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Elizabeth (Willis) Abney (abt. 1791 - aft. 1850)

Elizabeth Abney formerly Willis
Born about in Virginiamap [uncertain]
Daughter of [father unknown] and [mother unknown]
[sibling(s) unknown]
Wife of — married 2 Sep 1815 in Adair County, Kentuckymap
Descendants descendants
Died after in Adams County, Illinoismap [uncertain]
Profile last modified | Created 13 Jan 2016
This page has been accessed 93 times.


On March 11, 1837, Charles and Elizabeth Abney sold all of their land in Greene County. [1] This was the last known record for Charles Abney. (Other records may be located with further research. A search of probate, deeds and court minutes for all the Illinois and Missouri counties adjoining Adams and Greene are a suggestion.)

His wife, presumably a widow, was head of a household in Quincy, Illinois, when the 1840 Census was taken. According to the obituary of their oldest daughter Martha, who lived in Quincy most of her life, she was fourteen years old when her family moved to Quincy. Born in 1823, she would have been fourteen years old in 1837, the same year that her parents sold their land in Greene County.

No record of Charles' death has been located. Did he die in Greene County before the family moved? Did he die in Quincy? Did he die in another place? Was he alive in 1840 but living apart from his family?

Did Charles plan to relocate with the hope of better opportunities in the bustling river town on the Mississippi? Or did the widowed Elizabeth move to Quincy because she and her sons could find work there?

Depending upon the circumstances, Elizabeth may have had money from the sale of the land in Greene County but after her husband was gone, the money probably was needed for the support of the family. The Adams County Recorder has no record of land purchase by either Charles or Elizabeth Abney. (Someone may want to recheck these records.)

When the 1840 Census was taken, Elizabeth Abney was head of a household in the third ward of Quincy, Adams County, Illinois.[2] Her household consisted of a female the correct age to be Elizabeth, two young men in their twenties, three teen-aged boys, two younger boys and three girls in the age groups consistent with the ages of her daughters, Martha, Mary and Sarah. An unidentified girl between the age of five and ten also lived in the household. The numbers, genders and age groups fit quite well with the composition of Charles Abney's household in 1830.

In 1850, Elizabeth Abeny [sic], 59, was head of household in the North Ward of Quincy. Other household members were Charles Abeny, 17, laborer; Sarah A. Abeny, 15; John Kirk, 8; David Abeny, 21, steam boat engineer. James Abeny, 24, also a steam boat engineer, lived next door with his family. Doc Abney (or Abner), a steam boat engineer, was listed a few names before. Due to the faded ink on this census page, the microfilm was nearly illegible.[3]

The Find A Grave memorial 170406166 for Elizabeth Willis Abney does not have an accurate date for her death. In reality, Elizabeth's date of death can only be roughly estimated. Adams County did not keep death records until 1878. No grave marker and no record of her burial in Woodland Cemetery, Quincy, Illinois, exists. She did not leave a will and did not leave an estate that required probate. A deed could have given a clue but no record indicates that she owned real estate.

She may have been alive in 1855 if she was the same Elizabeth Willis who was called as a witness in a divorce case. Unfortunately. if she was called to testify, her testimony was not recorded.[4]

She was not listed on the 1860 census of Quincy but she may have been missed by the census taker. Two of her presumed sons who appear in Quincy city directories for 1859 and 1861 probably were in Quincy in 1860, but their names do not appear on the census. If Elizabeth was alive at the time, she may have lived with a son and, as an adult male, he would be considered head of the household. Female usually were not named in the early city directories.


  1. Greene County, Illinois, Deed Book H, pp. 107-108.
  2. 1840 U. S. Census, Adams County, Illinois, p. 15, Quincy, Elizabeth Abney household.
  3. 1850 U.S. census, population schedule, Adams County, Illinois, Quincy, North Ward, p. 207 B, dwelling 140, family 141, National Archives micropublication M432, roll 97.
  4. Adams Co., IL, Divorce Case Files, Box C-26, case 649, FHL microfilm 1845492.
  • According to Martha Abney Wood's death certificate, she was the daughter of Charles Abney and Elizabeth (Willis) Abney.

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It may be possible to confirm family relationships with Elizabeth by comparing test results with other carriers of her mitochondrial DNA. However, there are no known mtDNA test-takers in her direct maternal line. It is likely that these autosomal DNA test-takers will share some percentage of DNA with Elizabeth:

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