The Family of Rosa Anna Abbott and John Joseph LaValle

Edward and Elizabeth Jacob Abbott

Edward AbbottLiz Abbott
Edward Abbott's and Elizabeth Jacob's Wedding pictures, 1881. Gertrude Meyer Collection.
Edward at age 15
Edward, age 15

Edward Adolph was born March 18, 1856 in a log cabin on the farm of his parents, Christian and Magdalena Schmeltz Abbott, in Scott Township, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, now Mt. Lebanon. Edward was a second-generation German-American. His father and mother were both German immigrants, Christian arriving in this country at age nine, and Magdalena at age nineteen. German was the primary language spoken in their household. See a photograph of the log cabin, the description of Edward in the Memoirs of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, 1904, and a collage of the Edward's siblings' photographs..

Edward was interviewed by a Mt. Lebanon News reporter for Mt. Lebanon's twenty-fifth anniversary celebration, February 6, 1937. Edward said that as a youth, he went to school in a one-room-log schoolhouse until he had to quit to work the farm at age 13. The schoolhouse was located at the foot of the St. Clair Cemetery, at the intersection of Washington and and Scott Roads. A second school was later built where the Mt. Lebanon Twin Towers Presbyterian Church now stands.

Edward's idea of "fun", according to the interview, included hunting in the woods on the farm with a musket he was given by Captain Seaforth. Edward was told that the gun had been picked up at the second battle of Bull Run. Edward brought down a lot of quail and rabbits in the 10-acre stand of dense timber his father owned, located where the high school is now. Visiting the McKnight store to swap stories with his buddies was also a great diversion from driving the cows to pasture through mud up to his knees. More information is available about the musket.

In 1875, when Edward was 19 years old, his father, Christian, commissioned from a Green Tree neighbor and artist, Austin Wooster, an oil painting of the new farmhouse he had built on the property.

In 1881, Edward married Elizabeth Jacob, daughter of John George and Katherina Heim Jacob, of Collier Township. We believe Edward and Liz moved into the Abbott farmhouse right after their marriage. His parents, Christian and Magdalena, moved to Main Street in Carnegie in 1895, and deeded the farm over to Edward in 1896.

Edward at age 15
Abbott front porch

Edward and Elizabeth continued speaking German at home. They attended several German Lutheran churches, including St. John's Evangelical Lutheran Church, where their daughter, Katherine Clara, was christened the 16th of September 1833. Elizabeth's sister, Katharina, was her sponsor. This is the only entry in St. John's records for Edward and Elizabeth's family. It is not known where they worshipped next. Their later years were spent at Bethlehem Lutheran Church, Allentown, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. They were good friends with Rev. Bieschwenger. Their grandaughter, Charlotte, said they sometimes attended a church in Bridgeville. Their oldest daughter, Kate, spoke German until she went to first grade (and had an accent all her life). The other children preferred to speak English and attended the Mt. Lebanon Presbyterian Church.

Edward was a very successful farmer, providing for all his family's needs, as well as selling his surplus to neighbors and at the farm market on the Monongahela Wharf in downtown Pittsburgh. He worked his family hard, and was a stern taskmaster. Several of his children talked of how hard Elizabeth had to work, laboring in the fields right up to the time she delivered their children. And, Kate, the oldest daughter, had to quit school at an early age and take care of the younger children. She was also expected to work the farm as well. There were also many good times and family gatherings on the farm. See the biography of Rose Abbott, daughter of Edward and Elizabeth, and a photograph of the family posing with the the Abbott & Sons wagon.

In the early 1900s Edward was also involved in a meat packing business with his brother, August, in Carnegie. See the Story of the Abbott Ice and Packing Company.

By 1926, the Abbott's sons had grown up and decided against continuing to farm the land. The coming of the streetcars had turned this farming arrea into a suburban residential area for Pittsburgh. So Edward and Liz sold off the farm to Howard Salkeld, a developer, who subdivided it into lots for building the residential plan called "Colonial Heights". Edward and Liz kept 3 three lots for themselves, as well as a lot for each of their children. Most the children built houses on their lots and lived there. Margie Page said that Christ and Al each paid $6500 to build their houses. They built a brick house for themselves on Beverly Road. Ed told his granddaughter, Charlotte, that he never would have built there if he knew how busy Beverly Road was going to become.

50th wedding anniversary photo
50th anniversary

Edward downsized his farming operation, but continued to have a large garden and fruit orchard on his remaining lots. And he continued his habit of training up young farmers by teaching his resident grandson, Harold, how to hoe the beans and clean up the messy leaves of the Rose of Sharon bushes. Edward's teepee form of beanpoles was also present in his Beverly Road garden. See the foreground of the photograph of the farmhouse's front porch. When Harold had his own place, he always had a garden and continued the tradition of cutting saplings and tying them together for the bean vines to run up. On September 9, 1930, Edward and Elizabeth celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary with family and friends. Everyone gathered at the house on Beverly Road.

Harold loved his grandfather, Edward, and they seemed to be close, though Harold was always a little afraid of him (he referred to his grandfather as a proud Prussian). Edward was probably a type of father figure to Harold when his own father died. Harold often laughed about the time he was watering the garden with the hose and saw his grandfather coming around the side of the house. He couldn't resist the temptation, and turned the hose on Grandfather Abbott. To Harold's great relief, Edward thought it was funny.

Granddaughter, Charlotte, remembers going over frequently to visit with her grandfather. She was fascinated by his tales of days gone by, and hearing about the history of the Abbott family. She had a lot of questions, and Edward loved to have an audience for his reminiscences. She remembers him telling her of a relative of his who went west in a covered wagon. Charlotte reported that her grandfather wasn't very fashionable in his dress. He used to walk up the street to visit his sister, Annie Doerr, with a rope tied around his pants for a belt!

Charlotte's husband, Buzz Dudt, told the story of how he used to ride around on the Dudt Bakery truck, with his father in the 1930s, delivering to various places in Mt. Lebanon and Dormont. Always seeing Edward out there working in the garden or yard, Buzz asked his dad why somebody didn't help that poor old man. His dad replied, "That old man isn't poor! That's Mr. Abbott -- he owns half of Mt. Lebanon."

Gertrude Meyers Arnold recalled the day she took her "intended" to meet her grandfather. Edward asked when they were marrying, and when she said, "August", he said, "Why do you want to marry then? That is the full of the moon. It will never last." And it didn't!!

Edward's rocker
Edward's rocker

Harold remembers:


Edward and Elizabeth had 11 children (10 lived to adulthood):

  1. Christian (Christ) pronounced like "wrist." (1881-1949)
  2. Katherine (1883-1955)
  3. Albert (1884-1971)
  4. Edward (1886-1933)
  5. August (1888-1888)
  6. Rosana (Rose) (1888-1973)
  7. Howard (1890-1970)
  8. Magdelena (Lena) (1893-1981)
  9. Emma (1895-1975)
  10. Clarence (1897-1955)
  11. Clara (1900-1983)

This biography incorporates the memories of Edward and Elizabeth's daughter, Rose Abbott LaValle Donley; and their grandchildren, Harold Donley, Charlotte Abbott Dudt, and Gertrude Meyers Arnold.

More information is available about the children of Edward and Elizabeth Jacob Abbott.

See all photographs of Edward and photographs of Elizabeth from the Photo Archive.