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Abel was born and raised in a part of Braintree that became Randolph. He and his brothers learned the shoemaking trade, shoemaking being a predominent business in Randolph. About 1811, he, his parents and most of his siblings moved to Providence, where the brothers continued in that business. Soon after, Abel was married to Sally Hopkins, married by Rev. Stephen Gano of the First Baptist Church.1

This is a somewhat disproportionate but romantic early engraving of the First Baptist Church, one of the most magnificent meeting-house style churches in the country.
Stephen Gano was the minister here when he married Abel and Sarah.

Abel partnered with his brother-in-law James Stetson to form "Stetson & Holbrook," boot and shoe makers. If others in the family were involved, it isn't known. Where they did business first hasn't been found, but an advertisement in The Columbian Phenix is enlightening.2

Shortly after his last child was born, Abel died of a "long and distressing illness" at 31. He is buried in North Burying Ground, Providence. His son Albert wrote a manuscript on his Holbrook line, but sadly says very little about his father. He may not have known any biographical details about his or his mother's lives, and all who would have known them may have been dead by the time he wrote the manuscript.

The Holbrook-Angell memorial, probably commissioned by Albert Holbrook in the 1880s

children of Abel Holbrook and Sarah Smith Hopkins (from the Albert Holbrook manuscript):

i. Albert, b. 5 February 1813
ii. Harriet Smith, b. 23 June 1815
iii. Charles, b. 21 July 1816, d. 9 October 1818
iv. Charles William, b. 6 January 1819

vital records sources: Abel's birth date comes from the Albert Holbrook manuscript. It isn't in the Braintree vital records (church records?). His marriage date comes from The Columbian Phenix of 18 July, p. 3, "Sally S. Hopkins and Abel Holbrook of this town by Rev. Dr. Gano," also the Holbrook manuscript. The event is recorded in vol. 5, p. 309 of Alphabetical Index of the Births, Marriages and Deaths Recorded in Providence, Rhode Island and it is in vol. 7 of James N. Arnold's Vital records of Rhode Island 1636-1850...." which has Rev. Gano's private record of marriages he performed. Neither bride nor groom is listed as members of Rev. Gano's Church (First Baptist). His death date comes from Albert Holbrook's manuscript and three newspapers: The Providence Phenix, The Providence Gazette and The Providence Patriot (2 June 1819, p. 3) shown above. Whoever wrote the notice (it wasn't the newspapers - they printed what was given to them, sometimes edited) says he was 30, but unless his supposed birth month is wrong, he was 31.

1. The Columbian Phenix, 18 July 1812, 3.
2. Ibid, 1 May 1813, 3.

all text and photographs © 1998-2020 by Doug Sinclair unless where otherwise noted