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If not her, who?

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What if Mrs. Edwin SMITH wasn’t a HOLMES?

I think the evidence is reasonably good that she was. The Peter HOLMES genealogy says there was a Hannah HOLMES who married a SMITH — though I think it gets it wrong when it says she was a daughter of Henry. She was born in a reasonably plausible time and place. They lived near Poolville, very near where I think Hiram HOLMES lived in 1840. Chauncey HOLMES used to visit the SMITHs’ daughter on his visits to Hamilton.

That’s not very strong evidence in favor, but on the other hand there’s not much evidence against, either. My two worries relates to her age. Her gravestone says she was 62 when she died in 1877, for a birthdate in 1814 or 1815. (The censuses of 1850, 1855, 1860, 1865, 1870, 1875 have ages 33, 40, 44, 59 [sic], 52, and 58, respectively, inconsistently implying birthdates — after adjusting that 59 down to 49 — from around 1815 to 1818 and averaging maybe around 1816 or 1817.) Grace HOLMES would have been about 45 in 1815, with her previous known child, Nathan Jr., born in 1811. A somewhat late age for having children but not ridiculously so. The other thing is the family’s whereabouts in 1820 and 1830: No clue where they were in 1820, but in 1830 there were “extra” people in Jabez HOLMES’s household. Maybe they were Nathan Sr. and Grace and some of their offspring, but there’s no teenage girl. One certainly can think of plausible scenarios to explain that, but the simplest, Occam-preferred theory is that there just wasn’t a teenage girl in the family to be there.

But there was a Hannah, or Hanner, HOLMES, living probably in the Hamilton area around 1837. If she wasn’t the future Mrs. Edwin SMITH, who was she?

If all we had to go on was the suspicion that Nathan and Grace had a daughter named Hannah who married a SMITH, we’d never be able to pin her down. They apparently had three daughters born between 1790–1800; one at the elder end of that could even have gotten married in Montville and stayed there (which would account for only two daughters that age in the 1810 census). Or one could have married in Hamilton and then moved off to anywhere.

Or not. Besides Edwin, there’s an Ambrose Y. SMITH born around 1798 whose wife Hannah was about the same age, and they lived in Eaton, just south of Poolville. Is that her?

Don’t think so. For one thing, the 1850 census says she was born in New York. (She died in 1851, so there are no other censuses to check that against.) For another thing, according to cemetery records and consistent with the 1850 census, Ambrose and Hannah had a son, Ambrose Jr., who was born in 1827. That’s ten years before Hanner HOLMES signed her name — as HOLMES, not SMITH — on a receipt.

Likewise there was a Joseph SMITH with wife Hannah in Brookfield in the 1850 census. But she was born about 1806 in New York, and son Westley was born about 1826. A Hannah SMITH, born about 1797 in Connecticut, was in Cazenovia in 1855, but had a daughter born about 1825.

That’s about it for the local Hannah SMITHs. If Hannah did marry a SMITH, but didn’t marry Edwin, they must have left the area and will be a lot harder to track down.


Dunn wall

I’ve been getting approximately nowhere trying to figure out John DUNN and Ruth RECORD.

They were, according to Descendants of John Collins, the parents of Anna DUNN, b. 17 Aug 1792, who married Solomon COLLINS of Hopkinton, Washington, RI. RECORD is not a common surname, although “record” is a very common word on genealogy pages, which complicates automated searches.

From what I can see in the census and Rhode Island vital records, there was a RECORDS family in Little Compton, Newport, RI during the early to middle 18th century — including a Ruth RECORDS born about the right time but married to the wrong man — but they may have gone elsewhere by the end of the century. In the 1777 state census there were only John and Thomas RECORDS in Richmond, Providence County. By 1790 Providence county had been split and Richmond was in Washington County, and was home to John and Comfort RECORDS and their households. In 1800 there were only Anna RECORD in District 14, Washington, RI and Jonathan RECORDS in Newport, Newport, RI. Judging by the nearby names, Anna probably was living at or near the same place as John and Comfort ten years before and I’d guess she was the widow of one of them. And was Anna DUNN named for her?

