Phebe(1) Abbott (Phillips) was born February 15, 1820 in St. Lawrence County, New York. Her father was Kneeland Abbott (the 2nd) and her mother was Lydia Hills. Phebe had one brother named Kneeland (the 3rd) and one sister named Lydia. In about 1836, Kneeland moved his family to DeKalb County, Indiana and settled on the site of today's city of Auburn. Kneeland (the third) married a girl named Delila and Lydia married Noah E. Brooks.
On December 23, 1839, Phebe married Uri(2) Phillips. Uri had bought government land in DeKalb County, Indiana in 1838 as did several of his brothers. His mother, Betsy Hemenway Phillips, also bought land in Dekalb County and they all moved there leaving Uri's father, Barzillia Phillips, to live in Livingston County, New York. Betsey and one of her sons, John, died in December of 1838, the year of their arrival in DeKalb County. Betsy's estate was divided among six of the heirs with Uri getting his one-sixth and purchasing his father's one-sixth.
Phebe and Uri were to have ten children during their marriage according to a family Bible in the possession of a great, great granddaughter(3) . The census records showed only three living as of June 18, 1900 which was about eighteen months before Phebe's death. Those three were Esther, Olive and William. The 1850 Indiana census lists five children: Martha Ann, aged 9; Esther, aged 8; Lydia, aged 5, Olive, aged 3; and William, aged 4 months. A daughter Polly was born 3 April 1948 and died 17 February 1950 less than a month before William was born and about five months before the 1950 census was taken. Less than two years after William was born, Phebe gave birth to triplets on December 22, 1851. They did not live long. Alfred lived only six days, Amelia lived less than a month before she died on January 16, 1852 and Albert lived almost three months having died on March 12, 1852. The year 1852 was a tragic year since each of the triplets died and their soon-to-be-twelve-year-old, Martha Ann, died on December 22. Their last child to be born was Kneeland. He was born September 1854 and he lived just short of one year before dying on 13 September 1855.
At some point, Phebe and her remaining four children relocated to Waupaca County, Wisconsin where they were enumerated in the 1860 census. From all appearances, Uri did not move with them and he is found in 1857, living alone, in Coffee County, Kansas. There are suggestions that he went to the California gold rush. There is even stronger evidence that his brother William B. did go to California which raises the possibility that they went together.
Obituaries for Phebe and her son William state the move to Wisconsin took place in the 1859. On January 8, 1852, Uri and Phebe sold most of their land in DeKalb County to Noah Brooks who was Phebe's brother-in-law married to her sister Lydia. On that same date, Noah and Lydia sold forty acres back to Phebe. On January 20th Uri and Phebe sold the balance of the land which they held jointly. It could be construed that these transactions represented a separation between Uri and Phebe and that Phebe and the children began living alone on the forty acres.
On May 8th, 1854, the courts removed Uri as administrator of the estate of his brother, John Phillips, who had died in 1838. In his place Noah Brooks was appointed and immediately arranged sale of the remaining portion of John Phillips' land. The appointment of a substitute administrator could indicate the court's dissatisfaction with Uri's handling of the estate or it could indicate Uri had left the jurisdiction of DeKalb County. On April 26th, 1855, Phebe sold her forty acres. These actions could suggest that Phebe left Indiana for Wisconsin in 1855. That is the date quoted for the move in an obituary for her daughter Esther in a Minneapolis, Kansas newspaper but it is in conflict with the date of 1859 in the previous paragraph..
The 1860 census for Waupaca County, Waupaca Township, Wisconsin lists Phebe as a "seamstress" with real property valued at $100. Many of her adjoining neighbors were from Ireland so it appears Phebe lived in an Irish settlement though her ancestry was not Irish. Living with her were Lydia, aged 15; Olive, aged 13; and William, aged 10. Esther, who married Lewis Cartwright on January 1, 1858, lived in the adjoining township of Farmington. She is shown as aged 18 and Lewis is aged 25; a farmer.
Lewis Cartwright's parents had come to Wisconsin between 1851 and 1857 according to the place of birth shown for the younger children. The eight older children, including Lewis, were born in the state of New York.
