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Abigail Cushing Harris (1769-1841)

Abigail Cushing was born on January 3, 1769 in Providence to Benjamin Cushing, Sr. and his second wife, Abigail Ford Richmond.

In 1792, at the age of 23, she married the widower, Stephen Harris, and went to live with him in the house at 135 Benefit Street, now known as “The Shunned House” after the story of the same name by weird fiction author H.P. Lovecraft.

Abigail and Stephen were the parents of seven children. Their first and last children died young, but the remaining five (Sarah, Benjamin, Edwin, Abby, and George) would go on to live well past retirement age. In addition, Stephen’s only living offspring from his first marriage, Stephen, Jr., was only a child when his father remarried, so Abigail would have raised him as well.

Abigail was widowed in 1817, but she would remain in “The Shunned House,” and also for a time in another house on the same property, for another 24 years, until her death in 1841 at the age of 72. She had at least 26 grandchildren (including five from her husband’s first marriage), 18 of whom survived their early childhood, so her life must have been busy and full long after the death of her husband.

Further Reading

A history of the 135 Benefit Street house is contained in a WORD document that can be downloaded here

Catherine Beyer Hurst, MBA, Writer and Community Historian

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