Meanwhile there was a John DUNN in Richmond in 1790. Add in the fact that Richmond is the next town east of Hopkinton and I arrive at a fair amount of confidence this is the right John DUNN, and that Anna, John, and Comfort RECORD[S] were relatives of Ruth — perhaps mother, father, and uncle? But by 1800 the only John DUNN in RI is on Block Island and the only other DUNN in the state is Bernon in Providence, and in 1810 there aren’t any RECORDs in RI — though there are two RICHARDs and a RITCHER, none of whom was in Washington County. Nor do any John DUNNs turn up in Madison County, NY in the early 1800s — though there are two of them in Smyrna, Chenango, NY by 1810. One wasn’t old enough to be Anna’s father, but the other apparently had two daughters between 16 and 25 that year.

Then there’s another tack.

In a post from 2012 I wrote in regard to the Sabina DEWEY of Byron, Genesee, NY appearing my Jerome HOLMES’s address list:

There are several DEWEYs, but not Sabina, in Byron in the 1880 census. Perhaps this was Mary S. DEWEY, wife of Henry H. DEWEY, living in Byron in 1870. By 1880 she was about 5 miles away in Elba, a widow. living with George W. and Mary DUNN.

“HENRY HOBART DEWEY, son of Charles Grandison, b. March 29, 1835, at Alford, Mass.; d. June 12, 1871, ag. 36, of erysipelas, at Byron, N. Y., where he had lived; m. Nov. 26, 1861, at Elba, N. Y., MARY S. DUNN, dau. of George and Mary (Ballard), b. Nov. 10, 1840, at Byron, N. Y. ; there d. Dec. 26, 1895, ag. 55, of pneumonia.” (source)

Oliva’s mother was Anna DUNN, daughter of John and Ruth (RECORD). So this could be the connection though it would be remote; Oliva and Mary S. could have been no closer than second cousins.

I don’t know how I reached that conclusion. Anna was born in 1792. George DUNN, according to census records, was born about 1803. Why could not George have been Anna’s brother? Then Oliva and Mary S. would have been first cousins.

Good hypothesis but it runs into trouble. In the 1875 New York state census it says George was born in Oneida County. And I can’t find any evidence of a John DUNN in Oneida County before the 1840 census, and the one who shows up there appears to be in his forties, way too young to be Anna’s father. There are some John DUNNs buried there, but none on that site that were old enough, either.

(While we’re searching graves, how about Ruth DUNN? The only one in New York or Rhode Island with a reasonable birthdate is this one, in Wayne County. And her husband was William.)

I do find a David DUNN in Westmoreland in the 1800 census, in the 16–26 age bracket. No DUNNs in Oneida in 1810. Unless their names were misspelled or mistranscribed, of course: DANA, DANE, DEAN? Or DUN: There was an And. DUN (with two sons under 10), and another DUN whose first name is some hard to read abbreviation, looks like Jch. to me, also with two young sons. Both were in Benton.

In 1820 there are about five (depending on which index you go by) DUNN heads of household in the county. That starts to get too far from George’s birth to be useful, though.

Of course there could have been other DUNNs the census missed, or who were not heads of household.

Another source: Apparently there was some sort of county census in 1814, and here are images of a typewritten list of land owners. I see two DUNNs there: Samuel, in Augusta (p. 2) and William, in “Vernon, Augusta, Verona” (p. 29). There’s a Samuel in the 1820 census in Augusta; no William in the census before 1860.

I don’t see any DUNNs in the wills index before the 1880s, and the probate files don’t seem to start until 1867 (and there appears to be no index for them).

Summary: I feel fairly confident I have John DUNN pinned down in 1790 and relatives of Ruth RECORD in 1790 and 1800. Before and after that, though, nothing but fog and bricks.


That’s going to cause a bit of confusion, mind if we call you John to keep it clear?


After my two royal (and wrong!) lines, the oldest line I have goes back through Samuel HOLMES, to his father Elisha, to his father Also Elisha, to his mother Mercy FAUNCE. Mercy’s mother was Patience MORTON, and Patience’s mother was Juliann CARPENTER.

After that, it’s CARPENTERs all the way down. If you believe Amos B. Carpenter’s concisely titled A genealogical history of the Rehoboth branch of the Carpenter family in America, brought down from their English ancestor, John Carpenter, 1303, with many biographical notes of descendants and allied familiespublished in 1898 (and of course you shouldn’t), Juliann’s father Alexander’s paternal line goes back as follows: William, John, James, William (ca 1440–1520), John, John, Richard (ca 1335–?), John (ca 1303–?).

