COLONEL PETER T ABELL
As the founder of the city of Atchison, and the most faithful promoter of her interests, Colonel Abell will always be a conspicuous figure in the history of Kansas. He was born in Bardstown, Kentucky, July 29, 1813. His father died when he was an infant, leaving him to the care of his mother, who was a woman of fine character and vigorous intellect. He was early placed under the tutelage of Rev. Father Robert Abell, long and favorably known as a pioneer of the Catholic faith in Kentucky, and who at a ripe old age survives his former pupil.
When only twenty years old young Abell went to Missouri and engaged in merchandizing in the old town of Keytesville, Chariton county. His capital was limited, but he was industrious and full of energy and soon built up a good trade, which afforded him a comfortable income. In 1835 he was married to Miss E. M. Cabell, who, with six children, is still living and makes her home in Atchison.
In 1836 Colonel Abell united with the Methodist church South, and during the remainder of his life was a consistent and active member of that organization. About that time he began the study of law, and after a careful course of reading was admitted to the bar. He soon won distinction in the profession, and for many years ranked among the leading attorneys of Missouri, being employed on some of the most important cases ever tried in the courts of that state.
Colonel Abell was one of the party that selected the site of Atchison, in 1854, and shortly afterward removed to the little village, which has since grown into a beautiful and prosperous city. From the first he was at the head of all efforts for the promotion of the interests of the town, and his steadfast devotion to those movements was recognized by its inhabitants. He was a man of strong convictions, and his judgment was remarkably correct. His resources in the prosecution of any object he had in view were as fruitful as his energy was intense, and his efforts therefore were rarely unsuccessful. He won the hearty respect of all classes of the people, because they knew that his devotion to the city and his intelligent comprehension of the best means of promoting its development were alike to be depended on under all circumstances. His sincerity and honesty were never doubted, and the people trusted him as they did few other men, for their confidence was never abused. At home or abroad he was always at work for Atchison, and the services that he rendered were as valuable as they were constant. His fidelity to the town was something that neither position, money, nor anything else could affect. He would not even accept a lucrative position in the employment of Mr. Joy without stipulating that if ever the interest of that gentleman and Atchison conflicted he was to he counted for Atchison.
Colonel Abell was a strong and convincing speaker and a very pleasant converser. His fund of information was large and varied, and while his education was far from being a thorough one, his studious habits, close observation and clear, comprehensive mind made up for all deficiencies in his early instruction. He was a thoroughly western man in all his sympathies, and took a pride in assisting in the growth and development of this favored section of the Union.
Colonel Abell was the president of the original town company and of the first railroad company that extended a line to Atchison, and was also the president of several other large and important organizations. He died January 16, 1874, while still in the height of his usefulness, and was sincerely mourned by the community for whom he had done so much.