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Murder at the Blacksmith Shop

Ira Warren Abbott (1866-?)

Ira Warren Abbott is a seventh-generation descendant (John6, Peter5, Daniel4, George3, Thomas2, George1). He was one of the two children of John Carpenter Abbott and his wife Mary. John Carpenter Abbott was born in Pomfret, Vermont but after his marriage he headed west to Nevada, California. Nevada, California was a gold rush town, but John Carpenter Abbott was, believe or not, a carpenter. (And the middle name “Carpenter” is on his birth record so he did not pick that name up later.) Ira Warren and his brother Wilfred were both born in Nevada, California. Ira was a blacksmith who did horseshoeing, and Wilfred was an electrician (at least after electricity came into being).

Ira had a horseshoeing and wagon repair business on Broad Street in Nevada. He occupied the space with Charles Bennett who did mainly horseshoeing. They were bitter rivals, and over a two-year period that each tried to undercut the prices charged by the other and they quarreled daily. Things came to a head on 27 July 1894 when a farmer came in and asked Bennett if he could repair his wagon. Bennett stated he did not do wagon repair, but that the farmer should not have Ira do the work. Ira overheard this comment, got a revolver, and after a heated exchange, shot Bennett three times killing him. It was reported that both men were of excellent repute, but this long-standing rivalry just finally got out of control. Charles Bennett left a wife and two small children.

Ira was convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to Folsom Prison. He was incarcerated at Folsom from 1894 to his parole on 24 December 1903. At his parole hearing on 28 March 1903, Senator John Tyrrell spoke on Ira’s behalf. However, there were not enough parole board members present at that meeting to vote on the parole, so the parole was delayed until the end of the year.

It is not known what became of Ira after his parole. He just vanished. His brother Wilfred died in 1927. In his will, Wilfred left a bequest to his brother Ira “if his whereabouts become known.”


Photo credit:

The San Francisco Call, 28 July 1894, p. 7

The San Francisco Call, 29 March 1903, p. 18

California, Prison and Correctional Records, 1851-1950, California State Archives; Sacramento, California; Register and Descriptive List of Convicts - Folsom

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