Much has been written about Abraham Lincoln’s assassination, his death, and the ensuing search for his killers. That horrible event happened 150 years ago today [April 14, 2015], with Lincoln dying at 7:22 a.m. the next morning. It was a confusing and emotionally charged time for everyone involved, and so it is not unusual that there should be some conflicting stories. However, what is known is that Ezra Walker Abbott of Concord New Hampshire was one of the physicians who was with the dying president.
Yes, I know–I always end up being related to the people I write about. This time is no different. Really, Ezra Walker Abbott was my fifth cousin 3 times removed. I found at least one place where his personal information was posted incorrectly, so this is a good time to set the record straight.
According to a message board discussion about all the physicians involved at Lincoln’s death, this was written about Ezra W. Abbott (please disregard his posted birth and death dates, as those are entirely incorrect): “homeopathic physician of Concord, N.H. He made a detailed record, at generally five-minute intervals (from 11:00 pm to 7:20 am) of Lincoln’s condition and some other events which took place during the last hours (not to be confused with the pulse and respiration table of Ford and King). He preserved a section of the sleeve from Lincoln’s coat, cut away in search of the fatal bullet wound. It was said that he was one of the men who carried the mortally wounded president from Ford’s Theatre.”
The New Hampshire Historical Society agrees with this assessment, stating that he was “attending Ford’s Theater on the night of Lincoln’s assassination. He was the first physician to reach Lincoln after the attack and stayed with him until his death the next morning. Dr. Abbott preserved this piece of Lincoln’s coat sleeve when the coat was being cut away in search for the wound.” The New Hampshire Historical Society of Concord, New Hampshire, seems to have that preserved section of the sleeve from Lincoln’s coat. It was donated in 1921 to the Society, and it was on display (along with Lincoln’s penknife) in 2009 for the exhibition entitled, Abraham Lincoln and New Hampshire. The Society states that the donor was Sarah M. Brown, indicating that she was probably Ezra’s daughter–this is incorrect. Sarah M. Brown was his niece, daughter of his sister Sarah (and her husband Jacob M. Morrill), and widow of Henry F. Brown.
The New Hampshire Historical Society says that Dr Walker stated, “During the entire night I kept the record, and the only one, of the president’s respiration and pulsation, noting them every half hour. At 3 a.m. I went to the office of the National Intelligencer and left a copy of my memoranda up to that time. I resumed my position at the foot of the sufferer’s bed, and remained there until he breathed his last, at 7:22 a.m. Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton immediately exclaimed, ′He now belongs to the ages.′”
Three and one-quarter pages of Ezra W. Abbott’s hand-written manuscript on what happened that dreadful night has been put up for auction at least twice [see | and see]. The description of the artifact: “Autograph Manuscript. Signed (in title), three and one-quarter pages, large 6.5″ x 7.5”, on two leaves of lined paper, no place or date. Headed “Reminiscences of the assassination of President Lincoln, by Dr. E.W. Abott”, the manuscript largely presents a routine history of that event, obviously influenced by reading and after-knowledge, with a few personal flashes. Abbott reveals that he was in the Ford’s Theatre audience, noting that he “saw the gleam of the knife as [Booth] struck Major Rathbone“, and he describes how Booth placed his hand on the rail of the president’s box, then “stepped over and resting his heel on the ledge brought his other foot over and jumped to the stage. . . The spur on the heel of Booth’s boot pierced the flag and was dragged along. Booth making frantic efforts to kick it off struck the stage on one foot instead of both.” Abbott claims that Booth melodramatically faced the audience and “with bloody hand above his head . . . waved a gory, glistening blade and shouted ‘Sic simper tyrannis! Now the south are avenged'” then limped away. Once the crowd realized what had happened “the writer, recovering himself, ran down a flight of stairs round to the President’s box. There upon the floor, his head tenderly supported in the lap of . . . Laura Keene . . . lay the prostrate, unconscious form of President Lincoln. Efforts were made to remove his coat, searching for wounds, and in so doing the coat was cut about the arms and breast. Tenderly raising his inanimate form, the writer and five others carried him . . . to a house across the street.” The manuscript then closes with an encomium. Abbott is said to have been given the task of keeping the chart which recorded Lincoln’s condition as the night progressed. At some point, the manuscript was removed from a notebook, leaving a somewhat rough left edge. Fine.
