Abigail Stearns Root was a pioneer wife and mother. She and her husband, Martin Root, made Downers Grove their home in the 1840s. Her father, Asa Stearns, served as a Revolutionary War soldier.
Abigail Stearns was born in 1784 to Asa and Lucy Stearns. She was one of 12 children. Benson, Vermont, where she grew up, was a town of about 700 people. That’s many more residents than she would find in Downers Grove when she came here.
Abigail married Martin Root in 1808. Together they had 6 children. In the 1840s, Martin, Abigail and their family decided that their future was in the West and moved to Illinois, settling in Lisle Township. Although already in their 50s, the Abigail and Martin Root family established themselves into pioneer farm life in DuPage County. The Roots became associated with the early Congregational church where Martin served as a deacon.
Martin Root died in 1865 and was buried in the Main Street Cemetery. Abigail was left to run the family farm; but with most of her children living nearby, she was surrounded by family.
When Abigail died in Downers Grove in 1873, she had lived through the Revolutionary War, the Civil War and the first 18 presidents of the United States. She was one of many pioneer women who came west, settled here and contributed to the history of our village.
On Saturday, May 6, 2023, the Downers Grove Historical Society honored Abigail Stearns Root as their 2023 Founder of the Year. The ceremony was held at the at Main Street Cemetery in Downers Grove. At the same ceremony, The Downers Grove Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution honored her as daughter of an American Revolutionary War soldier with a plaque at her grave.