Avis, William Henry (Capt)


William Henry Avis, who for many years has been connected with the industrial development of Connecticut, is one of the best known residents of New Haven. He was born in Philadelphia, April 27, 1854, a son of Samuel R. Avis, a sketch of whom appears elsewhere in this work. He attended school at Trenton, New Jersey; Ilion, New York; and Providence, Rhode Island, but was only fourteen years old when he put aside his text books in order to devote his entire time to providing for his own support. In early years he began carrying milk, for which he received a dollar a week. On leaving home he found employment in a jewelry factory at Providence, Rhode Island, and later became connected with the Providence Tool Company, which concern was at that time filling large contracts for arms for the Turkish government, which was then engaged in war with Russia (1877-78). While with that company Mr. Avis was employed in the polishing department. In 1881 he went to New Haven and entered the employ of the Winchester Repeating Arms Company, working under his father. He remained with that famous corporation for a third of a century. During that time his ability led to repeated advancement and he became one of its most trusted employes. When the American Gun Barrel Company was formed he became interested in that concern and the company has furnished lucrative employment to many men and has returned a good profit to its stockholders. His long years of connection with the business have given Mr. Avis a thorough knowledge of everything connected with the manufacture of arms.

Mr. Avis was married in 1888 at Greenwich, Connecticut. In Miss Anna M. Chard, a daughter of Samuel and Elizabeth (Boyd) Chard, the former an oyster grower and a well known resident of Greenwich. To Mr. and Mrs. Avis have been born four children: Dollie, the wife of Austin Turner, of Hamden; Emma Elizabeth; Susan W.; and Catherine Mead.

Mr. Avis is prominent in the ranks of the progressive party, which he has served since 1912 as a member of the state central committee. In the last campaign he did a great deal of efficient work in different parts of the state. Although a firm believer in the principles for which the progressive party stands, or perhaps from the very fact that lie is so thoroughly in sympathy with those principles, he has never been a narrow partisan but has at all times placed the public welfare above mere party success. He was a member of the board of education of the town of Hamden and his influence has been strongly felt in the upbuilding of the school system. He is a charter member of the Whitneyville Improvement Association, of the Hamden Civic Association, of the Humphreys fire department, of the Whitneyville fire department and of the Avis Mutual Aid, a benefit association. He is also connected with Relief Lodge, No. 86, 1. O. O. F., with the Angusville Mod and Gun Club and with the New Haven Automobile Club.

Mr. Avis has gained some note as a big game hunter and is also keenly interested in fishing and yachting. He has contributed many articles to Forest and Stream, Sports-Afield and other outdoor magazines. He has a wide acquaintance among sportsmen of the east. He has also written extensively on political topics for many of the best magazines and news papers of the country and in 1914 and 1915 was a general writer on the New Haven Register. He was the first recruiting officer appointed in West Haven after the declaration by the United States of war against Germany, and raised Reserve Company A, of the Connecticut Home Guard at West Haven, of which he is captain, and which has the distinction of being the first company in the state to provide the needed uniforms and arms without state aid. He has thrown himself heart and soul into the promotion of the interests of the guard and is now the editor of a paper known as the Home Guard. His salient characteristics of keen insight into conditions, discrimination and resourcefulness, have made him an important factor in the accomplishment of every undertaking to which he has turned his attention. He is a fine type of business man, realizing that to gain material prosperity and even to spread it among others is not enough to satisfy the standards of a good citizen who owes a higher duty to his community that cannot be delegated to others, the duty of furthering civic and general advancement along the broad lines of human uplift and betterment.

Modern History of New Haven
Eastern New Haven County


Volume II

New York Chicago
The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company 

pgs 291- 292

Return to New Haven County Page

pages / text are copyrighted by
Elaine Kidd O'Leary & 
Anne Taylor-Czaplewski
May 2002