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2nd Lieutenant John Avery McIlhenny

Troop E, 1st U.S. Volunteer Cavalry ("Rough Riders")

(October 29, 1867 - November 8, 1942)

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.

Rough Rider John Avery McIlhenny

John Avery McIlhenny, 2nd Lt., Troop E, 1st U.S. Volunteer Cavalry ("Rough Riders") (photo courtesy of McIlhenny Company Archives)
The Biography:

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.

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