The Family of Rosa Anna Abbott and John Joseph LaValle
Oil Painting of Abbott Farm, Mount Lebanon, PA 1875
The Abbott Family Farm, Scott Township, PA, 1875. Oil on Wood – 17" x 25.5". Austin C. Wooster, PA, 1837 – 1916. Donley Collection, PA.

The Abbott Family Farm, painted by Austin Wooster in 1875

The land | The residents | The painter

History of the Farm in Scott Township (now Mt. Lebanon)

Since about 8000 B.C., the Abbott farm was used by Archaic and Woodland Indians as a seasonal camp. See Prehistory of the Abbott Farm for more details.

In 1852, before his marriage to Magdalena Schmeltz , Christian Abbott bought this 22 acres and 9 perches of land in Scott Township from Reverend Clokey. This was a part of the land from the tract previously owned by the MacFarlanes and the Boggs'. The MacFarlanes bought the land from the William Penn family. According to The Way We Were: A community history of Mt. Lebanon, PA, published by Mt. Lebanon Magazine, 2000, the price was 25 cents per acre. More details are available about this land's transaction history and a Scott Township history.

The log house, behind the large tree in the center of the painting, is where many of the children of Christian and Magdalena were born. A new house was built on the farm in 1868, and later the log house was torn down.

The dirt road in the foreground of the painting, in front of the tree line, is now McFarland Road, Mt. Lebanon, Pennsylvania. The winding dirt lane on the other side of the tree line, which curves up to the farmhouse, is now part of Beverly Road. The spring, covered by the springhouse, in front of the large tree in the center of the painting, is now under the basement of the Embassy Apartments on Beverly Road. The Abbott cows grazed on the pastureland where the Lincoln School now stands. The artist exercised artistic license in this painting. The distance between the intersection of McFarland and Beverly Road to where the farm house stood is greater than in the painting.

According to the 1876 map of the area, and the deed description, it is very likely that the George Kennedy farmhouse is the building to the upper left of the large center tree. The distance could have been altered for artistic effect. The strawberry field is to the right of the house and you can see the Abbott women picking strawberries. Notice the two figures walking down the lane. On close inspection you can see a man in the barnyard.

Christian successfully worked this land with the help of his wife, Magdalena, and their four sons and six daughters. In 1896 he transferred the title to his son, Edward. Edward and his wife, Elizabeth Jacob, farmed the land with the help of their five sons and five daughters. They had many picnics on the lawn with large groups of family and neighbors. Produce was taken on Saturday mornings to be sold at the farmer's market on the Monongahela Wharf.

None of Edward's sons were interested in farming, so in 1926 he sold the land to Howard W. Salkeld, who developed it as the "Colonial Heights Subdivision," off Beverly Road. Edward gave each of his children a lot on which they built their home, and remained there until their deaths. Three were on Ralston Place, across from Lincoln School, and one stood where the Lincoln School parking lot is now. The farmhouse continued to be occupied by the youngest son, Clarence and his wife, Ruth Geyser until it was torn down in about 1966. It stood at 235 Arden Road, taking up 3 lots. Edward and Elizabeth kept three lots on Beverly Road where they built a house for themselves.

A 1927 map of Mt. Lebanon shows Akron Avenue (off Ralston Place) with the name "Abbott Street", however, it was changed to Akron Avenue when Edward Abbott had a disagreement with the borough commissioners.

Photographs of the farm painting appeared in the following publications:

Section divider

Residents of the Abbott Farm

Christian and Magdalena Schmeltz Abbott

The house in this painting was built by Christian Abbott and his wife Magdalena Schmeltz Abbott in 1868 in Scott Township, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania. Christian came to America with his parents, Augustus and Rosa Ott Abicht (Americanized to "Abbott"). The family came from Saxe Coburg, Kreis of Saxony, Kingdom of Prussia, Germany, in 1835. Augustus and Rosa traveled with their children, Frederick, Charles, Christian (9 years old at the time), and possibly two daughters, Wilhelmina and Mary. Four more children were born to August and Rosa in America.

Christian's son, Edward, passed down the story, in an interview with the Pittsburgh Press in 1937, that the ocean voyage was 6 weeks long and the family traveled from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh in a wagon and on foot. This was the only way of travel at that time. Their route would have taken them on dirt roads over the Allegheny Mountains as they traveled across the state of Pennsylvania, where they settled in Lower St. Clair Township, Allegheny County, near Pittsburgh.

Christian Abbott was born in 1825 in Saxony, Prussia, and married Magdalena Schmeltz about 1851 in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania. Magdalena was born in 1831 in Elbersdorf, Hesse Cassel, Germany. Shortly after their marriage Christian and Magdalena bought this land from Reverend Clokey. It was previously owned by Samuel Boggs (1848); Thomas (1845), Andrew (1843), and John McFarland (1842); David and Samuel Boggs (1842).

They operated this prosperous farm in the painting from 1852 until 1896 when they turned it over to their son, Edward. In 1895, Christian and Magdalena moved to Carnegie to live out their lives. Christian served on the school board and as tax collector. Magdalena died within the year, and Christian died the following year, in 1897.

Christian and Magdalena Abbott had 11 children: Caroline Abbott Schmeltz, August married Helena Stauffer, Amelia Abbott Wise, Edward married Elizabeth Jacob, Katherine Abbott Goeddel, Charles Abbott died before he was 10 years old; Elizabeth Abbott Kuhlman, Anna Abbott Doerr, Albert lived to age 11, Rosa remained at home and cared for her parents in their old age; William married Clara.

Family of Edward and Elizabeth Jacob Abbott

Edward Adolph, son of Christian and Magdalena Schmeltz Abbott, was born in 1856 in Scott Township. His wife, Elizabeth Jacob, daughter of John George and Katherina Heim Jacob, was born in 1857 in Robinson Township.

Edward and "Liz" were married in 1881 in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania. They must have lived in the farmhouse with Edward's parents even before they bought the farm from Christian in 1896, because all of Edward and Elizabeth's children were born there. They maintained the prosperity of the farm, selling their produce locally and taking a wagonload each Saturday to Pittsburgh to sell on the Monongahela Wharf (see wagon photo). It took over two hours to make the trip. Their daughter, Rose, said that on Saturday mornings the wagon was loaded with fruit and vegetables and taken to market on the Monongahela Wharf in Pittsburgh. They would get up at 2 a.m. and leave home at 4 a.m. to arrive at the market at 6 a.m. It was a long trip up over Mt. Washington with a horse and wagon.

In 1926 Edward sold off the farm to a developer. Each member of the family picked a lot on which to build their home. Edward and Elizabeth kept 3 lots on Beverly Road and built a home for their retirement.

Their youngest son, Clarence, and his wife, Ruth Geyser lived in the farm house and raised their family there. In 1968 the house and land was sold to a builder who divided it into three lots.

Edward and Elizabeth had 11 children: Christian George married Florence Colvin; Katherine Clara married William Meyer and later, John Elliston; Albert William married Fannie Forse; Edward Adolph, Jr. married Anna McKown; August died young; Rosa Anna married John LaValle and later, Thomas Donley; Howard Harry married Anna Schick and later, Ella Boggs; Magdelena (Lena) married Ralph Jeffries; Emma married John Dillner; Clarence Frederick married Ruth Geyser; and Clara Louise married Fred Millard.

Section divider

Brief Biography of Austin C. Wooster

Section divider