Abigail Butler Coffin is my third female ancestor who migrated with her husband and children from Nantucket to Cincinnati in the early 1800s. She came with four or five young children (the birth date of one son isn’t well recorded). Her oldest child and son was born in 1802 and the family likely migrated in 1811. I say likely because there is little solid evidence and no family story passed down about their migration or their early life. I have discovered that there is at least one letter held in the Nantucket Historical Association’s research library (referenced in Sea Letters by Renny Stackpole) that mentions the migration of Cyrus Coffin and family as well as others. At the time the young Coffin family reached Cincinnati it was a very young town in a very young state.
Abigail was born 30 April 1783 on Nantucket, to Rev. Zebulon Butler and Anna Starbuck Butler. It was at the end of the American Revolution and Nantucket had been severely economically stressed by the War so life was difficult for many on Nantucket. Abigail was not yet 4 years old when her mother died. Her father remarried, to Elizabeth Woodbury, 2 years later but he only lived about 6 months after that marriage. It has been said that he suffered a long sickness before his death but I have not found any more details. Elizabeth Woodbury was likely a relative of Anna Starbuck, perhaps her aunt (her mother’s sister). The records I have seen are not clear.
So, Abigail, the youngest of the three children of Zebulon and Anna Butler, was left with a step-mother. Elizabeth must have provided the majority of her care from the age of 6, 7 when her father died. Her sister Nancy was 14 when their father died and so she and Abigail would have been left with Elizabeth. Abigail’s brother John was lost at sea the year after their father died. There is no record that Elizabeth remarried after Zebulon Butler’s death, and she died in 1822.
The Rev. Zebulon Butler family was most probably not part of the Religious Society of Friends (or Quakers) in Nantucket. Zebulon was called Reverend although I have not seen a particular church affiliation mentioned, and the Society of Friends would not have designated him as a reverend. Abigail did not seem to have been raised in the Society of Friends.
In March 1802 she married Cyrus Coffin, son of Isaiah and Sarah Folger Coffin. Their marriage does not seem to have been recorded in any of the local church records that are cited in the Vital Records of Nantucket Massachusetts to the Year 1850, Volume III, Marriages (A-G). Since it is known that Cyrus’s parents were Friends, it is possible that he was disowned or censured by the Society for marrying outside the discipline. Certainly Cyrus and Abigail were not members after they migrated to Cincinnati, and did not raise their children as Quakers, although Cyrus’s mother Sarah continued to be a member in Cincinnati.
The image at the top of this post shows Abigail seated next to Cyrus, with their son Zebulon standing behind them. It is not dated but must have been done between about 1845 and the second half of 1850, certainly no later than 1858. Abigail died in 1858 at age 75 and doesn’t appear to be quite that old here. She was buried in the Spring Grove Cemetery in Cincinnati in the family plot.