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Abbie Palmer Woodward Abbie Palmer Woodward

In her obituary Abbie Palmer Woodward was described as “a most loveable woman of kindly disposition toward all with whom she came in contact.” Mrs. Woodward was typical of many in the first wave of Minnesota’s territorial settlers who arrived in Minneapolis in the 1850s and 60s. She was a New Englander, whose ancestors came over on the Mayflower in 1620; her grandfather, Walter Palmer, fought in the American Revolution. The family settled in Norwich, Connecticut, where Abbie was born on January 27, 1841.

On December 31, 1859, one month shy of her 19th birthday, she married Jasper Woodward. They had five children—three sons and two daughters. Her sons survived until adulthood, but her daughters, like so many children of those times, did not. Her first daughter, Nellie, died from scarlet fever in 1870, at the age of nine. A second daughter, Annie, died from inanition on December 20, 1878; she was only two days old.

One of Abbie’s relatives wrote an entry in her diary that described Abbie’s grief on the loss of her daughters and about the family’s preparations for the funeral of this much-loved second daughter:

"For the past few days I have been with Abbie and in this short time she has had a little daughter given her and taken away by the one who knowest what is best for all and placed in the vault til spring shall come, then it will be buried by the side of dear little Nellie where Abbie goes as often as she can and carries her choicest flowers to place on her little grave. It was my lot to prepare the little one for it's coffin bed, and it seemed too pretty to be laid away in the cold grave as it lay there dressed in one of the beautiful dresses it's mother had taken so much pride in making, and sweet flowers scattered around its little form. But, as pretty and dear as the baby was, the coffin lid was placed over it and little Annie was carried away, and it's mother felt as if little Nellie would no longer be alone in the cemetery".

Abbie’s husband, Jasper Woodward, a Civil War veteran, died on May 5, 1895, three years before Abbie, and was buried in Grand Army of the Republic lot at Lakewood Cemetery. Despite her many losses and sorrows, Abbie continued to be a woman of “sunny disposition and helpful character.” She was “a devoted mother whose efforts in behalf of her three sons were constant.” Abbie Palmer Woodward died from anemia and heart disease on June 30, 1898, at the age of 64. She was buried in Minneapolis Pioneers and Soldiers Memorial Cemetery next to her two daughters in Lot 90, Block K.


Next Article -> Gabriel Gebhard -- July 2006