Something found while looking for something else…

B. Nash

B. Nash



It has probably happened to you dear reader hasn’t it? You’re looking for information about something on the Internet and come across something entirely different- but of great interest, nonetheless. I was trying to locate graves of former slaves buried in Canada (from the Civil War era) and found myself at the Find A Grave web site. The page was concerning a gentleman buried in Ontario, Canada. He was not a former slave. In fact, according to the information posted about him, he was quite successful in his life. Let me say this-he was African-American. His name was Anderson Ruffin Abbott. He was born in 1837 in Toronto. At age 23, he became a surgeon, having graduated from the University of Toronto. Afterward, he became involved with the Union Army in the United States-becoming one of only eight African-American doctors connected with military at that time. He was a contracted civilian doctor. This is all surprising enough, but then I read the following about him:


“His work in the soldier’s hospitals in Washington, DC endeared him to President Lincoln, and First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln made a gift to him of the Shepard Plaid shawl that President Lincoln wore en route to his first inauguration in 1861.”


Now that information is of keen interest to all of us in the “Lincoln-world.” I had never heard of this man before. I also never heard the story of the shawl. Cool stuff! So where is the shawl now? It would be great to know what happened to it. Anderson Ruffin Abbott continued as a doctor in Washington until 1866. Following his service there, he returned to Toronto to practice medicine. He was later honored the Grand Army of the Republic with an honorary rank of Captain. He died in 1913 and is buried in Toronto. Now that’s a great story-and to think I found it accidently while searching for something else.


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One Response to “Something found while looking for something else…”

  1. Mary says:

    Have you located the shawl? The Canadians are quite good at preserving things. I’m searching there. Please let me know if you have any other info. My interest is from a weavers perspective.

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