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Identifier: WH997


Material in the collection consists of ledgers, correspondence, publications, and surveys. Most of the documents concern Jacob Jackson Abbott Jr. and his brother James Whitin Abbott, from their education at Yale, through their various jobs and their families. Papers from other members of the Abbott family are also contained in the collection. Also included are plat maps of Colorado towns and mines that date from 1878-1910 with the original surveys.


The material in the series consists of financial ledgers, contracts, correspondence, surveys, patents, and publications from the companies James and Jackson Abbott owned, managed, or employed. Most of the material is from their firm Abbott Bros. Included in the series are papers from several companies in which they were part owners. The companies include Garbutt, Abbott Bros. and Woodward, Lake City and Uncompahgre Toll Road Co., Lake City Mining and Smelting Co., Abbott, Woodward and Abbott, and the Lake City Grocery Business. The series contains material from their independent work as surveyors, insurance salesmen, and business managers.


The majority of the papers in the series are family correspondence; primarily letters sent by or received by Jacob Jackson Abbott. Family members included in the correspondence are Florence (Jackson's and James's mother), Jenny (Jackson's wife), James, his wife Florence, Paul, William, and Margaret. Materials in the series include Yale class directories, brochures, and family history.

SERIES 3 OVERSIZE 1876-1914 OVFOLIO 1-6, OVFF 1-11

The oversize items consist of ledgers, plats, certificates, and surveys from Jackson and James's work in their firm Abbott Bros.


Black-and-white photographs of the Abbott family and their residences comprise this series.


  • 1865-1997


The collection is open for research.


Literary rights and copyrights have been assigned to the Denver Public Library.


All requests for permission to publish, reproduce, or quote from material in the collection should be discussed with the appropriate librarian or archivist. Permission for publication may be given on behalf of the Denver Public Library as the owner of the physical item. It is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which also must be obtained by the customer. The Library does not assume any responsibility for infringement of copyright or publication rights of the manuscript held by the writer, heirs, donors, or executors. Reproduction restrictions are decided on a case-by-case basis.


David Abbott donated his family papers in 1985. The collection spans from 1870 to 1975, tracing the family history from Jacob Jackson Abbott Sr., (David's great grandfather), to David Abbott.

Jacob Jackson Abbott Sr. graduated from Dartmouth in 1839 and the Union Theological Seminary, New York, in 1845. He served in the ministry of the Congregational Church holding pastorates in Massachusetts, Maine, and Vermont. Jacob Jackson Abbott Sr. was conferred the honorary degree of DD from Bowdoin College in 1874. He married Margaret Whitin and they had four sons and one daughter: James Whitin (1846), Jacob Jackson Jr. (1850), William Whittlesey, Paul Whitin, and Helen. Jacob Jackson Abbott, Sr., served as a trustee at Dartmouth and Bowdoin Colleges. During the war he worked with the Christian Commission in Washington DC. He was active in educational and civic concerns throughout his life and died at home in New Haven in 1878.

All four of his sons graduated from Yale College. James Abbott graduated from Sheffield Scientific School at Yale and continued on, to earn a degree in civil engineering in 1871. Jackson (Jacob Jackson, Jr.) graduated from the Sheffield Scientific Department at Yale in 1872 and continued on to receive a second degree of civil engineer in 1874. James and Jackson moved to Colorado in 1875. They settled in Lake City and opened their firm, Abbott Bros. Their firm joined with Frank Garbutt and Richard Woodward under the name of Garbutt, Abbott Bros. and Woodward. Together they owned and operated the Lake City Uncompahgre Toll Road Company. The 35-mile toll road ran from Lake City, up Hensen Creek, through Capitol City and over Eagle Pass before dropping to Ouray. They received the charter to build the road in 1875 and started construction in 1876. In 1884 Hinsdale County took over the operation and formally purchased the road in 1886.

