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If not her, who?

14 Feb 2015

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.



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