by Shane K. Bernard, Ph.D.,
Archives, Avery Island, Louisiana
John Avery McIlhenny was the son of son of the inventor of
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.
October 29, 1867, Avery Island, La., to Edmund McIlhenny and Mary Eliza
Avery. Educated privately at Avery Island; Holbrook's Military
Sing Sing (Ossining), N.Y.; Phillips Academy, Andover, Mass.; and
Married Anita Vincent Stauffer of New Orleans. Children: John
"Jack"; Walter Stauffer (1910-1985). Career: On father's death
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;
by Roosevelt for "gallantry in action";
as second lieutenant, Troop E, September 15, 1898; entered politics,
in Louisiana House of Representatives, 1900-4, state Senate, 1904-6;
a Democrat, supported Roosevelt during his
of 1904 and 1912; appointed by Roosevelt a U.S.
Service Commissioner, November 30, 1906; retained post under Taft and
appointed president of U.S. Civil Service Commission, June 12, 1913;
financial advisor to Haiti during U.S. occupation, January 27, 1919;
with Haitian president Dartiguenave over economic issues; suspended
salary, causing a diplomatic crisis and inviting private criticism from
U.S. State Department; resigned October 11, 1922, to retire to
D.C.; purchased farm on October 18, 1926, near Charlottesville, Va.;
by series of heart attacks by late 1930s. Died, November 8, 1942;
interred, Arlington National Cemetery.
SOURCES: Shane K. Bernard, "Soldier, Patriot, Christian,
A Biographical Sketch of John Avery McIlhenny," Attakapas Gazette
Robert Debs Heinl, Jr., and Nancy Gordon Heinl, Written in Blood: The
of the Haitian People, 1492-1971 (1978); Albert Nelson Marquis, ed.,
Who in America, vol. 10, 1918-19, s.v., "McIlhenny, John Avery"; New
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
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.