The Long Life of Nathan Whitmore

 

 

 

 

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Nathan Whitmore was born in what is now Vermont thirty years before this land became a nation. His early life was on the frontier of America, then still east of the Hudson River. Native Americans were still very active in those regions. The French and Indian War broke out when he was three. In 1778 Nathan, then twenty five years old, volunteered for the army and was mustered in at Fishkill, N.Y. where the forces were organizing. He volunteered for a nine month enlistment which was common at the start of the war. He may have been married by then but was certainly so in the summer of 1789 when daughter Clarissa Abigail was born. The 1790 Census shows him with two daughters. In 1808 he moved west and settled in Greene in Chenango County, N.Y. Since 1790 the family had grown to five boys and three girls. In 1809 Clarissa married Charles Felix Barnet. He was only seventeen at the time and she twenty. Their story is told elsewhere. Nathan and the family left Chenango County in 1813. 1820 finds him (I think) in Connecticut with a dwindling family. Nathan was by then sixty seven years old. You would think he was slowing down. He was already past the life expectancy of men of his time. Following him around via the census is difficult. There were many spelling variations of the name: Whitmore, Witmore, Wetmore, Whittemore, and others. Not until 1850 were all family members named in the census and until then he could have been living with a son or son-in-law and not appear as head of family which is the only name used.

In any case, the census of 1860 is sure. He is living in Tioga County, Pennsylvania with Orrin Wetmore and is listed as 105 years old. He was actually 107. He passed before the nation tore itself apart in the Civil War. The Barnett descendants of Nathan and Clarissa held reunions for many years. A future chapter will deal with them. At one such gathering copies of Nathan's obituary were distributed. It is as follows: 

ANOTHER VETERAN GONE

"We extract the following from the Tioga (Pa.) Agitator. The subject of this obituary was the father-in-law of Rev. C. F. Barnet, of this town, and was a resident of this town from 1808 to 1813. Few, indeed survive to the great age attained by this veteran:

Died in Westfield, Tioga County, Pa. Nov. 17, 1860, Mr. Nathan  Whitmore, aged 107 years and ten days.    

Mr. Whitmore was born in Vermont, Nov. 7, 1753, and I am informed he made a profession of religion when but twelve years old; and by what little information I could elicit (as I drove to the house only a few minutes before the time to repair to the church for the funeral services), he has lived a soldier of the cross since, or 95 years. He was also in the Revolutionary War a short time. Were I able to trace him through his long pilgrimage, many important and interesting incidents could be recorded, but I am not.

Throughout his long life he retained his mental faculties, also his bodily strength, in a wonderful manner. His conversation exhibited a strong and retentive mind. He was also enabled to labor at light mechanical business until very recently, and also to walk about the village with an activity surpassing many at the age of sixty. I could not but think of changes that had taken place, and revolutions that had convulsed the world during his life. Empires and kingdoms have risen and fallen; our nation has burst from its connection with and the oppression of its mother country, and has risen to what it is.

Many nations of ancient renown have fallen to ruins; warriors have risen from infancy and drenched the earth in human gore, and then away; improvements have advanced, the wilderness and solitary places have been converted into cities and many spires now point heavenward where the lofty forests waved before the breeze, since more than half of his life was passed.

Where now are the companions of his childhood? Ah, they are gone, and their children have grown grey headed and passed away, and their children's children are now controlling the destinies of our nation. New countries have become old. Commerce has doubled an hundred fold, and every ocean and sea, and every navigable river and lake has been converted into highways of nations, developing the vast resources of the world. Generations have passed away; still he has lived on, and lived on amidst the dangers that have threatened him and the warnings that have reached him

The brilliancy of youth had long since left his brow, his step had lost its elastic spring, until finally, worn down with cares and the weight of over five score and seven years, he peacefully fell asleep to wake no more till Gabriel's trumpet shall arouse the slumbering millions of the dead.

His funeral solemnities were attended in the village of Westfield on the 19th ult., at 10 o'clock, A. M. , where remarks were made by the writer, from Luke 23 and 28, "Weep Not for Me", to an attentive audience."

Simeon Cleaveland

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