Abraham Lincoln Spicer was born in Ithaca, New York in 1860, the year of Honest Abe’s first election to the Presidency. He was the 5th child of Benjamin and Phoebe Dimmick Spicer.
He married Dora Hattie Babcock in October 1886, and their only child Charles was born soon after. Abraham made his living as a carpenter, and at some point lost his left leg. He was well known in the city as a Salvation Army preacher.
In 1894 and again in 1895, he was a 6-month guest of the state penitentiary, first for assault and then for petty larceny.
Hattie died at 33 in 1902, leaving Abraham to raise Charles. In 1903, Abraham, Charles and four other men were arrested for fishing without a license on Lake Cayuga. The Ithaca Daily News reported:
Through the efforts of the Tomkins County fish and game association recently organized among the sportsmen of the city, the first step towards breaking up the illegal fishing and wholesale slaughter of the finny tribe at this end of the lake was taken last night.
Abram Spicer, Charles Spicer, Ira Bishop, John Grover, Harry Daniels and Charles Wellman were arrested last night by Game Inspector Spencer Hawn of Cicero and John Vann of this city, and are now held on charges of violating the game and fish laws.
Harry Daniels and Charles Wellman have been released under $250 bail, while the other four men are in jail awaiting trial Thursday morning before Justice Frear.
Besides the men, the inspectors secured a much desired seine owned by Abe Spicer, which will be burned. They also got seven barrels of carp freshly caught from the lake, which will be cremated with quick lime.
The fish and game association has been working quietly for several weeks. It was unable to secure a constable in this vicinity unknown to the fishermen. Spencer Hawn of Cicero was finally employed. He reached the city at 1 o-clock from Syracuse, and in company with John Vann, rowed down the Inlet.
In the “hoghole” he found the Spicers, Bishop and Grover hauling seine. The men were placed under arrest and were made to sit in their boat until the inspectors had thrown all the game fish found with the carp back into the lake.
Besides the carp many pounds of bullheads, pickerel, bass and perch had been landed. In all seven barrels were filled with carp and brought to the city with the men. The seine was also carried to the police station. Later this will be soaked with kerosene and burned. The net is valued at $75 by Abe and is considered the best and largest of its kind in this vicinity.
The men were arrraigned before Justice Frear this morning, all pleaded not guilty. They will be tried Thursday morning at 10 o’clock.
A meeting of the fish and game club has been called for tonight in the parlor of No. 1 in the city hall at 7:30 o’clock when further steps will be planned.
The following week, the Daily News reported:
Abram Spicer pleaded guilty and was fined $30. Charles Spicer and John Grover were each fined $20.
The punishment was imposed in the form of fine or imprisonment, and each of the convicted prisoners took the alternative of serving the same number of days as dollar imposed. The prisoners announced in a laughing way as they were being returned to jail that the fine imposed represented only the value of a good day’s work for them. They had the money to pay their fines, they said, but did not intend that the inspectors should get a part of it.
In July 1906, Abraham was strolling along the platform of the Lackawanna railroad station in Ithaca, where he entered his place in history.
The story was published in dozens of newspapers across the United States, including in the German immigrant press.
Abraham was only briefly a celebrity: he hopped back into obscurity and died of jaundice three months later at the age of 46, and is buried in Ithaca’s Lakeview Cemetery.