Skip to content

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

Screen Shot 2015-03-02 at 11.16.17 PM

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

Screen Shot 2015-03-01 at 12.03.41 AM

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.


Knowing half is the battle

Screen Shot 2015-02-27 at 10.21.58 PM

Regarding this:ccur5(click for slightly larger version) I’ve been told that after it was microfilmed, the paper copy was destroyed. So unless another copy of the 22 Nov 1905 Brookfield Courier turns up, looks like we never get to find out who they said Chauncey’s cousin in Poolville was.

[Female cousins of Chauncey’s on his father’s side who were in Hamilton in 1905: Emma HOLMES (Jerome’s daughter, Chauncey’s first cousin once removed). That’s it. Unless Hannah HOLMES really was a daughter of Nathan Sr., and had a daughter — such as Rosaltha SMITH, daughter of Edwin and Hannah SMITH (who would then be Chauncey’s direct first cousin). Or perhaps daughters of Nathan’s first couple of daughters, whose identities I don’t know. Chauncey did visit Rosaltha on other visits. I’m not aware he ever visited Emma.]

[But this cousin could have been on his mother’s side.]


Good work, brain. Eventually.

Screen Shot 2015-02-27 at 8.45.56 PM

It’s kind of nice to add another generation back on a line going back to fourteen whatever AD, but I think I’m at least as much interested in breadth as depth; in some ways, in fact, it’s more satisfying to find information about a more recent ancestor.

I, like most people, have 32 great great great grandparents. I have first and last birth names for 31 of them.

That one small hole bothers me.

The exception is the wife of John COOK — the mother of Rhoda COOK, wife of Hiram HOLMES. John was born about 1771 in Rhode Island and came to Norwich, Chenango, New York around 1799 (says Smith’s History of Chenango and Madison Counties) or 1805 (according to several entries in the 1855 New York State Census).

I went back to looking at this family several days ago. I remembered that in the 1850 census John shared a household with his son King COOK, daughter Jane COOK, grandson Adelbert COOK (the family scandal: he was son of King and Jane’s sister Nancy, who was unmarried when she gave birth, and he was raised by King and Jane), and John’s wife, whose name was shown as Barbary COOK. By the 1855 state census John had evidently died — though I have no better information on his death than that, and no burial place — and King, Jane, and Adelbert still shared a household with King’s mother… but her name was given as Maybill (or Maybell). First and middle names, I figure. From the censuses we know she was born about 1784 in Rhode Island, but that’s about all.

So what was her birth surname? Don’t know. But the somewhat odd name of King COOK makes a little more sense when you know John had a sister who was referred to in his parents’ wills as Susanna KING. Evidently there was a KING family the COOKs were close to, and it’s reasonable to suppose King COOK’s given name implies there were KINGs in his ancestry. But not on John’s side, as far as I know. So the attractive hypothesis is that KING was in fact his mother’s surname. Unfortunately I have no supporting evidence for it.

What I rediscovered on looking at my database was, first, there was a third census record for John’s widow; she was in the mortality schedule for 1860, having died in February of that year, and her name is again given as Barbary COOK. Furthermore, I have a copy of Rhoda COOK’s death record — from 1891 — and it lists both her parents’ names. But not her mother’s maiden name, unfortunately; she’s Barbara COOK.

Fast forward several days, at the end of which time finally my brain says to my brain, “So, what does it say on Rhoda’s siblings’ death records?”

Oh, duh.

She had six siblings. I don’t know what became of all of them. I know Jane was living with King at least through 1880. Neither of them (nor Adelbert) appears in the 1892 state census. There’s a Jane COOK buried in Chenango County who died in about 1896, but she’s buried in Greene whereas King and Jane spent their lives in Norwich, and in fact a different Jane is living in Greene in the 1880 census. King still lives with Adelbert in the 1900 census but without Jane. Presumably she died during those two decades, but I don’t yet know when or where.

King died in 1905, at the home of Adelbert who’d by then moved to Poolville in Madison County; he’s buried in Norwich.

Nancy — scandalous Nancy — married William THORNTON and had several legitimate children by him. Like King, she stayed in Norwich, and died there in 1906.

King and Nancy both appear in the state’s death records index. It’s possible one or the other has their mother’s birth name in their death record. I’ll find out.


If not her, who?

Screen Shot 2013-03-12 at 1.46.12 PM

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.



Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 112 other followers