by Shane K. Bernard, Ph.D., McIlhennyCompany
Archives, Avery Island, Louisiana
John Avery McIlhenny was the son of son of the inventor of Tabasco
brand pepper sauce. Originally a member of Troop F of the 1st
U.S. Volunteer Infantry ("Rough Riders"),
he was promoted to be a second lieutenant in Troop E for gallantry.
MCILHENNY, John Avery, businessman, soldier, politician. Born,
October 29, 1867, Avery Island, La., to Edmund McIlhenny and Mary Eliza
Avery. Educated privately at Avery Island; Holbrook's Military Academy,
Sing Sing (Ossining), N.Y.; Phillips Academy, Andover, Mass.; and Tulane.
Married Anita Vincent Stauffer of New Orleans. Children: John Stauffer
"Jack"; Walter Stauffer (1910-1985). Career: On father's death oversaw
Tabasco brand pepper sauce operations with his mother; joined Theodore
Roosevelt's 1st U.S. Volunteer Cavalry ("The
Rough Riders"), Troop F, on May 19, 1898, participating in battles
of Las Guasimas and San Juan Hill (actually Kettle Hill), Cuba; claimed
to have saved Roosevelt from sniper's bullet; promoted
by Roosevelt for "gallantry in action"; discharged
as second lieutenant, Troop E, September 15, 1898; entered politics, serving
in Louisiana House of Representatives, 1900-4, state Senate, 1904-6; although
a Democrat, supported Roosevelt during his campaigns
of 1904 and 1912; appointed by Roosevelt a U.S. Civil
Service Commissioner, November 30, 1906; retained post under Taft and Wilson;
appointed president of U.S. Civil Service Commission, June 12, 1913; appointed
financial advisor to Haiti during U.S. occupation, January 27, 1919; clashed
with Haitian president Dartiguenave over economic issues; suspended Dartiguenave's
salary, causing a diplomatic crisis and inviting private criticism from
U.S. State Department; resigned October 11, 1922, to retire to Washington,
D.C.; purchased farm on October 18, 1926, near Charlottesville, Va.; debilitated
by series of heart attacks by late 1930s. Died, November 8, 1942;
interred, Arlington National Cemetery.
SOURCES: Shane K. Bernard, "Soldier, Patriot, Christian, Gentleman:
A Biographical Sketch of John Avery McIlhenny," Attakapas Gazette (1993);
Robert Debs Heinl, Jr., and Nancy Gordon Heinl, Written in Blood: The Story
of the Haitian People, 1492-1971 (1978); Albert Nelson Marquis, ed., Who's
Who in America, vol. 10, 1918-19, s.v., "McIlhenny, John Avery"; New Orleans
Times-Picayune, November 10, 1942; Theodore Roosevelt, The Rough Riders
(1905); Hans Schmidt, The United States Occupation of Haiti, 1915-1934
(1971); see also Shane K. Bernard, "A Biographical Sketch: John Avery McIlhenny,"
Louisiana History 34 (1993). S.K.B.
The Dictionary of Louisiana Biography (USL, Center for Louisiana Studies / Louisiana Historical Association, 1998), entry by Shane K. Bernard.