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Nathan’s family

(Previous page: Nathan of Hamilton)

[Gordon] tells us the Nathan HOLMES buried in Farmersville had lived in Hamilton. Peter was buried next to Nathan, and we can confidently assume they really were father and son. Gordon gives two dates for Peter’s birth (about 1794 and about 1798), but ca. 1797 seems most likely from the census.

What about other family members?

Gordon gives names for two brothers of Peter: Jabez and Henry. Someone named Jabez HOLMES appears as head of household in the US census population schedules for 1830 in Hamilton, 1840 and 1850 in nearby Madison (in the census microfilms for 1840 he appears in the Georgetown section, and no town name is shown on the page, but comparison of names between 1840 and 1850 make it obvious this is an error; this and several other pages belong under Madison), 1860 in Hamilton, and 1870 and 1880 in Hanover, Chautauqua County, New York, and in the New York State census population schedules for 1855 in Hamilton and 1865 and 1875 in Hanover. Clearly these are the same Jabez HOLMES for the censuses from 1850 on. The households in 1830 and 1840 are reasonably consistent with those later households, and we can assume they are the same.

Actually the 1830 census is a bit puzzling. For details see this blog post, but in summary, it looks as if there may have been people other than Jabez, his wife, and his children in Jabez’s household: a man and a woman in the 60-69 age bracket, two men in the 20-29 bracket, and a boy in the 10–14 bracket. That is, those entries are present, but they are written differently than the other numbers. If they’re correct the first four could be Nathan, his wife, and (as we’ll see) two of their sons. But the identity of the final boy is a puzzle. Of course they could have been a completely different set of people, too.

From a comparison of the names near Jabez’s in the 1855–1860 censuses with those shown on an 1853 map of Hamilton, it’s clear Jabez must have lived in or near Poolville at that time, and he is said to be a resident of Poolville in an 1864 newspaper report of his daughter’s marriage. This is confirmed by a map published in 1859, with “J. HOLMES” labelling a house at the edge of Poolville on the road toward Earlville.

His first wife, Irene DIBBLE, and two of his sons, Franklin and Albert, both of whom died in military service in the Civil War, are buried at Hamilton Center. The censuses say Jabez was born in Connecticut around 1795, and a family bible record gives his birthdate as 9 Nov 1795.

Gordon says Jabez and Henry both moved to California (well, she says “the two sons”, and maybe she means Chauncey and Jackson), and this Jabez fails to conform — unless he returned after staying in California too briefly to miss a census in Madison County. However, he does conform in having had, as Gordon says, a son named Chauncey. None of his sons is recorded as being named Jackson, but the published transcription of the Bible record lists a son named Andrew P. HOLMES. That same transcription gives P as the middle initial of Franklin and Albert, both of whom have middle initial given as J in other sources; apparently whoever transcribed the Bible record misread the J’s as P’s. In that case Andrew’s middle initial may have been J. He was born in 1824, the year Andrew Jackson first came close to being elected President (he was elected four years later). Could Jabez have been a Jackson supporter who named his son Andrew Jackson HOLMES? This is an unanswered question; I have found no other records of Andrew. Maybe he did go to California, but I haven’t found convincing evidence of it. Chauncey stayed with Jabez.

In any case, this does seem to be the Jabez mentioned by Gordon. If there were a death record for Jabez it might list his parents, but unfortunately he died in 1880, just a couple of years before New York State started keeping vital records consistently.

There were many Henry HOLMESes in the 1800s; about fifteen were heads of household in New York State in 1840 and 1850, including one in Brookfield just east of Hamilton. But the one of interest to us was in Vernon, Oneida County (about 25 miles north of Poolville) until 1847 when he moved to Greenfield Center, Saratoga County. Of his twelve known children, four were named Albert, Franklin, Helen, and Harriet. Of Jabez’s nine known children, four were named Albert, Franklin, Helen, and Harriet. This proves nothing but is an intriguing similarity. More indications that this is Peter’s brother come from a set of 19th century photos now owned by a descendant of Henry’s, Joyce Waldinger, who received them from her grandmother. Most are unlabelled but a few have names attached. One is “Helen Eggleston — Cousin of A. W. Holmes”.

Helen Eggleston — Cousin of A. W. Holmes

Helen Eggleston — Cousin of A. W. Holmes

A. W. HOLMES may refer to Henry’s son Albert W. HOLMES. Another is “Grace Holmes — Hamilton, NY — Cousin”.


Grace Holmes — Hamilton, NY — Cousin

The Eggleston surname on the first of these suggests a connection to Peter, while the second demonstrates that Henry had family connections in Hamilton. We will see more evidence of such connections later. The census population schedules for 1840 (Vernon) and 1850, 1855, 1860, and 1865 (Greenfield Center) show that Henry, like Jabez and Peter, was born in Connecticut — and did not go to California, or not for long. His birthdate was 16 Aug 1809. Henry died in 1867 so, again, there is no death record.

