Caleb Abbott was born in April 1810 near Buffalo, New York and married 25-year old Jane Anderson around 1835. They were living in New York when their son, Anderson Abbott, was born in July 1836. A year later, Jane passed away. Lucy Keyes was born in March 1816 in Wolcott, Connecticut to a family with New England roots at least six generations deep. When Lucy was 8-years old, preaching carried her family to the Western Reserve of Ohio.
It is uncertain how or why Caleb Abbott was in Cleveland to meet Lucy and be married in February 1838. They started a family in Ohio that included a girl who died as an infant, and three boys: John, Frank, and Merlin, born between 1838-1845.
Caleb worked as a Presbyterian minister and was Principal of the Mississippi Valley Female Seminary in Saint Louis starting around 1847. The academy advertised a course of instruction comparable to the best East Coast colleges, with a cooperative relationship with the City University which was contiguous to the institution at the corner of Pine and Seventeenth Streets. Its mission was to counter the meagre facilities offered for girls with first class theological and professional training. Boarding was available, but the Seminary also had a staff of teamsters to carriage girls to school from other parts of the city. Lucy served as principal of the ornamental department, defined in advertising as branches of learning outside of languages, sciences, or literature.
Caleb's eldest child, Anderson, lived with the family in Saint Louis as a teenager, along with John, Frank, and Merlin. By the 1850 Federal Census, there was an additional son (Fred) and daughter (Mary) in the growing family. Ten years later, in 1860, Caleb remained Principal at Mississippi Valley Female Seminary, and Lucy still worked as a teacher. Anderson was out of the house, but 20-year old John worked as an agent for the Belleville Coal Company, and Frank was a music teacher. They were now a family of eight, with a new 7-year old sister, named Lottie.
Missouri was a border state in the Civil War and sent men to fight in both the Union and Confederate Armies. 22-year old John Abbott was conscripted into the Enrolled Missouri Militia when it was established to protect against guerrilla activities by the CSA in the summer of 1862. The EMM was mostly disbanded within a year, but John was then registered for compulsory service for the Union Army in September 1863. At the time, he was working as a farmer in remote Salisbury, Missouri—a town platted for the first time in 1857. Ultimately, both John and his brother Frank fought in the war, with the former serving with the Union Infantry 150th Regiment, Illinois Infantry for one year, 1865. Frank volunteered as a Private in the 1st Missouri Cavalry D Company in 1863.
The violence of war pushed the Abbotts out of Missouri. They were victims of a raid in Saint Louis during which Lucy lost all of her jewelry except for a breastpin. By 1867, they were living again in Cleveland at 97 Erie Street, and for the following two years at 283 Prospect Street, where Caleb served as principal at Forest City Classical Seminary.
Shortly thereafter—and for reasons unknown—Caleb and Lucy chose Jacksonville, Florida, for their new mission. They led the Ladies Collegiate Seminary, at a school attached to the First Presbyterian Church on the corner of Ocean and Adams Streets. In 1870 census, Caleb was listed simply as a music teacher, but by 1871, he worked as the school's principal. By that year, the school and residence had changed to Duval and Laura Streets.
The Abbott family in Jacksonville included only the youngest three children: 23-year old Fred, 20-year old Mary, and 18-year old Lottie. Sadly, their son, Merlin, who had immigrated with the family to Florida, died of pneumonia in January 1870 at age 25. Though they saw their youngest, Charlotte, marry a local painter and provide two grandchildren, Florida continued to be unkind to the Abbotts. Charlotte died in July 1875 at the age of 22. The infant children were left in the hands of a single father struggling to make ends meet.
By the time of Lottie's passing, the Abbotts had returned to Cleveland, but tragedy followed them. Caleb died in 1875, while his wife lived a quarter century longer (1899). In 1880, Lucy lived on Marion Street, but sixteen years later she wrote letters to Florida from Chester Street. On her 70th birthday, Lucy had four children still living—three in Cleveland (Frank, Fred, and Mary), and one in Missouri (John). Lucy herself passed away at the age of 83 in 1899.
John Abbott and his wife settled in northeast Missouri. Frank and his brother Fred each raised families in Cleveland. Around the time her parents left Florida, Mary was married in Carroll, Missouri—the home of her oldest brother. She lived in her husband's native West Virginia and had children. When her first husband passed away, Mary joined the Abbotts in Cleveland, where she married again. These surviving siblings all lived to healthy ages into the 20th century.
 Colden, Erie County, NY date and place Descendants of William Abbott  Lucy Abbott generations  marriage license (image) Descendants of William Abbott  Daily Missouri Republican, 25-Aug-1859 (image)  1850 United States Census  1860 United States Census  US War draft registration (image)  US Civil War Pension Index (image)  1890 Veterans Schedule  Lucy Abbott letter to Harry Jones  Cleveland City Directory  Cleveland City Directory  1870 United States Census  1871 Jacksonville City Directory  Federal mortality schedule  CEB death  Caleb death  Lucy 70th birthday  Lucy obituary