IISTEPHEN JOSEPH ABBOTT 1804-1843
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Orson Pratt Brown's Maternal Grandfather:
Stephen Joseph Abbott
On December 11, 1825, he married in Dansville, Steuben County, New York. Abigail had come to the vicinity to visit her uncle and aunt, Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Smith. She was an expert linen weaver and was hired by Stephen's mother to live in the Abbott home and weave. Stephen and Abigail fell in love and were married with the blessings of both families. Stephen was 21 years old and Abigail was 19.
Stephen was a fine looking man, a full six feet in height, strongly built, with black hair, brown eyes. He was alert and honest, a good businessman, loved by his relatives and respected by all. He learned the trade of furniture making and painting. At one time he followed the business of potash boiling which his son, Myron, described as paying "tolerable well." At another time he went into partnership with his brother James. Together they set up a factory for making yarn. Besides his cabinet making business, he and his nephew, a son of his half-brother, Elijah, owned and operated a cording and fulling machine at Arkport, New York. The business flourished and was discontinued when both brothers began their westward move.
He was rather indifferent to religion until after his marriage, when he and his wife attached themselves to a sect called Universalists, who seemed to hold much broader views than the Methodists or Presbyterians, the dominant creeds of that section.
About 1838 there was a great tide of emigration pouring into the Mississippi Valley. Stephen’s two brothers Edmond Austin Abbott and Eleazer Coray Abbott 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 in five weeks arrived in Pike County, Illinois. He bought a quarter section of farmland and forty acres of timber land. He then went to Michigan to visit his brothers which was the last time they ever met. He went on to New York where he was warmly greeted by many friends all anxious to learn something of the new country in the Great Valley. He settled up his business affairs, and after visiting with this wife’s family at Palmyra, New York, he said farewell to his friends and relatives. It may have been at this time that he met with considerable financial loss. His son wrote many years later, "...he met with some losses owing to the falsity of men who failed to pay him, he would rather lose his pay than take them before the law." This was a characteristic of Stephen's and a course of action he followed several times in his life.
Stephen took his wife and children, by boat, down the Allegheny River, leaving April 14, 1837. They landed at Naples on the Illinois River in Pike County, Illinois, in the latter part of May, 1837. They at once began to cultivate their land and build a home. The home, a log house with a dirt roof, was finished in time to welcome their sixth child born in. His wife, , writing of this period says, "On the first day of December of that year our son Myron 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 1838 Stephen’s elder brother James Abbott and family and their mother, Phoebe Howe Coray Abbott, came to Illinois and settled near them and again they were surrounded by friends. Their mother died here about 1840 [9 Sept 1842].
In 1839, Stephen Joseph Abbott and his wife, Abigail, came in contact with the Mormon people 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. Stephen was baptized in March 1839, by Joseph Wood and confirmed by him and William Brenton [Burton]. Stephen went to hear them preach and was impressed by the message they taught. In Abigail's word, "Our minds were not easily turned from our former principles, but after three months study we were in full faith of the principles and promises of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints." Stephen and Abigail were baptized in 1839 and never faltered in their devotion to the faith they had embraced.
At the April conference of the Church held in Nauvoo in 1840, he was ordained an elder. In 1842 he was ordained a seventy. The same year, they moved to Nauvoo and bought a home and some land. In company with George Miller, Lyman Wight, and
Stephen was called on a temporal mission to gather funds to build the Nauvoo temple. He was afterwards called on a mission to Wisconsin. When he left Pike County he placed a quantity of wheat in the mill. This he depended on to feed his family in his absence. Through false pretense, one Brier Griffin, a distant relative, obtained four barrels of flour and a Mr. Jacques [Jazues] also obtained a considerable quantity. This loss was a great disappointment to him, so to make provision for his family, he in company with E. Thompson, a cousin who was to accompany him on this mission, began to get some cordwood down the Mississippi from an island. This entailed much wet and exposure. On October 16, he was taken ill, and on the nineteenth of October 1843, he died, age 38 years. Yet a young man, 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 about to commence, and will be related in as much detail as the ravages of time has permitted to be preserved.
Children of Stephen Joseph Abbott and Abigail Smith Abbott:
born September 19, 1827 in Dansville, Livingston County, New York
The work he commenced was destined to be continued by his wife, the faith that he exposed, and practically gave his life for, is professed by all his children unto this day, and almost without exception by their children also. He sleeps in an unmarked grave on the hillside overlooking the Great Father of Waters.
Abigail Smith Abbott, his wife was stunned, heartbroken, and almost overwhelmed by the terrible and unexpected blow. She had no relatives and no one to turn to except her Heavenly Father. It is probable that her father may have helped her, but being very proud, she never complained to an;yone. She had great faith and she lived by prayer through sickness, adversity, and sorrow. Winter was almost upon them, she had eight children, the oldest sixteen years. Provisions were hard 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. Her husband, who was public spirited, had put a large portion of his property into the building of the Nauvoo Temple and other public buildings. Public opinion was inflamed against the whole community. In just a few months they saw their leaders, Joseph and Hyrum Smith, murdered.
