James Aborn, active 1801–28


cabinetmaker; lumber merchant


Providence, Rhode Island


Though identified as a cabinetmaker or retailer of cabinetwork early in his career, James Aborn seems to have been primarily active as a lumber merchant. He operated a lumber yard in Providence on Union Street, and later on Washington Street.(1)

There is some ambiguity as to the identity of the cabinetmaker James Aborn. There was a cabinetmaker in Marblehead, Massachusetts by the same name active in an overlapping period.(2) James' son and namesake of Providence, James Aborn, Jr. was active as a cabinetmaker in Providence as early at 1795. Probably working in conjunction with his father, he advertised in 1801 that at his lumber yard, he, "likewise makes and sells All kinds of Cabinet Work, on reasonable terms for cash or approved credit."(3)

Further complicating matters, James' lumber yard was operated under several different names in a short period of time. In 1815, he established a partnership with Edward Aborn, forming the firm of James & Edward Aborn.(4) In 1823, James and John W. Aborn formed James Aborn & Co.(5) That partnership lasted until 1828, when John W. Aborn left the firm, and the lumberyard become known as Allen & Smith.(6)


1. Wendell D. Garrett, "Providence Cabinetmakers, Chairmakers, Upholsterers, and Allied Craftsmen, 1756-1838," Antiques 90 no. 4 (October 1966): 514.

2. Ethel Hall Bjerkoe, The Cabinetmakers of America (Garden City, New York: Doubleday and Company, 1957), 19.

3. The Providence Journal, and Town and Country Advertiser, "Lumber Yard," March 26, 1800, http://infoweb.newsbank.com.

4. The Providence Patriot, "Notice," September 23, 1815, http://infoweb.newsbank.com.

5. The Providence Gazette, "Notice," November 22, 1823, http://infoweb.newsbank.com.

6. The Providence Patriot, "Co Partnership Dissolved," January 1, 1828, http://infoweb.newsbank.com.