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Liberty C. Abbott Family Papers

Identifier: MSS-1

Scope and Contents

The Liberty C. Abbott family papers contain the records of the Abbott family, including a large amount of correspondence, much of it with family and friends but there are political and business letters also. In addition, there are records of Liberty Abbott’s business activities, including Clifton Plantation, Abbott and Howard, Holmes County, as well as Thompson and McClure of Schlater, Leflore County. There are also some legal documents, diaries, memorabilia, newspaper clippings, advertisements, and photographs.

The papers are divided into six series. The first is the Correspondence series. This includes letters to and from Liberty and Maria Abbott, their daughter Birdie Abbott Jones Gearhart, and Liberty’s brother, F. Marion Abbott. The correspondence is primarily with family and friends but also includes letters to Liberty Abbott with political content from Blanche K. Bruce and James Hill among others.

The second group of materials, the Business Records series, contains correspondence, receipts, advertisements and other materials related to the business activities of Liberty Abbott until his death in 1894, and of his wife, daughter and brother thereafter. The series also includes receipts and other materials related to Clifton Plantation, and day books and ledgers from Abbott and Howard. There are eight financial record books from the timber firm of Thompson and McClure, Schlater, Leflore County.

The third series, Legal Documents, comprises documents related to Liberty and Maria Abbott and Clifton Plantation. These include Maria’s divorce decree, Liberty and Maria’s marriage certificate, and Liberty’s will, commission as a cavalry officer and his appointments as judge and alderman. The Clifton Plantation documents include eight deeds of trust.

The fourth series, Diaries, includes the diaries and related materials of Liberty Abbott and his father, Harry Abbott.

The fifth group is the Newspaper Clippings series and consists of clippings about Liberty Abbott and his family and friends in Mississippi, Pennsylvania and New York. There are also a number of clippings of poems, unusual events, and advice on farming and domestic activities including recipes.

The last group of materials is the Miscellaneous series. It includes family memorabilia such as cards, programs, announcements and notes. There are also some publications, including a book of poetry, an 1864 ‘phreno-chart’ of Liberty Abbott, and number of souvenir booklets from the 1893 and 1904 World Expositions. In addition, there are Liberty Abbott fraternal organization materials such as death notices and account statements, a railroad timetable and telephone tariff book, and various advertisements and solicitations from mail-order companies. The series contains some photographs of the Abbott family, including an ambrotype that may be an early picture of Liberty Abbott and an Abbott tombstone.


  • 1859 - 1930
  • Majority of material found within 1883 - 1926


Access Restrictions

Open to all researchers.

Use Restrictions

Any requests for permission to publish, quote, or reproduce materials from this collection must be submitted in writing to the Manuscripts Librarian for Special Collections. Permission for publication is given on behalf of Mississippi State University as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained.

Biographical Information

Liberty Constantine Abbott was born in Busti, Chautauqua County, New York on December 6, 1836. His father was Harry Abbott (1800-1877), a merchant and farmer, and his mother was Louisa Bostwick Abbott (1810-1865). Liberty had four brothers—Alexander Franklin (1829-1905), Rollin Vespasian (1840-1889), Francis Marion (1844-1908), and Eugene Augustus (b. 1855)—and four sisters—Emeline Cecelia (1830-1885), Louisa M. (1832-1862), Charlotte Lucinda (b. 1836), and Emmogene Augusta (1847-1852). In 1864 he married Maria Traver Reed (1830-1912), who had divorced her first husband, Tembroeck Reed, in 1859 and already had a son, Nate A. Reed. Liberty and Maria Abbott had one child, Birdie Traver Abbott Jones Gearhart (1869-1946).

Liberty Abbott clerked in Warren, Pennsylvania, and then went to work in the family hotel. In July 1861, Abbott enlisted in E Company, Fifth Regiment, New York Volunteer Cavalry as a private and mustered out as a major in August 1865. Abbott received an appointment to the Internal Revenue service in 1869 and was stationed in Holly Springs, Mississippi. In 1872 he was appointed to the post of superintendent of schools in Marshall County. On July 10, 1874, he was appointed chancery judge for the Ninth District of Mississippi but left that post in 1876. In 1888 he was appointed alderman of the town of Howard. After stepping down as chancery judge in 1876, Abbott went into partnership with his sister Charlotte’s husband, Myron Waters, to run Clifton Plantation in Holmes County, Mississippi. At the time of his death Abbott owned the plantation. Abbott was involved in the Masons, was a Knight Templar of the Twenty-first Degree, and was a member of the Knights of Pythias. Liberty Abbott died in Howard on August 9, 1894.

