Keith, Below is what I wrote about the Abbotts a few years ago for my life history. It is from the writings of John Austin Abbott and his brother, William. I will also forward what I wrote about Ellen Gallagher, Dad’s grandmother when I find it.
“Tell me a fact and I’ll learn. Tell me a truth and I’ll believe. But tell me a story and it will live in my heart forever.”
Abbott Family Background Background Written by Scott Shaw
I come from a long line of Americans. Mom’s maiden name is Abbott. The Abbott family line dates back to the pilgrims. George Abbott is from Yorkshire, England and came to this country in about 1640. He was one of the first settlers of Andover, Massachusetts. Massachusetts. He established a life here in America that we benefit benefit from today. I’m grateful to be part part of his family tree. This country is the only country in the world that was established based based on the search for religious freedom. The pilgrims came here to escape religious oppression and built a society here based on farming and getting along with the American Indians. Those core values are evident evident in George Abbott’s family line: We have always thought thought of ourselves as freemen and women and that have been demonstrated in our lives. My great uncle William Abbott wrote a comprehensive life history which was shared among his family. Most of Abbott family information is from his writings. He relates that “It “ It has been said of Abraham that George Abbott was of pure stock, that the man in himself was so strong that his characteristics have marked all his race through a thousand generations. The same seems to be true of George Abbott. Although they have inter-married with all the old families of New England, in later generations with English, Scotch, Irish, Welsh, German, Scandinavian, and Italian stock, yet they exhibit the traits of character of their ancestors of two hundred fifty years ago.” My great, great, great grandfather Stephen Abbott is a descendant of George Abbott. He married Abigail Smith in Dansville, New York. He learned the trade of furniture making and painting. He was rather indifferent to religion
until after his marriage, when he and his wife attached themselves the Universalists. About 1838 there was was a great tide of emigration emigration pouring into the Mississippi Valley. Stephen’s two brothers Austin and Eleazer were were already living in Michigan, so he concluded to go to the Mississippi Valley, and make a permanent home for himself, where he could settle his family. He went by boat down the Allegheny River and bought a quarter section of farmland and forty acres of timberland. They at once began to cultivate their land and build a home. Stephen’s wife, Abigail Smith Abbott, writing of this period says, "On the first day of December of that year our son Myron (my great, great grandfather) was born, a promising child. My daughters went out in the garden and found a beautiful rose, although the season for that flower was long past, I took it as an omen of promise and rejoiced. There is nothing unusual or strange in this for a mother, but after many years, when it was known that through him alone, descended his father’s name, the incident may be worthy of preservation." In 1839, Stephen Joseph Abbott and Abigail came in contact with the Mormons who, on being driven out of Missouri, were settling in Nauvoo, Illinois. They investigated the new religion long and carefully and they and their children became members of the church. At the April conference of the Church held in Nauvoo in 1840, Stephen was ordained an elder. In 1842 he was ordained a seventy. Stephen was called on a temporal mission to gather funds to build a Mormon temple in Nauvoo. This was economic hardship on the early followers of the Mormon faith. Stephen 3
was later called on a mission to Wisconsin. When he left Pike County he placed a quantity of wheat in the mill. He depended on this wheat to feed his family in his absence. Through false pretense, a distant relative, obtained four barrels of flour and another acquaintance also obtained a considerable quantity. This loss was a great disappointment to Stephen, so to make provision for his family; he began to get cordwood on the Mississippi from an island. This arduous work entailed exposure to elements and he became sick. He died soon after at age 38 years. The death of Stephen was a great family tragedy. William Abbott describes Stephen, Stephen, “Yet a young m man, an, just coming into the prime of manhood, just beginning a life that held much promise of honor and usefulness, he was much loved and sincerely mourned by his family, a young wife and eight children, six girls and two boys. His struggle was over, theirs was not about to commence, and will be related in as much detail as the ravages of time has permitted to be preserved. He sleeps in an unmarked grave on the hillside overlooking the Great Father of Waters.” Naturally, Abigail was stunned, heartbroken, and almost overwhelmed by the terrible and unexpected blow. Winter was almost upon them; she had eight children, the oldest sixteen years. Basic necessities were difficult to obtain, the country being new. The people with whom she had cast her lot nearly all were poor, mostly refugees, having been robbed, scourged, and mobbed out of Missouri. Stephen placed a large portion of his property into the building of the Nauvoo Temple and other public buildings. Abigail is my great, great, great, great grandmother. She was born within a few miles of Joseph Smith, the leader or the Mormon faith. She was born with the same last name and 4
within one year of the Joseph Smith. It is ironic that they were born within miles of each other at about the same time and then later their lives come together near Nauvoo, IL, the headquarters and gathering of the Church. It was there that her husband had a fateful death and Joseph Smith, too, is murdered soon after. Amidst these extreme trials, Abigail rises to the occasion by painstakingly overcoming the extreme sacrifice of raising her young family of 8 children and moving them west. She overcame all and is an example for our family. As I ran thinking of her life in the spring of 2006, I thought of her position in the eternities. I felt that her countenance was upon me. I would like to continue her heritage in some small way in our family life. In the late 1840s, public opinion was inflamed against the Mormons. In just a few months they saw their leaders, Joseph and Hyrum Smith, murdered in Carthage Jail, IL. Emily, the eldest daughter of Abigail, speaking of this sad time, stated that she was wrapped up in her father, loved him dearly and grieved bitterly when he died, but she says her sorrow was nothing compared with their grief when Joseph Smith was murdered. Emily felt their home was spoiled when their father was taken, whereas, at the death Joseph Smith, she felt the whole world was spoiled. Such was the gloom among the people of Nauvoo. Abigail Smith Abbott was alone with few relatives, nobody to rely upon except God and her own efforts. She has said, "I had no means to erect a monument or even a slab to mark my loved one’s grave, but I planted some morning glories on the grave and left him there to sleep and rest."
