Sunday, February 22, 2015

Introducing Louisa Whittemore

This post places Louisa Whittemore back on the family tree.  You will also see an example of why it is so important to research each of the siblings of your direct line ancestors.

Sabra stated in her War of 1812 pension application of 1879 that she had a daughter named Louisa, born 18--, who married a man by the name of Leavitt, now a widow residing in Cleveland.  Not much to go on, but with, searching for Leavitt's in Cleveland is a simple task.

Using the search terms "Leavitt" in soundex mode, living in Cleveland, Cuyahoga County, Ohio, the 1860 census has nine hits, including this family group of four:
This looks like a good match for our Louisa.  According to this record, Louisa was born circa 1816 in New York, which would make her a pretty good match for our Louisa, and it's the only record that seems to be even close to a match.

I broadened the search terms to include all of Cuyahoga County, Ohio, and found the record below for the 1850 Federal Census.  This record made me fall out of my chair!
This family is for a William and Anna Leavitt living in in Brooklyn Township, Cuyahoga County, Ohio.  I think that even though J. W. Leavitt has aged 20 years between 1850 and 1860, the 1850 family is a match for the 1860 family.  But what really makes this census record "worth" the effort, is that a "Jane Whittemon" who is 18, is living in William an Anna's household.  Jane Whittemon is a perfect match, other than her place of birth, for my second great grandmother, Sarah Jane Whittemore.  What is exciting about this is that I have never been able to locate Sarah Jane in the 1850 Federal Census.  This is a great example of why it is so worth the extra effort to hunt down all siblings of your direct line ancestors.  

The 1850 census record also explains why I never could locate Jane in 1850, Whittemore and Whittemon soundex differently, so most searches would never have turned her up.  Add to that, that her place of birth is listed as Connecticut rather than New York, and a brick wall is born!  

So this is what I have penciled in for Louisa:

J. William Leavitt b. sometime between 1790 and 1810 marries Anna Louisa (or perhaps Louisa Anna) Whittemore b. circa 1816 (though this is more likely 1813) and the couple have the following children, Ellen Leavitt b. circa 1843 in Ohio and Ophelia Leavitt, born 1847 in Ohio.  

1870 Federal Census was a little more challenging to find.  Using the Leavitt and Cuyahoga County filters turned up nothing.  I know that Louisa is living in Cleveland in 1879, so I redid the search using Louisa as a first name, her date of birth as 1816 +-5 years, and Cuyahoga County and found the family living in Rockland Township.
This time the family is enumerated a Leverett, and Louisa is listed as being born circa 1813, which is more in line with her actual age.  Ophelia is out of the house but Hellen S. is still living at home.

1880 Finds Louisa Leveritt living with her daughter Ellen in Cleveland and Louisa is listed as a widow.
The only problem is that Louisa actually dropped two years in age from her 1870 census record!  I still feel this is the correct family, even if the ages do not match exactly - you know what they say, "never ask a lady her age..."

1900 Finds Louisa an inmate in the Cleveland Home for aged women.  She is listed as born circa 1812 in Connecticut.
Louisa is listed as the mother of 4 children with only 1 child alive in 1900.  

Let's see what we can find out about Louisa and J. William Leavitt....



Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Sabra Whittemore and her War of 1812 Pension

My last post described two of my favorite family tree documents, an 1880 Federal Census Record and a page from my second great grandmother's War of 1812 pension application.  I used the Census record to direct me toward her pension file.  The file contained a wealth of family information, including her marriage date and a list of all of her children.  If it hadn't been for her pension application, I would never have had a list of her children.

From her application, her children are:

  • Louisa - b. 18--?
  • Harriett - b. 1814
  • James - b. 1816
  • Orilia - b. 18--?
  • Jane - b. 1831
  • Hiram - b. 1833 

The census records for Caleb and Sabra are listed below:
1820:  Killingly, Windham County, Connecticut:

  1830:  Ticonderoga, Essex County, New York:
Sabra states her daughter Jane is born in 1831.  I'm wondering if Jane might have been born in 1830.

1840:  Middleburg, Cuyahoga County, Ohio:

You will notice that between 1830 and 1840, the three oldest Whittemore girls disappear from Caleb's household.  Unfortunately, Sabra only cryptically identifies two of her daughter's married names.  In her 1879 pension application she refers to Louisa, who married a man named Leavit and is now a widow residing in Cleveland; and, Jane, who married a man by the name of Tahyer, and is residing in Ashland, Michigan.  She also states that both Harriett and Orillia are dead by 1879.  

So I went on the hunt for Louisa Leavit, living in Cleveland in 1879.  I'll describe my results in my next post...

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Sabra Whittemore and the War of 1812

Sabra Whittemore is one of my third-great grandmothers and has been on my mind lately.  I am in the process of moving and, like most family tree fanatics, have several boxes of family tree stuff which I have collected over more than two decades of research.  I say stuff because many of these boxes contain documents I have not looked at in several years and I have little recollection of what is in these boxes.  So I thought it made sense to go through my boxes and weed out any redundant documents (like copies of census records which are all easily available online now), and create electronic copies of documents and photos to attach to my online family tree.  This is where Sabra Whittemore enters the picture.

I have been actively researching my family tree for over 20 years now and have uncovered numerous generations of my ancestors.  Sabra and her husband, Caleb Whittemore, have always been one of my "favorite" ancestor couples because they were the first couple of my direct line I uncovered who were born before 1800.  Caleb was born in 1785 and Sabra was born in 1794.  It just blew my mind to think that both of these people were born when George Washington was alive!

Sabra also helped create a couple of my favorite family tree documents.  If you are a family tree researcher, I'm sure you also have a document or two which mean more to you than many of the other documents you might uncover.

Let me start with the 1880 Census record for Sabra.  She is living in the household of her son-in law and daughter, Alanson and Sarah Jane Thayer (my second-great grandparents).  The family was living in Ashland Township, Newaygo County, Michigan.  This household was enumerated over the 11th and 12th of June 1880.  Sabra would pass away on the 18th of June 1880, so she only had a week to live.

The reason I like this census record so much is because it is a four-generational household.  Sabra is the oldest generation and her occupation is "Pension of 1812" and Agnes Church (granddaughter of Alanson and Sarah Jane, and great granddaughter of Sabra) is the is the youngest generation.  Agnes, who is the oldest child of my great grandmother, Marium Ella Thayer, is raised by her parents, Alanson and Sarah Jane.  

When I discovered this record many years ago, it led to my ordering the War of 1812 Pension file for Sabra from the National Archives.  This leads to my second favorite document, Sabra's deposition for her pension.
This simple statement is packed with genealogical information.  Sabra lists all of her children, including Jane "born in 1831, married to a man by the name of Thayer".  Sabra's granddaughter, Ella Pratt (my great grandmother), is a witness to Sabra's statement.

I do not know why these two documents mean so much to me, but perhaps it is because they show the generational depth of this family.  I've often pictured Sabra as this ancient, shrunken women, hard of hearing, holding on to her granddaughter as she relates the story of how she married Caleb more than sixty years earlier back in Connecticut.  

My next post will describe how I located Louisa Whittemore, Sabra's oldest child.