Tamer Washburn Washburn was born July 4, 1805 in Mt. Pleasant, Westchester, New York to Jesse Washburn and Susan Tompkins Washburn. Her parents were Quakers, and Tamer was raised in their faith. She married Abraham Washburn on March 16, 1824 at Mt. Pleasant. (His grandfather was her father's brother.) They became the parents of 11 children: Daniel, Mary Ann, Emma Jane, Elizabeth Underhill, Daniel Abraham, Sarah Elizabeth, John E., Susanna, Joseph Bates, Artemisha Minerva, and William Davis (adopted). Early in their married life, they moved to Sing Sing where Abraham did shoe making and tanning. When Parley P. Pratt came to New York preaching the gospel, Abraham believed immediately. 'The message was so plain and beautiful that he believed everybody could be readily converted.' Abraham brought Brother Pratt home to teach Tamer. Tamer was a staunch Methodist who had retained many Quaker ideas, and she was full of righteous indignation at the idea of continuing revelation. Abraham was baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and continued trying to convert his wife without success. One night at a meeting, a messenger came and called Abraham home, telling him that Tamer was in a nervous condition at his attending a Mormon meeting. As Abraham left, Brother Pratt said, 'Be of good cheer Brother Washburn for in a very short time your wife will be a member of this church.' A few weeks later, Tamer asked Brother Pratt to baptize her. Tamer learned to love the gospel, and their home was always open to Mormon missionaries. Tamer and Abraham traveled with their family to Nauvoo, Illinois, where Abraham was a member of the Nauvoo Legion. They were close friends with the Prophet Joseph Smith, and once at an evening social at the Washburns' house, Joseph gave Tamer a blessing saying 'her salvation in the Celestial kingdom was assured on account of her liberality.' They traveled to Utah with the Saints in 1848. When they arrived, Abraham took a second wife, Flora Clarinda Gleason Johnson. They settled in Manti, Utah. After all of Tamer's children were married, she gave up housekeeping except during the United Order. Then, she kept house for Abraham while he presided over the Sevier County Tannery. Tamer spent time visiting her children and bringing them presents. While she was away, she had Flora's daughter Lorena keep house for her. Abraham died on June 17, 1886. Tamer followed on September 4, 1886 and was buried in Nephi, Utah.
Tamer's three-page, typewritten biography was authored by a step-daughter, Lorena Eugenia Washburn Larsen. There is also a biography in the collection that Lorena wrote for her mother Flora, Abraham's second wife. In Tamer's biography, Lorena does not give much biographical information. The only mention of Tamer's childhood is of her Quaker religion: 'She was brought up a Quaker, whose sabbath commenced on Saturday at sundown and closed Sunday at sundown. No member of that Faith was supposed to laugh during that period, but as the Washburns said Quakers were very human and at the close of the sabbath the young people had a very good time.' The majority of the biography focuses on Tamer's conversion and stories demonstrating her personality. After Tamer's conversion, Orson and Parley Pratt stayed with the Washburns while they continued their missionary work in New York. On one occasion, Orson brought his wife. She was wearing a lace cap with bows of ribbon and small artificial flowers on the side. Still used to strict Quaker practices, Tamer thought the cap was too ornate, and asked Orson's wife to remove the trimmings while a guest in their house. Tamer laughed as she told this story later, because she wore such caps herself in the years that followed and enjoyed having them handsomely decorated. Lorena describes Tamer as 'a social person and usually optimistic, yet she was capable of very intense feelingsshe was a liberal giver, and was always thankful for something to give to others.' Abraham was a prosperous businessman and gave Tamer an allowance of 75 dollars a month, part of which she saved and deposited in the bank. Later, Tamer took some of these savings and gave them to Orson Pratt to pay his traveling expenses for a mission to England. Another story that Tamer later laughingly related took place in Nauvoo. After experiencing persecution and using their money to help others and to build the temple, the Washburns went through a time of financial difficulty. One morning Tamer fried some hot cakes for the family but had little to go with them. Abraham was very devout and always blessed the food no matter how scarce it was. He prayed, thanking the Lord for the hotcakes. '[Tamer], at that moment, could not see anything to be thankful for, and when father said, 'Amen,' she said '“Oh damn the stuff.'' Another story in the biography is of a dream Tamer had while in Nauvoo. She dreamed she was in heaven and saw groups of children playing happily, supervised by very fine and intelligent woman. Tamer found two of her children in one of the groups. Surprised, she looked up at the woman who had charge of them. This woman said, 'Sister Washburn, it is your privilege to see beforehand where your children will be, that the parting will not be so hard.' A few weeks after she had this dream, the children died. '[Tamer] said that when they died she could not shed a tear because the vision she had was constantly before her mind.' The biography also tells of the struggle that Tamer had with plural marriage. 'She prayed often for strength and God finally gave her victory over herself, after that plural marriage ceased to be a trial and [she said] that my mother had been one of her best earthly friends.' At the end of the biography, there is a list of Tamer's children with dates and locations for their births and deaths along with the names of their spouses. Lorena also includes a poem she wrote in tribute to Tamer. It is entitled, 'To Aunt Tamer,' and was written July 4, 1880 in Monroe, Utah.