"Grandma Willes" was the mother of Austin Sawyer Avery. She was born Ruth Caroline Coleman on August 29, 1817, presumably in Connecticut. On the 1855 Kansas State census her birth place is recorded as New York, but all other records, as well as the migration of her family, indicate that Connecticut is accurate. Ruth's parents were Joseph and Sarah "Sally" (Bishop) Coleman, who had ten other children, Ruth being the fourth. According to a biography written by Ruth's brother, Chester, their family moved from Connecticut to New York in 1824; then, to Ohio in 1831. Ruth's father died in 1844 in New Orleans.
On July 16, 1835, Ruth was married to James Christopher Avery in Medina County, Ohio. He was the son of James and Mercy (Baker) Avery and a descendant of Christopher Avery (b. abt. 1590), the original Avery emigrant from England by April 1642, evidenced in court of Gloucester, Massachusetts. Much of the Avery family history is recorded in the tw0-volume The Groton Avery Clan.
(James) Christopher and Ruth were enumerated in Bath Township, Summit County, Ohio in both 1840 and 1850. Ruth's husband seems to have died shortly after 1850, as her son, Edwin, recorded that he accompanied his mother to Illinois in about 1851 or 1852. Their children were Edwin A., William Hugh, Austin Sawyer and Myron Emery.
In 1860, Edwin and Austin were living with Ruth's brother, Joseph Coleman, in Richmond Township, Nemaha County, Kansas Territory. Also enumerated in the household was a Rust Willis. I haven't located Ruth in 1860, but sometime after 1851 she married someone with the last name Willis. By 1865, she was living with Edwin in Nemaha, Nemaha County, Kansas, recorded as a widow.
Ruth lived with her mother in 1870 in Bath, Ohio. In 1880, she was back in Kansas next door to her son, Austin, and his family in Lowell Township, Rooks County. By 1885, she lived in Rock Creek Township, Nemaha County with Edwin, where she remained until at least 1905. Ruth died on May 10, 1909, in Sabetha, Nemaha County, Kansas, and is buried in the Sabetha City Cemetery.