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Nathan in Connecticut

(Previous page: Nathan’s family)

Let’s begin with what I believe is a red herring: [Gordon] says Nathan was born in Boston, Massachusetts and lived in Hartford, Connecticut.

However, as stated above, the 1850 census mortality schedule for Farmersville says Nathan was born in Connecticut. I know of no records of any Nathan HOLMES born around 1766 in the Boston area or living around 1800 near Hartford. In fact, no one named Nathan HOLMES in the right age bracket appears as head of household anywhere in Connecticut in any census except for New Milford, Litchfield County in 1790 and Montville, New London County in 1800. Of course it’s possible Nathan was in Hartford and was missed by the census, or was not head of household, but I find it easier to believe Gordon’s story was inaccurate, especially in the face of much circumstantial evidence (discussed below) tying the Hamilton Nathan to Montville. Let’s then examine this one piece of contemporary documentation I know of for Nathan of Montville, after first provisionally disposing of the New Milford Nathan: The only age information in the 1790 census is whether the males were over 16. But there were 4 children under 16 in the New Milford Nathan’s household, suggesting he was older than 23 and so was not our Nathan.

In the 1800 Nathan HOLMES household in Montville there were:

  • 2 males under 10
  • 1 male 26–45
  • 3 females under 10
  • 1 female 26–45

The adult male must have been Nathan and the adult female was presumably his wife; both therefore were born between 1755 and 1774.

Could N. HOLMES of Hamilton in 1810 and Nathan HOLMES of Montville in 1800 be the same person? If so (and if the wives in 1800 and 1810 were the same) then Nathan and his wife must have been born between 1765 and 1774. If the two males under 10 in 1800 were the two males over 10 and under 26 in 1810, then they must have been born in 1794–1800 and 1790–1794. Of the three females under 10 in 1800, two must have been born in 1794–1800 and the third must have died, married, or otherwise left the household, assuming the two ages 10–16 in 1810 can be identified with two of the three under 10 in 1800. There are other possibilities (e.g. one or more of the younger household members could have been servants or hired hands rather than family members — and census mistakes are frequent enough that they must always be considered among the possibilities), but the simplest reconciliation of these two records, and a comparison to the previously reconstructed family, is:

  • husband, born 1765–1774 — Nathan, b. ca. 1766
  • wife, born 1765–1774 — Grace, b. ca. 1770
  • son, born 1790–1794 — Jabez, b. 1795
  • son, born 1794–1800 — Peter, b. ca. 1797
  • daughter, born 1790–1800 (absent in 1810) — ?
  • two daughters, born 1794–1800 — ?
  • two sons, born 1800–1810 — Hiram, b. 1804, and Henry, b. 1809
  • one daughter, born 1800–1810 — Eunice, b. 1806

Of course, Nathan Jr. and Hannah were born after these censuses. The degree of consistency between the censuses and the reconstructed family is rather remarkable. The only problem is the aforementioned one with Jabez being in the wrong age bracket by about a year in the 1810 census.

I know of no other contemporary records of Nathan of Montville: no church, family Bible, court, or land records. The only other mentions of this Nathan are in two much later books.

The first is Baker’s 1896 History of Montville [Baker] — a resource to be used with caution, as any such secondary source is, but especially given Baker’s reputation for unreliability. In the “Holmes Families” section, Samuel HOLMES of New London and his wife Lucretia are said to have had a son named Nathan, but no other information on Nathan is given there. In the “Chapel Families” section Grace CHAPEL is said to have married someone named Nathan HOLMES. Again, no further information on Nathan is given there, and no indication that this is the same Nathan as the one who was Samuel’s son. Baker gives no clear indication of his sources for either claim.

(A 2000 article on Samuel HOLMES [Stover] gives Grace’s surname as CHAPMAN, but in private email the author has acknowledged this was an error; the name should have been CHAPEL, and Baker was her uncited source.)

The 1905 Genealogical and Biographical Record of New London County [GBRNLC] corroborates Nathan as a son of Samuel, again with no further information. His mother’s surname is given, with no stated justification, as BILL. (The book does not list its authors, and for all I know its account of Samuel HOLMES could also have been written by Baker. But note that in some respects the two accounts differ.)

