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(1815 VT - 1904 IL)
Honoring the Life and Evolution
of a Lovejoy Abolitionist, Pioneer Educator,
Springfield Businessman and Husband/Father.

Abel Wilder Estabrook at Find-A-Grave

As reported by the
Illinois State Journal Newspaper

Jump to:
- Lovejoy Abolitionist
- Pioneer Educator
- Springfield Businessman
- Husband and Father

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Abel was born in Vermont, and arrived in Sangamon County with his parents, Hareldus and Abigail Wilder Estabrook and his siblings. The Family migrated with a group of 52 New Englanders and Abolitionists who arrived by wagon train with the Lyman Party at Ol' Sangamo Town, IL on October 26, 1833. The family settled in Farmington / Farmingdale, IL. Abel was an eighteen year-old man.

While pursuing his degree at Illinois College in Jackonville, Abel attended Elijah Parish Lovejoy's Illinois Anti-Slavery Convention in Upper Alton, IL on October 26, 1837. At age 22, Abel was one of the youngest signers of Lovejoy's Illinois Anti-Slavery Constitution.

Upper Alton Anti-Slavery Convention
Elijah P. Lovejoy's Illinois Anti-Slavery Convention - October 26, 1837
Courtesy Hamilton Avenue Road to Freedom


Abel graduated from Illinois College in Jacksonville with his A.B. degree (bachelors) in 1842. In 1846, Abel's father, Heraldus Estabrook, died in Farmington / Farmingdale. Abel is listed in his father's probate announcement in the Sangamo Journal in 08 May 1847. The Sangamo Journal reports settlement of Heraldus' Estate took nearly two years.

Abel married Laura Stone Culver 04 Apr 1846*, and they moved to Springfield. Abel then completed his A.M. degree (masters) from Illinois College 11 Jul 1847. Abel and Laura's first child, Sarah Eliza, is born in 1847. Abel and Laura became members of the Second Presbyterian Church (Westminster) 02 Jan 1848. Abel is 33 years old in 1848.

Abel W. Estabrook's ten-year association with the subscription based Springfield Academy began in 1847. For three years, 1850 to 1853, Abel was the teacher of Robert Todd Lincoln, eldest son of Abraham and Mary Todd Lincoln. Abel expanded with a "Sanagamon Girl's Academy," at which "Mrs. Estabrook" (Laura) was a teacher of the girls. The Springfield Academy is closed in the spring of 1857, as the Springfield City Schools are formed. Abel is 42 years old.

Abel becomes a founding school board member of the newly created Springfield City Schools. From 1856 to 1858, then again from 1862 to 1864, Abel serves as the first principal of the new Third Ward School located at Spring and Edwards in Springfield (later known as Edwards School). The school was named after Springfield resident Ninian Edwards who was Illinois' first Superintendent of Public Instruction. Abel is 49 years old in 1864.

* Laura Stone Culver and Abel Wilder Estabrook are my wife's 2x-great aunt and uncle.

The following newspaper clippings discuss Abel W. Estabrook's leading role as a pioneer educator in Springfield:

1) 1848 Springfield Academy Announcement for fall session;

2) 1849 Springfield Academy Announcement for fall session;

3) 1850 Springfield Academy Announcement for fall session;

4) 1851 Springfield Academy Announcement for fall session;

5) 1852 Springfield Academy Announcement for fall session;

6) 1853 Springfield Academy Announcement for "Examination
and Exhibition" in February;

7) 1853 Springfield Academy Announcement for fall session;

8) 1853 Sangamon Female Academy Announcement for fall session;

9) 1853 Sangamon Female Academy Announcement for fall session;

10) 1859 History of Springfield Academy;

11) 1859 Springfield School Board Meeting Announcement where Abel is serving on the Board;

12) 1859 Abel appointed to serve as Principal of the First Ward School;

13) 1910 Article reminiscing about the "old" Edwards School where Abel served
as the first principal. This article was printed five years after Abel's death.


Although now serving on the new Springfield City School Board and principal of Edwards School, Abel had launched himself in business by 1858. He had entered the furniture business selling Sofas and Tete-A-Tetes advertised as Cheap at "Estabrook's Furniture Emporium."

By 1859, Abel is selling Quaker City Insurance of Philadelphia. Abel was 45 years old in 1860. This was on the eve of the Civil War.

The next we hear from Abel is 1863 in the Illinois State Journal when he files a law suit over a defaulting mortgagee.

While selling furniture and insurance, Abel continues serving on the new Springfield City School Board, as well as principal of the Third Ward School (Edwards) from 1856-1858 and 1862 to 1864. Abel also served as interim principal at First Ward School (Palmer) in 1859. Abel had a number of things going on!

The following newspaper clippings discuss Abel W. Estabrook's roles as a Springfield businessman:

1) 1858 Abel's Announcement in the Journal of Estabrook Furniture Emporium;

2) 1859 Abel's Announcement in the Journal of his Insurance Agency;

3) 1863 Abel's Chancery Lawsuit - Bill to Forclose Mortgage.


