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The road not taken

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And you know what else I missed, a stone’s throw from the Dinosaur Place?

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No idea who this was named after. It’s not near the Oxoboxo River, so my guess is not Samuel.


Earlier Montville ancestors. Well, collaterals.

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No way!

Four days after I get back from New England, this article appears, singling out five roadside attractions in the United States: Trees of Mystery in Klamath, CA; the Gum Wall in Seattle, WA; the Blue Whale in Catoosa, OK; Lucy the Elephant in Margate City, NJ… and the Dinosaur Place at Nature’s Art Village in Montville, CT.

Northeastern roadtrippers will find 40 life-sized dinosaur figures on a 1.5-mile nature trail in The Dinosaur Place. And the best part is that they don’t have to worry about any real-life velociraptors.

And I somehow missed it. Passed about three miles from it not knowing it was there. Tragic!Screen Shot 2016-08-18 at 9.33.50 AM


Stomping here, stomping there


I spent the past week on the Massachusetts North Shore, for reasons. On Wednesday I had some time, not really enough time to drive down to Plymouth and back, but I did anyway. I’d been there once as a small child, and near there a couple times in the early 1990s, but not since learning about my Plymouth roots.

I ended up with only an hour and a half or so in Plymouth, of which 52 minutes was spent sitting in a parking lot on the phone with my lawyer. Not much time to look around! That parking lot, though, was this one:IMG_0747Maybe you recognize it from the Google Maps link in this post. This is Plymouth Plaza, a strip mall built on or quite close to the location of the “Reed Pond” referred to in the old Plymouth records. These include the first mention of John Holmes in Plymouth, in 1632, when he bought a house and six acres of land adjoining Reed Pond. In Stratton’s article on John Holmes he also writes: “On 7 August 1638 Mr. John Holmes asked to be granted 10 or 12 acres adjoining his lot, and also a small parcel of meadow at Reed Pond.” In 1667 John Holmes, presumably the son of the immigrant, was granted “A privilidge of grasse or sedge… att the Reed pond in case hee can make meddow of the whole pond or any pte therof it is to be his owne”.

A short walk away is Nelson Memorial Park, on the water, from which you can get a glimpse of the Mayflower II.IMG_0751Further south on Court Street is the building addition on the location where John’s son Nathaniel built a house which may have been standing as recently as the 1990s.
IMG_0752 North of that building is an old brick wall. I suspect it was once part of Nathaniel’s house, though not an original part.IMG_0753 And north of Plymouth Plaza, here’s Holmes Terrace, named for, well, someone named Holmes.IMG_0754

So much for Plymouth; I had to get back to Gloucester.

This morning I left for home, but with a diversion to the south:IMG_1455_crop That’s the Post Office in Montville, CT, if you can’t read it.

I don’t know where Samuel Holmes lived. About all I know is that he had property on the “Sawmill Brook”. From what I’ve read this seems likely to be what’s now called the Oxoboxo River or Oxoboxo Brook. It flows very near that post office, though “flows” isn’t really the word, at least in this dry summer: it looked more like a wet piece of ground than a stream: IMG_1441 So Samuel might have lived close to that point, or not…

It was a somewhat longer drive than I’d expected to get to the neighboring town of Salem where, in the Wesley Brown Cemetery, Samuel’s wife Lucretia is buried. Daughter in law Lucy and (I think) grandson William share the gravestone with her:IMG_1460

So I’ve now been to the birthplaces of eleven consecutive generations of Holmeses: Newport News, VA (my son); Boston, MA (me); Schodack Center, NY (my father); Hamilton, NY (Clarence and Jerome); Montville, CT (Hiram and Nathan); and Plymouth, MA (Samuel, Elisha, Elisha, and Nathaniel). The ATM is planning on a trip to England in 2018, so maybe I can add Colchester (John, Thomas, and Thomas) and Ramsden Bellhouse (Thomas and perhaps John) to the list then.

Some signatures (and a mark)

Here’s the signature of Clarence E. Holmes (1875–1955):Signature Clarence

Clarence’s father, Jerome Holmes (1834–1912):Signature Jerome

Jerome’s father, Hiram Holmes (1804–1864):Signature Hiram

Hiram’s father, Nathan Holmes (ca. 1766–1850), or his brother, Nathan Holmes (ca. 1811–1856):Nathan Holmes signature in book - S00000

Nathan’s father, Samuel Holmes (1722–1774), wrote a will, but I don’t have a copy, nor of any other documents with his signature.