It is yet to be learned why Phebe moved to Wisconsin with her children. The Cartwright family had lived in St. Lawrence County, New York before moving to Wisconsin as did Phebe's family prior to moving to DeKalb County, Indiana. No direct connection between the families in St. Lawrence County has been found. The Cartwrights were in Pierpoint District while the Abbotts were in Norfolk District and these were 20 or so miles apart.
There is a possibility that Phebe migrated to Wisconsin with Lydia and Noah Brooks; Phebe's sister and brother-in-law. Before 1855, and after Noah acted for the courts to sell the John Phillips land in DeKalb County, Noah and Lydia moved to Lind Township, Waupaca County, Wisconsin. That township adjoins Waupaca Township where Phebe is found living in 1860. The Brooks family continued to live in Lind Township and both Lydia and Noah are buried there. It is interesting that one of their sons, Martin Brooks, married Emma Veley and that the Veley family located near the Cartwrights in Farmington Township. The Veleys had moved there from New York State between 1854 and 1860. It will be noted later in this article that Esther Phillips married Emma Veleys brother Benjamin Franklin Veley after Lewis Cartwright died. These ties between the Abbotts, Cartwrights and Veleys may hold the answer as to their relocation and proximity in Wisconsin. The 1860 census shows a Lewis Cartwright, age 25, and wife Esther, age 18, living in Town of Farmington, Waupaca County, Wisconsin and this is almost certain to be Phebe's daughter, Esther.
According to the family record in the Phillips Bible, it appears Lydia also married a man named Cartwright though a record of marriage or their place of residence in 1860 has not been found. The Bible shows Lydia Phillips Cartwright died on February 18, 1863.
The year eighteen seventy found Phebe living in Dartmouth, Mackford Township, Green Lake County, Wisconsin. Dartmouth's name was later changed to Markesan. She was living with her daughter Olive who had married James Burt. Their marriage appears to have taken place in Dodge County which adjoins Green Lake County. The marriage date is shown as November 20, 1865. The 1870 census shows James Burt as head of the house and a common laborer, Olive is shown as "keeping house" and Phebe is shown as "retired housekeeper". James is shown with real property valued at $500 and Phebe with real property valued at $1000 so it is unclear whether Phebe lived with the Burts or if they lived with Phebe.. Land records show Phebe bought Lots 4 and 5 in Markesan on September 4, 1865.
The reason for Phebe's move from Waupaca County to Green Lake County, a distance of about 50 miles, is not known. Her daughter Esther Mariah Cartwright was still living in Waupaca County with her husband and who, by 1870, had three daughters and one son. Their names, Mary A., aged 9; Lewis S., aged 8; Lydia A., aged 6, and Olive E., aged 4. By 1870, Phebe's son William Edwin had migrated to Neodesha, Kansas and was living, a single man, in a hotel while he practiced the trade of "saddler" in his own harness shop.
The year 1865 saw a major event in Phebe's life. Her husband Uri had been living in Coffey County, Kansas since before 1857 and had joined the Union Army in 1861. He was discharged in December, 1864 in Little Rock, Arkansas and appeared in May, 1865 at Phebe's home in Markesan. According to Phebe's account in her pension application, Uri remained there until July 1 when he left for Milwaukee to "engage in business". In 1895, Phebe stated she had not seen Uri since he left.
By 1875 William Edwin had married Matilda Squires in Neodesha, Kansas. In 1872 they had homesteaded 160 acres in Sycamore Valley and purchased an adjoining 160 acres. They had had a son Milton A. born in 1873 but who died at age nine months. June, 1875 found them back in Markesan staying with Phebe. Six houses away lived Samuel Barter who owned a hardware store in Markesan and with whom William and Matilda had signed a $300 mortgage on their land in 1874. In 1885, they would replace that mortgage with one for $1000 with Samuel Barter which would not be satisfied until after William Edwin's death in 1913. History tells that Samuel Barter operated a loan business in his hardware store. During the short period William Edwin and Matilda were in Markesan, a second son, Walter E., was born.
