In partnership with the Maine Memory Network Maine Memory Network

Farmington: Franklin County's Shiretown

Jacob Abbott

By: Christopher Brennick, Secondary Education major, Social Studies concentration, University of Maine at Farmington, Class of 2010; and
Michael Cummons, Secondary Education major, Social Studies concentration, University of Maine at Farmington, Class of 2010
With images from The Farmington Historical Society and The Farmington Public Library

Jacob Abbott played a major role in the development of education for both men and woman in the town of Farmington. Jacob Abbott spent his life as a pastor and educator, dedicated to educating young men and women in the Farmington area, as well as other areas in and out of the state of Maine. Jacob Abbott’s impact on the higher level of education in Farmington can still be felt today.

Jacob Abbott was the second child of Jacob and Lydia Abbot. Born in Hallowell, Maine on November 14th, 1803, Jacob was the oldest of five boys in his family, all of whom attended Hallowell Academy. After graduating from Hallowell Academy, Jacob attended Bowdoin College. While at Bowdoin, he added the second T to the end of his name to avoid being called Jacob Abbot the third. Upon his graduation in 1820, Jacob went to Andover College to study Theology. While he was studying at Andover, Jacob also taught at Portland Academy where one of his students was Henry Longfellow. In 1824, Jacob began as a tutor at Amherst College and was rewarded with a job as a professor of mathematics and natural philosophy in 1825 or 1826. In 1826 Jacob was also licensed to preach by The Hampshire Association. He stayed as a professor at Amherst until 1829.

Four sons of Jacob Abbott, Farmington, ca. 1865
Four sons of Jacob Abbott, Farmington, ca. 1865Jacob's sons Benjamin, Austin, Lyman, and Edward were also all well-known authors.Farmington Public Library

In May of 1828 Jacob married Harriet Vaughan. A year later Jacob opened up Mt. Vernon, a high school for girls, with his brother in Boston. In 1834, Jacob moved from Boston to Roxbury, MA. While in Roxbury, Jacob served as a pastor for the parish of a Congregational church which he also founded. During Jacob’s stay in Roxbury he also began writing children’s books. Jacob wrote many of his “Rollo Books” while in Roxbury, which were fictional children’s books, designed for an educational purpose. In either 1836 or 1837, Jacob gave up his position of his church and moved in with his father in Farmington, Maine. While in Farmington, Abbot continued his writing of children’s books. In addition to the Rollo books, Jacob also wrote the “Lucy Books,” the “Marco Paul” series, the “Franconia” stories, and a series of “Illustrated Histories” on historical figures. Jacob published one-hundred eighty books in his life time.

With the passing of his wife in 1843, Jacob moved to New York with his brothers John and Gorham and opened an all girl’s school called Abbot Institute. The Abbot Institute was ahead of its time in providing advanced academic training to young ladies. From 1843 to 1851 Jacob served as the principal of the Abbot Institute. In November of 1853 Jacob married for the second time to Mary Woodbury. Around 1870 Jacob left New York to come home to Farmington where his brother Samuel had turned Jacob’s house into the Abbot School, so Jacob took up residence in his father’s home until his death in 1879.


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