What caused me some confusion at first was that Amos B. Carpenter leads off the book with a long section about John Carpenter the Younger. He was a Town Clerk of London, the author of the first book of English common law, a member of Parliament, and the founder of the City of London School. He’s also not one of Alexander’s ancestors! Alexander was (supposedly) not a descendant of that John but of his brother… John.

John Carpenter the Younger. Not my ancestor. Photo courtesy B. Darling, MISM, City of London school.

John Carpenter the Younger. Not my ancestor. Photo courtesy B. Darling, MISM, City of London school.

Right. John’s brother’s name was John. “It was not then uncommon for two brothers to be named alike”, says Amos, which seems to me is being Unclear on the Concept of names, but maybe it’s true. I’ve seen a number of instances in 17th–19th century American families of parents bestowing the same name on two children, but only in cases where the first one died in childhood and the second was born after that. Anyway, John the Town Clerk was called John the Younger or John Jr. for a reason, and the reason was his brother, John the Elder or John Sr. Both were sons of Richard, and John the Elder was the one in Alexander’s line.

Amos writes, “But we think we have information enough to show beyond a reasonable doubt that the break of a hundred years or so between John Carpenter, Sr. … and William [son of Alexander — RSH]… can be satisfactorily filled.” He then doesn’t exactly go out of his way to trot out this evidence in any detail, but does say he “has shown conclusively from certified copies of English records the line of descent from John Carpenter of 1303…” so maybe he got it right.

The earliest step in that gap is the son, John, of John the Elder, and right there it looks like a problem. John Sr.’s son John was Bishop of Worcester, and there’s nothing on that Wikipedia page about any wife or children, unsurprisingly.

Don’t you hate it when your ancestors are childless?

But wait; also on that Wikipedia page it says: “John Carpenter the bishop was also known as John Carpenter the elder. He had three siblings, Margery, John the younger, and William.”

Yep. John, the son of John, the elder brother of John, had a younger brother named John.

Or so Wikipedia says, citing evidently a Carpenter genealogy DVD. I suppose there must be a better source somewhere, but I haven’t seen it. (Amos doesn’t mention John the Bishop. Also, a bit worryingly, John the Younger (the elder John the Younger) (the Town Clerk, okay?) mentions John the (younger) Elder (the bishop) and Margery in his will, but not William or John the (younger) Younger.) Presumably John the Younger the brother of John the Elder the son of John the Elder the brother of John the Younger is John the Ancestor of Alexander according to Amos. Unless I’m confused, and why would I be?

I thought all those Thomases among the Colchester HOLMESes were bad enough…

Anyway, I have yet to find anything debunking this particular line, so maybe it’s true. If so it’s a line going back over 800 years, definitely my longest non-mythological one.

Not so royal either

I recently wrote about the connection to royalty via Richard WARREN, or the lack thereof given the correct identification of his parents. I have another royal line, though; any good?

It goes via Warren BELDEN through his father, Jerome BELDEN, and right there there’s a problem — depending on how you define genealogy. To some, genealogy properly studies only biological relationships and anything else isn’t admissible. My own view is that this doesn’t make sense, because 99% of the time a biological relationship in a family tree cannot be proved. Disproved, maybe; DNA testing, for example, can show unambiguously that X was not Y‘s father, if you can do yDNA tests on enough male line descendants of both. But proving that X was Y‘s father is another story, and we generally just assume that if X acted or was treated as Y‘s father, and if there’s no evidence to the contrary, then the relationship was biological. Given that biological relationship is generally unprovable, my attitude is that non-biological relationships should be welcome objects of study.

Warren was adopted. Well, so I’ve been told, anyway. I have no documentation of that. If he was, then presumably I’m not going to be regard as an heir to the British throne through Jerome, but I can at least take an interest in Jerome’s royal ancestry.

If any.

Jerome’s great grandfather was Samuel BELDEN (1689–1771), or at least so published genealogies say; I haven’t thoroughly examined the evidence. Samuel’s wife was Mary SPENCER, and her father is said to have been Nathaniel SPENCER, son of Gerard SPENCER, son of Alice WHITBREAD, daughter of Eleanor RADCLYFFE, daughter of Edward RADCLYFFE, 6th Earl of Sussex. From there it goes: Sir Humphrey RADCLYFFE; Elizabeth STAFFORD, Countess of SussexHenry STAFFORD, 2nd Duke of BuckinghamHumphrey STAFFORD, Earl of StaffordHumphrey STAFFORD, 1st Duke of BuckinghamAnne of GloucesterThomas of Woodstock, 1st Duke of GloucesterEdward III of England. Very nice, if true, which it isn’t.