Francis Marion Abbott was born on January 28, 1844, in New York. He married Gertrude E. Henry (b. 1840) in 1870, and had one child, Mabel H. Abbott (b. 1879?). F. Marion Abbott was educated at Warren Union School in Pennsylvania. Abbott served in the Union Army during the Civil War and was discharged in 1865 as a major. That same year he moved to Aberdeen, Mississippi, and in 1866 he moved onto a plantation in part of Chickasaw, later Clay, County. From 1870 until 1874 Abbott served in the Mississippi legislature as a Republican senator. He founded Abbott, Mississippi, in 1878. He served as president of the Birmingham, Selma and New Orleans Railroad. Abbott bought and reorganized the Selma, Alabama, streetcar line and served as president and general manager until his death in September 1908.

Birdie Traver Abbott Jones Gearhart was born on November 21, 1869, at her father’s Clifton Plantation. She married Peyton Tabb Jones (1854-1901) on April 30, 1896, and had a son, Peyton Abbott “Buddy” Jones (1897-1975). She married her second husband, Frank P. Gearhart (1869-1931) on February 24, 1903, at Clifton Plantation. Frank Gearhart managed a timber firm pioneering in the Quiver River area of Leflore County in the early 1900s. They had two children: Frances Gearhart (b. 1905) and Traver Gearhart (1907-1984). Birdie Gearhart died on May 22, 1946.

Sources: The Liberty C. Abbott family papers.

Biographical and Historical Memoirs of Mississippi. (1891). 2 vols. Chicago: Goodspeed. vol.1. pp.277-278; vol.2. p.33, 204.

Bostwick, Henry Anthon. (1901). Genealogy of the Bostwick Family: The Descendants of Arthur Bostwick of Stratford, Conn. Hudson, N.Y.: Bryan Printing Co. pp.490-491.

Brieger, James F. (1997). Hometown Mississippi. Jackson, Miss.: Town Square Books, p.96.

Dunbar, Rowland. (1935). Courts, Judges and Lawyers of Mississippi, 1798-1935. Jackson, Miss.: Hederman. p.249.

McNees, L.L. (1955). Cemetery Records: Holmes County, Mississippi. pp.77-78.


5.75 Cubic Feet (: 7 record cartons; 1 VMP folder; 1 SMO folder; 1 OS folder; 1 VMCP envelope; 13 OSL items.)

Language of Materials



Series 1. Correspondence -Boxes 1-4; Visual Materials: Photographs Box 6 Series 2. Business records -Box 4-6; Small Oversize Manuscripts Box 1; Oversize Manuscripts Box 2; Oversize Ledgers Boxes 1-5 Series 3. Legal documents -Box 6; Small Oversize Manuscripts Box 1 Series 4. Diaries -Box 6 Series 5. Newspaper clippings -Box 6; Oversize Manuscripts Box 2 Series 6. Miscellaneous -Box 6-7; Small Oversize Manuscripts Box 1; Oversize Manuscripts Box 2; Visual Materials: Photographs Box 6; Visual Materials: Cased Photographs Box 1

Related Archival Materials

Mississippi Department of Archives and History, Jackson:

Z 0974.000. Clifton Plantation Account Book, 1870-1899 and undated. Includes business and personal materials. (Microfilm 36102)

Secretary of State. Register of Commissions, 1865-1869. p.411 (Microfilm 2329)

Secretary of State. Register of Commissions, 1871-1874. p.9, 15 (Microfilm 1542)

Processing Information

Newspaper clippings were disposed of after being copied on to acid-free paper. Duplicate items, envelopes, unused stationery, folders and a piece of metal chain were disposed of.


Liberty C. Abbott Family Papers
Gerald Chaudron
June 2008
Language of description
Script of description
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Repository Details

Part of the Manuscripts Repository