But who was Ezra Walker Abbott? He seems an interesting man with many interests and careers–as a teacher (1848 Boston City Point School, 1860 census of Hopkinton NH and 1863 draft record in Hopkinton NH), and as an eclectic physician (1870, 1880 and 1900 census Concord NH). The New Hampshire Historical Society’s description adds that he was was also a daguerreotypist, and a founder of the Concord YMCA in 1868. He married once, but was widowed after only 3 years when his wife died suddenly at the age of 25. They had no children. In 1900 he was living at 36 South Main Street in Concord, New Hampshire (his last known address).
At the time of Lincoln’s assassination, the History of Concord NH, by James O. Lyford states he “was living in Washington, D.C.” Ezra W. Abbott filed for a pension, as an invalid, on 20 February 1905, (two years before his death) with the rank showing nurse of the Medical Department, US Volunteers, which he was granted, by the United States Congress [see]. Statues of the United States of America, Passed at the Session of the Fifty-Eighth Congress. FIFTY-EIGHTH CONGRESS. Sess. III. CHS 719, 712-723. 1905CHAP. 719–An Act Granting a pension to Ezra Walker Abbott. Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That the Secretary of the Interior be, and he is hereby, authorized and directed to place on the pension roll, subject to the provisions and limitation of the pension laws, the name of Ezra Walker Abbott, late contract nurse and volunteer surgeon, Medical Department, United States Volunteers, and pay him a pension at the rate of seventeen dollars per month. Approved, February 20, 1905.
=====GENEALOGY OF DR. EZRA WALKER ABBOTT======
Immigrant Ancestor: George Abbott & Hannah Chandler, of Bishop’s Stortford, England, Roxbury MA, and Andover MA [Editor’s note: I descend directly from 3 of George & Hannah’s children, i.e. William (see below through son Philip), John, and Thomas.]
William Abbott & Elizabeth Gray/Geary of Andover MA
James Abbott & Abigail Farnum of Andover MA
Reuben Abbott, son of James & Abigail (Farnum) Abbott: He was a farmer in Concord NH. The first who drove an ox team from Andover to COncord. He also drove to the fort the team carrying the bodies of the men killed by the Indians, August 11, 1746. He was a kind husband and father; a useful, benevolent, humble and exemplary Christian. He lived to see his son, grandson, and great-grandson bearing his own name, residing at the same time in the same house. He was born 4 April 1723 in Andover, Essex Co. MA and d. 24 May 1822 in Concord, Merrimack Co. NH. He married 1) abt 1762 to Rhoda Whittemore; she d. 27 Jan 1785, age 55. He m2d) 12 Jan 1786 in Andover MA to widow Dinah Blanchard who d. 11 March 1826 age 94.
Children of Reuben & Rhoda (Whittemore) Abbott:
