Abigail Jane Scott was one of 10 children born to a farming family in Illinois. She worked on the farm and attended school sporadically. At age 17, she moved west with her family in a covered wagon on the Oregon Trail. Her mother and a brother died along the route. The rest of the family settled in the Willamette Valley of the Oregon Territory. In 1853, she married Benjamin C. Duniway, another farmer, with whom she had six children. While working on their homestead, Abigail Scott Duniway wrote and published a novel, Captain Gray's Company or, Crossing the Plains and Living in Oregon (1859) -- it was the first book commercially published in Oregon.
Her husband lost the farm in 1862 and was disabled in an accident soon after. It was up to Abigail to support the family.
She ran a boarding school for a while, and then a shop, and in 1871 moved the family to Portland. There she established a weekly newspaper, The New Northwest, serving as its editor until 1887. She also wrote for the paper and published her own serialized novels in it. She was a dedicated supporter of women's rights and women's suffrage, and one of her first projects was managing a speaking tour of the Northwest by Susan B. Anthony. Abigail Scott Duniway founded the Oregon State Women Suffrage Association, and in 1873 she organized the Oregon State Equal Suffrage Association, which she served as president. She lectured throughout the state on behalf of women's rights, for which she was attacked both verbally and physically. In 1884, a women's suffrage referendum was defeated in Oregon, and the state's suffrage association fell apart. Abigail moved to Idaho and worked for female suffrage there. After an Idaho suffrage bill succeeded in 1896, she returned to Oregon and revived the suffrage association there. She also started another publication, The Pacific Empire. When the 1912 Oregon referendum granting women the right to vote was finally passed, Governor West asked Abigail to write the bill's proclamation, in recognition of her long struggle. She was the first woman registered to vote in Multnomah County, and is credited with being the first woman in Oregon to actually cast a vote.
She published her autobiography, Path Breaking, in 1914, and died the following year.