Judge A. J. Abbott, one of the oldest lawyers in the southwest, died of the infirmities of old age this morning at his home on Federal Place where he had spent the "sunset and evening" of his life, cheerful to the last. He was 87 years of age, or would have been in August; despite this venerable age the judge failed to meet the expectations of his friends who seven years ago predicted he would reach the century mark. For at 80, Judge Abbott was apparently young, judging by his light step and straight shoulders, his keen, gray eyes, and his clear mind.
The judge was known and esteemed all over the middle west and south-west; he was known by thousands of visitors from everywhere who spent a few days at his house in the picturesque and historic Rito de Los Frijoles canyon when he was custodian of that national monument years ago.
The judge left a large family to mourn him -- a widow, four sons and three daughters. One of the sons is a former Santa Fean and former district judge -- now Lieut. Col. E. C. Abbott, U. S. Army, living in New York state.
Judge Abbott will be remembered by many New Mexicans as the man who at 80 gave these rules for longevity:
"1. Not a thimbleful of whiskey at any time.
"2. One-half cigar smoked in 80 years.
"3. Fresh air -- life for hours each day in the open, rain or shine.
"4. Plenty of hard work -- but not to the point of exhaustion, for that work strains the heart.
"5. Keep cheerful."
Judge Abbott followed his own rules. He could be seen working in his garden or taking walks down town; he was always cheerful and until six months ago when he developed bronchitis, the judge was in perfect health. He had never known illness.
Following the belief of the late Dr. Osler that work does not hurt, but worry breaks down the mind and body, Judge Abbott kept busy all his life. He came from the state of Ohio, home of presidents, and was a Republican. He was born in Miami, Ohio, in 1842, but before his teens he moved to West Branch, Iowa, and studied in the public schools. He was graduated by the Iowa State University in 1864.
Then, like many young lawyers of his day, he taught school. He followed this profession for 10 years and became superintendent of schools and professor in the high school of Glenwood, holding these positions for five years.
Then he decided to study law in the office of Chief Justice James Day and, moving to Kansas, was admitted to the bar in Newton. He practiced law in Newton, Lyons and Garden City. He became a judge by appointment of Governor Martin to fill a vacancy in the seventh judicial district and later was elected to serve two terms on the district bench. It is interesting to note here that Judge Abbott later saw his own son fill a similar position in Santa Fe.
Judge Abbott moved to Trinidad, Colo., in 1896, and continued the practice of law. He came to Santa Fe in 1901 and for eight years held the office of U. S. attorney for the Pueblo Indians. He was in law partnership with his son, Clarence, for many years, the firm of Abbott & Abbott handling important law business such as that involving the Costillo land case.
The judge and his wife took a ranch in the Rito de los Frijoles canyon living there for 10 years, from 1909 to 1919. He became widely known to tourists, scientists and others as the custodian of the Bandelier national monument, land of the cliff dwellers. In those days about 400 visitors went to the canyon each summer. The judge pleased and interested them greatly with his talks on vanished and mysterious peoples.
After 10 years of this interesting life amidst such pleasant surroundings in 1919 Judge and Mrs. Abbott moved to Santa Fe and built a house at 161 Federal place where they have lived ever since, taking an active part in civic and social life of Santa Fe.
Judge Abbott said on his eightieth birthday, when there was a tea and reception in his honor attended by scores of people, that he had lived in five great states, but liked New Mexico best.
Judge Abbott was twice married. His first wife was Miss Ruth Barrington of West Branch, Iowa, who died many years ago. She was the mother of the family of four sons and three daughters. His second wife, the widow who survives him, was Mrs. Ida B. Patton of Trinidad, Colo. They were married in 1905.
Judge Abbott's four sons are George A. Abbott of Garden City, Kan.; Lieut. Col. E. C. Abbott, U. S. army, now in New York state; Raymond Abbott, a professor at Purdue university, Lafayette, Ind., and Albert J. Abbott at Nogales, Ariz. His three daughters are Mrs. William E. Drisdale, wife of Dr. Drisdale of Trinidad, Colo; Mrs. B. R. Atkinson, Hood River, Ore., and Mrs J. Douglas Walker of Enterprise, Oro. In West Branch the Barringtons and Abbotts were intimate with the Hoover family and the judge remembered Herbert as a boy.
The funeral arrangements will be announced as soon as a telegram is received from Colonel Abbott stating whether he will be able to come to Santa Fe. Interment will be in Fairview cemetery here and C. A. Rising & Co. will be in charge of the arrangements.