Abigail received no pity from her neighbors of Illinois. In May 1846, she was offered $10.00 for her house and lot and twenty acres of land, all fenced. To her remonstrance at the price, the buyer explained, "The Mormons have got to go. That amount will ferry you across the river and it is better than nothing." She accepted it. He also demanded that the furniture be left in the house for he truly explained, "You cannot carry it with you." The Mormon people were driven from their homes. In many ways, their lot was similar to the Jewish people in history. Whenever, a Jewish acquaintance asks about my faith, I remind them that the Jews and Mormons have a common heritage: Both people were driven from their homes. On February 1, 1847, Abigail’s eldest daughter gave birth to a son and called him Edward Bunker, Jr. This date also came near being a fatal one for Abigail’s little son Myron, then nine years of age. He was sent out early in the morning to hunt for wood and encountered a large, hungry wolf. Thinking it to be a dog he threw chips at it. It stood growling and ready to attack the lad when the attention of a neighbor was attracted and the wolf was frightened away. This winter proved to be a hard one for Abigail. Beside the regular care of her household, she taught school and one of her elder daughters was ill for eleven weeks with fever and Mrs. Bunker was ill nine weeks at the time of her confinement. Water for the home had to be carried a quarter of a mile, firewood had to be gathered and cut, enough to keep a fire all the time, for the cabin had no floor and was very cold and it took a warm fire to make it comfortable with illness in the family for such a long time.
The Mormon Battalion was organized by the U.S. government to mobilize troops for the war at that time against Mexico. During the winter Abigail received $22.50 from Captain James Brown who was serving the U.S. military in the Mormon Battalion, sent to her from Santa Fe, New Mexico, and Edward Bunker sent his wife some money. Both were serving in the Mormon Battalion. In October 1847, her family moved on to Mosquito Creek, a point farther west near Council Bluff, Iowa. On the morning of December 18, 1847, they heard a group of Battalion men had arrived in town the evening before, so Emily prepared to go and inquire if they knew anything of Edward. Just before she was to leave the house a knock was heard at the door. It proved to be Edward himself. He thought they were still in Garden Grove where he left them, but someone told him they had moved since he left. He was almost frozen and starved. It was necessary for him to remain r emain in bed for several weeks and he was fed gruel every few hours, just a few spoonfuls at a time at first. He had endured terrible privation on the return journey and had completed one of the most difficult marches on record. Abigail’s son, Abiel, came to her from Council Bluffs, where he had gone fifteen months before. Once more she had her family all together again. She says, "I thanked God and praised Him and took new courage, for my burdens seemed much lighter." Before leaving Nauvoo, Abigail Smith Abbott had married for a time as a plural wife to Captain James Brown. Captain Brown had been a friend of Stephen, her husband in Nauvoo. The relation gave him more the right of protector than husband. After they were living in Ogden, Utah, Captain Brown married Abigail’s daughter, Phoebe, over her protest. Thereupon she repudiated the relationship and there after lived apart from him. 7
I admire Abigail for her determination. Even though Captain Brown took care of her family, when he overstepped his bounds and married her daughter, Abigail had nothing to do with the man. She could have easily bit her tongue and ignored the sad state of affairs since she depended on him economically. However, she showed her courage and disengaged with her husband. Myron Abbott (my great, great grandfather) and Laura Josephine were married in 1861. As a young couple with a family, they followed the humble pursuits of life. They were pioneers and had tremendous challenges, which involved poor living conditions for their growing family. There was seldom enough hay to last the cattle throughout the winters in Utah so each day one of the older boys would take the cattle up the hills to the southern s outhern side where the snow had melted, let them graze, and then would bring them home at night. The home had only a dirt floor and that the children had very few clothes and no shoes. In these dire conditions, Myron and Josephine decided to get a divorce in 1876. William Elias Abbott writes of the experience, “Little Willey, not quite eight, and John (my great grandfather), five and one-half, were put into Myron’s wagon along with their clothes and bedding. Everyone was crying. When Myron tried to take Luella, she dropped to the floor with her arms around her mother’s waist, screaming that if she could not have both her parents she would kill herself. He finally took her in his arms and put her in the wagon, but she tried to jump out and run back to her mother. Mina Mina had to physically restrain her. Little Joseha and Abigail Jane were crying and holding out their arms to their brothers and sisters, and Luella pleaded with her father to let her go with them. As the wagon drove off, Josephine fell to the ground in a faint. Mina 8
