Presidential Hostess: Abigail Atherton Kent Means

posted in: First Ladies, First Lady | 0

Abigail “Abby” Atherton Kent Means filled in for her niece, Jane Appleton Pierce, in the duties of hostess under President Franklin Pierce.

Abigail Atherton Kent Means

Franklin and Jane Pierce mourned the loss of their son, Benjamin, in a train accident only two months before Franklin Pierce assumed the presidency.

Jane asked her Aunt Abby to see to the official duties. Abby Means was not an official First Lady but “de facto” first lady for the first two years of the Pierce presidency.

Abigail Atherton Kent was born on August 27, 1802 in Chester, Rockingham County, New Hampshire. She was the daughter of Amos and Abigail Atherton Kent.

She married Robert Means in 1834. They lived in Lowell, MA until his death on September 26, 1842. The couple did not have any children together. She was left a very wealthy widow.

One reason Jane asked her aunt to fill in as First Lady, was because it was easier for her to get away for long periods of times.

In America’s First Families, Abby is described as “able to cope with Jane’s severe neurosis and endless illnesses.” In a letter, her nephew, Charles Packard says “Aunt Abby is there, whose advice and counsel would be of great service”.

Abigail died on August 5, 1857 in Amherst, New Hampshire. She is buried in the Amherst Town Hall Burying Ground in New Hampshire.

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