graduate of the Blockton high school and the Agricultural College at Ames, Iowa, and is now teaching mechanical engineering; Joseph, a farmer of Gay township; Homer, also engaged in farming; and Luella, who married Ellis Nulph, the junior editor of the Blockton News.
Mr. and Mrs. Avey are members of the Methodist Episcopal church and she was formerly a very active Sunday-school worker.  Mr. Avey maintains pleasant relations with his old army comrades in his membership in the Grand Army of the Republic.  He has been a stanch advocate of democracy since age conferred upon him the right of franchise and has been called to fill various offices.  He served as township trustee while still upon the farm and was also school system treasurer of the community.  He has been active in local party ranks and has of the school board, doing all in his power to upbuild and strengthen the public, serving as delegate to various county conventions. Starting out in life without any specially favoring circumstances, Mr. Avey steadily worked his way up from the bottom of the ladder until, through his indefatigable energy, untiring perseverance, close application and good judgment, assisted very materially by his (page 286) estimable wife, he gained a high place among the prosperous and progressive farmers of Taylor county, while today he ranks among the valued and representative citizens of Blockton, his many excellent traits of character winning him the confidence, respect and good will of his fellow men.