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An Ordinary Life

Benjamin Abbott (1795-1853) and Rebecca Boynton (1800-1895)

We like to think of our ancestors as having exciting stories, but most of them led quiet, ordinary lives. Benjamin Abbott and Rebecca Boynton are one such couple. They were both born in Andover and were fourth cousins, once removed and both were descendants of George Abbott and Hannah Chandler. Here are each of the paths back to George and Hannah:

Benjamin (a sixth-generation descendant): Benjamin (5), Jonathan (4), David (3), Benjamin (2), George and Hannah (1)

Rebecca (a seventh-generation descendant): Thomas Boynton (6), Hannah (Ames) Boynton (5), Benjamin Ames (4), Hannah (Stevens) Ames (3), Elizabeth (Abbott) Stevens (2), George and Hannah (1)

Benjamin Abbott was the oldest child of Benjamin and Rhoda (Chandler) Abbott. Rebecca Boynton was the oldest child of Thomas and Rebecca (Boynton) Bailey. Although Benjamin was the oldest son in his family, he was at the end of several generations of later born sons. Due to the way property was allocated in wills, it was only the oldest son, or sometimes the two oldest sons, who received the bulk of the estate. It is possible that Benjamin left Andover in search of better opportunities.

After they married, Benjamin and Rebecca made a 50 mile move from Andover to Holden. Holden had been founded around 1737 when it was carved out of a section of Worcester. Benjamin and Rebecca had six children including my ancestor Justin Abbott who served in the Civil War. Perhaps Benjamin got together with friends and family at Ye Old Abbott Tavern which was built in Holden by his third cousin John Abbott (1738-1799). [The tavern is pictured above.]

Benjamin was a farmer with property that totaled about 45 acres at the time of his death. He perhaps was not that successful. After his death in 1853 from prostate cancer, the entire property, including the family home, was sold at auction to pay his debts. Benjamin’s widow Rebecca received a payment of $250 after everything was sold and the debts were paid. The part of the probate record that includes the notice of auction is shown at the bottom of the page.

After the death of Benjamin, Rebecca became something of a vagabond moving between the homes of her adult children. In 1860 she was living in Holden with her son John and his wife and four children. In 1870, she was in Worcester with her daughter Martha and her family. Finally, in 1880, she was living with her son William Otis Abbott and his family in Manchester, New Hampshire. She died there of pneumonia in 1895 at the age of 94.

Children of Benjamin and Rebecca: Justin's birth is recorded at Andover and the other children were likely born at Holden although there are no records for the births.

1. Justin Edwards Abbott, born at Andover, 11 April 1820 and died at the Soldiers' Home in Saugus 31 August 1901. He married on 12 May 1845, Ellen Janet Wilson born about 1825 daughter of Samuel and Rachel (Mansfield) Wilson. Rachel Mansfield is from the line of the Mansfield family of Lynn.

2. John T. Abbott, born about 1823 and died at Holden 28 June 1891. John married on 22 October 1846, Charlotte Stearns (1823-1892) daughter of Adolphus and Charlotte (Sumner) Stearns.

3. Mary L. Abbott, born about 1825 and died at Holden 17 February 1855. Mary married on 7 December 1847, Horace Rice (1820-1882) son of Jonathan and Hephzibah (Fay) Rice.

4. Rebecca A. Abbott, born about 1828 and nothing else is known about her.

5. William Otis Abbott, born about 1831 and died at Manchester, New Hampshire on 26 January 1895. William married 18 March 1868, Mary Helen Campbell (1841-1914) daughter of Henry and Sophia (Lund) Campbell.

6. Martha Ann Abbott, born about 1834 and died at Blackstone, Massachusetts 19 November 1871. Martha married 6 November 1857, William Sturdy (1814-1905) son of William and Clarissa (Whittemore) Sturdy.


1850 United States Federal Census, Year: 1850; Census Place: Holden, Worcester, Massachusetts; Roll: M432_343; Page: 289A; Image: 570.

Year: 1860; Census Place: Holden, Worcester, Massachusetts; Roll: M653_531; Page: 594; Family History Library Film: 803531

Year: 1880; Census Place: Manchester, Hillsborough, New Hampshire; Roll: 763; Family History Film: 1254763; Page: 168C; Enumeration District: 130

Massachusetts Vital Records Project;, Marriage record, Essex County, Andover.

Massachusetts, Wills and Probate Records, 1635-1991, Massachusetts, Worcester County, probate estate files; Author: Massachusetts. Probate Court (Worcester County); Probate Place: Worcester, Massachusetts.

New Hampshire, Death and Burial Records Index, 1654-1949

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