later said, “I hope never to see so sad a scene again, I am sure Mother was greatly disappointed with the court decision as she had some friends who had been telling her a lot of nonsensical things. She had been cruelly deceived.” This experience long ago has a lesson for all of us. By iit, t, we learn that it may take a little l ittle more time to work marital issues out. Time has a way of healing family wounds and they were so poor, they did not have the time to overcome. As a Bishop in the Little Neck Ward, I use their story to help couples that are facing extraordinary challenges and losing patience with themselves and their spouse, to take more family time and do not make rash decisions. Furthermore, this story reminds me to counsel others not to listen to "nonsensical things" or suggestions by others and focus on what Spirit wants us to do. My great grandfather John Abbott writes, “My mother (Laura Josephine Allen Abbott) was a daughter of Orville Morgan Allen who was born born in Pike County, Missouri, Missouri, June 9, 1805. He is the lineal descendent of Ethan Allen of the Revolutionary War fame (I have not found this connection yet in my research.) He continues, “After living in Ogden…we moved to a new settlement…in Nevada Nevada and took the name name of Bunkerville. Bunkerville. It was on the frontier and we had no homes or shelter of any description. …The country was hot and forbidding, the land uncleared and unleveled. There was no water on the land, no ditches, no dam to get water out of treacherous tr eacherous Virgin River, there was no building material to build anything with, and we were very, very poor. The idea of poverty is pervasive in our family h history. istory. I think that we are are the first generation generation to have have so very much. much. This 9
is stark contrast to our family heritage which although glorious and noteworthy, they were mired in poverty which stopped many of them from progressing, such as Myron and Josephine in their marriage. Thus, this concept of rising out of poverty and establishing a secure future is a strong aspect in my life and I never want to return to our roots and see the face of poverty. My great grandfather, John Abbott married Chrissie Eveline (Whitney) Abbott and they had nine children including my grandfather, Austin Neal Abbott. John Abbott was a great man who stalwart in his efforts in raising family, service in Church, and a leader. I admire him and even though I did not know him personally, I feel in many ways, that I did know him due to his outstanding life history and strong spirit. John Abbott grew up in the heat and bitter poverty of Bunkerville, Nevada. It was harsh land and he worked to eat and live. He became a Pony Express rider at a young age of 10. He worked the silver mines and was offered a position of foreman at the same time that he was called to be a missionary in New Zealand. He accepted the call and gave notice to his employer to return home to pack. His employer could not believe that he would bypass such an opportunity. John went a step forward and asked if his brother could work in his stead. Thank goodness, the answer was no as the next day, there was an explosion in the mine and his workmates died. This demonstrates that faith is foremost and should be followed or possibly suffer the ultimate loss. John served a glorious mission in New Zealand as recorded in his journals and life history. He served 3 years away from his beloved wife Chrissie and young family. My grandfather, Austin, was born while while he was away in New New Zealand. It was worth it, as John preached the gospel of Jesus Christ to 10
Maori people and established lifetime friends. Upon my parents visit to New Zealand in the late 1990s, the Maoris still speak of Elder Abbott who was there 100 years earlier. My great grand father’s mission also gave me courage to be separated from my young family in 1997-1998 when I became the first Regional Security Officer (RSO) at the American Consulate in Vladivostok, Russia. I figured if John Abbott could his mission mission for 3 years crossing the P Pacific acific in a ship, I could surely do a 1 year assignment to the Russian Far East crossing in Aeroflot across the Bearing Straits. After seeing the beauty beauty of Oregon on his travels travels to Seattle to take the ship to New Zealand, John decided that he preferred the green of Oregon to the desert of Nevada. John moved his family to Oregon and ran a lumber l umber mill. His son, George, lost one of his legs after a large tree trunk fell on it. George gathered the dirt to help stop the loss of blood, which saved his life. Both my great grandfather and grandfather are buried in LeGrand, Oregon.