For one thing, if you peruse that Wikipedia article I linked to, it says of Edward RADCLYFFE, “He died impoverished, intestate and childless. The earldom became extinct.” The source for that is here, which however doesn’t seem to say specifically he had no children. Still, not looking good.

And here we have:

The previous assumption that Alice’s mother Eleanor was born Radcliffe or Hervey is incorrect. Her maiden name was in fact Hill.

even though elsewhere on that wiki page Eleanor RADCLYFFE is shown as Alice’s mother — and on a linked page she’s also Alice’s grandmother! There seems to be a lot of confusion on that site, but it provides a lead to where, citing The American Genealogist, Vol. 32, No. 3, pp. 129-142: “The Whitbread family of Gravenhurst, Bedfordshire, England,” by Clarence Almon Torrey, Alice is listed as daughter of John WHITBREAD and Eleanor HILL. And no royal connections known.





Off by one error

I keep thinking Grace Chapel was born around 1771, because she died in 1840 age 69, but she died early in 1840 — 30 January. (Hm, 175 years ago yesterday.) Chances are her birthday was later in the year, in which case she would have turned 70, so was born in 1770. If the information is accurate.

If she was born between 31 Jan and 31 May, then she would have been 60 on census day 1830 — meaning she could have been the 60 to 69 year old female in Jabez’s household, without being entered in the wrong column.

(There’s still the 10 to 14 year old male. Can’t explain him so easily without resorting to enumerator error.)

I’ve fixed up Grace’s estimated birthdate on three pages on this site. Hopefully not too many other places to correct…

Edit:Typo corrected.

Jerome home, 1853… is futile


One more thing: here’s the same area from the 1853 map:

h1853The two buildings on the west side of South Hamilton Road correspond to the ones marked H. Thayer and B.S.S. in 1859, while 1859’s D. C. Rees house isn’t here. So this confirms that REESE probably built a new house while perhaps renting out the existing one to Jerome.

Edit: Hang on, I just realized the house I’m interpreting as Jerome’s is shown as south of the property line! Confusion, confusion. I need to work on this a little more.

Edit: I give up! Here’s the same area — six of the rectangular town lots — from the 1853 map on the top and the 1859 map on the bottom. h5359One thing you notice right away is lot 86 is misnumbered as 84 in 1853. The other thing you notice is gross inconsistencies in positions and shapes between the two. The 1859 map can be overlaid with reasonable accuracy onto aerial/satellite views. The 1853 map, not so much. It’s so distorted I can’t tell which of the four buildings west of South Hamilton Road from the 1859 map correspond to the two on the 1853 map. My guess is the D. C. Rees house isn’t one of them, just because of its distance from the road not corresponding with the distances in 1853, and the B.S.S., which I still think corresponds with the existing house and is certainly on Jerome’s property, supposedly dates to 1800; even if that’s too old by half a century, it should be on the 1853 map. So I vote for that as one (drawn on the wrong side of the property line) and either H. Thayer or P. Chapel as the other. If so, as I said, “this confirms that REESE probably built a new house while perhaps renting out the existing one to Jerome” — but it’s a little too iffy for me to be sure.

Jerome home

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I’ve been working on some puzzle pieces relating to my 19th century ancestor Jerome HOLMES and where he was living around 1860.

On 2 Feb 1856, Jerome HOLMES and Oliva his wife of Hamilton purchased from Horatio POPE and Diana his wife of Hamilton for $1461 a parcel of land very legibly described as follows:

“ALL THAT TRACT OR PARCEL OF LAND situate in the Town of Hamilton & being part of lot No 95 bounded as follows Beginning at the Northwest corner of said lot thence south forty-five minutes west forty rods Thence north 89 degrees fifteen minutes east — one hundred and forty seven rods & twelve links Thence north nineteen degrees fifteen minutes east twenty rods Thence north five degrees east thirteen rods & eighteen links Thence south eighty nine degrees thirty minutes west ten rods & twenty links Thence North two degrees thirty minutes east eight rods Thence south eighty nine degrees fifteen minutes west one hundred forty-four rods twenty-two links to the place of beginning. Also another piece of land being a part of lot No 86 & bounded as follows commencing at the southeast corner of lands owned by Susan Chapel Thence North on said Chapels land to land owned by DeWitt C Reese Thence east on said Reese’s south line to land owned by Gillett Reese. Thence south on said Gillett Reese’s west line to the piece of land heretofore described Thence west to the place of beginning the whole estimated to contain forty two acres two rood & twenty six perches of land reserving & excepting one hundred and forty seven rods of land deed to Gillett Reese.”