Samuel’s father, Elisha Holmes (1698–1779):Signature Elisha (Jr)

Elisha’s father, Elisha Holmes (1670–ca. 1753), wrote a will but the original doesn’t seem to be in the Plymouth probate files, nor do I have any other documents with his signature.

Elisha’s father, Nathaniel Holmes (ca. 1643–1727):Mark Nathaniel

There are no known signatures for Nathaniel’s father, John Holmes (1630–aft. 1651).

John’s father, Thomas Holmes (ca 1567–aft. 1637):Signature Thomasand that’s as far back as I have.

Dancing for descendants


I spent last week with the American Travelling Morrice, doing morris dance performances in the area around Hillsdale, NY, from the Hudson to western Massachusetts. Thursday we were in the town of Chatham, starting at the Old Chatham Country Store & Café in Old Chatham. I met there some people who said they had ancestors from Chatham.

As do I: My mother was born in Chatham, on her grandfather Hanson’s farm. The Hansons (or Hansens) came over from Denmark around 1888, but on my maternal grandmother’s side there’s ancestry in that general area (mostly in Nassau, several miles north) back into the 18th century.

We compared some surnames but didn’t find any connections on my mother’s side. Turns out, though, they were on their way to Plymouth, MA to attend the Alden Kindred’s annual meeting on August 1. So we were related, but on my father’s side.

Next year the ATM will begin on the first weekend in August and will likely be somewhere in eastern Massachusetts. Maybe I’ll make a stop in Plymouth and meet some more Alden descendants.

But this year on August 1, I was dancing in Hillsdale, Copake, and Philmont. It would have been my mother’s 98th birthday.


Schrödinger’s King

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So I’ve learned a good bit about George KING. He was born in Scituate, RI and lived there until the 1790s; he fought in the Revolution; he married and raised a family; he moved to Norwich, NY; he collected a pension; and he died in infancy. Wait, what?

Land records tell us:

  • George King was alive as late as October 1823
  • His wife’s name was Henrietta
  • Some likely relatives were Charles KING (born 1785–95, wife: Sally), Elhanan W. KING (wife: Lydia), William R. KING, and Anthony KING — probably sons or grandsons.
  • He was part of a group that included John COOK — and Charles KING, Arthur BURLINGAME, Jonathan JOHNSON, AND Jesse GREENE — that bought some land in April 1819, then sold it again the next month. (I may be misunderstanding something, but it looks like they bought it for $700 and sold it for $400. I’m probably misunderstanding something.)

Another deed, dated 1817, tells us something about the COOKs; the parties of the first part are all, or nearly all, the then living children of Gideon and Jane, and their spouses, which is always a nice find. They are: John COOK and wife Barbara, Nathan ALDRICH and wife Hannah, George COOK and wife Salanis, Joshua WINSOR and wife Amey, Richard COOK and wife Sally, Charles KING and wife Susannah, Sylvanus COOK and wife Mary, Daniel COOK and wife Waite, and Stephen WINSOR and wife Nancy, all of Norwich, selling land that had belonged to their recently deceased brother Elijah COOK. (No mention of Elizabeth ALDRICH, or Jane who by then had died). This mostly just confirms what I’d already put together, except that I didn’t have a first name for Susannah KING’s husband and wasn’t sure she was in Norwich.

And that’s a bit of a monkey wrench in everything, because there seems to have been only one Charles KING in Norwich. At least I can’t find evidence of more than one. I found online the names of the children of John and George H. KING (the ones from Massachusetts, and who were, as it turns out, brothers) and there was no Charles between them. There’s only one who turns up as head of household in the census, in 1820, 1830, and 1840. But in the one other deed I’ve seen where Charles’s wife is named, she’s Sally.

Sally is normally a nickname for Sarah, not Susannah. Still, maybe Susannah was known as Sally anyway. Or… the mention of Sally is on a deed dated 1823. It’s possible Susannah died and Charles remarried between 1817 and 1823. (I need to look at other deeds Charles was a party to, to see if his wife is named elsewhere, but at the moment is having connectivity problems.)

Or despite all appearances, there really were two Charles KINGs.

It’d be nice to see what Charles’s will says. If there were one. There isn’t, at least not in the Chenango County wills index. In fact I find no probate records for Charles (or George), and no grave markers either. George doesn’t appear as a head of household in 1830 but Charles has a male age 70–79 in his household; then in 1840 that older male is no longer living with Charles. As we’ll see, George apparently died around 1839. Then in 1850 Charles doesn’t appear in Norwich, nor indeed anywhere in Chenango County as far as I can tell. His last land transaction apparently was in 1844. Then, poof, gone.

