Sarah Mary Tucker Lafary, 1800 – 1889

Sarah was born to Levi and Susannah Tucker in Prince George Parrish, MD in February of 1800[1]. Soon after Sarah’s birth, the Tucker family relocated to Ohio, probably to the area now comprising Brown County in the southern part of the state on the Ohio River. Sarah’s father Levi served in the Ohio Militia during the War of 1812 in Capt. Hugh Flinn’s company[2]. According to county marriage records, Sarah married John Laffary on 25 April 1822[3]. John was nearly 30 years older than Sarah, he was a contemporary of her father and along with Levi Tucker was one of the first settlers in the Brown County area[4]. Since Levi Tucker served in the War of 1812, I decided to search for records to support the idea that John Laffary also served. I searched military records for Ohio and Pennsylvania since I knew John lived in both those states. I also searched on variants of his surname. What I found was at first disappointing and then profoundly sad.

Family Tree of Jesse King

Family tree of Sarah Tucker Lafary, based on my research, as of October 2018

I searched online for any evidence of John Lafary serving in the War of 1812. I found many similar names, and I believe his brother and/or a son. The state of Ohio posted many research aids leading up to the 200th anniversary of the war and Fold3 has a wealth of scanned original documents. I eventually found a ‘Widows Pension Application‘ file on Fold3 for John Lafary[5] which led me to hope I would find a service record. What I found was a 45 page file that included letters from lawyers and memos from officials AND, most amazingly, a handwritten letter from Sarah Tucker Lafary to the then president of the United States, Grover Cleveland[6]. It was her last appeal for a pension, sadly the pension was denied. However, finding this letter was a reward in itself. The letter gives a glimpse of a person who had no formal education, a poor farmers wife, then widow, mother of nine, who probably just wanted some independence through an income of her own. Below is the scanned image of the letter and my transcription.


Below is my transcription of the letter written by Sarah Tucker Lafary (1800-1889) on 3 January 1888 to President Grover Cleveland with regard to the War of 1812 widow’s pension she hoped to receive. Sarah originally applied in 1886 and had been through several appeals. The second page of the letter shows the stamps of the various departments that received this letter. Her claim was rejected, she never received a pension.

I have transcribed as she wrote, including the poor spelling and grammar, and line breaks as they are in the letter.

Atlanta ind
January the 3 – 1888
Mr president I take plesure
to rite you a few lines to you
about my afars conserning
pension money Sarah
lafara the wido of John
lafara her husband who
was from brown county
ohio under Sewmalt as
his capton in the year 1812
for the purpes of defending
his contry well now mister
gover clevlant i wis you cold
get mee a pension for i am a
needy wid and if tre is
a chance for a penshon i think
that i am worthey of the same
now i will close riting for
this time hoping to here
from you shortly youers
trooly Sarah lafara to
grover clevlant

(page 2)

pleas send you
leter which you will
rite to mee direct to
atlanta Hamilton county Ind
in the care of Henry Smelsor
by her reqwest

Sarah Lafery

Prince George Parrish, MD

Sarah was born in Prince Georges Parrish, MD in 1800.

Perry Township, Brown County, OH

Sarah moved to Brown County, OH with her parents, married John Lafary here and most of all their children were born here.

Ripley County, IN

Sarah and John moved to Ripley Co. around 1845.

Rushville, IN

Sarah lived in Rushville with sons George and Francis between 1865 and 1875, roughly.

Atlanta, IN

Sarah lived near Atlanta, IN after 1875, with her sons George and Francis.

Although Sarah Tucker Lafary was born in Maryland, her family moved to Perry Township in Brown County, Ohio shortly after her birth. It was in Brown County that she married John Lafary and it was there their nine children were born. About 1842, Sarah and John, and their nine children moved to Johnson Township in Ripley County, Indiana[7].  After John’s death in 1850, Sarah and some of the children returned to Brown County for a time[8]. After the Civil War, Sarah moved back to Indiana with two of her sons and they lived for a time near Rushville in Rush County[9]. Then, sometime before 1877, the family moved to Hamilton County, near the farming community of Atlanta. It was while living in Hamilton County, with her youngest son Francis Marion Lafara, that Sarah filed for the pension and it was there she died at the age of 89.


[1] “Maryland, Births and Christenings Index, 1662-1911” FHL: 13201, Ancestry, Provo, UT
[2] “U.S., War of 1812 Service Records, 1812-1815”  Roll: 212, film# M602, Ancestry, Provo, UT
[3] “Ohio, County Marriage Records, 1774-1993” FHL: 000384273, FamilySearch, Salt Lake City, Utah
[4] “The History of Brown County, Ohio: Etc.” Higginson Book Company, Pub. 1883, page 482
[5] “War of 1812 Pension Application Files Index, 1812-1815” Roll: 55, film# M313, Ancestry, Provo, UT
[6] “War of 1812 Pension and Bounty Land Warrant Application Files”  NARA, Pension# 44214, Page: 43
[7]  Entry for Sarah Lee Ferry, 1850 United States Federal Census,  Roll:  M432_169; Page: 240A, Ancestry, Provo, UT;
[8]  Entry for Sarah Laffery, 1860 United States Federal Census,  Roll: M653_938; Page: 188, Ancestry, Provo, UT;
[9]  Entry for Sarah Leffry, 1870 United States Federal Census,  Roll: M593_356; Page: 448B, Ancestry, Provo, UT;