Joseph Hale Abbot

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Joseph Hale Abbot

Wilton, Hillsborough County, New Hampshire, USA
Death 7 Apr 1873 (aged 70)
Beverly, Essex County, Massachusetts, USA
Burial Beverly, Essex County, Massachusetts, USA
Plot Larcom-Abbot Family Plot
Memorial ID 39027619 · View Source
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From "Joseph Hale Abbot" by Francis Ellingwood Abbot in History of the Town of Wilton, Hillsborough County, New Hampshire, with a Genealogical Register by Abiel Abbot Livermore and Sewall Putnam. Lowell, Mass.: Marden and Rowell, 1888. Pages 293-295.

Joseph Hale Abbot.—by Francis Ellingwood Abbot.

Joseph Hale Abbot was the eldest son of Deacon Ezra and Rebekah (Hale) Abbot, of Wilton. He was born, September 25, 1802, on Abbot Hill, on the homestead farm originally settled in 1764 by his grandfather, Major Abiel Abbot, one of the most honored men of the town, who, as shown by the original commissions still extant, had been "Captain of the Ninth Company in the Sixth Regiment of the Militia" of "His Majesty's Province of New Hampshire" under King George III., successively "Second Major" and "First Major of the Fifth Regiment" of the State Militia in the Revolutionary war,--and for forty consecutive years either town officer in some responsible capacity or town representative in the State Legislature. That Deacon Ezra Abbot was no less honored and influential in town affairs than his father, is apparent in the fact that he was chosen to be president of the day at the memorable Wilson centennial celebration in 1839. His wife, Rebekah Hale, of Coventry, Connecticut, lineally descended from the Rev. John Hale, first minister of the town of Beverly, Massachusetts, who died in 1700, was daughter of Lieutenant Joseph Hale and niece of Captain Nathan Hale, both patriot soldiers in the Continental Army, and the latter famous as the "Martyr-Spy of the Revolution," who pathetic fate and dying words, "I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country!" were reverently remembered in that serious New England household.

In a home dignified and hallowed by such memories as these, Joseph Hale Abbot passed his early years. He began preparation for college in his native town under the Rev. Thomas Beede, and finished it, in 1818, under his venerable uncle, the Rev. Abiel Abbot, D.D., then principal of Dummer Academy in Byfield, Massachusetts. He was graduatied at Bowdoin College in 1822, standing near the head of his class. After spending a year in Cambridge as a resident graduate at Harvard College, he took chare of a select school at Beverly, which he conducted with signal success. From 1825 to 1827 he was tutor and librarian at Bowdoin College, where he taught Latin, geometry, French and Spanish. From 1827 to 1833 he was professor of mathematics and natural philosophy at Phillips Exeter Academy, then under the charge of his illustrious kinsman, Benjamin Abbot, L.L.D., where he gave experimental lectures in chemistry and natural philosophy, and where he greatly raised and improved the character of the English department. On May 13, 1830, at Beverly, Massachusetts. He married Fanny Ellingwood Larcom, daughter of Henry and Fanny (Ellingwood) Larcom, and grand-niece of the Hon. Nathan Dane, L.L.D., member of the Continental Congress in 1785-88, framer of the famous "Ordinance of 1787," founder of the Dane Professorship of Law in Harvard University, etc.

From 1833 to 1859, with some intermissions from impaired health, Mr. Abbot conducted a private school for young ladies on Boston, and gained the highest reputation as an able, conscientious and successful educator.

[Editor's note: Among his students was Caroline Healey Dall (1822-1912), diarist, educator, and feminist. Dall remembers Abbot fondly in her diaries which were published in 2005 as _Daughter of Boston: The Extraordinary Diary of a Nineteenth-century Woman_ edited by Helen Deese.]

From 1859 to 1869 he occupied chiefly in preparing scientific definitions for Worcestor's Quarto Dictionary. From 1861 to 1867 he was principal of the Beverly High School and left so deep an impression of his character upon the minds of his pupils, that, on his retirement, they formed the "Abbot Association," which flourished in great usefulness for many years, in order to perpetuate with grateful affection the memory and influence of his wise instructions. From 1867 to 1872 he resided chiefly in Boston, taking a few private pupils and pursuing his favorite studies. He died at the house of his daughter, in Cambridge, April 7, 1873.

In 1838, Mr. Abbot was elected a resident fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, in which he took the deepest interest to the day of his death, and which he served with distinction as recording secretary from 1850 to 1852, winning golden opinions by the unusual accuracy and fullness of his minutes of scientific discussions and contributions. In October, 1840, he published in Stillman's Journal the first complete scientific explanation of the "Pneumatic Paradox," describing new and original experiments of great interest and value. In June, 1848, he published in Littell's Living Age an important article on "Principles Recognized by Scientific Men Applied to the Ether Controversy," and in the Atlantic Monthy, June 1868, another on "The Discovery of Etherization." He also contributed to the North American Review, October, 1856, a review of "Consolations of Solitude," a book of poems by Dr. John W. Randall, grandson of Samuel Adams, which deserves to be far more widely known than it is. For the last fifteen years of his life Mr. Abbot was laboriously preparing an original work on English grammar, incorporating methods and results of a life-time of sagacious study; but he did not live to complete it.

