Aug 19, 2010

Pioneer Family: Abbott Family

Chapter excerpts from the book, “Abbott History, From New England to Ontario Canada and Beyond” by Clint Abbott. Copyright Clint Abbott, 2010 All Rights Reserved (published with permission)

Chapter 5 David Abbott – West Michigan to Crowley, Louisiana

David Abbott is the fifth in line of William and Abigail’s children. He was born August 15th, 1824 in the Point Pelee, Ontario Canada area. David would later marry Martha Reeves on February 23, 1848. They were married in Chatham, Kent County, Ontario, Canada by the Rev. Nathan Parks, a Methodist Episcopal Minister (Abbotts by Rebecca A. Sonnier, 1997).

There is some folklore of a flood at Point Pelee circa 1850’s and that may be one of the reasons for Dave and others to leave that area. By the 1850’s, Dave and his brothers: Amos, Joseph and Aaron are all found living in the Trenton, Brownstown and Monguagon Township areas.

While living in this area (just about 40 miles west of Point Pelee, in Michigan), the Abbott brothers followed the lumbering business. According to a book titled, “The History of Muskegon County,” Dave and his brothers are found living with and near a prominent land developer named Giles B. Slocum. They are employed building peers, bridges and docks in the greater Detroit area.

In an 1850 U.S. Census, David Abbott and his wife Martha, (picture to the left) are living in home number 144, page 454 of the township of Monguagon. Also living with them is his brother Joseph and Joseph’s wife, Isabel Jane (some had previously thought Isabel to be a sister, but the Census records along with marriage records and birth records clearly show Isabel to have married Joseph). In home number 127 in Ecorse is listed Giles Byron Slocum, his wife Sophia, his son Elliot and daughters Alice, and Elizabeth. Also living with the Slocums (according to the 1850 Census) were Anne Leifontaine and Aaron Abbott (age 20, laborer).

By the 1860’s, Giles B. Slocum had purchased a large amount of property in Western Michigan, chiefly Eastern Muskegon County in Moorland and Casnovia Townships. He established a small village by the name of Slocum’s Grove. Four streets bear the name of his wife and children (Sophia, Elliot, Alice and Elizabeth).

According to the history of those two respective townships, Giles Slocum established a lumber and shingle mill which would employ hundreds of workers. The mill was located in Casnovia Township, near Slocum’s Grove. The Abbotts also ran a mill (the Abbott Mill) in Moorland township (the Abbott property was near the east border of Moorland township and Slocum’s Grove was on the west boundary of Casnovia Township. They were within 1-2 miles of each other).

Myron Abbott, a son of David and Martha Abbott, was born September 2, 1851 in Wayne County, Michigan. Myron, by some historians, is listed as the acting Postmaster and Notary at Slocum’s Grove. However, local township records show that Elliot Slocum served as Postmaster. However, there was a hotel in Slocum’s Grove and Myron Abbott is listed as operating that hotel, where the mail is said to have passed through.

According to an 1880 Census for the Township of Casnovia, Dave, Martha and family were living in home number 210 at Canada Corners, Casnovia Township. This would be the present day intersection of Canada Road and Apple Avenue (M-46) in Casnovia Township.

On March 4, 1888, David moved his family, their small stock of household goods and furniture, their farming tools, stock and machinery from Michigan to a new town in Louisiana named Crowley.

Chapter 7 Aaron Abbott Moves to West Michigan

Aaron Abbott was born the sixth child of William & Abigail Abbott. Aaron was born May 20th 1829 and is my great, great grandfather. He was born in Canada, with some speculation of being in the Point Pelee, Ontario area. This is based on the fact of William Abbott’s involvement with Caldwell First Nation circa 1845 and a citing that William Abbott had been living among them for approximately 15 years. Therefore, I think the inference of Point Pelee, Ontario Canada is a good one. Additionally, many years later, Aaron would tell his granddaughter, Annie Ione Woods Burns, that he was born in Point Pelee, Canada.

