Amanda Abbott (1851-1941)

 

The History of West Virginia, Old and New and West Virginia Biography
The American Historical Society, Inc.; Chicago and New York; 1923
Volume III, page 103

GRAFTON EDUCATORS. The dean of the educational forces of Grafton is Miss Amanda Abbott, who has been continuously in the service of the schools of that city since 1877. In any account of the school workers of the city her name easily stands first.

Her grandfather was Abner Abbott, who came with his wife from King and Queen County, Virginia, and settled in what is now Lewis County, between Weston and Buckhannon. He acquired a large tract of land and was much interested in public affairs. He was a judicial officer attending court at Weston at a time when the country was new and all travel was by wagon or horseback. Once his son accompanied him to court and returned home with the horses. During the week Squire Abbott remarked that if he had a horse he would go home. One of the attending lawyers put a horse at his disposal. On the way he was thrown off, his head striking a stone or stake, and he was instantly killed. After his death his lands, due to a flaw in the title, were lost to his heirs. He had married Fannie Price, also a native of Virginia and daughter of a slave- holder. But Squire Abbott was opposed to slavery, and in line with his convictions he returned a negro boy given his wife by her father. Mrs. Fannie Abbott spent her last years with a son in Missouri. Her children were: James, who became a resident of Missouri; John and Jacob, who remained in West Virginia; Vernon, whose record follows; and Patricia, or Pattie, who died in Missouri.

Vernon Abbott was born in what is now Lewis County, June 23, 1820. He acquired a common school education, learned the trade of plasterer, developing a high degree of artistry in the handling of such material, and did a contracting business. His mind was active and led him to study and reading as a permanent taste. He was a keen student of political conditions, was an intense patriot and republican, but announced as a result of his experience in politics his conviction that Grover Cleveland would win the election of 1884.

His home for many years was at Fairmont, where he died in 1890. His first wife was Priscilla VanZandt. The children of this marriage were: William E., who served as a Union soldier; Lee Roy, a lawyer, now deceased; and Fannie, who became the wife of J. C. McKinney and reared her family at Fairmont. The second wife of Vernon Abbott was Mrs. Mary (Toothman) Price, who died in September, 1911, aged eighty-four. She was the mother of: Miss Amanda; Alice, of Fairmont; Millard, who died in Fairmont; Ida, who for ten years had charge of the department of history in the Fairmont State Normal School and the last two years was dean of women; Luther, a merchant at Grafton and a leading Taylor County citizen; James H. and Thomas Bruce, twins, deceased; and Clarence V., connected with the Domestic Coke Company of Fairmont.

Miss Amanda Abbott was born at Fairmont acquired her first advantages in a subscription school there, later attended public school, and graduated from the Fairmont Normal in 1873. Throughout her life she has been an active member of the Methodist Protestant Church, and year after year taught the primary class in the Sunday School, thus broadening the scope of her influence beyond the schoolroom in behalf of the character building among the young. Her first teaching was done as a substitute in Fairmont under Professor T. C. Miller. She became a regular teacher in the Newburg schools, and from there came to Grafton in 1877, taking charge of the primary grade in one of the six rooms of the old Central Building. The two years she spent in Newburg were under Principal Bowman. Her coming to Grafton was at the invitation of Marion Durbin, then president of the school board, the other two members being Arthur Sinsel and John Deck, all men of constructive ideals in molding the educational program of the city. Some of the little children to whom she directed her first salutation in 1877 are now grandfathers or grandmothers of pupils in her primary class. There has been no interruption to this service for which she has dedicated her life and her highest talents. Grafton has grown and expanded greatly as a city and in its schools. The Central Building was the only schoolhouse in Grafton proper when she came, but other schools have come in with the coalescing of several districts comprised in the limits of the present city, and the city now has a total of seven brick school buildings, beside the parochial schools. For forty-four years Miss Abbott has had the primary work in the new or remodeled Central Building.

Among her old pupils who have achieved some special distinction are Howard H. Holt, editor and proprietor of the Grafton Sentinel; Harry A. Abbott, cashier of the Grafton Banking & Trust Company; Harry Friedman, lawyer and secretary of the Grafton Board of Education; Max Friedman, a leading business man; and Miss Grace White, who teaches in the eighth grade of the public schools.

With education as her chosen life work Miss Abbott has accepted many opportunities to make her experience available to the teaching profession, and is widely known over the state through the associations of teachers. She has attended a great many of the State Associations, and she was present at the first regular meeting of the Round Table at Fairmont, and has since attended every annual meeting of the Monongahela Branch of the Round Table.

Miss Abbott is well informed concerning the educational administration of the Grafton schools. The first principal, at a time when West Grafton and Fetterman were separate school entities, was Patrick O'Brien. The first winner of the Peabody medal or graduate of the Grafton schools was Florence Jaco. O 'Brien was followed by U. S. Fleming, who gave the schools a regular curriculum, permitting graduation as a prescribed course. Following Fleming came Professor Jack Wilkinson, who remained six years. He was an excellent disciplinarian and an all-round school man. Hayward Fleming, his successor, was an exemplar of thoroughness in school work, and that characteristic followed him in other lines of work. He was followed by J. S. Cornwell and by Professor Gorby.

Professor Humphrey, who had been a high school principal at Fairmont, did some efficient work the two years he was at Grafton and proved his ability both in the administrative and the teaching departments. It was a congenial work here, and he has been a strong man in educational affairs since in the state.

When he left Morgan Brooks, principal of the high school, took his place as acting superintendent. He was a good teacher, possessed a splendid personality, and since leaving Grafton has been in school work at Buckhannon.

Since 1914 the superintendent of the Grafton schools has been Mr. Burns. From the first he has been the embodiment of the educational progress, and in addition to what he accomplished in behalf of the present high school he has achieved results in co-ordinating and increasing the efficiency of the schools in every grade and department.


Additional Information

Death Certificate - Amanda Abbott

Find A Grave Memorial - Amanda M. Abbott

 

Return to the Transcribed Biographies Index