Archive:Who Was Jabez Whitney

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Whitney Family Groups > Unconnected Whitney Families > Most Wanted Whitneys > Who Was Jabez Whitney

Jabez Whitney - Most Wanted

by J. Michael Poston <>


Note: See Family:Whitney, Jabez (1780-c1839) for his current family group page.

Precis: At the time of his marriage in Chesterville, Maine, Jabez Whitney was listed as being "of North Yarmouth." In the Vital Records of North Yarmouth, the intention to marry Abigail Wheeler of Chesterville is noted. No other indication has ever been found to indicate where Jabez was born or who his parents might be.

Problem: The first significant mention of Jabez Whitney is found in the Vital Records of Chesterville, Maine. There the intention to marry Abigail Milk Wheeler is recorded 17 January 1804 where he is listed as being of North Yarmouth. On 9 March 1804, Joshua B. Lowell, Jr., Clerk of Chesterville, issued a certificate of publishment and on 11 March 1804 they were married by Dummer Sewall, justice of the peace in Chesterville.1 The intention to marry is likewise recorded in the Vital Records of North Yarmouth2 but no further mention of Jabez is found in those records.

Background: Abigail Milk Wheeler was born 12 August 1784 in York, Maine, the daughter of John Wheeler (1750-1843) and his first wife, Mary (Mollie) Ingraham (1755-1814) who were married in York 20 June 1776. John later served as quartermaster aboard the Continental Sloop of War, Ranger, under John Paul Jones. The Wheelers moved to Chesterville, Maine in 1793 where John was the first tailor in town. Nothing is known of John Wheeler's parentage. Mollie Ingraham, daughter of Edward Ingraham and his second wife Elizabeth Ayres, descended from, among others, Francis Dowse, Nicholas Holt, Andrew Allen, and Edward Johnson who all came to Massachusetts prior to 1650.

Jabez and Abigail Milk (Wheeler) Whitney are found in the 1810 Federal census taken in Chesterville3 but no further mention of them is found in Maine. This is not surprising for they moved to Ohio in about 1815 and Jabez is found on the tax rolls of Athens County, Ohio, in 1816. Meigs County was formed from part of Athens County in 1819 and in the 1820 Federal Census, Jabez is found in Orange township. In 1830, he is found in Bedford township (it is probable that the township boundaries were adjusted, not that he moved. There is some evidence that Jabez and Abigail traveled to Ohio via New York; their daughter Ann was listed on the 1850 Federal census of Adams County, Illinois, and the enumerator's writing appears to read New York for her state of birth. (Ann was by then the wife of Thomas Peart, married 1838, and Abigail made her home with them.)

At some time in the 1830s Jabez and his family including at least two married daughters and their families moved to Adams County, Illinois. There Jabez died and preparation for probate had begun by 22 February 1840 when his son, Joseph I. Whitney announced the sale of real estate to settle the debts of his father in an advertisement published in the "Quincy Argus."4

The children of Jabez and Abigail Whitney were:

i. Joseph I[ngraham?] Whitney, born ca.1805 in Maine, married Emmeline __?__ ii. Lydia Whitney, born ca.1806 in Maine, married 1827 Philander Castle in Meigs County, Ohio iii. Thankful Whitney, born ca.1809 in Maine, married 1827 John M. Cartwright in Meigs County, Ohio iv. Lucinda Whitney, born ca. 1811 v. Mary Whitney, born ca 1813 in Maine, married 1833 Joseph Davis in Meigs County, Ohio vi. Ann Whitney, born ca. 1816 in Ohio, married 1838 Thomas Peart in Adams County, Illinois vii. John Wheeler Whitney, born April 1820 in Meigs County, Ohio, married 1842 Martha Jane Riggins in Brown County, Illinois viii. Elsey Whitney, born after 1819. It is probable is a female named for her maternal Aunt, Elsie (Wheeler) Morton. ix. Miranda Whitney, born after 1819. This child's name is given as Miranda (twice), Marinda, and Mirarella in various documents contained in the probate records of her father's estate.

A guardian was appointed to protect the rights of the three youngest children who were legal infants at the time of their father's death, thus born after 1819.

Intermarriages of Whitney, Wheeler, Morton, and Mitchell

The children of John and Mollie (Ingraham) Wheeler included Elsie (b 1787) who married Reuben Morton, the son of Jabez Morton and Lucy Whitney-5 (Isaac-4, Nathaniel-3, Benjamin-2, John-1). Their daughter Fanny Morton (b1810) married John M. Mitchell (b 1804) who was the son of Dominicus Mitchell (b 1772) and Apphia Whitney (b 1774). Dominicus and Apphia were married 1795 in North Yarmouth5 where both apparently resided. Apphia was the daughter of Phineas Whitney-5 (Isaac-4, Nathaniel-3, Benjamin-2, John-1) and his wife Anna Morton, sister of Jabez Morton and daughter of Bryant Morton and Thankful Parker.

Candidate for parents

Phineas and Anna (Morton) Whitney were married in Gorham, Maine where they had four children: Stephen (1771), Crosby (1773), Affia/Apphia (1776), and Jonathan (1778). Phineas apparently left Gorham after the birth of Jonathan.6 It is unknown where they went, but North Yarmouth seems a likely place since their daughter was married there. What is not known is whether Phineas and Anna had additional children. It seems reasonable to think that they might have done so. Jabez Whitney was born in 1780 and would fit into the pattern of births in Phineas's family. However, no documentation for this candidacy is known.