Fifty years of patient, painstaking, conscientious labor as a teacher and scholar—there is little to dazzle the imagination in such a career as that. But the love, respect and veneration of his pupils, many of whom attained great distinction in after-life, and about all the consciousness of duty done, where to him the sweetest of all rewards. In outward manner grave, dignified and courtly, yet always considerate and kindly, he speedily won and lastingly retained the hearts of his scholars. Absolute truthfulness, a chivalrous love of justice, an integrity of the intellect no less than of the life, yet with this an almost womanly tenderness of soul, where the bed-rock of his character. No juster tribute was ever paid than these words of his widow, who for ten years survived him" Intellectual superiority and moral purity—those where the qualities I first required in my maiden ideal of a life-companion; and looking for these in your father, I was never disappointed."


From _ Proceedings of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences_, Volume 9, Issue 1. Boston: John Wilson and Son, 1874. Pages 238-240.

Joseph Hale Abbot was born at Wilton, N.H., September 25, 1802, and was seventy years, six months and thirteen days old at the time of his death, April 7, 1873. His father was Ezra Abbot of Wilton, who was fifth in descent from George Abbot, who immigrated from England in 1640, and with other individuals of the name of Abbot settled in Andover, Mass., in 1643.

His mother was Rebekka Hale, of Coventry, Conn., a nice of Captain Nathan Hale of Revolutionary memory, and a descendant in fourth degree from the Rev. John Hale, first minister of Beverly, Mass. Mr. Abbot was named for his maternal grandfather, Joseph Hale, brother of Nathan, himself also a soldier in the Revolution.

Mr. Abbot began his preparation for college as a private pupil under the instruction of the Rev. Thomas Beade of Wilton, at the age of twelve, and finished it under the charge of his uncle, Rev. Dr. Abiel Abbot, principal for some years of Dummer Academy at Byfield, in 1818. He always attribute whatever he had of thoroughness in his classical studies to the excellent drilling he received from this venerated relative.

He entered Bowdoin College at Brunswick, graduation in 1822. For the next three years he spent his time partly at Cambridge, as a resident graduate, attending lectures and pursuing various studies; and partly teaching at Watertown and Beverly. Late in the autumn of 1823, he began at Beverly a select school of twenty-five pupils of both sexes, conducted entirely according to his own ideas of teaching. This he always considered his first school, and it is now remembered as having given great satisfaction to its six proprietors.

He left Beverly in the autumn of 1825 to become Tutor of Modern Languages and Librarian at Bowdoin College.

From 1827 to 1833 he was Professor of Mathematics and Natural Philosophy and teacher of modern languages at Phillips Academy, Exeter.

At the close of his service, his health requiring a change in his mode of labor, he removed to Boston, and in September, 1833, opened a school for young ladies, which, with some intermissions, he sustained with ability for more than twenty-five years.

In the spring of 1861 Mr. Abbot returned to Beverly, and by invitation of the citizens took charges of the High School required by State law in that town. In this school he taught with great success, his labors having been much commended.

When his youngest son was prepared to enter Harvard College, Mr. Abbot disposed of the old family mansion at Beverly, and came to Boston and took rooms in Pemberton Square, where he received a few private pupils and where he continued his own studies.

In the spring of 1872 Mr. Abbot's health suffered a severe shock, and his debility continued to increase during the summer, so that he was unable to continue his scientific and literary labors. He removed to Cambridge, residing in the family of his daughter, and still hoping to be able to complete his new English Grammar, a work he had in preparation for some fifteen years past, and which would have proved of great value to the public, had it been completed and published. Of Mr. Abbot's scientific works but few have been published, and he was so scrupulous and carefully conscientious that he was unwilling to give to the public anything which he was not quite sure was perfect.

He gave lectures occasionally on scientific subjects. One on Heat he delivered before the Lyceum of Exeter in 1831; and he also delivered a course of lectures to ladies in Boston, in 1833-34, on Natural Philosophy, which proved to be very acceptable to persons fully qualified to judge. In 1839-40 he gave lectures on Electro-magnetism at Lyceums in Boston, Salem, and Beverly; and in 1857 he gave, by special request, two courses of lectures to ladies in Pemberton Square, his subject being Natural Philosophy. In 1855 he was engaged as a lecturer at Lowell Institute, his subject being Meteorology; but illness prevented his delivering the course.

In 1840 he published in the "American Journal of Science" an article entitled "Attempt to determine by Experimental Research and Theory of Pneumatic Paradox.." About the same time he read to the Academy a communication explaining a curious phenomenon in hydraulics, which he illustrated by experiments with ingenious apparatus of his own invention.

In 1848 Mr. Abbot published in "Littell's Living Age" a paper entitled "Principals recognized by Scientific Men applied to the Ether Controversy." In June, 1868, he published in the "Atlantic Monthly" a second paper on the same subject entitled "The Discovery of Etherization." In 1857 hr undertook the revision of the definitions of the scientific terms of Worcester's Dictionary.

Mr. Abbot was a ripe scholar, thoroughly versed in the classical and several of the modern languages, and a zealous student and experimenter in science. He was for a number of years Recording Secretary of the Academy; and his records show his remarkable powers of condensation without loss of any material fact or principle, and may be regarded as models of their kind.

Mr. Abbot married Fanny, a daughter of Captain Henry Larcom, of Beverly; and, of his seven children, five are now living. {1874)

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  • Created by: Kevin B.
  • Added: 3 Jul 2009
  • Find A Grave Memorial 39027619
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Joseph Hale Abbot (25 Sep 1802–7 Apr 1873), Find A Grave Memorial no. 39027619, citing Central Cemetery, Beverly, Essex County, Massachusetts, USA ; Maintained by Kevin B. (contributor 47071584) .