1. Reuben Abbott, b. 18 May, d 11 Dec 1752
2. Reuben Abbott 2nd, b 5 Feb 1754; d. 12 Dec 1834; m. 24 Sep 1776. He married Zerviah Farnum. Had several children.
3. Rhoda Abbott, b. 31 Dec 1755, d. 31 Aug 1839
4. Elias Abbott, b. 24 Oct 1757, living 1846 age 89
5. Phebe Abbott, b. 14 Apr 1759, drowned 4 July 1760
6. Phebe Abbott 2d, b 6 Dec 1760, d. 2 Nov 1777, not married
7. Hannah Abbott, b 29 March 1762, d. 2 Sep 1832
8. Ruth Abbott, b. 14 Feb, d 2 Sep 1764
9. +Ezra Abbott, (twin) b 8 Aug 1765, d. 24 April 1839
10. Nathan Abbott (twin) b 8 Aug 1765
Lieut. Ezra Abbott Jr. b.8 Aug 1765 Concord NH, d 24 April 1839 Concord NH; m. 30 Nov 1786 in Warner NH to Mary Walker. She b.7 Dec 1763 d –. He was a farmer in Concord, NH. Both were admitted members of the Congregational Church 2 Aug 1789. [some info from A Genealogical Register of the descendants of George Abbot of Andover by Abiel Abbott, page 37]
Children of Ezra & Mary (Walker) Abbott:
1. John Abbott, b 20 March 1787, d. 3 Dec 1839 Hopkinton NH; m. Sarah Straw, daughter of James Straw. Had children: Laura S., Joseph W., Charlotte, Laura, William, Mary Ann, Esther Marinda
2. Timothy Abbott, b. 21 Dec 1788 d Jan 1847 Boscawen NH; m. 8 Aug 1818 Rhoda Johnson. Children: Charles
3. Lieut. Job Abbott, b. 14 Nov 1790 Boscawen NH; m. 9 May 1816 Lydia Morrison. Children: Samuel W., Ezra M., Mary E., Judith E., Abigail, Emeline, Judith, Lydia Ann, Achsah, Augustus Putney
4. Nancy Abbott, b 21 Nov 1792; m. 30 March 1818 James Hoit Esq. Concord NH. Had several children.
5. Mary Helen Abbott b 18 Dec 1841, d. 25 Aug 1842
6. +Hermon / Herman Abbott, b. 1 Oct 1796, d. 28 Dec 1828 Hopkinton; m. Sarah Eastman. Children: Sarah, Ezra, William
7. David Abbott, b. 13 Jan 1798 Concord NH; m. 18 May 1828 Mary Holbrook. She b 4 Jan 1798. Children: Mary Priscilla, James Munroe, Joseph May, Elizabeth M.
8. Esther Abbott, b. 30 March 1800; m. William Kimball of Portland, Maine, had several children.
9. Ruth Abbott, b. 9 May 1802; m. 24 March 1829 Samuel Ellsworth of Boscawen. Had several children
10. Mary W. Abbott, b. 8 Nov 1806, d. 12 May 1836; m. Alexander H. Putney of Portsland Maine, had 3 children.
Hermon Abbott, son of Ezra & Mary (Walker) Abbott Jr., b. 1 Oct 1796 [ ?baptized 4 October 1795] in Concord NH, d. 29 Dec 1828 Concord NH; buried Contoocook Village Cemetery, Contoocook NH; He m. 24 June 1819 in Hopkinton NH to to the widow Sarah “Sally” (Currier) Putney Eastman, as her third husband. She b. Dec 26 1788, d. 21 Aug 1864.
Children of Hermon & Sarah (Eastman) Abbott:
1. Sarah Currier Abbott, born 22 Dec 1819 in Hopkinton NH, died 20 February 1911 in Hopkinton NH. She married 30 April 1845 to Jacob M. Morrill; buried Contoocook Cemetery, Hopkinton NH. Their daughter Sarah Maria Morrill m. 8 April 1890 to Henry F. Brown, and donated the Ezra Walker items to the New Hampshire Historical Society.
2. Ezra Walker Abbott, b. 2 Aug 1821 Hopkinton NH, died 9 Aug 1907 in Contoocook NH, aged 86 years. He m. 22 Dec 1847 in Hopkinton NH to Sarah A. Patterson, daughter of Joab & Mary (Loveren) Patterson. She was b. 23 February 1825 in Deering NH, and died 18 July 1850 in Lawrence MA. They had no children. [NOTE: this story is about him, see above]. He is buried in Contoocook Village Cemetery, with his parents and brother.
3. David Walker Abbott, b. 12 Dec 1823 Hopkinton NH, d. 16 June 1831
4. William Abbott, b abt 1827 Hopkinton NH
Reminiscenses and Souvenirs of The Assassination of Abraham Lincoln, by J.E. Buckingham, Sr.
The History Channel: Abraham Lincoln’s Assassination
Sassy Jane Genealogy: Remembering Lincoln and Ford’s Theater