Dorothy RUTHERFORD & Paul Collins ABNEY were in the same generation. Dorothy’s father (James) lived ca.1730-1797. Paul’s father (Dr. Nathaniel) lived ca.1728-1787.
Dorothy ABNEY (transcribed as “ABNERY”, I’ve not seen the original will) was bequeathed one Negro boy named Rico in her father’s will (written 20 Jan 1797)
In a Warren Co., MS deed dated 03 Mar 1830, Paul’s wife is given as “Dolly”. (It was also witnessed by R.R. Abney, their son, et al).
In another Warren Co. deed dated 02 Apr 1832 Robert R. & Dolly sold the deceased Paul’s land in Warren Co., Ms.
“Dolly” is a nickname for Dorothy. (See Nicknames: Past and Present by Christine Rose).
Both families were living in Edgefield Co., SC (Lucy [COLLINS] ABNEY as shown by the 1790 census and deed of 1793). James RUTHERFORD died there 19 Dec 1797 and his will is probated there.
The children of James RUTHERFORD & Drucilla BROOKS were: Mary, Elizabeth, Dorothy, James, & Robert
The children of Paul Collins ABNEY & Dolly were: Dorcas, Drucilla Lane, James R., Joseph Duncan, Mary, Elizabeth, and Robert Rutherford.
Notice that every one of Dolly’s siblings were accounted for in the naming of her own children. Even Drucilla Lane was no doubt named for Dolly’s mother, Drucilla (as mentioned in the will of James RUTHERFORD).
Although in later generations the name “Rutherford” has been altered to reflect the colloquial pronunciation “Releford”, make no mistake, Paul & Dolly’s son was Robert Rutherford ABNEY. From his grandson forward the name was written Robert Releford ABNEY (first given to the son of William Washington ABNEY & Julia Ann RISHER.
You are correct in your statement: “Actually, I don't think there was ever a Joseph Griffith Abney.” I agree 100%. “Joseph Griffith Abney” was as real as the “Elizabeth Releford” created by the earlier researchers to have been the mother of the Paul Collins ABNEY children. In other words, both were fictional characters. There is not one iota of evidence for either.
As a side note, Paul Collins ABNEY’s brother, Nathaniel married Eleanor BOULWARE (1c1r of Dolly RUTHERFORD.
In the family deed of 1793 (Edgefield Co., SC) to [Lucy’s son-in-law] Absalom POSEY, all witnesses were Dolly RUTHERFORD’s kin, to wit: Agatha [RUTHERFORD] BOULWARE, Rachel BOULWARE, and Robert Rutherford BOULWARE. Note: Agatha BOULWARE was the same Agatthey BOULWARE who witnessed the will of her brother, James RUTHERFORD, Dolly’s father.
This is certainly more than enough evidence to prove this connection. If not, I can’t imagine what will be. I challenge anyone to prove it to the contrary.