With some slight speculation, it is thought that the Abbotts moved off Point Pelee and into what is known today as Wayne County. There is record of Aaron Abbott and some of his brothers living in Brownstown, Michigan as well as living and working near Trenton (Monguagon Township).

Some of our family researchers, Elaine Webber (Aaron Abbott’s line) and Carroll Lanier (husband of Patricia Abbott, Dave Abbott’s line) have indicated that some of the Abbotts (at least Aaron and Dave) worked building bridges and possibly other type of construction work in conjunction with a prominent businessman and land developer, Giles B. Slocum.

In his book, “The History of Detroit and Michigan”, author and publisher, Silas Farmer offers this insight about Giles Slocum:
“Through a contract made July 7, 1848, with the County of Wayne, for building two bridges over the River Rouge, he (Giles Slocum) became possessed of several large tracts of land donated by the State to aid in building such bridges. The lands were located in the eastern part of Muskegon County, and by subsequent purchases were increased, so that they included five thousand acres. This property became exceedingly valuable by the extension of railroad facilities. On it, at a place now known as Slocum's Grove, he built mills, where, in connection with his son, he conducted a lumbering and farming business for many years.” (page 1229-1230).

Elaine Webber had given me some of her unpublished research into the Abbotts. In that documentation there is a section that is documented by the “Heirs Group.” In this documentation it is stated that circa 1850, Aaron Abbott is living at the same house with Giles Byron Slocum (house number 127 in the U.S. 1850 Census for Ecorse Township).
This Heirs Group further stated,
“Myron Abbott, son of David Abbott and Martha Reeves was born September 2, 1851 in Wayne County. He indicated in an interview published in “History of Muskegon County, Michigan in 1882 that his family moved to the township of Casnovia, Muskegon County in 1859. In this interview, Myron, indicated his family had always followed lumber milling operations which he still continued in connection with owning and operating a steam thresher. He was also acting as Postmaster and Notary Public at Slocum Grove. Giles Byron Slocum was operating a mill at Casnovia, Muskegon County MI in 1882. There was also an Abbott mill operating at Moorland, Muskegon County, Mi. This is the place where Aaron Abbott was living in 1880 and is probably his mill.” (source Heirs Group research document via Elaine Webber).

In an e-mail I received from Carroll Lanier, he stated that his research shows the Abbotts working for or with the Slocums and possibly bartering their labor for property. He states,
By 1850, David was married and had moved to the Detroit area along with some of his brothers. They worked on construction of the bridges over the Detroit River for or with Giles B. Slocum from New York. At some point, the Michigan Territory deeded over significant timber rights to Slocum as payment for construction of the bridges in Detroit. David and his three sons and the daughters lived in western Michigan and were very active in the lumber business.

I think it is a fair conclusion to recap this by saying, Aaron Abbott and at least his brother Dave, moved into Wayne County, Michigan and worked for Giles B. Slocum building bridges and docks in the Detroit area. When Giles Slocum acquired property in East Muskegon County, and set up a saw mill in Casnovia, Michigan, Aaron and Dave followed along. This was circa 1858-1860. They lived and worked in the area that was known as Slocum Grove (which is about 2 miles north east of current day Ravenna, MI).

Aaron is listed at one time at owning an 80 acre parcel in Section 26 of Moorland Township, which today would be the property on the south side of Apple Avenue and the west side of Slocum Road.

Aaron had previously married Elizabeth Clago (from New York). The Clagos had lived down the street from Aaron Abbott in Ecorse Township (possibly Trenton) when he was living with the Slocums. Aaron and Elizabeth were married in 1852 in Brownstown, Michigan.

Aaron and Elizabeth would have seven children: George, Stephen, Lucinda, Marion, Edwin, Isabel and Florence.