But I’d have to see more evidence before I start believing in the two Charles theory. I lean in favor of Sally being Susannah, with Sally as second wife after Susannah a not too distant second — just by gut feeling. Either way, I’m pretty confident George was Susannah COOK’s father in law.

But was he John COOK’s? No real evidence either way. If I had proof Barbara’s birth name was KING then I’d be confident George was her father, but as of now, I’m merely rooting for him. (As for Henrietta being her mother, well, it was almost 30 years between Barbara’s birth and Henrietta’s first mention in the deed records. There’s a good chance she was her mother, but on the other hand George could have been widowed — widowered? — and remarried two or three times pretty easily in that period.)

Suppose George is Barbara’s father, though; then of course we want to know where he came from and who his parents were. The land records say he was from Glocester, RI. The state and federal censuses say a George KING headed a household in Scituate, RI from 1777 to 1790. And the 1832 pension roll says George fought in the RI line.

It also says he was 78 (in, I think it means, the year he was awarded a pension — 1824). But that, I’m now pretty sure, is wrong. As I said, Charles KING had a man in his 70s living with him in 1830. In the 1800 census George was 45 or over. If the man in Charles’s household was George, then, combining the two censuses, he must have been born in or very near the first half of the 1750s.

And then I found George’s pension application online — along with a record that his final pension payment was in 1839. The application says he was living in Norwich: check. Says his wife is Henrietta: check. (Says he has a 19 year old daughter, Silana, living with him, who has a 2 year old baby and has never been married. Oh.)

And it quite clearly says he was, in 1824, 68 years old. I’d say the 78 in the pension roll was a typo. But that’s very interesting, because it implies a birth year of about 1755 or 1756.

But there’s a record of a George KING, son of Isaac KING, born in Scituate, RI on 25 Nov 1755! One of a set of triplets, in fact. Looks like a slam dunk.


On it says that in the KING family burial ground in Scituate, where Isaac is buried, there’s a gravestone for George, and it says he died in 1756 — in infancy.


Now, it also says “Note: Stone illegible and/or partially buried” which leaves me wondering whether it really says George KING and 1755–1756 on it. Or more generally, what’s actually written on the stone, and who transcribed it, when? I’ve found no reliable information on the death of George son of Isaac anywhere else, or indeed anything beyond his birth information.

So: Alive and kicking until nearly 1840, or dead and buried in 1756? Or a quantum superposition of both? I’m trying to make an observation here, shouldn’t the wave function collapse?

Okay, while I don’t believe in two Charleses, two Georges seems less unlikely. But wouldn’t it be nice if I found the right one the first time?


I’m beginning to like George

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So let’s just make the assumption for the moment that Barbara COOK’s maiden name was KING; what then?

She was born in Rhode Island about 1784; she probably would not have married John much before 1804. Their oldest child, Laban, was apparently born around 1804 or so.  (Rhoda was born in October 1805.) Since Gideon and family were in Norwich by 1800, the KINGs were almost certainly neighbors there, and not necessarily in Rhode Island.

There are no KINGs in Norwich for the 1790 census but there are three KING heads of household in Norwich for 1800: George, George, and John. The 1835 Pension Roll says all three served in the Revolution: John and one of the Georges were from Massachusetts and the other George was from Rhode Island. Land records in Chenango County confirm John was from Massachusetts and one George was from Rhode Island; specifically, Glocester — the same town Gideon COOK came from.

(There’s one George KING listed in each of the 1777 and 1782 Rhode Island state censuses and the 1790 Federal census for Rhode Island: all three are in Scituate, which is adjacent to Glocester.)

The Pension Roll says the Rhode Island George was born about 1746. The other George and John were younger.

In the 1800 census the older George’s household has one female age 16–25. The other two KING households have none in that age bracket, though John has two 10–15.

And do you know who’s on the very next line after the older George in the 1800 census, and therefore was probably one of his closest neighbors?

Screen Shot 2015-02-28 at 11.40.48 PMOne of the Georges wrote a will, naming his daughters. The wrong George, though. George of RI apparently didn’t, and there’s no other probate documents for him either that I can find at Nothing for him at

He’s not in any census after 1830. Nor are there obvious candidates for his widow.

Some Googling turns up a George KING born in Rhode Island in 1755 but nothing about one born nine years earlier.

So that’s all I’ve got. But it’s enough to get me interested.