Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Abigail Fillmore & her namesake DAR chapter

NSDAR marker, Forest Lawn Cemetery, 2014
    Abigail Powers was born in Stillwater (Saratoga) NY on 17 March 1798, daughter of Rev. Lemuel Powers and Abigail Newland.  She was educated at New Hope Academy in New Hope (Cayuga) NY and subsequently taught there.  She met Millard Fillmore when he became one of her students in 1819, and the two married in Moravia (Cayuga) on 5 February 1826.
    The couple moved first to Buffalo (Erie) New York, and then to East Aurora, a community southeast of Buffalo, where Millard practiced law and Abigail continued to teach, the first First Lady to hold a job after marriage.  Their house, built by Millard in 1826,  is still standing, although not in its original location.  It is now the Millard Fillmore Museum.
    The Fillmores moved to Buffalo in 1830 and Millard rose to political prominence.  In 1848 he was elected Vice-President to serve with President Zachary Taylor and the family moved to Washington, D.C.  After Taylor’s death on 9 July 1850. Fillmore was sworn in as President and the family moved into the White House.  Abigail established the first library in the presidential mansion.
    The Fillmores had two children, Millard Powers  (born in East Aurora in 1828) and Mary Abigail (born in Buffalo in 1832).  Millard, a lawyer, was a lifelong bachelor.  Mary Abigail, who often served as her father’s hostess while he was president, died from cholera at 22 years of age without having married.
    Abigail, never in good health, died from pneumonia shortly after her husband left the presidency in 1853.  She was buried in the large Fillmore plot in Buffalo’s Forest Lawn Cemetery.
    After Abigail’s death, her widower returned to Buffalo to practice law.  He married, as his second wife, Caroline (Carmichael) McIntosh, a widow, and the couple lived in a mansion on Niagara Square in the center of Buffalo.  Among his many accomplishments, Millard founded the University of Buffalo, the Buffalo & Erie County Historical Society (now the Buffalo History Museum), and the Buffalo Club.
    Abigail Fillmore Chapter, National Society Daughters of the American Revolution, was established  in Buffalo in 1925.  The chapter’s gavel was fashioned from a newel post from the Fillmore mansion that was salvaged when the dwelling was razed.
Fillmore plot, Forest Lawn Cemetery, 2014
One of the first projects of the chapter was the erection of a memorial monument to Abigail Fiillmore in the Fillmores' cemetery plot.  Later the chapter donated a large flag pole on the site, which is high on a hill.  The chapter also donated a collection of antique toys to the Millard Fillmore Museum in memory of Abigail Fillmore.
      Every year representatives of Abigail Fillmore Chapter hold a brief memorial service at the Fillmore plot and place a wreath at Abigail’s commemorative marker.   

Photos by Buffalogen