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.   


  1. Thank you for this info! Sabra was my great grandma Emma Thayer Gardner's grandmother. That makes us cousins!

    1. Glad you enjoyed it. I also have a family tree posted on