40 acres of land is not a bad farm, and $1461 in 1856 money was a pretty big chunk of change! And Jerome was not yet 22 years old. Where the heck did he get the money for this purchase? Good question. I don’t know. Maybe his father had saved it up and gave it to him?

Note that Diana POPE was half sister of Rachel STOWELL, wife of Peter HOLMES. Susan CHAPEL was widow of Peter CHAPEL, who probably was Jerome’s grandmother’s brother — and she was grandmother of Ellen CHAPEL, who married DeWitt C REESE.

DeWitt had bought 24 acres in Lot 86 from the POPEs in 1853, and by the 1853 map he had additional acreage in Lot 86; these lands are referred to in the deed quoted above. On 26 Mar 1857, only fourteen months after purchasing it, Jerome and Oliva sold their land to REESE.

But in the 1860 census Jerome is shown living two households away from Dewitt C. REESE — so even though he sold this property, he was still living in this area.

The property Jerome bought lies between present day Route 12 and South Hamilton Road, west of where Reese Road meets South Hamilton Road. It is a part of a 160 acre present day property, # 215.-1-6.1 — it would seem the Lot 95 part of Jerome’s purchase has been extended only by a small irregular chunk at the east end of the south line but the west, east, and the rest of the south boundaries are still in place. Here are the present boundaries in red, and my quick and not very accurate attempt to draw the boundaries described above in green — presumably the east boundary would line up better if done carefully.

s hamilton rd

Now, if the 1859 map of the area is overlaid on modern aerial/satellite photography, one finds inaccuracies in the former — Reese Road is drawn too far south, for example — but generally things line up pretty well. Several existing buildings (marked here as Bldg 1, 2, and 4) match up remarkably well with buildings shown on the map.Screen Shot 2015-01-26 at 10.32.48 PM

And here’s the property boundaries added to the overlay:Screen Shot 2015-01-26 at 10.38.19 PM

Bldg 2 is the house on that present day property, within the portion Jerome bought. It is said to have been built in 1800. It therefore may well have been a house Jerome lived in at least briefly. No name appears next to the building at this location on the 1859 map. Instead it’s labelled “B.S.S.” — blacksmith’s shop. Bldg 3, not shown on the 1859 map, is an old shed supposedly built about 1900.

Bldg 1 actually is, I think, a garage and a large shed; apparently there’s no house there now, but H. Thayer had a dwelling there in 1859.

On the 1865 map the name “D. C. Rees” is shown next to another house, between these and a little west. In the overlay it seems to straddle the property line, right about where the modern line takes a right angle turn. If REESE didn’t also own the land on the other side of that line, and I don’t think he did, it seems an odd place for a house. Probably the position shown on the map isn’t too accurate. But it’s shown as far from the road, while Bldg 2 is close to the road, so I don’t think Bldg 2 can be REESE’s house. It looks to me like REESE bought the property and built a new house closer to the boundary and further back from the road. Meanwhile maybe he rented out Bldg 2 — to Jerome, perhaps? But why is it marked B.S.S.? Neither Jerome nor (according to the census) REESE was a blacksmith.

I don’t know. I do know Jerome is several pages away from REESE in the 1865 state census listing — it seems he moved after 1860. And while in 1860 REESE and his wife were sharing a household with three other people (Oscar and Sarah WELLS, and Lydia COOK — described in 1865 as Oscar’s mother, though maybe really Sarah’s; probably no relation to Jerome’s mother Rhoda COOK), in 1865 the REESEs had two children and the others were in a separate nearby household. Maybe when the kids came along they decided the WELLS family should move into the other house and Jerome was evicted?

Aside from the blacksmith thing, all that makes some kind of sense. But kind of speculative. It does seem, though, that the existing Bldg 2 was Jerome’s home for at least a year.


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