So we do indeed find a Jabez and a Henry, both with connections to Hamilton, both born in Connecticut, and both of reasonable ages to be brothers of Peter and sons of the Nathan buried in Farmersville. Gordon says nothing about their mother, but the Grace buried in Poolville certainly was in the right place and had a reasonable birthdate and a husband with the right name.

Gordon suggests that Peter had only two brothers, but perhaps only two that Gordon knew of would be a more reasonable interpretation. Certainly there seem to have been more, if the 1810 “N. HOLMES” was Peter’s father. Can we identify more siblings?

One would seem to be easy: In 1855 a widow named Phebe WILSON was living in Jabez HOLMES’s household and was described as Jabez’s sister, age 53. Indeed N. HOLMES had one female under 10 in his 1810 household. But it probably wasn’t Phebe. The same 1855 census says Phebe was born in Washington County, New York — a place Nathan is not known to have been associated with, and it seems likely Nathan would have been in Connecticut in 1802 since he had sons born there before and after that date. In 1880 Phebe was living in North Township, Lake County, Indiana (as demonstrated by an affadavit in Jabez’s military pension file), and the 1880 census says not only Phebe but both her parents were born in New York. These discrepancies suggest Phebe was not Jabez’s sister after all, but perhaps his sister in law. Note that Phebe’s son bought land in Indiana from an Ira DIBBLE, and Jabez’s first wife was Irene DIBBLE. That would seem to give a little support to the theory that Phebe was Irene’s sister; but the evidence is considerably stronger that she was a sister of Jabez’s second wife, Harriet SMITH. First, both Phebe and Harriet had sons named Chauncey. Second, Harriet appears to have been a daughter of one Simeon SMITH and his first wife, whose name also was Phebe. Simeon seems to have come to Hamilton from Washington County. This information seems very strongly suggestive although not absolutely conclusive. Phebe’s death record, if one exists, might clarify the matter.

Among other younger Holmeses in Hamilton was a Nathan HOLMES, born in Madison County, New York about 1811, who lived southwest of Poolville. This could well be a son of the elder Nathan, and the suspicion grows stronger when we find he had a daughter named Grace! It would be entirely reasonable for the younger Nathan to name his daughter after his mother. Moreover, this Grace HOLMES is the only known person in Hamilton who could have been the girl in the aforementioned photograph. She was born about 1846, so would have been in her mid to late teens in the first half of the 1860s, which, judging by the style of the dress, is when that photograph was taken. She later married a man named PROCTOR. If Nathan Jr. and Henry were brothers, then Grace would indeed have been a cousin of Albert W. HOLMES. So the younger Nathan shows strong evidence of a connection to the elder Nathan, the elder Grace, and Henry. Nathan died in 1856 — again, no death record.

Another candidate is Hiram HOLMES, born in Connecticut on 2 Aug 1804. Hiram apparently was living in 1840 (if the “Ira HOLMES” in the census was really Hiram HOLMES; the number, sexes, and age brackets of the household members match Hiram’s family, and I know of no other records of an “Ira HOLMES” in Hamilton) less than a mile west of Hamilton Center, and from 1850 on he seems to have been southeast of Poolville. He died in 1864 — once again, too early for death records — and is buried in Poolville, in the same cemetery as the elder Grace. Hiram’s grandson Clarence wrote a few pages of “Reminiscences” in the 1950s, and he could recall little about his ancestry and elder relatives, but he does recall “a cousin, I think” named Fred HOLMES who came to visit while Clarence was young. Fred was an undertaker in New York City. This is a crucial link: Henry HOLMES had a son named Frederick, who was indeed a New York City undertaker. Joyce Waldinger has two photos of him posing in front of his funeral parlor.

Fred Holmes

Fred Holmes

Clarence’s brother John moved to the midwest in the 1880s and returned east only twice. On one of these trips he visited Fred or his sons at their home in Mount Vernon, New York, returning with a watch and two silver spoons from Hufnagl’s Jewelry Store where Fred’s son Chester was employed. So Hiram certainly was connected to Henry, and it seems likely he was another sibling. Hiram was my 2nd great grandfather, and the fact that our family possesses a book that belonged to “Nathan HOLMES” is further evidence of a connection. (The book could have belonged to either the elder Nathan or the younger, of course, but either way it suggests a connection between Hiram and the elder Nathan.) Another suggestion of a connection to Peter is that in the 1850 census Hiram is two households away from Arnold POPE, whose mother, Diana (STOWELL) POPE, was a half sister of Peter’s wife, Rachel STOWELL; also, in 1856, Hiram’s son Jerome bought 42 acres of land from Horatio and Diana POPE.

But the clear proof of connection between Hiram and Peter is in an address list in an 1893 diary kept by Jerome. The list includes surprisingly few HOLMESes — just Jerome’s sons and daughter, plus Corydon W. and Lovilo N. HOLMES. These latter two are sons of Peter HOLMES.

An earlier diary of Jerome’s, from 1883, provides proof of the connection to the younger Nathan. Nathan’s widow, Ann, died in August 1883, and Jerome mentions an encounter with Grace PROCTOR and “Aunt Ann” earlier in the year, and then in August attending the funeral of “Aunt Ann Holmes”. If Nathan was Hiram’s brother then indeed Ann would have been Jerome’s aunt.

