Part of the American History & Genealogy Project

Abigail (Powers) Fillmore 1798 ~ 1853


Abigail Powers Fillmore

Mrs. Abigail Fillmore, wife of President Fillmore, was the daughter of Reverend Lemuel Powers, a Baptist clergyman of note. She was born in Stillwater, Saratoga County, New York, March 1798. Dr. Powers was a descendant of Henry Leland, of Sherburne, England. Mrs. Fillmore's father died while she was in her infancy and she was left to the care of her sainted mother, whose small income led her to seek a home in Cayuga County, and become a teacher, so that she might be able to have her daughter Abigail educated. In her personality Miss Powers commanded the greatest admiration and her exceeding kindness of heart won for her the affection of all who knew her. She was distinguished not only on account of her great beauty, but because of her keen intelligence. She became a teacher, continuing her occupation after her mother's second marriage.

She and Mr. Fillmore met in her little home village, he a clothier's apprentice, she a teacher in the village school, and they became engaged. Mr. Fillmore did not long continue in the profession chosen for him by his father, but as soon as possible began the study of law, in which he was most successful.

 Circumstances compelled him to move to Erie County, and the young people waited three years before their incomes permitted of their marriage, which event was consummated in February, 1826. They established their home in a small house built by Mr. Fillmore's own hands, and here they both worked very hard for the fulfillment of their ambitions. Mr. Fillmore was elected a member of the state legislature in two years after their marriage. At every rung of the ladder which he climbed, Mrs. Fillmore, with her intellectual strength, ceaseless industry and devotion to her husband's interests, contributed materially to his success. In 1830, the Fillmores removed to Buffalo, where they continued their united efforts and aspirations. Every year added to the name and fame of Millard Fillmore.

Upon his election to the Presidency and their removal to the White House, they found it absolutely devoid of books and other evidences of culture. It was Mr. Fillmore's first duty to secure an appropriation from Congress for a library, and to Mrs. Fillmore belongs the credit of selecting the first library in the White House.

Mrs. Fillmore had suffered the loss of a sister just before their removal to the executive mansion and consequently left many of the duties devolving upon its mistress to her only daughter. Although eminently fitted to preside over any social function with unusual grace and dignity, Mrs. Fillmore preferred a retired life and the devotion of her time to the welfare of her family. She was very proud of her husband's success and has left behind her a remarkable example of motherly and wifely tenderness. She died at Willard's Hotel, Washington, D. C, March 13, 1853.

Women of America

Source: The Part Taken by Women in American History, By Mrs. John A. Logan, Published by The Perry-Nalle Publishing Company, Wilmington, Delaware, 1912.


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