Catherine (Avery) Spurrell

Compiled by Elaine Peddle Spurrell

Catherine Avery was born in Grate’s Cove in 1863, the second child of eight children born to Elias and Lucinda (Stoyles) Avery. In the early 1870’s the family moved to Long Beach, Trinity Bay.

As an adult, Catherine was a tall, slim woman. She had long brown hair which she wore in a bun at the back of her head. On December 16, 1885, she married John Spurrell (1861-1934) of Butter Cove. Catherine and John had 12 children, all born in Butter Cove. Four of their children died young. One child, Hannah lived less than two months. Another child, Levi James, died at eight months, in a fire when the family tilt caught fire on Deer Cove Shore, Random Island. It was January 6, 1901 and all the men were in the woods cutting wood that day. The fire was so intense and spread so quickly that the baby could not be rescued. The men were so affected by the tragedy that they vowed never to work again on Old Christmas Day.

Through all the hardships and tragedy Catherine found time to become a midwife and help deliver babies in the surrounding area. She did this for many years until she was afflicted with asthma and also became blind. From then on she took to her bed where she was cared for by her daughter in law, Gertrude, who lived with her. On July 11, 1941, Gertrude was having great difficulty giving birth. Although Catherine was 78 at the time and completely blind, she arose from her bed and delivered Gertrude of triplets. Unfortunately, one of the babies, a boy, was stillborn. The two girls, Mary and Joyce, lived for three months, but sadly they passed away, on the same day, October 6, 1941.

Catherine passed away at the age of 82 at her home in Butter Cove on February 15, 1945.