Onomastic analysis of Jabez Whitney's family and that of Phineas's family suggests that they could be related. If Jabez is the son of Phineas then it may be that:

  1. He is named for his maternal uncle, Jabez Morton.
  2. His oldest daughter, Lydia, is named for Abigail Milk Wheeler's grandmother, Lydia Holt, mother of Mollie Ingraham.
  3. His second daughter is named for Jabez's maternal grandmother, Thankful Parker.
  4. His third daughter is named for his father's only sister, Lucy (Whitney) Morton.
  5. His fourth daughter is named for Abigail's mother, Mary (Mollie) Ingraham.
  6. His fifth daughter is named for Jabez's mother, Anna Morton.
  7. His sixth daughter is named for Abigail's sister, Elsie.
  8. His oldest son is named for Abigail's uncle Joseph Holt Ingraham (Abby, herself was named for Joseph's then dead first wife, Abigail (Milk) Ingraham).
  9. His next son was named for Abigail's father, John Wheeler

Miranda is a name that doesn't seem to fit their pattern of naming children for members of the family, but the number of other name pairings suggest that the relationship is a likely one.

There are other instances where members of this extended Whitney/Wheeler/Morton family seem to be linked. An example is the listing of settlers "in certain Plantations" in Waldo County, in 1804, as reported by Robert Houston, of Belfast, to General Henry Knox.7 There, in Plantation Jackson, are listed Bryant Morton (Anna Morton Whitney's brother), George Morton (unknown), Stephen Whitney (perhaps Phineas's son or Phineas's brother), Ebenezer Morton (Anna Morton Whitney's brother or his son), and Jabez Whitney. It is difficult to imagine that such a collection of Mortons and Whitneys would be interested in settling together in Jackson unless there was a tie of kinship. And, it should be noted in honesty, several members of this group were absent when Houston surveyed the settlers.

The Vital Records of Chesterville show that there were two families other than that of Jabez in the town. Henry-5 and Timothy-5, half brothers of Phineas-5, were both born in Gorham (Isaac-4, Nathaniel-3, Benjamin-2, John-1) settled in Chesterville after 1800. Henry and Abigail (Walker) Whitney lived in North Yarmouth and two of their children were born there, Betsey (1794) and Cyrus (1801). Henry, according to McLellan's History of Gorham, ME, had also lived in Pownal and Freeport, Maine and it was while living in Freeport with Henry that his father died.

Works consulted without success

The published vital records for towns surrounding Gorham, Maine, including all of Cumberland County, those for towns in Androskoggin, Kennebec, Franklin, Knox, Lincoln, and Waldo that seemed remotely likely to have had Whitneys in them have been searched without success. Although there are lots of Whitneys in the book, Jabez is not found in the Cumberland County, ME, Register of Deeds (land records 1760-1902). Nor is he found in the Hancock or Waldo grantee index (land records). The published abstracts of probates of early Maine have been searched and no sign of relevant Whitney estates has been found.8 Jabez is not named as an heir or witness in one of them.


1 Family History Library, LDS, microfilm number 010792

2 North Yarmouth Maine Vital Records to 1850, published by the Society of Mayflower Descendants in Rhode Island, 1988, p 191, original volume 2, page 84

3 Federal Census of Chesterville, Maine, page 853, stamped number is 430

4 Probate Records of Adams County, Illinois, Box 5, case 102; inventory box 248, Family History Library, LDS, microfilm number 0933942

5 North Yarmouth Maine Vital Records, op. cit.

6 McLellan, Hugh D., History of Gorham, ME., compiled and edited by his daughter Katharine B. Lewis, Smith & Sale, Printers, Portland, 1903, pp 827-837, specifically on page 829; he notes that the children were born in Gorham in such a way that it is possible to infer that other children may have been born elsewhere, not a pattern McLellan followed with other entries.

7 Porter, Joseph W. (ed.),The Bangor Historical Magazine later The Maine Historical Magazine 1885-1894, Volumes 1-3, Maine Genealogical Society special publication No 14, Picton Press, Camden, Maine, pp159-161

8 Frost, John Eldridge, Maine Probate Abstracts, 2 Vols (1687-1775; 1775-1800), Picton Press, Camden, Maine, 1991.


Jabez WHITNEY was indeed son of Phineas5 and Anna (MORTON) WHITNEY [Isaac4, Nathaniel3, Benjamin2, John1), as hypothesized above.

Phineas5 WHITNEY died in Norridgewock, Somerset Co., ME, 13 Nov 1832. In the "Somerset County [Maine] Probate Records" Vol. 7, 1832-1836 (FHL film # 0012197), pages 1-5 will and letters of administration, page 211 inventory, is the will of Phinehas Whitney dated 7 September 1832, filed for probate 16 November 1832. The will leaves items to his second wife, Mary, and to son John of Portland, daughter Affa Mitchell wife of Dominicus Mitchell, daughter Anna Chandler wife of David Chandler of Chesterville [Maine], son Reuben [of Norridgewock], and "son Jabez Whitney who resides in the state of Ohio". Sole executor was David Chandler. Witnesses were: Joshua Gould, Jown W. Mitchell, Reuben Morton Jr. The inventory came to $107.06.

Phineas WHITNEY married secondly, 1 Sep 1818, Norridgewock, Mary (BLETHEN)(FISH) EMERSON, widow of Isaac FISH, whom she had married 8 Jun 1779, Georgetown, Sagadahoc Co., ME, and of Ezekiel EMERSON, whom she had married 15 Apr 1786, Georgetown. This is established by the pension records of both Isaac Fish and Phineas Whitney, and the marriage records.

Copyright © 2006, 2007, Tim Doyle, Robert L. Ward, and the Whitney Research Group.