The Abbotts would continue to run the Abbott mill as well as do dairy farming. In the late 1880’s, Dave Abbott and his entire family moved to Crowley, Louisiana.
Picture to the left is my great, great grandfather, Aaron Abbott. The picture was presumably taken on a visit he paid to his brother Dave Abbott in Crowley, Lousiana.
Aaron’s wife Elizabeth passed away in 1874 at the age of 42. She would just miss out on the birth of her son George Abbott’s (and his wife Lucy) second child, Aaron James Abbott (my grandfather, born in 1875). (George and Lucy’s first child, a boy, Pezallet, only lived 29 days). George Abbott would die a few years later, at about age 30. He died from Typhoid Fever.
Aaron would continue to work and enjoy his growing family. He was a father figure to his grandson Aaron James Abbott. Aaron James, as a boy, lost his left arm from an accident at the Abbott lumber mill. The two were very close (according to the accounts shared from Annie Ione Woods).
On June 1, 1887 at the age of 58, Aaron married Maria Erickison Foosberg. Maria was about 48 years of age coming from Sweden. There were no children from this marriage.
Between 1860 and 1907, Slocum’s Grove would employ many men for the lumbering and shingle business. The small village grew from 40 people to as many as 600 by 1907. However, by 1917, with the lumber business declining at Slocum’s Grove, Aaron Abbott had since moved to the Muskegon area. The population of Slocum’s Grove had steadily declined to about 60-70 people. Aaron’s grandson (my grandfather, Aaron James Abbott) would follow the lumber mills north to the small village of Brohman, Michigan.
The remainder of Aaron’s children would, for the most part, continue to live between Moorland Township, Muskegon and Newaygo Counties. At present day, many still remain (Abbotts, Conklins, Wood, Conrans). Aaron Abbott lived a long, good life and on November 12, 1919 at the age of 90, he passed away.

Chapter excerpts from the book, “Abbott History, From New England to Ontario Canada and Beyond” by Clint Abbott.
Copyright Clint Abbott, 2010 All Rights Reserved
contact Clint

Thanks so much Clint, for a wonderful family history story. Holly

Clint via email: "Thanks for the interest. I have attached a "snippet" from two chapters of a book I'm publishing about our line of Abbotts. The book is scheduled for publication around mid October of this year.
I did stop in at the Ravenna museum late last spring. I have been in touch with Shannon Place and shared similar information with her. I also visited one family, Doris and Clarence Borgman, who have much knowledge of Ravenna History. They live in a house once occupied by members of our family. Further, Clarence remembers my Great Aunt Lucinda Abbott Conklin. The Conklin house is on Ravenna Road just north of the high school. It borders from the south property of a centinnial house.

I have many family members buried in the Ravenna Cemetery. The Abbotts have been in and around Ravenna since the 1860's. Today our Abbotts are found in Newaygo County with a few in Grand Rapids. Those w/o the Abbott surname, but equally in the family, Conklins, Conrans, Webber, continue to live in Eastern Muskegon County.

We did a fairly cool thing this summer. We had the first Abbott reunion (we are decended from William Abbott, Point Pelee Ontario Canada). He had 8 children. We had family members from 7 of the 8 all represented. About 95 of us met in Point Pelee Ontario Canada from June 18-20 for a family gathering/reunion .. the first time all of us have been together since the 1850s."


Clint Abbott"

The Moorland Township History Book by Shannon Place is schedule to be published later this year.


  1. I love reading your post, it is so interesting. I envy you knowing so much about your family history. I am also glad you were able to have a reunion, they are nice to get acquainted with the ones you don't know in the family. We are having one next month. Have a nice weekend.

  2. Thank you! It's been a fun experience to know more about our family and then share it with others... thanks for the nice comment...

  3. This post was sent to me by Harry B. Abbott, Jr, my first cousin in Baton Rouge, LA. I've read your book, Clint, and can't tell you how much I enjoyed our reunion in June 2010. My parents named me Myron James Edward Abbott, so now I know the origin of James and Myron. My grandfather was Myron Walter Abbott from Michigan. My dad's name was Myron Lansing Abbott, hence a clear Michigan connection.l