Emily, the eldest daughter, speaking of this sad time, says 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, the Prophet of God was murdered. She felt their home was spoiled when their father was taken, whereas, at the death of the prophet, she felt the whole world was spoiled. Such was the gloom among the people of Nauvoo. Abigail Smith Abbott was a heroic woman, pure, chaste and noble in purpose, and the aims and objects of her life were as successful as could be expected in human life. Honor be to the memory of Stephen and Abigail Abbott .
According to Abigail, the Prophet Joseph Smith spoke at Stephen's funeral, saying that Stephen had been called on the other side to fill his mission. Stephen Joseph Abbott was buried in an unmarked grave in Nauvoo, which location is now unknown. When Abigail was forced to leave Nauvoo with her family, she recorded later, "I had no means to erect a monument, or even a slab to mark my beloved one's grave, but I planted some morning glory on the grave and left him there to sleep and rest." Even though no headstone was raised to mark his last resting place, Stephen had his monument in the love and the remembrance of his family. Then and in future times would be seen the fulfillment of the promise made in his patriarchal blessing that his name would be had in honorable remembrance by his posterity "unto the latest Generation."
Abigail Abbott Zundel later wrote of that time: "With winter coming on, there was nothing for a livelihood except a few cows and sheep, this with her bereavement called into exercise all the faith she could acquire from the promises of God to the Widows and the Fatherless.
Soon after this we all took sick with the ague. We were so ill it seemed we would all die. Mother thought several times I was gone but would work with me until I finally recovered with the rest. During this illness President Brigham Young, President of the Council of the Twelve Apostles, and Heber C. Kimball, came in, they blessed us all and promised us we would all get well and go to the Valley of the Great Salt Lake, which was fulfilled with the aid of , this blessing was a great comfort to my mother, before leaving President Young gave mother fifty cents which was all he had." (History of Abigail Abbott Zundel)
, Stephen's daughter, tells an account of her father's continuing presence and watchfulness over the family. Phebe said that later when she and her mother's family were in Iowa, and times were hard, Phebe was forced to work for many people to earn money for the family. One such place of employment was with a Hammer family. The Indians in the area were having an epidemic of cholera. Phebe remembers her father appearing to her in a dream and saying, "Phebe, go home quickly". She told Mr. Hammer she had to leave, but couldn't tell him why. She got some of the Indians to take her over the river, then she walked four miles to her home. That night the Hammer family was taken with cholera. Mrs. Hammer and her baby girl, and a hired man died that night. Phebe ended her account by saying, "so you see how father and the Lord watched over me." (from Autobiographical Sketch of Phebe Abbott Brown Fife).
kept his promise to Stephen, and at the suggestion of the Church authorities to assist his widow and children, married Abigail as a plural wife in Nauvoo on February 8, 1846. James and his first family (Esther Jones) were among the early groups leaving Nauvoo for the Missouri River. He left Abigail behind at Council Bluffs, Iowa, promising to send for her later. Abigail's daughter Emily Abbott married Edward Bunker and moved to Garden Grove, Iowa and built a cabin. When the call came for volunteers came in July 1846 for the Mormon Battalion, and Edward Bunker, among 500 others, joined the army Brigham Young had promised to provide to President James Polk.
Abigail and her family, excluding Emily Abbott Bunker and baby Edward, left for the Salt Lake Valley on July 1849 then to Brownsville (later renamed Ogden), Utah. built Abigail a three room log house and gave her some land in town. He helped her get some cows and chickens, and general household and gardening supplies.
Against Abigail's wishes, James married Abigail's daughter Phebe on October 17, 1850 as a plural wife, with the result that Abigail separated her marriage from James. James continued to help her and left her property in his will. He died from a mill accident on September 30, 1863.
Abigail died on July 23, 1889 in Willard, Box Elder, Utah
Right Click mouse on image - then click on view image - to see enlarged photo.
This remembrance of him is on the reverse side of Abigail's grave stone.
PAF - Archer Files = James Abbott + Phoebe Howe Coray > Stephen Joseph Abbott + Abigail Smith > Phoebe Abigail Abbott + Captain James Brown > Orson Pratt Brown.
*A seemingly deserted Nauvoo glimmers in the afternoon light in this cropped 1846 daguerreotype photo which was taken by Lucian Foster. The completed Nauvoo temple sits atop the hill overlooking the city. Photo from The Pioneer, by SUP, Vol.17, No. 6 Page 10.
The Story of My Life - William E. Abbott, by Erwin and Colleen Waite, pages 1-10.
George Abbott and His Discendants , Lois E. Jones,
Copied on October 16, 1936 by Virginia Lee of the Historical Records Survey at Ogden, Utah.
Biography of Stephen Joseph Abbott, compiled from the writings of Myron Abbott, Abigail Smith Abbott, and Myron Alma Smith, 1975. Pages 24-26. From the Ogden Family History Library.
Story of Stephen Joseph Abbott written by Edna Cynthia Layton Jones.
[Bracketed}, bold, corrections, additions, and photos by Lucy Brown Archer
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