Charles Conrad Abbott, Archaeologist and Naturalist

Charles Conrad Abbott
ca.1900
Charles Conrad Abbott (1843-1919) was educated at the Trenton Academy and obtained his medical degree at the University of Pennsylvania. He never practiced medicine, however, and instead engaged in archaeology and natural history.

Abbott made his home along the bluff overlooking the marshlands south of Trenton and it was here that he unearthed man-made implements in the "glacial gravels" of the marsh. In The Stone Age in New Jersey, published in 1872, and Primitive Industry: or, Illustrations of the Handiwork, in stone, bone and clay, of the Native Races of the Northern Atlantic Seaboard of America, published in 1881, he noted that a cache of stone axes had been unearthed during the excavation of the receiving vault at Riverview Cemetery in 1859 and elsewhere along the bluff about the same time.

As "assistant in the field" of Harvard University's Peabody Museum of American Archaeology and Ethnology, his collection of stone implements was placed in the museum in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and added to yearly until it reached some 20,000 specimens. The journal Science observed at the time that it was "one of the most important series of its kind ever brought together, and one which archaeologists will consult for all time to come."

During this tenure he put forth the theory that these gravels contained the archaeological evidence of human presence in North America during the Ice Age. This fueled scholarly debate among scientists, but the weight of subsequent archaeological and geological discoveries eventually disproved his hypothesis.

Boulder marking the grave of
Charles Conrad Abbott
Abbott was residing in Bristol, Pennsylvania, at the time of his death. He was interred in Section W, Lot 740, where his grave is marked by a small boulder monument to which a bronze plaque is attached. It reads "In this neighborhood Dr. Abbott discovered the existence of Paleolithic man in America."

The marshlands where he carried out much of his work are recognized as one of the most important prehistoric archaeological sites in the eastern United States, and the Abbott Farm was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1976.

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