Abel Wilder Estabrook married Laura Stone Culver 23 Apr 1846. Abel was 31. Laura was 19. The couple was married 52 years. Abel and Laura became members of the Second Presbyterian Church (Westminster) 2 Jan 1848. Abel served as Second Presbyterian's choir director for many years.

Abel and Laura had five known children:

- Sarah Eliza, b. 1847 IL; d. 1849 IL

- Julia A. b. 1853 IL; d. 1859 IL

- Howard W. b. 1860 IL; d. 1938 IL; m. 1885 IL, Eva Humphreys

- Henry A. b. 1864 IL; d. ?? WA; m. ??, Winny?

- George Howe b. 1871 IL; d. 1897 IL m. 1896 IL, Gertrude Birchard

In the 1880, Abel is 65; and Laura is 53. Perhaps in semi-retirement, or perhaps to improve the health of their youngest son George, Abel and Laura moved to Rosamond in Christian County, IL (near Pana and 46 miles southeast of Springfield). Here they would become fruit tree farmers, and (hopefully) enjoy more quality family time. It was a family retreat, as Laura's widowed sister, Ann Jane Culver Paine, and her children also spent time in Rosamond. Both families appear to have divided time between Rosamond and Springfield.

Son Henry A. Estabrook moved to Seattle, Washington in the 1880's. There he was employed as a bank teller.

Son Howard W. Estabrook became a watchmaker who worked at the Illinois Watch Company in Springfield. In 1893, Howard and his wife, Eva, leave Springfield for Taylorville, Christian County, IL, where he entered the jewelry business. They sell their home at 1120 North Fifth Street. They would move to Elgin about 1899.

Abel and Laura Estabrook celebrated their 50th Wedding Anniversary on 23 Apr 1896 with, "an affair that was a complete surprise in every respect" at their home on 824 North Eighth Street in the Enos Park District of Springfield. The Illinois State Journal reported, "there were scores of friends and relatives of the happy old couple."

Many sorrows befell the Estabrooks. Sadly, Sarah Eliza passed in 1849 as an infant, and Julia passed in 1859 as a young girl. Son George married at age 25 in 1896, then the couple soon moved to California for his health. Fifteen months later in August 1897, George died in California. Eight months later, George's widow, Gertrude, who had contracted his disease, followed him in death. All this sorrow must have weighed heavy on Laura Estabrook. She died another eight months later 28 Dec 1898. Laura was 71 years old; and Abel was a and 83 year old widower.

In 1899, son Howard W. Estabrook, the watchmaker, and his wife, Eva, leave central Illinois for Elgin, Kane County, IL. There Howard will work for Elgin Watch Company. Howard and Eva are living in Elgin in the 1900 Census.

As a widower, Abel auctioned his household goods within a week of Laura's death. Abel left his Springfield home of 66 years, and went to live with his son and daughter-in-law, Howard and Eva, in Elgin. Abel would pass in Elgin in 13 Jan 1904. His age was 88 years and four months.

The following newspaper clippings discuss Estabrook's family life and sadness in the 1890's:

1) 1849 & 1859 - Deaths of Estabrook's two daughters, Sarah Eliza and Julia A. Estabrook;

2) 1888 - Laura S. Estabrook of Rosamond visits her son, Howard W. Estabrook, at his home in Springfield;

2) 1893 - Howard Estabrook transitions to Rosamond, Christian County, IL;

3) 1896 - Laura and Abel Estabrooks surprise 50th Wedding Anniversary Party;

4) 1897 - Obituary for George Howe Estabrook in 1897 (TB?);

5) 1898 - Obituary for George's wife, Gertrude Birchard Estabrook;

6) 1898 - Obituary for Laura Culver Estabrook;

7) 1899 - Abel's announcement of the Auction of his Household Goods;

8) 1831 - Article reminiscing about the Church Choir Directors of Springfield, mentioning Abel (Second Presbyterian) and his son Howard W. Estabrook (Second M. E. Church).


A very special "thank you" to Mr. Dick Hart, from whose writings I first learned about the life of Abel Wilder Estabrook. It is hoped this web page presents Abel's life from a family perspective.

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|   I. Andrew Becomes a Soldier...  |   II. Headed South...  |   III. The First Fights...  |
|   IV. Laying In Camp...  |   V. Milliken's Bend  |   VI. Last Letters...  |   VII. Captain Abraham...  |
|   VIII. From An Unknown Writer...  |   IX. Epilogue...  |   X. Honoring Other Civil War Ancestors...  |

|   OLIVER BELDEN CULVER ― Illinois Abolitionist, Pioneer Farmer and Lincoln Neighbor  |
|   Lees Had Ties To The Land of Lincoln ― Squire Lee of Blount Township and General Lee Were 3rd Cousins  |
|   ABEL WILDER ESTABROOK ― Lovejoy Abolitionist, Pioneer Educator and Lincoln Teacher  |

|   "You must tell the world the story; When the boys in Blue are gone."   |

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