In 1779, Abston enlisted in a Virginia volunteer regiment under Captain John Ellis, which was made part of the Continental Army a few weeks later where he served in Captain Rose’s company under Colonel William Washington.
Serving more than two years in the Continental Army, he fought in one of the most pivotal battles in the Revolutionary War: the Battle of King’s Mountain.
One story handed down through the family is that John Abston was scouting in advance of the main body and luckily ran upon a fat steer in the woods—one of the few that had escaped the British foragers. He immediately transformed himself from scout to commissary and drove the steer back to his command, where he was received with shouts of delight by the men. He was given one of the horns as an award and kept it as a keepsake.
After the war, Abston married Frances Thurman and moved his family westward in search of land. Settling in Kentucky and Missouri for a time before moving to Collin County, Texas, with his son, Jesse, his son’s wife Sarah, and their children in the early 1850s. He purchased land about a mile north of Lavon, Texas, in 1854. He is buried there in the family cemetery.