John J. Abell
Born on March 6, 1817 in Jefferson County, VA, John J. Abell was the youngest of nine children of John and Sally Abell. As a young man, Abell was a captain of a Virginia cavalry. In 1841 he married Betty Thompson, a sister of Jefferson Thompson. They adopted a daughter, Martha, who later became the wife of Albert Bailey.
Around 1847 Abell began operating a hotel known as the Shannondale House, which was fairly successful for a few years. In the early 1850’s, Abell became part of the Westward Movement when he headed for Missouri by way of boat and stagecoach. Having arrived in St. Joseph, MO, he opened a boarding-house on Jules Street and then purchased and began operating the Planters’ House, originally known as the Edgar House, which was at the corner of Francis and Main Streets. Upon selling the Planters’ House, Abell and the Pacific Hotel Company built the Pacific House between Francis and Felix on Third Street, which he managed for the next fifteen years.
In February 1860 Abell was elected a Director from the Second Ward for the St. Joseph Board of Public Schools. On March 2 of that same year, Abell was one of twenty-one prominent St. Joseph Businessmen to enter into an agreement with the Central Overland California & Pike’s Peak Express Company to mark St. Joseph as the eastern most edge of its mail route.
It is not known if John J. Abell passed away in 1890, but his name last appeared in the 1889 St. Joseph City Directory showing his residence as 615 North Ninth Street.
History of Buchanan County, Missouri: A history of the county, its cities, towns, etc. (1881). St. Joseph, MO: St. Joseph Steam Printing.
Hoye’s city directory of St. Joseph for 1889. St. Joseph, MO: Hoye City Directory.
Logan, S. A. (1979). Old Saint Jo: Gateway to the West, 1799-1932. St. Joseph, MO: John Sublett Logan Foundation.
Portrait and biographical record of Buchanan and Clinton Counties, Missouri. (1893). Chicago: Chapman Brothers.
The Lozo-Needles Photo Album collection contains photographs of prominent citizens from St. Joseph, Missouri during the late 1800's. Alexander Lozo had a photography studio during the years 1871 to 1889 at various locations in the Downtown area. Lozo passed away on April 23, 1917 in Chicago, Illinois. John T. Needles had a photography studio during the years 1874 to 1882 at various locations in the Downtown area. Needles passed away in 1891 in Colorado.