Saturday, March 19, 2011

Notable Women Ancestors: Abigail Lawrence Dole

I choose to believe that all of my ancestors were "notable," especially the unsung women. The lives they lived and the changes they experienced are intriguing in a historical perspective.

Abigail Lawrence began her life in colonial north-central Massachusetts, born 26 July 1745 in Groton, MA. She was the eighth of eleven children of Jonathan Lawrence and Tripheuny Powers. The Lawrence family multiplied in the region and she was likely surrounded with extended family as a child. A significant event that has been found in historic records tells us that her oldest brother was in the militia and was captured by Indians in 1748 and taken to Canada for several months. Although only three, the worry of her elders must have had an impact in her life.

Abigail lost her mother when she was only seven. She had older brothers and sisters to guide her and after two years her father remarried. When she was 16 she married Parker Dole, who had also been born and raised in the area. Although he was five years older than she, he had sisters of her age. Could that be how they got acquainted? The couple had four sons in the next ten years: Isaac, Parker, Josiah and Moses. A four year gap may indicate the loss of a baby, but none is found in the records. Their livestock was listed in the Littleton tax valuation of 1771: 2 oxen, 2 cattle, 3 goats and sheep, 1 swine.

Their first daughter Abigail "Nabby" was born in October of 1773 in Ashby, which was about the time the family moved west to Shelburne, on the Deerfield River. Their son Enoch was born in 1776 and died the next year in an epidemic that took many young children in town. We know of at least one other family, the Job Colman family, who came from Ashby and settled nearby. They also lost a son, Benjamin, in August of 1777. Their son Samuel was to become Nabby's husband. Abigail named her next son Enoch as well, born in 1779, and the Colmans had another Benjamin. Enoch was followed by Triphenia, Lydia, Lucy and Levi; in all eleven children over a 30 year period. The circle of life continued, with the older sons beginning their families at the same time that her child-bearing years ended. Most continued to live nearby.

Abigail's husband Parker held several offices in the town of Shelburne including Surveyor of Highways, School Committee, and Constable. He wrote a will in 1813 shortly before he died at 73. All of their children were still living, and only Lucy and Levi were unmarried. Abigail was given 1/3 of the estate during her lifetime. Levi married three times, and we can assume they lived together at the family home. Lucy married in 1826. A structure that was reportedly their home at the end of Barnard Road only recently was razed. It had been empty for years.

When Abigail died January 12, 1829 the newspaper reported that it was accidental. She was 83 years old. Her obituary states, "In her last illness, which continued five months and was particularly distressing, she was sustained by the consolations of gospel hope; a numerous posterity survive her, consisting of 10 children, 58 grandchildren and 50 great-grandchildren."


  1. Sara,
    I am descended from Richard Dole/Enoch Dole/Parker Dole (1740-1813)/Enoch Dole (1779-1835)/George Carpenter Dole/ and I grew up in Shelburne, Massachusetts. I am trying to learn more about Enoch Dole (1707-?) who married Rachel Jewett. I am finding lots of contradictory information about his life span (lots of websites perpetuate his wedding date of November 1729 as he date of death, but that simply doesn't work for all of us descended from his son Parker who was born in 1740. What have you been able to find?
    Lynn Dole

  2. Hi, Lynn. I haven't been able to find Enoch's death date. They were having children up to 1753. I have seen their son, Enoch's, gravestone in Littleton. I had someone tell me they thought he died in Shelburne, but I'm guessing that was Parker's baby, Enoch. It is still a mystery to me. I had a conversation with Mary Dole years ago when I started my research. She took me to the old homestead down by the river. I was glad to see it, but wish I had photographed the house, which is gone now. My info on the Doles going backward comes from an article in the NEHGS proceedings that I found in a published volume. I'd be happy to share with you. I'm over here in Erving.

  3. Sara, we are cousins! Distant cousins, of course, but cousins all the same. I am descended from Job and Elizabeth's daughter, Elizabeth who married David Beadle. She and David can be found in the 1800 census living in Otsego County, New York where her brother Samuel and his wife Nabby are living as well. David died at the age of 34 in 1802 and I have not been able to find the family until David's son David (my ancestor) is married to Mary Millard in Farmington, Ontario, New York in 1827. From what I've found, I think Samuel and Elizabeth must have been very close. I would love to compare notes with you.