My Grandmother Fife's father, Stephen Abbott, was born August 16, 1804, in Providence, Pennsylvania. On December 11, 1825, he married Abigail Smith, in Danesville, Steuben County, New York. Stephen Abbott was a fine looking man, black hair, brown eyes, six feet tall, with a strong body and mind. He will always be remembered for his honesty and fair dealings with his fellowman. He was alert and an outstanding businessman. Everyone who knew him loved and respected him, especially his family and relatives. He was a furniture maker by trade and a painter. He was rather indifferent to religion until after his marriage. Soon after, however, he and his good wife joined a Church called the Universalists. They seemed to have a broader view of things Spiritually than the other churches, they thought.
While living in Arkport, New York, he and his son, a half brother, and a nephew owned and operated a Cording and Fulling machine. About 1838, there was a great tide of emigration pouring into the Mississippi Valley, so Stephen Abbott decided to leave his business to his two brothers, take his family and go to the new Mississippi Valley area, hoping to settle down and make a permanent home for his family.
He traveled by boat down the Allegheny River, and after traveling five weeks, they arrived in Pike County, Illinois. Here he bought a quarter section of farming land and 40 acres of timberland. They at once began to cultivate their land and build a comfortable home for themselves. On the first day of December, a son was born to them and they called him Myron. He was a very promising child and I can remember my Grandmother, who was Myron's sister, telling me of what an outstanding man he was.
In 1838, Stephen's brother, James Abbott and his family and his Mother came to Illinois and bought land and settled near them. For the first time since they came to this new land, they were surrounded by friends and relatives. But it wasn't long after this, that his Mother [Phoebe Howe Coray Abbott passed away, September 9, 1842].
In 1839, Stephen and Abigail came in contact with the Mormon people, who were being driven out of Missouri and were making their homes in Nauvoo, Illinois. They investigated this new religion and studied it carefully and long, and finally they with their children, became members of the Church and were baptized in March 1839, by Joseph Wood and confirmed by William Brenton.
At the April Conference held in Nauvoo, Stephen was ordained an Elder. In 1842, he was ordained a Seventy. At this time, the family decided to move closer to the Temple and the church people. In Nauvoo, they bought a home and some land. They were now living with new friends, George Miller, Lyman Wight, and James Brown.
Stephen was called on a temporal mission, to gather funds to finish the Nauvoo Temple and, later, was called on a mission to teach and preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ in Wisconsin. Before he would leave his large family, he wanted to leave them properly cared for while he was away. So he placed a large amount of wheat in the mill for their use, and as he left for his mission he knew his family would be cared for. But some of his so-called friends, by false pretense, took barrels and barrels of the flour. This was a great loss and, also, a keen disappointment to him. So to make other provisions for his family, he, with a cousin who was his missionary companion, began to send cordwood down the Mississippi River in order to earn a little extra money to send to his family. With this work, Stephen was exposed to the cold and wet weather, and because of this he became dangerously ill and on October 19, 1843, he passed away at the age of 38 years, leaving a wife and eight children.
His wife and family were heartbroken, with no one to turn to for help and comfort. He was just a young man beginning a life that held much promise, a life of honor and usefulness and one whose wife and children and his church meant everything in the world to him,, but even so, he never refused a call made from his Church. Stephen Abbott was a man loved and admired by all of his friends, which were many, because to know him was to love him. Oh, how his family mourned his passing, they felt as if it would be impossible to go on without the wise council and guiding power of their loved one.
He had given much of his earnings to the work of the Church and even though it was winter when he passed away, his wife promised to continue the work her dear husband had begun. The year that followed was very hard for his family. Provisions were scarce and hard to get, the neighbors and friends were very poor, having been robbed and scourged and driven by mobs until they were desperate. And if this were not enough, in just a few months, 27 June 1844, they witnessed the death of their beloved Prophet Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum. It was now that Abigail Abbott felt that there was nothing left to live for and this feeling was shared by all the people of Nauvoo.
Abigail Smith Abbott was alone but she must go on for her children. 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 anyone. She had great faith and she lived by prayer through sickness, adversity, and in sorrow. It wasn't long now until the Saints knew they must leave Nauvoo so Abigail with her family, prepared to leave with the others to cross the great mountains, the rivers, and prairies to a place where they could find peace from the terrible strain they lived under in Nauvoo.
Before Abigail left, she went to her husband's grave and she said, "Stephen, I have no means to erect a monument to your name or even a slab to mark my loved ones grave, but I'll plant a flower and then I must leave you, my loved one, to rest alone, overlooking the Mississippi River."
The faith that this wonderful couple lived by has been exemplified by all their children without exception.
After a few years Abigail married Captain James Brown on 8 February 1846 at Nauvoo, Hancock, Illinois, at the suggestion of the authorities of the Church, so that she could have financial help with her large family. [It has been written elsewhere that James and Stephen were good friends and they had made a bond between them that if one of them died the other would take care of the other's families.] No children were born through this marriage."