LaVarre Family

Families Across Time


My great-grandfather William Johanne LaVarre was son of Jane (Jennie) Gray Andrews (20 April 1845 - 2 Sept 1895)and her second husband William LaVarre (died 15 April 1876). Jennie and William LaVarre were living in Twiggs County with their children when William was murdered:

From The Macon Telegraph and Messenger, dated Tuesday, April 18, 1876, p. 4 col. 1
Shocking Homicide in Twiggs

"On Saturday last about noon an employee at Myrick's Mill, by the name of William Lavarre, was shot and instantly killed by John Edmondson, a young man about 17 or 18 years of age, under the following circumstances: A short time previous to the killing Edmondson had had some words, and perhaps blows, with Lavarre in relation to some matters pertaining to the mill business, Lavarre refusing to fight him on account of his youth.

On Saturday, a great crowd gathered at the mill, in consequence of a break in the dam, to catch fish, Edmondson, being one of the number. Lavarre apprehending no trouble while on his way to his dinner was hailed by Edmondson. Seeing that he was under the influence of liquor Lavarre paid no attention to his call and continued on his way to his dwelling, only a short distance off. Whereupon Edmondson drew his pistol and before he could prevented fired at Lavarre, the ball striking him in the back of the head, close to the ear, and killing him on the spot in full presence of his wife, who was waiting for him in the door of her house. The community is very much incensed and the murderer would have been severely dealt with but for the fact that he immediately took to the swamp and has not yet been apprehended. His widow is the daughter of the late Dr. L.F.W. Andrews, and formerly the widow of Charles Ross, who died in Texas some time ago."

William, Jennie's fourth child, was born on 22 Nov 1875 in Macon, Bibb County, Georgia. William had a half-sister Helen Ross, and a brother Ollie. Jennie's first son Charles died 2 days before his 5th birthday, on 20 Feb 1874. William's older brother Ollie, born on 24 June 1873, died short of his 21st birthday on 10 Dec 1893. Both boys are buried in Rose Hill Cemetery near their mother.

Jennie remarried about 1883 to Alexander (Sandy) McGregor. They are both buried in the Central Avenue section of Rose Hill Cemetery in Macon, Georgia.

William left Georgia in 1896 to attend Columbian College, now George Washington University in Washington D.C., where he studied mathematics and engineering. He left before he could graduate and in 1898, William was living at 713 9th St. NW in Washington D.C and working as a draftsman. A year earlier on 12 Oct 1897 he had married a Richmond, Virginia girl Leilia Goddin Haynes. Although they moved between shipyards, especially in the earliest years of their marriage, they eventually settled into Washington D.C., and raised a family:

William Johanne LaVarre, Jr.(14 Aug 1898-Feb 1991)
Myrtland F LaVarre (18 Feb 1901-18 Sep 1959)
Lucille (Lucie) LaVarre (abt 1903-deceased)
Franklin Merriweather LaVarre (14 Sep 1904-Dec 1987)
Claude Andrews LaVarre (7 Nov 1911-31 Oct 1963)

In 1910, the family was living at 3777 Oliver St and William's work had graduated to that of a naval architect. The next year, William was working at the Brookly Navy Yard, and his youngest son Claude Andrews was born in Staten Island, Richmond County, New York.

The family returned to Washington D.C. in the 1920s where they lived at 1215 Emerson Street NW; by the 1930 census their address was 1215 Arkansas Avenue. By this time, Lucille was married to her first husband and living in New York City, and Andre and William, Jr. had their own
families also.

With his children now grown, William Sr. left, returning to his birthplace, Macon, Georgia about 1936. There he had an office supply manufacturing business and then in WWII, he returned to work for the Navy Department at the ordnance plant in Macon. During this time, he married Elizabeth Jane "Bettie" Kerr, a Pennsylvania native. William died in 1948 and Bettie died in 1972.

Their obituaries were published in the Macon Telegraph newspaper:

Wednesday, December 29, 1948
"Death Claims W.J. LaVarre At Home Here"

"William J. LaVarre, retired naval architect, died unexpectedly yesterday shortly after suffering a heart attack near his home on Pio Nona Bypass. LaVarre apparently suffered the attack while helping to fight a brush fire near Pio Nona between Hightower Road and Newberg Avenue. Bibb Forest Ranger W.B. Redding, who was also helping to fight the fire, quoted a member of LaVarre's family as saying he had collapsed and had to be pulled out of range of the fire. LaVarre spent 14 years in Washington with the Navy Department. During this time, he helped construct many warships including the old cruiser Galveston and the old Iowa. He also conducted trial tests on the famous four-stacker class of destroyers. He also served with the US Lighthouse Service, building aids to navigation and tenders. One of his earlier jobs was the remodeling of the USS Oregon after her famous trip around the Horn. During World War II, he was a naval inspector at the Naval Ordnance plant here. He is survived by his wife, Mrs. Bettie Kerr LaVarre;three sons, William LaVarre, former Augusta-newspaperman, explorer and writer for the American Weekly; Claude LaVarre, sewing machine executive in Cuba, Andre LaVarre, film producer and world traveler and two other children. Funeral arrangements will be announced later by Hart's Mortuary."

Tuesday, January 4, 1949

"Private funeral services for William J. LaVarre, whose death occurred at his residence on Route 3, on Dec. 28th, will be held in the chapel of Hart's Mortuary Tuesday at noon. The Rev. T.M. Bailey will officiate. LaVarre was born in Macon and after making his home in Washington D.C. for a number of years, he returned to Macon 12 years ago."

Monday, December 4, 1972
"Mrs. Lavarre Services Tuesday"

"Mrs. Elizabeth Bettie Lavarre of Scotland Heights Apartments died Saturday. Services will be held Tuesday at 10:30 Macon Memorial Park. Mrs. Lavarre was a native of Pennsylvania and had lived in Macon for the past 30 years. Hart's Mortuary has charge of arrangements."

Tuesday, December 5, 1972
"Mrs. LaVarre, Pennsylvania Native"

"Services for Bettie LaVarre, of A-7 Scotland Heights Apts; who died Saturday at her residence, will be held at 10:30 a.m. at Macon Memorial Park. Mrs. LaVarre, a native of Pennsylvania, had lived in Macon for 30 years. She was formerly a secretary for
Jones, Spark, Benton, and Cork."

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Last revised: June 15, 2007