WILLIAM WILLIS ABBOTT
Among the successful and energetic business men of Livingston is William Willis Abbott, senior member of the firm of Abbott & Sons Garage; he has spent the greater part of his life in Merced County, for he was only ten years old when his parents located in the county. His birth occurred near Knights Ferry, on December 2, 1872, a son of George W. and Mary (Smith) Abbott, the former born in Belfast, Maine, and the latter born in Trinity County, Cal. The maternal grandfather drove an ox-team across the plains to California in 1852 from St. Louis, Mo. Settling at Placerville in the spring of that year, he went into the cattle and sheep business, but later, engaged in teaming and freighting in Tuolumne County. The father, George W. Abbott, came to California via the Isthmus of Panama in 1861 and engaged in farming and stock-raising in Stanislaus County, near Knights Ferry. The paternal grandfather was a stone mason and built the first piers for the first permanent bridge across the Stanislaus River, at Burns Ferry; he also built the stone wall on the hill at Knights Ferry. When William Abbott was four years old his parents moved to Stockton, where the father found employment in the lumber yard now known as the Stockton Lumber Company. There were two children in the family: Dora is now the wife of W. P. McConnell, a farmer at Livingston; and William Willis, our subject.
William Willis Abbott received his first schooling at the old Jefferson School at Stockton; when he was ten years old the family removed to Merced County and settled on Merced River bottom land, where the father farmed about 2000 acres of what is now known as the Collier ranch. Not being particularly drawn to agricultural pursuits, Mr. Abbott left his father's ranch in 1885 and went to Oakland where he began firing for the Southern Pacific Railroad Company; he remained with this company for five years when he went to San Francisco and found employment in the boiler-making department of the Union Iron Works. This was during the Spanish-American War. He then went to work for the San Joaquin Valley Railroad as a machinist. When this road was absorbed by the Santa Fe Railroad Company, the machine shops were removed to Point Richmond and Mr. Abbott continued in the capacity of machinist until 1909. He then returned to Merced County and farmed in partnership with his father.
In 1896, at Atwater, Mr. Abbott was married to Miss Elizabeth Ritchie, a daughter of the late pioneer, William Calhoun Ritchie, who came across the plains from Missouri in 1852, first settling in Sutter County, later removing to Amador County and in 1883 locating in Merced County where he became an extensive grain farmer. He retired in 1908 and passed away at the age of eighty-three years. Mr. Abbott sold the Merced River ranch and removed to western Yolo County, where he farmed for five years on a half section of land; when this was sold he returned to Merced County and followed contracting and building at Turlock until 1914. In 1915 he bought out the Pioneer Garage at Livingston; and when his lease expired in 1918 he established the Abbott Garage on First Street. Mr. and Mrs. Abbott are the parents of two children: Mildred is the wife of Edward Schultz, a member of the firm of Abbott & Sons Garage; and George W. married Miss Pearl Leitzky, of Turlock, and he is also a member of the firm of Abbott & Sons Garage. The Abbott & Sons Garage is a first-class machine shop, modernly equipped -to do all kinds of repair work on automobiles and farm tractors. Mr. Abbott served as constable for four years, and also was a deputy sheriff under Mr. Warfield. He helped to organize the Boosters' Club at Livingston and is now serving as the chairman of the Merchants Association, which was organized in 1921. It was largely through the efforts of Mr. Abbott that a tract of six acres was acquired for a park, now known as Hammatt Park. Mr. Abbott is a progressive Republican in politics. Fraternally, he is a Past Master of Turlock Lodge No. 395, F. & A. M., and is district inspector, having supervision over all the lodges in the 55th district; he also belongs to the Merced Chapter No. 12, R. A. M. In 1919 Mr. Abbott bought a two-acre tract of land in the southern part of Livingston where he and his family reside.
History of Merced County, California: with a biographical review of the leading men and women of the county who have been identified with its growth and development from the early days to the present.
By John Outcalt (1925)
Historic Record Company, Los Angeles, California
Contributed by: Carol Lackey