Abigail Shaffer Woolsey (1785/6 - 1848)

6373. Abigail1 SHAFFER was born 13Sep 1785/1786 in Maryland. Abigail died 3Sep 1848 in Wyoming, and was buried in Wyoming.

Abigail Woolsey was the mother of three of John D. Lee's wives. She was married first to Joseph Woolsey when living in Pulaski County, Kentucky in the early 1800's. Following the birth of their first child, Thomas, in 1805 they had other children including Aggatha Ann, Rachel and Emoline. The eldest of these three, Aggatha Ann, married John D. Lee in 1833. Five years later the couple joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Eventually most of the Woolsey family became members and moved to Nauvoo, Illinois. Joseph, the father, however, never joined the Church and died some time before the move to the city. Abigail and those of her children who were still living at home, found a place to live near John and Aggatha Ann whose residence was located at the corner of Warsaw and Kimball Streets in Nauvoo.

Shortly after the introduction of plural marriage in the Church, Lee took his first additional wife on February 5, 1845. He was sealed to others shortly thereafter so that by the end of the year, there were ten wives in his family, one of whom was the widow, Abigail Woolsey, his fifth wife. John married her about the time it became apparent that the Saints must abandon the city. The marriage could have come about at the suggestion of his wife, Aggatha Ann. The basis for such a marriage to an older woman (Abigail was by then sixty years old) would have been, as John later described, that he married "...old Mrs. Woolsey...for her soul's sake, for salvation in the eternal world." Perhaps the daughter foresaw the need for economic assistance as well as the practicality of a place for her mother in the wagon and around the campfire when the families left Nauvoo. The official ceremony solemnizing the marriage took place on May 3, 1845. On the same day, he married another daughter, Rachel Andora Woolsey. Abigail was considered wife number five and Rachel, number six. Four more would be added to the family before the end of the year.

Bound for the Salt Lake Valley, the Lee family departed Winter Quarters in Nebraska, on May 26, 1848. It was a difficult journey for the older woman Abigail, so difficult that she died en route. She was by then sixty-two years old, one of many in the company who became ill from time to time during the journey.

Some three months after leaving Winter Quarters John wrote in his journal that Abigail was "...attacked of a fever." Other members of the family, including himself, were also ill. They all eventually seem to have recovered. Then, during a wet rainy day on September first, when about three quarters of the way through the journey, Abigail was again stricken:

"...About 10, Abigal Lee was violently attacked with the Mountain Fever."

By this time, the company had left the Platte River Trail behind and were traveling along the Sweetwater River, in a southwesterly direction, approaching the broad, gently rising expanse of the Great Divide. The next day Abigail continued ill and slipped into a coma from which she did not recover. She passed away on Sunday, September 3, 1848. Lee described the area in which she was buried, being in the vicinity of the last crossing of the Sweetwater River. She was placed in a coffin which Lee made from a wagon box and was buried. Her name and date of death were incised on a large flat stone and placed upright over the grave. The exact burial site has since been located.

Monday morning a last farewell was said at the graveside, and at about ten o'clock, the members of the pioneer company turned to the southwest, continuing toward their next anticipated camping stop, Pacific Springs. They traveled on the same course for more than two weeks before reaching the Salt Lake Valley. The journey for Abigail, however, was over, ending in that barren high plains wilderness country, some seven thousand feet above sea level in what is now the state of Wyoming.

She married (1) Joseph WOOLSEY. He was born about 1775 in Danville, Boyle, Kentucky. He was the son of Richard WOOLSEY and Nancy PLUMSTED.

They had 3 children:

Fi.Aggatha Ann WOOLSEY, born 18Jan 1814, died 4Jun 1866.

Fii.Rachel Andora WOOLSEY, born 5Aug 1825, died 7Jul 1912.

Fiii.Emoline Vaughn WOOLSEY, born 4Jan 1830.

Abigail married (2) John Doyle LEE 19Apr 1844 in Nauvoo, Hancock, Illinois.

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