JAMES ABBOTT. There is something essentially American in the life and character of the gentleman who is the subject of this sketch. The United States has given rare opportunities to men with courage, honesty of purpose, integrity and energy, to achieve success. The bulk of our public men and those who have legitimately achieved fortune, have been men of the above characteristics, and Mr. Abbott is certainly one of that stamp. He is of the people, and his success as a business and public man has come as his devotion to right and his tenacity of purpose. Born in Salem County, N. J., February 13, 1835, Mr. Abbott was the second son and third child born to William and Abigail (Steward) Abbott, both natives of New Jersey, the father of English and the mother of Scotch descent. Joel and Rebecca (Van Neman) Abbott, the paternal grandparents of our subject, were natives of New Jersey, and there passed their entire lives, the grandfather engaged in agricultural pursuits. The latter was an old line Whig in politics. His marriage resulted in the birth of nine children, as follows: Joseph, John, Joel, Isaac, William, James, Mary, and two who died in early life. William Abbott, father of subject, grew to manhood on the old home place in New Jersey, and most of his youthful days were spent in assisting in cultivating the soil. Like most of the boys of his day he received a limited education, but being a man of observation and reading, he secured a fair education in that manner. He was left fatherless at the youthful age of three years, but remained abbotwith his mother until grown. About 1830 he married Miss Steward, who was the youngest of seven children, six as follows: Joseph, Mary, Rachel, Hannah, Nancy and Bashabie. William Abbott died in the city of Springfield, Mo., in 1886. He had moved to Illinois from his native State in 1855, settled in Macoupin County, and there made his home until a few months prior to his death. He had followed farming all his life, was a public-spirited man and one who was active in his support of all worthy enterprises. At first a Whig in his political views, he later became a Republican, and continued to support the principles advanced by the party up to the time of his death. By his marriage he became the father of seven children: Rebecca, Joel, James, Mary, Elizabeth, William and Isaac, all now living but Joel, who died in Springfield in 1887. The latter had been a resident of that city for twenty years, and was not only a first-class business man but an excellent citizen as well. He was ever a strong Republican and was in the Civil War, enlisting in the three months' service. Rebecca married C. O. Matlock, of Shipman, Ill.; Mary married J. B. Matlock, of Riverside, Cal., and is the mother of two children; Elizabeth married Col. Z. B. Cogswell, of Missouri, and has three children; William resides in Springfield; Isaac is a merchant of Alton, Ill. He is married but has no children. The mother of these children died in her native State in 1847. Both parents were exemplary members of the M. E. Church, and the father was class leader and held other positions in the same. The original of this notice passed his youthful days in his native county, attended the subscription schools of his day, but only until thirteen years of age, when be started out to clerk in a store in Goshen, N. J. After five years spent in that capacity and when eighteen years of age, he was hired to take charge of a store at Goshen, N. J, and filled that position creditably for two years. When twenty years of age he came West and first located at St. Louis, Mo., where he began clerking in a dry goods store and where he remained for seven years. From there he came direct to Springfield, and during the late unpleasantness between the North and South he enlisted for three months in the U. S. Reserve Corps. Later he was discharged for disability. Putting what money he had in a stock of general merchandise, he followed that successfully for twenty years in Springfield, and was one of the most popular business men of that city. In 1870 he sold out, but previous to that, in 1868, be was elected to the office of -----------,_and from 1871 to 1874 he was elected county collector. Later he was elected Mayor of Springfield, and discharged the duties of that responsible position in a most satisfactory manner. While holding the different offices and positions of trust with which he has been honored, Mr. Abbott has jealously guarded the interests of his people, and faithfully discharged his duty in whatever capacity they have seen fit to place him. In 1875 he became associated with the Springfield Foundry & Machine Company as secretary and treasurer, and continued with that company until 1890, when be was appointed postmaster at Springfield. He also held the office of city treasurer at one time. Mr. Abbott has ever been an active Republican in politics, was chairman of the county------- for twelve or fifteen years, and is one of the leaders of his party in Springfield. For many years he has been connected with the Calvary Presbyterian Church, and during most of that time he was a member of the board of trustees. Socially he is a member of the K. of H. In the year 1866 be was married to Miss Mary E. A. Woolley, a native of New York City, and the daughter of T. C. and Elizabeth (Lathan) Woolley. Mr. Woolley was a native of New Jersey and of English descent. Mr. and Mrs. Abbott's nuptials were celebrated in the city of New York, and their union has been blessed by the birth of seven children, as follows: Mary E., wife of McLain Jones, of Springfield; Anna M.; Edna A.; William C., who is in Kansas City; Carrie R.; James R. and James T., who died in infancy. Mr. Abbott is the owner of considerable real estate in Springfield, as well as large tracts of land in other parts of the State. By his honorable conduct through life he has won many friends who respect and esteem him.
Springfield-Greene County Library