Gordon says Henry had two daughters, one who married an Eggleston and had a daughter Lydia, and a Hannah who married a Smith. None of Henry’s daughters actually seem to match. Instead, there was a Eunice HOLMES, born in Connecticut (according to the 1850 and 1855 censuses; New York according to later censuses) about 1806, who married Joseph Francis EGGLESTON in Hamilton and moved to Cortland, Cortland County, New York. They had four daughters, none named Lydia, but one was named Helen — who, if Eunice was a sister of Henry, would have been another of Albert W. HOLMES’s cousins. Given the mention of marriage to an Eggleston in Gordon’s story and the photo of cousin Helen EGGLESTON in Joyce’s collection, it seems likely Eunice was indeed another sibling. She died in 1861.window9mem

That suggests the Hannah who married a Smith was also among Nathan’s children, not Henry’s, and from census records and the Poolville cemetery records we find there was a Hannah born ca. 1815 who was wife of Edwin F. SMITH in Hamilton. In fact, the Smiths apparently lived very near where Hiram (judging from the nearby names in the census and where they appear on contemporary maps) did in 1840. Hannah died in 1877, and Edwin and Hannah both are buried in Poolville.

Hannah and Edwin had a daughter, Rosaltha, who according to newpaper reports was visited on a couple of occasions by Chauncey HOLMES, Jabez’s son, visiting from Hanover. Complicating any inferences from this is that Chauncey’s mother and Rosaltha’s father both were SMITHs. However, they do not appear to have been closely related. Infuriatingly, one newpaper clipping contains the phrase “her cousin, Chauncey Holmes of Silver Creek” but the name to which “her” refers is obliterated in the microfilm.ccur5

One more piece of this puzzle: One David MUIR died in 1836, and among the receipts in his estate file are one signed “Hiram Homes” [sic] and another signed “Hanner Holmes”. I don’t know when Edwin and Hannah SMITH got married but their first child was born in 1841, so Hannah (Hanner?) may have been single in 1837. Unfortunately the signature seems to be quite different from that of Hannah SMITH in 1869, but maybe the passage of 32 years could account for that.

Hiram Homes [sic] receipt

Hiram Homes [sic] receipt

Hanner Holmes receipt

Hanner Holmes receipt

Signatures from 1837 and 1869

Signatures from 1837 and 1869


So it does seem a Hannah, or Hanner, HOLMES really did exist. Whether she became Edwin SMITH’s wife is very unclear, but it seems a reasonable guess at this point.

There were other Holmeses living in Hamilton in the early 1800s, but most can be ruled out as children of Nathan:

  • A Holmes family including Elijah HOLMES, Israel HOLMES, and Solomon HOLMES in nearby Hubbardsville seems to have been unrelated — a list of relatives compiled for the estate file of one of them (Elijah HOLMES) does not list any of the Holmeses I’ve mentioned here.
  • Americus HOLMES, intriguingly, lived in at least two places in Hamilton in the period 1868–1875, and both were within a mile (perhaps much less) of the two places where Hiram HOLMES lived in 1840 and 1850–1860. (Hiram’s name appears on none of the land ownership maps, but comparison of the nearby names in the 1860 census with the names on the 1859 map make it clear Hiram must have then lived very near the intersection of what are now known as South Hamilton, Willey, and Humphrey Roads.) He’s buried in Poolville, only a few yards away from Hiram. However, Americus is known to have been son of Asa HOLMES of Brookfield, Madison County, New York. I have found no real evidence of any link between Nathan’s family and any Brookfield Holmeses. At least some of the latter came from Colchester, New London County, Connecticut. We will see evidence Nathan came from a place near Colchester and there may well have been a connection there, but his relationship if any to Americus was probably rather remote.
  • Alonzo HOLMES of Hamilton likewise was connected with a Brookfield Holmes family, which has shown no clear signs of being connected to Nathan.
  • Jonathan Gilbert HOLMES of Hamilton will be dealt with later.

To summarize, we have evidence in favor of the following family:

  • Nathan HOLMES, father, ca. 1766 – 1850
  • Grace —-, mother, ca. 1771 – 1840
  • Jabez HOLMES, son, 1795 – 1880
  • Peter HOLMES, son, ca. 1797 – 1864
  • Hiram HOLMES, son, 1804 – 1864
  • Eunice HOLMES, daughter, 1806 – 1861
  • Nathan HOLMES, son, ca. 1811 – 1856
  • Hannah HOLMES, daughter, ca. 1815 – 1877 (more speculative)

This is almost entirely consistent with the 1810 household of N. HOLMES. Two females then ages 10–16 remain unknown, and Jabez would have to have been a year or so older to be the male in the 16–26 age bracket instead of a second male in the 10–16 bracket. This kind of discrepancy is not uncommon in the census records.

Now let’s see if we can trace this family back into Connecticut.

(Next page: Nathan in Connecticut)

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