Baker provides other information that suggests Nathan of Hamilton was Nathan of Montville. Perhaps the strongest evidence is in regard to Nathan’s wife. According to Baker, Grace CHAPEL’s sister Lydia married Jeremiah WICKWIRE — and census and cemetery records show a Lydia and Jeremiah WICKWIRE in Hamilton, near Poolville and quite close to Hiram HOLMES’s 1840 residence. Lydia and Jeremiah were buried in Poolville, in the same cemetery as Grace, wife of Nathan of Hamilton. So was a man named Peter CHAPEL; Baker lists a Peter CHAPEL as a brother of Grace and Lydia. Peter CHAPEL was also the name of Grace, Lydia, and Peter’s father; if Grace CHAPEL was Nathan HOLMES’s wife, then Peter HOLMES presumably was named for his grandfather.

A brother of Jeremiah WICKWIRE, Zadoc WICKWIRE, also moved from Montville to Hamilton and lived near Hiram HOLMES’s 1840 home. Zadoc’s wife’s name was Lovina, and Baker identifies her as Lovina HOLMES, daughter of Jabez HOLMES of Montville, a son of Samuel HOLMES and brother of Nathan! If Nathan of Montville was father of Jabez HOLMES of Poolville, then the latter presumably was named for his uncle. (Nathan seemingly was returning his brother’s favor; Jabez of Montville named one of his sons Nathan.)

Another child of Jabez HOLMES of Montville was named Jonathan Gilbert HOLMES, and Gilbert (as he apparently was known) also went to Hamilton, sometime between the 1830 and 1840 censuses; in 1840 he was living a mile or so north of Hamilton Center. In 1850 he was living in Madison, not very far, apparently, from the younger Jabez HOLMES. His wife died in 1852 and was buried at Hamilton Center. By 1860 he had returned to New London County where he spent the rest of his life. (Gilbert’s family connections are documented in a published transcription of a family Bible record [Tubbs].)

Another brother of Nathan, Elisha, had a daughter named Charlotte who married Philo HOLCOMB and lived in Plymouth, Chenango County, NY, about 12 miles southwest of Poolville. So we find Nathan of Montville’s wife’s sister, two nieces, a nephew, and perhaps his wife’s brother all living near Poolville.

Additionally, in Brookfield, the next town east of Hamilton, there lived a Thomas HOLMES, who was born in Waterville, near Montville, the son of John HOLMES and Naomi ROGERS. I do not know how or if he ties into the rest of the Montville Holmeses, though his father could have been a son of Samuel’s son John, or possibly could have been Samuel’s son John himself.

The fact that Nathan and Grace of Montville had all these relatives living near Poolville is very strong circumstantial evidence that they and Nathan and Grace of Hamilton were the same couple.

The interesting thing is that with all its faults, Gordon’s story of Peter’s ancestry does bear some resemblance to the truth, if Peter was a grandson of Samuel. Nathan did not come from Boston, but Samuel was a native of Plymouth, Massachusetts. Samuel’s forebears did indeed include a John HOLMES, who was in Plymouth by the early 1630s and served the colony in an important office, not that of “Captain” but that of “Messenger” ([Stratton][Williams]). His great grandson Elisha HOLMES, Samuel’s father, is said to have owned “a large number of ships and several warehouses” [GBRNLC], again echoing a claim in Gordon’s story. Gordon actually falls short of reality with regard to Mayflower connections: Samuel’s ancestors included several Mayflower passengers, among them John ALDEN and Priscilla MULLENS, William BREWSTER, and Richard WARREN. Samuel’s Holmes line back to the immigrant ancestor is given by Williams as:

  1. John HOLMES (of Plymouth, Massachusetts; b. bet. 1583–1611, d. aft. 7 Oct 1651) and Sarah —- (d. Aug 1650)
  2. Nathaniel HOLMES (b. abt. 1643, d. 25 Jul 1727) and Mercy FAUNCE (b. 10 Apr 1651, d. 11 Feb 1731/32)
  3. Elisha HOLMES (b. 16 Apr 1670, d. bet. 1743–1745) and Sarah BARTLETT (b. bef. 1680, d. 24 Jul 1714)
  4. Elisha HOLMES (b. 19 Jan 1697/98, d. 1779) and Sarah BARTLETT (b. aft. 19 Apr 1700, d. 4 Jul 1738) [Yes, that’s correct — Elisha was named for his father, and married a woman with the same name as his mother. The two Sarahs were distant cousins.]
  5. Samuel HOLMES (b. 26 Jun 1722, d. ca. 1774).

To go further back, new evidence came to light in 2014 to support an old assertion that John HOLMES was born in 1603 in Colchester, Essex, England, a son of a maltster named Thomas HOLMES. Thomas’s line appears to extend back to (probably) a William HOLME of Ramsden Bellhouse, Essex, living in the late 15th century. See [Holmes].

(Next page: Holmes yDNA)

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