By 1880, Phebe, aged 58, still lived in Markesan but now alone except for a boarder, eighty year old Priscilla Dewitt. Phebe is shown as a carpet weaver. William Edwin lived in Sycamore Valley (Montgomery County), Kansas. Phebe's daughter Olive and her husband James M. Burt had also moved to Kansas and lived near Gypsum in Saline County which was about twenty miles from Salina. Though married in 1865, Olive and James were childless until after their move to Kansas where James G. was born in July, 1881 and Chester O. was born in April 1883.
Some time before 1884, Phebe's daughter Esther and her husband Lewis Cartwright moved their family of four daughters and one son to Kansas. Though the exact location is not known, they probably located in the Longford area of Clay County since, on March 5 1884, Esther's husband Lewis Cartwright was buried there in Rose Meron Cemetery. Esther's daughter Lydia A. Nelson was buried there also on April 9, 1885.
Phebe's eyesight was failing and in May, 1884 she sold her home in Markesan. Probably at that time she moved down to Kansas and stayed alternately with her three children all of whom had located there. In 1946, Chester O. Burt, son of Olive Phillips Burt, stated in a letter, "I do not remember Grandfather Phillips but I do remember Grandma as she stayed at our place a lot". The 1895 Kansas State Census shows Phebe living with William E. and his second wife Mary E. in Sycamore Valley. Mary Elizabeth. was William E.'s second wife whom he married after Matilda's death in 1889.
The frequency of Phebe's movement back and forth between children is evident from her application for pension from Uri's service in the Civil War. In appearances before magistrates on July 23, 1892 and October 14, 1895, she gave her residence as Sycamore Valley, Kansas. On February 14, 1898 she gave Esther's address in Center Township, Ottawa County. Later on June 4, she was back in Sycamore Valley living with William E.'s family. A year later, on June 26, 1899, Phebe was back with Esther. In her final filing on that date, Phebe stated:
For the past fifteen years I have been living with my children in different places and I have been blind for sixteen years. I have had no income since 1892 hence I am dependent on my children for support. I am penniless, old, helpless, blind, and alone as my husband went away thirty-four years ago this month and I have never heard from him since the day he left home and when he said he would be home in about three weeks or he would write to us, but we never heard from him.
After her first husband Lewis S. Cartwright's death on March 5, 1884, Esther married Benjamin Franklin Velie in 1895. Benjamin Franklin was the son of Peter and Elizabeth Velie (Veley) who, in 1860, lived near the Cartwright family in Farmington Township, Waupaca County, Wisconsin. Benjamin Franklin was born in New York State in November, 1842. In the June, 1900 census, Benjamin Franklin was Superintendent of the Ottawa County Poor Farm. Living with Benjamin Franklin and Esther were Phebe and George King, Esther's mother and grandson. Additionally, living in the Poor House were three persons listed as servants and nine persons listed as inmates. Living adjacent to the Poor Farm were Ella, one of Esther's daughters who lived there with her husband of one year, Samuel Russell, and Ella's three year old daughter "Gracie" (Grace).
Phebe Abbott Phillips died on November 24, 1901. During her 82 years she lived in New York, Indiana, Wisconsin and then Kansas. She had seen seven of her children precede her in death including triplets whose birth in those days had to be extremely difficult. She had experienced poverty, blindness, and abandonment by her husband. Phebe is buried in Rose Meron Cemetery, Clay County, Kansas along with Esther who died in 1916 and several of Esther's family. On a small stone in front of Phebe's monument are the words "Mother" and inscribed on Phebe's stone are the words "A soldier's wife" as though Phebe's children knew that their mother long wished for a closer union with Uri.
Phebe's children who were alive to morn their mother's death were Olive Burt, Esther Velie, and William. William died in 1913 and is buried at Mount Hope Cemetery in Independence, Kansas. Esther died in 1916 as mentioned above. Olive lived until 1923 and is buried at Poheta Cemetery which is about seven miles east of Salina, Kansas.
(1) This name spelled Phebe on court records and her signatures attached to legal documents. The name is pronounced as Phoebe.
(2) This name spelled Uri on court records and his signatures attached to legal documents. The name is pronounced as Uriah..
(3) Shirley James