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John Avas President of the City Council of Santa Ana, was born in Germany in 1843. His parents came to the United States in 1845, settling in St. Clair County, Illinois, and subsequently moved to Peoria County, that State, where the father died in 1851. Afterward the mother married again and moved to Washington, Tazewell County, Illinois, twelve miles east of Peoria. Mr. Avas, the subject of this notice, remained with his stepfather until he was fifteen years old, and then hired himself out to a farmer for one year, at the end of which time he was to receive $60. The next year he was hired by Asa Brown (afterward his father-in law) for one year, for $130. Then he rented land until August 4, 1862, when he entered Company B, Forty-seventh Illinois Volunteer Infantry, for the war. Ile was discharged in February, 1863, on account of disability, and went to farming again.
In November, 1864, he married Miss Ruth Brown, a daughter of his former employer. In 1865 he rented land in Woodford County, Illinois, and two years later purchased eighty acres of railroad land for $1,250, paying cash in hand $283; the rest of the purchase money he made off the land. Afterward he bought 160 acres, at three different times. For a period of twelve years he was engaged in farming and stock-raising, and was very successful. In 1882 he sold out his real estate and stock, etc., for $15,000, and came to California. In Santa Ana he has made large investments, and is recognized as one of the best financiers and most successful business men in the city. The Richelieu Hotel, corner of Fourth and Ross streets, is a monument to his efforts in bringing up the west end of Santa Ana. He also owns valuable residence and business property in different parts of the city. He was elected a member of the city council when it was first organized, and he has been elected for each term since, which fact shows how the citizens regard his judgment. In April, 1889, he was elected president of the board, which position he now holds.
Mr. Avas lost his first wife in Illinois, October 4, 1880. While on a visit to Santa Ana in 1881, he formed the acquaintance of Miss Lucy E. Moesser, whom he married October 2. 1881. She is a daughter of J. H. and Lucy Moesser, of Santa Ana, whose sketch appears elsewhere in this work. The members of Mr. Avas’ household are: Maggie, Ruth, John and George. Mr. Avas is a member of the Baptist Church, and the president of its board of trustees. Politically he affiliates with the Democratic party, and has a host of friends not only in this, but in all opposing parties. His residence is on Fourth and Larne streets, Santa Ana.