COL John James Abert


COL John James Abert

Frederick, Frederick County, Maryland, USA
Death 27 Jan 1863 (aged 74)
Washington, District of Columbia, District of Columbia, USA
Burial Washington, District of Columbia, District of Columbia, USA
Plot Section A, Lot 128, Site 1
Memorial ID 66938690 View Source

Colonel US Army and for 32 years, Chief of Corps of Topographical Engineers.

Abert, John James, Sept. 17, 1788 born at Frederick Md. or Shepherdstown, Va., son of John and Margaret or Margaretta Meng; April 1, 1811 graduated from West Point (19/19), declined appointment and took a job with War Department; Jan. 24, 1812 married Ellen Matlack Stretch (Sept. 16, 1792 born-Feb. 22, 1872 died) at Washington, D. C. from 1813 lawyer in district of Columbia; 1814 lawyer in Ohio; pvt., District of Columbia Militia; Aug. 24, 1814 Battle of Blad-ensburg, Md. Nov. 22, 1814 brevet maj., Topographical Engineers; June 15, 1815 discharged; May 2, 1816 reinstated; 1816-1818 assistant in geodetic survey of Atlantic Coast; 1818 recon-naissance of East River, N. Y. and superintending topographical engineer of surveys in Chesapeake Bay; 1819 superintending topographical engineer of surveys of Dutch Island, etc., west-ern entrance to Narragansett Bay, R. I., East River, N. Y., Fall River, Mass., Louisville Canal, Ky. and Mount Hope Bay, Newport Neck, etc., Narragansett Roads, R. I. 1821 superintending topographical engineer of surveys of Cox's Head; 1824-1825 superintending topo-graphical engineer of surveys of Chesapeake and Ohio Canal; 1824 superintending topographical engineer of surveys of Patuxent River, Md. Nov. 22, 1824 brevet ltcol., U. S. Army for 10 years in grade; 1826-1827 superintending topographical engineer of surveys in Maine; Feb. 12 or March 19, 1829-April 11, 1861 chief, Topographical Bureau at Washington, D. C. 1832 U. S. Commissioner to conduct Indian emigration to Missouri Frontier; 1833-1834 U. S. Commis-sioner to Creek Indians (twice), and Wyandottes of Ohio; July 7, 1838 col. July 7, 1838-April 11, 1861 chief, Corps of Topographical Engineers; Sept. 9, 1861 retired for disability; Jan. 27, 1863 died at Washington, D. C. and buried in Rock Creek Cemetery at Washington, D. C.