Another venture the four men worked together on was the Lake City Mining and Smelting Company. The firm was incorporated in 1876. James served as vice-president and Jackson was secretary of the board of trustees. Richard Woodward resigned from the company in 1876 and the firm name changed to Abbott Bros. and Garbutt. They continued to work for the following year with Frank Garbutt who retired from the firm in 1877. Under the firm of Abbott Bros., James and Jackson surveyed and patented most of the mining claims in Hinsdale County. To supplement their income during the off-season months, when they were unable to survey due to the weather, they opened an upscale grocery market featuring fancy groceries.

In 1883 James relocated to Chicago for work but remained in partnership with Jackson in their firm. Jackson continued working in Lake City on various projects including the construction of the reservoir at Lake San Christobal. Nearly all of the roads in Hinsdale County were built under his supervision. He was involved with the successful campaign to have a Denver and Rio Grande Railroad Building in Lake City. He was appointed postmaster of San Juan in 1883. Jackson Abbott served as mayor of Lake City from 1885-1886, superintendent of schools from 1887-1888, and was elected Hinsdale County Surveyor in 1890 and Deputy Mineral Surveyor for Colorado in 1895.

Jackson Abbott married Jenny Farrington, who was an accomplished musician. They had seven children, Margaret Farrington, James Dudley, Edward Farrington, Jacob Jackson, Catherine Whitin, Charles Cushman, and Dorothy, who died at two years.

After Dorothy's death in 1897, Jackson Abbott and his family moved to Denver. Although he resided in Denver, Jackson remained active in Hinsdale County as the Commissioner and continued to work as an engineer surveying mines and property. Jackson went to San Francisco for the Panama-Pacific Exposition and caught Bright's disease. He became quite ill and eventually returned back east to Auburn, Maine to visit with his children. He died there in 1916.

After graduating from Yale James Abbott worked as an assistant engineer on the Kings County Town Survey in Brooklyn, New York. Then he took a job as engineer for the estate of William Walter Phelps in Hackensack and Bergen Counties. In 1875, he moved to Lake City to work with his brother, Jackson. In 1883, he went east to work in Kansas City. James returned to Colorado in 1885 to work with his brother-in-law, David Wood. He took charge of a large transportation business in Ouray. Two years later, James gave up the job when he was appointed Clerk of the District Court in Ouray.

From 1900 to 1905, James Abbott was employed as a special agent for the US Department of Agriculture - Highway Division. He was in charge of the Rocky Mountain and Pacific Coast branch. Following this job, James relocated to Pioche, Nevada. In 1912, he moved to Los Angeles.

James Abbott was a member of the American Institute of Mining Engineers and published articles.

James Abbott married Florence Wood in 1877. They had two children, Charles Whitin, and Ruth Beatrice. In 1917 he became severely ill and was brought to Buffalo, NY. He died in a sanitarium at Clifton Springs, NY the same year.

Jackson and Jenny Abbott's son, James Dudley married Mary McLain. They were parents to three children Elizabeth, David, and James Dudley Jr. James Abbott followed in his father's footsteps earning a degree in engineering. He engineered bridges. His son, David, enlisted in the Arctic Survival Training Camp during WW II and later worked for the Denver Parks.


13 Boxes

6 OVFolios


1 photo box

Language of Materials



Dave Abbott donated the family papers in 1985 to the Denver Public Library. The collection was combined with a previous donation of James and Jackson Abbott material for which the date and source is unknown.


David Abbott's papers from the Arctic Survival Training Camp were removed, organized as an independent collection, and cataloged. The collection, The Arctic Training Camp Papers of David Abbott (WH1448), is part of the Western History Manuscript Collection. David Abbott's papers and slides on the Denver Parks were relocated to the Historic Parks Collection.


Number of Boxes: 13

Oversize: 6 OVFolios


Number of PhotoBoxes: 1 (.25 lf)




Ellen Zazzarino

Carol Mead

Merrie Valliant

April 2000


Ann Brown




Ellen Zazzarino

Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script

Repository Details

Part of the Denver Public Library, Western History and Genealogy Repository

10 W. 14th Ave. Pkwy
Denver CO 80204 United States