Biography and History

Charles Conrad Abbott (1843-1919), American naturalist and author, was the first archaeologist to dig a historic site in New Jersey. Abbott, the son of Timothy and Susan Conrad Abbott, was born on June 4, 1843, in Trenton, New Jersey, and spent the majority of his life in that area. He was educated at the Trenton Academy, from 1852 to 1858, and at the University of Pennsylvania, earning his B.A. in 1861 and his M.D. in 1865. During the Civil War, Abbott served as a member of the New Jersey National Guard. In 1867, Abbott married Julia Boggs Olden (1846-1921) and they lived in the Abbott family home, "Three Beeches," along with their five children, three of whom lived to adulthood. It was on the family property, just south of Trenton, that Abbott believed that he found proof of the existence of Paleolithic man, however, over the years, his theories were disproved. After "Three Beeches" was destroyed by fire in 1914, the Abbotts moved to Bristol, Pennsylvania, where Charles C. Abbott died in 1919.

An active naturalist, archaeologist, and author, Abbott was heavily involved in local archaeology and Native American history in the Delaware Valley. In 1875 he was appointed field assistant to the Peabody Museum in Cambridge, Massachusetts, presenting them with his extensive collection of early Indian material. Later in life from 1889 to 1892, Abbott was associated with the Museum of Science and Art of the University of Pennsylvania. Abbott's most important written contribution to science was Primitive Industry or Illustrations of Handiwork in Stone, Bone, and Clay of the Native Races of the North Atlantic Seaboard (1881), although he published over a hundred short papers in publications such as American Naturalist, Popular Science Monthly, and Science Gossip. He is most widely known for his works pertaining to a nature study near his home in Trenton entitled A Naturalist's Rambles about Home (1884), as well as Days Out of Doors (1889), Recent Rambles (1892), Upland and Meadow (1886), and Travels in a Tree-top (1894).

Charles Abbott's son, Richard M. Abbott, was born in 1871. He married Margaret Appleton and was the father of Charles Conrad Abbott II. Until at least 1907, Richard Mauleverer Abbott was working as a farmer on "Three Beeches," but he eventually moved to Maryland.

Source: From the finding aid for C0290

  • Charles Conrad Abbott Papers. 1874-1916 (bulk), 1770-1944 (inclusive).

    Call Number: C0290

    Charles Conrad Abbott (1843-1919), American naturalist and author, was the first archaeologist to dig a historic site in New Jersey. This collection consists of diaries, correspondence, newspaper articles, essays, photographs, and other material, relating to his work and his family.