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Give and bequeath

8 Mar 2013

At familysearch.org they’ve recently put some new probate records up: Estate records for Madison County up to 1876. These are the files of paperwork associated with probate cases. The index volume, unfortunately, shows no entry for Grace HOLMES, Hiram HOLMES, or Nathan HOLMES Jr. — nor indeed anyone with the surname HOLMES who I think is closely connected to my line. Madison County is known to have a bunch of documents missing. Several years ago some boxes of old records, apparently untouched for decades, were found in the county courthouse basement. I never did find out if there were any estate records in there. The ones online were filmed in 1965.

I did find the records for Edwin F. SMITH. (There’s an index entry for his wife Hannah’s records, too, but she died in 1878 so was not included in the uploaded files.) There seems to be no mention of next of kin other than Hannah and their daughter. Hannah’s referred to by her married name, of course.

Hoping for some light on the ancestry of either Edwin or Hannah I went looking at some other SMITHs. I found the records for Chauncy D. SMITH, who died in 1842 at the age of about 31. He had a big file: about 150 images. I get the impression his probate was complicated by at least a couple of factors: his sole beneficiary was his minor child, and his executor himself died before probate was finished. In addition Chauncy’s will has been online for some time, though I’d never looked at it before. I haven’t gone through these records with extreme care (and possibly never will!) but I’ve spotted a few things of interest.

The will mentions “my three sisters Phebe Willson Harriet Holmes & Angeline Shores”, and in Chauncy’s estate records Phebe WILSON is specifically described as a daughter of Simeon SMITH. Harriet was the second wife of Jabez HOLMES. (Four years after Chauncy’s death, they had a son they named Chauncy.) Phebe WILSON appears in Jabez’s household in one census and is described as the “sister” of the head of household. At first I thought she was a previously unknown daughter of Nathan and Grace, but I soon figured out she had to be a sister-in-law, and specifically I inferred she was a sister of Harriet. I have Harriet, Phebe, and Angelina in my database as daughters of Simeon SMITH (Angelina a half sister of the other two, with a different mother), but didn’t know about Chauncy, and the evidence for this family was rather circumstantial. Now it’s proved!

Jabez HOLMES’s name turns up a couple of times in Chauncy’s estate records. Between the handwriting, the abbreviations, and the legalese I’m not entirely sure what each entry means, but it looks like the estate was making some reimbursements to him as well as to many other people. At least one receipt bears his signature.

The file also contains at least one mention of Jonathan G. HOLMES. That would have been Jabez’s cousin, or so I believe he was, who was born in Montville, Connecticut, moved to Madison County, and later on returned to Connecticut. Nothing is said here to indicate kinship between Jonathan and anyone else, though.

Another name that caught my eye was H. Holmes TREADWAY. Who was that? I hadn’t recalled encountering him before, but it turns out Henry Holmes TREADWAY was a son of Ezekial TREADWAY and Sarah HOLMES, and Sarah is in my database. She was a daughter of Samuel HOLMES and Tabitha RATHBON of Colchester, New London, Connecticut; another of Samuel’s sons, Seth, moved to Brookfield and had a large family there. Samuel was a descendant of George HOLMES of Roxbury, Essex, Massachusetts, who was born in Nazing, Waltham, Essex, England. There’s nothing to indicate any close connection with my HOLMES line — though it’d be nice to have some yDNA results to verify that!

So far I’ve seen no mention of Edwin F. SMITH. Which is good from my point of view; I’m hoping he and Harriet were not related.

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One Comment
  1. Will need a separate entry, I think, but just to update: I pressed on to the will and estate records of Charles SMITH, ca 1774–1848, and he turns out to be the father of Edwin F. SMITH! Other children of Charles are Hyleman, Landon, Alnora; grandchildren are named as is Alnora’s husband Daniel YOUNGLOVE. From the 1855 census Hyleman was born about 1803 in Madison County… so figuring out where that family came from before that is not going to be so easy.

    Anyway, this makes it definite that if Rosaltha (SMITH) CURTIS and Chauncey HOLMES were related on the SMITH sides they could be no closer than second cousins. But if Rosaltha’s mother Hannah was a daughter of Nathan HOLMES then they were first cousins. Chauncey’s visit to Rose makes a good deal more sense in the latter scenario, I think. This is way short of proof but I’m starting to like it more…

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