Abert Rim in Oregon and Abert's squirrel named after him; Children: James William Abert, Nov. 18, 1820 born at Mount Holly, N. J. Charles Abert Sept. 19, 1822 born at Mt. Holly, N. J. Louisa Abert, 1825 born; Silvanus T. Abert, July 22, 1828 born at Philadelphia, Pa. Mary Abert, 1831 born; William S. Abert, Feb. 1, 1836 born in Washington, D. C. son Abert, James William, Nov. 18, 1820 born at Mount Holly, N. J., son of John J. and Ellen M. Stretch Abert; attended Princeton; July 1, 1842 graduated from West Point (55/56) and appointed brevet 2ndlt., 5th U. S. Infantry Rgt. 1842-1843 at Detroit, Mich. May 24, 1843 trans-ferred to topographical engineers; 1843-1844 assistant topographical engineer on northern lakes survey; 1844-1845 in Topographical Bureau, Washington, D. C. Oct. 21, 1844 married Jane L. Stone (1827 born); summer of 1845 attached to John C. Frémont's third expedition whose assignment was a reconnaissance southward and eastward along the Canadian River through Kiowa and Comanche country. Frémont took the main party to California and gave command of Canadian River mission to Abert with an assistant. The expedition struck the headwaters of the Canadian and followed it through the breaks in eastern New Mexico and into Texas Panhandle. Continuing along the north bank of the Canadian, Abert noted many Pan-handle landmarks, including Atascosa Creek and the Alibates Flint Quarries which he labeled Agate Bluffs. The expedition arrived at Bent's trading house in what is now Hutchinson County on Sept. 14, rested there for a day, and exchanged gifts with a party of Kiowas and Coman-cheros. Three Kiowas briefly joined the expedition to help keep the peace. Sept 16, Abert's party crossed the Canadian and turned toward the southeast. Near the site of present Laketon in Gray County, the party struck the North Fork of the Red River, which they mistook for the Washita and followed for a while, then turned back northeast toward the Canadian. They crossed the present Oklahoma boundary before reaching the Canadian, which they followed to its confluence with the Arkansas. At Ft. Gibson, Indian Territory, the expedition was disbanded and Abert went on to St. Louis. Abert described in detail the geology, flora and fauna of the Canadian valley. His maps of the region were the most accurate of the time and later explorers found them quite useful, especially for finding campsites and watering places. The abundance of wild game in the valley had kept the expedition well supplied with food. Abert's description of the habits and customs of the Kiowa and Comanche Indians proved valuable to the federal government later. Along with his maps and written accounts, Abert made several sketches and watercolors of activities at Bent's Fort, native animals and outstanding Indian personalities, in-cluding Kiowa chief Dohäsan, whose village the expedition had visited on Sept. 17. May 27, 1846 2ndlt. 1846-1847 Mexican War; mapping duties; summer of 1846 Abert and Lt. Peck accompanied Gen. Stephen W. Kearny's Army of the West to New Mexico. Abert came down with fever in July and had to remain behind at Bent's Fort to recuperate. While sick, continued his studies in natural science and ethnology and compiled a tribal dictionary. Afterward joined Peck in Santa Fe, and the two lieutenants conducted a thorough survey of New Mexico as far south as Socorro. They visited each Rio Grande pueblos and noted the geology and wildlife of the new American territory, as well as of the habits and customs of its native residents. Abert went to Washington to submit his report to Congress; June 27, 1848-Aug. 23, 1850 assistant professor of drawing at West Point; 1850-1851 awaiting orders at Louisville, Ky. 1851 married Lucy C. Taylor (c.1830 born); 1851-1856 assistant topographical engineer in improvement of Western Rivers; March 3, 1853 1stlt. July 1, 1856 capt. 1856-1857 Florida Indian war; 1858-1860 assistant topographical engineer in improvement of Western Rivers; 1860-1861 traveled in Europe to study military affairs and visited various forts and arsenals; June 21, 1861-Sept. 2, 1862 on staff of MajGen. R. Patterson and MajGen. N. Banks on the Upper Potomac, in Shen-andoah Valley and in the Northern Virginia campaign; September 1862 advance to Frederick, Md. where he was injured by the fall of his horse; September 1862-July 23, 1863 on sick leave; March 3, 1863 maj., Corps of Engineers; July 23-Sept. 3, 1863 before retiring board; Sept. 2, 1863-May 14, 1864 on staff of MajGen. Gillmore at Morris Island, S. C. June 25, 1864 brevet ltcol. U. S. Army for the Shenandoah Valley from June 1861 to September 1862 and resigned same date; 1864-1869 merchant at Cincinnati, Ohio; 1869-1871 patent examiner at Washing-ton, D. C. 1871-1878 or 1879 English literature professor at Missouri State University; president of the Examining Board of Teachers of Public Schools in Kentucky; March 22, 1887 applied for a pension while living in Kentucky; Jan. 3, 1895 maj., U S Army by act of Aug. 17, 1894; Jan. 14, 1895 retired; Aug. 10, 1897 died at Newport, Ky. and buried in Evergreen Cemetery at Southgate, Campbell County, Ky. Nov. 6, 1897 his widow applied for a pension while living in Kentucky; Abert's western frontier journals were published in Panhandle-Plains Historical Review. William A. Keleher published Abert's New Mexico report in 1962. In 1967 and 1970 special publications of Abert's journals were edited under the title Through the Country of the Comanche Indians in the Fall of the Year 1845 by John Galvin, a California his-torian. They featured illustrations of Abert's watercolors, many of which were obtained from his descen-dants. A species of finch that Abert discovered was named Pipilo aberti in his honor; Children: William S. Abert, July 1845 born at Washington, D. C.; Susan B. Abert, Aug. 23, 1852 born in Campbell County, Ky. Nellie M. Abert, July 4, 1855 born at Louisville, Ky. Jennie Abert, c.1860 born in Kentucky son Abert, William Stretch, Feb. 1, 1836 born in Washington, D. C., son of John J. and Ellen M. Stretch Abert; June 18, 1855 2ndlt., 4th U. S. Artillery Rgt. March 31, 1857 1stlt. 1860 at Fortress Monroe, Va. May 14, 1861 capt., 6th U. S. Cavalry Rgt. May 27, 1862 brevet maj., U. S. Army for Hanover Court House, Va. to November 1862 aide de camp to MajGen. G. B. McClellan; Sept. 17, 1862 brevet ltcol., U. S. Army for Antietam, Md. Nov. 17, 1862-Oct. 6, 1864 ltcol., assistant inspector general assigned; Nov. 16 or Dec. 3, 1864 col., 3rd Mass. Heavy Artillery Rgt. March 13, 1865 brevet briggen., volunteers for war service; Sept. 18, 1865 mo of volunteers at Washington, D. C. June 8, 1867 maj., 7th U. S. Cavalry Rgt. Aug. 25, 1867 died of yellow fever at Galveston, Texas or New Orleans, La. and buried in Rock Creek Cemetery at Washington, D. C. wife Mary Francis Abert (c.1837 born in New York); Children: Elizabeth or Lily A. (c.1859 born in District of Columbia) and William B. Abert (1862 born)

Sources: W. H. Goetzmann, Army Exploration in the American West, 1803-1863 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1959; 2d ed., Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1979; rpt., Austin: Texas State Historical Association, 1991). Frederick W. Rathjen, The Texas Panhandle Frontier (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1973); Appletons Encyclopedia; Cullum, G. W., Biographical register of the officers and graduates of the USMA at West Point, N.Y., from its establishment in 1802 to 1890, with the early history of the USMA; Massachusetts Soldiers, Sailors and Marines in the Civil War; Heitman: Register of United States Army 1789-1903; Brevet Brigadier Generals in Blue; Biographical memoir of Franklin Bache, M.D. : prepared at the request of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia, and read before the college, May 3d and June 7th, 1865 (1865) Author: Wood, George B. (George Bacon), 1797-1879; History of Pennsylvania Volunteers, 1861-1865

Married 25 January 1812.

Buried on opposite side of same marker: William Stretch Abert and according to inscription his wife, Mary Frances Abert

Thanks to John Heseltine for the biographical summary.

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