Andrew Avery (1901-1990) was a farmer and educator in Decatur County, Georgia. A 1929 graduate of the University of Georgia, Mr. Avery served as superintendent of the high schools in Whigham, Grady County (1929-30), and Hahira, Lowndes County (1930-31), prior to his return to Decatur County as principal at Mt. Pleasant School in 1931. He was elected superintendent of Decatur County schools serving from 1933 through 1948. While county superintendent of schools, he worked tirelessly to procure federal monies for vocational education in Georgia. In 1938, in recognition of Mr. Avery ‘s spearheading the legislation providing free textbooks to all the children of Georgia, Georgia State Superintendent of Schools M. D. Collins honored him as the “man who has given free textbooks to the children of Georgia and library service to the rural children.”
Throughout his farming and education careers, Mr. Avery filmed daily life in Decatur County and beyond between the 1930s and 1950s.
Mr. Avery was a tireless promoter of Georgia’s peanut industry and instrumental in the establishment of the Georgia Agricultural Commodity Commission for Peanuts in 1961. In 1968, the Commission awarded him their most honored award, the Distinguished Service Award. During the final years of his life Mr. Avery was probably best known by the Peanut Commission’s little red bags of Georgia Peanuts he gave to all he met. At the time of his death the Peanut Commission presented the Avery family a special memorial plaque that expressed “appreciation for his unselfish giving of his time and talents to Georgia's Peanut Industry.” Evolving growing methods and harvesting equipment for peanuts are featured through his films.
Mr. Avery also had a passion for sharing events of farm life with his neighbors and held an annual “old fashion cane grinding,” of which there are examples in his footage. This was an annual event for his friends and neighbors where sugarcane was fed into a mill powered by a mule going in a circle around the mill. The sugarcane juice was then boiled and skimmed to produce sugarcane syrup. This required continuous boiling in a wood-fired, 80-gallon iron kettle for 3 to 4 hours before being bottled or canned for use later on pancakes, biscuits, or used in cooking.
Mr. Avery was a Baptist his entire life worshiping at Delwood Baptist and Mt. Pleasant Baptist Churches. These and many other places of worship including the Temple in Bainbridge appear in his footage. He was an active member of the Gideons and according to his obituary gave out almost as many Bibles as he did peanuts.