Abell, Elizabeth

Born: 1804-08-06 Kentucky

Died: 1869-11-20 Fulton County, Illinois

Alternate name: Owens

Elizabeth was born and raised in Kentucky, where her father Nathaniel Owens enrolled her in Nazareth Academy, a Catholic school. It was there that she likely met Dr. Bennett Abell, and the couple was married in 1822. They eventually settled in New Salem, Illinois, where they befriended a young Abraham Lincoln, who lived in their home for a time. In 1836, Elizabeth introduced her younger sister Mary to Lincoln, and the couple had a brief courtship. Lincoln's friend William Butler believed that it was Mrs. Abell who encouraged Lincoln to aspire to a "higher plane of life." In 1850 the Abells lived in Menard County, Illinois, where Bennett was a farmer. In 1860, the family lived in Blandinsville, where Bennett farmed and the family owned nearly $2,500 in real and personal wealth.

Gravestone, Avon Cemetery, Avon, IL; U.S. Census Office, Seventh Census of the United States (1850), Menard County, IL, 340; U.S. Census Office, Eighth Census of the United States (1860), McDonough County, IL, 233; Douglas L. Wilson and Rodney O. Davis, eds., Herndon's Informants: Letters, Interviews, and Statements about Abraham Lincoln (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1998), 738; Dale Thomas, Lincoln's Old Friends of Menard County, Illinois (Charleston, SC: The History Press, 2012), 15-17, 46-48.