Abney Family (South Carolina and Texas)

During the American Revolution, at Hays’ Station in Laurens County, South Carolina, Samuel Abney was killed and his farm burned by Tory renegades. His pregnant wife, Martha, who had 4 children under 10, survived him. She never remarried, and in her thirty years of widowhood, raised her five children with the help of friends and family. (Brewer) Her youngest, Zachariah Abney (1782-1838), married Tabitha Townsend (1789-1868) in 1809, and had nine children who survived childhood. Their youngest child, Zachariah Taylor Abney (1829-1862), married Susan Elizabeth McClure (1830-1864), and between 1850 and 1855, the family moved to east Texas and established a large plantation just south of Waskom, between Marshall, Texas and Shreveport, Louisiana. They had three children: Cary McClure Abney, Olin M. Abney (15 Dec. 1852-30 May 1923), and John Gilliam Davenport Abney. Cary and John attended the University of Virginia.

Cary McClure Abney Sr. (13 Dec. 1850-24 May 1923) attended U.Va. in sessions 45-46 (1868-1870). He was born in Newberry County, South Carolina. Evidence in Texas vital records indicates Cary M. Abney married twice. His first wife was Minnie Taylor (1857-1876), whom he married on 30 Jan. 1872. His second wife was Anna Josephine Jones (1857-1921); they married on 28 Feb. 1878. The children of this second marriage were: Bessie Abney (d. young), Zachariah Abney (1881-1917), Cary McClure Abney Jr. (1883-1969), and Genevieve Abney (1888-1957). Cary McClure Abney Sr. was a merchant and planter; Barringer reports Abney’s home was in Elysian Fields, Texas. He is buried in Algoma Cemetery, Marshall, Harrison County, Texas.

John Gilliam Davenport Abney (20 Feb. 1855-18 May 1896) attended U.Va. in sessions 47-48 (1870-1872). In 1873, he graduated from the Virginia Military Institute in Rockbridge County, Virginia. He married Brunetta Wilkinson Thompson (1860-1905). They had three children: John Dixon (1886-1960), Frances Elizabeth (d. young), and Brunetta Wilkinson “Nettie” Abney (1892-1980). At the time of his death at age 41, John G. D. Abney was living in Hillsboro, Texas and had been a county judge in Hill County for several years. He was originally buried in the Abney-Rudd Cemetery but his remains were later moved to the Colonial Gardens Cemetery.

[Note: The Texas Death records give Cary M. Abney Sr.’s death date as 24 May 1923. Thanks to Abney H. Brewer for information on the John G. D. Abney family.–JLC]


  • Abney graves, Algoma Cemetery, Harrison County, Texas, and Graniteville Cemetery, Graniteville, Aiken County, South Carolina. Findagrave.com.
  • Ancestry.com. 1850-1930 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc.
  • Barringer, Paul B., University of Virginia, its history, influence, equipment and characteristics. New York, 1904, v.2.
  • Brewer, Abney Hintgen. The legacy of Samuel Abney, revolutionary patriot. 2008, p. 16-21.
  • Brown, John K., Jr. “Brown, Burt, Abney, Watts, and related families.” [online database] http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~opus/p4538.htm
  • [Obituary, John G. D. Abney]. Dallas Morning News, 21 May 1896.
  • “Texas, Deaths, 1890-1976,” index and images, FamilySearch https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/J6MY-77H : accessed 20 Dec 2012), Cary Mcclure Abney, 24 May 1923; citing reference cn 15679, State Registrar Office, Austin, Texas.
  • “Texas, Deaths (New Index, New Images), 1890-1976,” index and images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/K34S-13C : accessed 20 Dec 2012), Anna Josephine Abney, 1921; citing State Registrar Office, Austin, Texas.
  • Texas, Marriages, 1837-1973,” index, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/FXQ2-Y4N : accessed 20 Dec 2012), Cary M. Abney and Minnie Taylor, 30 Jan 1872.
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8 Responses to Abney Family (South Carolina and Texas)

  1. Abney H Brewer says:

    John Gillam Davenport Abney’s oldest child was John D. Abney (born 12 November 1886). Judge Abney was said to have “had the reputation of being a most learned man and the youngest judge whoever sat on the bench in Texas.” (Elizabeth Schumpert Cassity in a 1925 letter.)
    I thought that Zacharah Abney’s middle son Olin Light Abney (1852 – 1923) also attended UVA. Olin continued his education in medicine in Poughkeepsie, NY and graduated from University of Louisville, Medical Department in 1881. (Dorothy L. Maczali, Who Was Dr. O. L. Abney? 2006, p. 58)

    • Thank you for this useful information. Oddly, Olin L. Abney was not in the Catalogue’s list of students. It could be that he attended U.Va. after 1874, but that seems unlikely considering his birth date. I’ll continue to review the records for more information.

  2. Robert H. Abney says:

    Jean, Two more members of the Virginia Abney family were Doctors, Dr. Abraham Abney (1702-1787) & his son Dr. Nathaniel Abney (1729-1783). They too may have attended the Univ. of Virginia. They were already doctors by the time they arrived in South Carolina, c. 1770.

    • Did you mean “c. 1870” rather than “c. 1770”? The University of Virginia didn’t open until 1825. There were, however, other medical schools in the colonies in the 18th century where they could have studied. One is the Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia. I think it is now the Medical Dept. of the University of Pennsylvania. I don’t know if Harvard had a medical school that early. Medical education in the 18th and early 19th centuries is a very interesting topic. I know the length of medical training was only 6 months in some schools (rather than our 6-8 years!), and the schools that tried to require students to attend longer to get their degrees (a whole year!) had some trouble getting students. I believe this problem encouraged standardization of medical training as time went on.

  3. Hi — Thanks for your information. However, neither of these men could have attended U.Va. because it didn’t start until 1825.

    The Medical School at the College of Pennsylvania opened in 1765. Harvard University began in 1636; the Harvard Medical School didn’t open until 1783. I checked the student lists of both Harvard and the College of Pennsylvania, and the Abneys are not on those lists.

    Medical training in America was more apprenticeship than classroom training until the second half of the eighteenth century. Those who could afford it went to Europe for medical training, which was just moving from the apprenticeship model to the classroom model. I’d suggest getting a copy of “Health and Wellness in Colonial America” by Rebecca J. Tannenbaum for more information on the history of American medical training.

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