As alluded to previously, there’s a little problem with my great great great grandparents, Nathan and Grace Holmes. They aren’t there. “There” being town of Hamilton, Madison County, New York. I assume the “N. Holmes” in the 1810 census (in which year whoever did Hamilton listed heads of household only by first initials and last names. Thanks, man.) was Nathan, and I now think it’s at least possible he and Grace and two of their sons were living with eldest son Jabez in 1830. But where they were in 1820, and where Nathan was in 1840, I don’t know.

In fact, where were they in 1810? In Hamilton, but where in Hamilton? Where was Jabez in 1830, and in other years? Where were the other sons?

Nathan Jr. is easy enough; there’s an 1853 map of the county that shows N. Holmes on what’s now Borden Rd. between Poolville and Earlville. There’s an 1859 map too, showing “Mrs. Holmes” there, Nathan Jr. having died in the meanwhile. The 1859 map shows J. Holmes in the inset map of Poolville, which is where Jabez was supposed to be at the time.

On the 1853 map there’s a “Holmes”, no initials (the “B.R.” across the road is, I think, the first and last initials of the owner of that separate property) on what’s now Route 12 southeast of Poolville. Which Holmes was that?

(I’m pretty sure, by the way, the map shows land owners, not residents. So people who didn’t own the property they lived on wouldn’t appear.)

If it was Hiram you’d think the heads of household listed nearest to him in the 1855 New York State census would have included J. Willey,  I. Skinner, Mrs. Chapel, and Peter Chapel. Instead they’re S. G. Ruse, Dewitt C. Reede, S. H. Gustin, Jerome Holmes, and Miles Newton on one side, and Hannah Farmer, K. H. Pope, and Samuel M. Comstock on the other. Most of those surnames (but with different initials except for Comstock) cluster around the intersection of Willey Rd / S. Hamilton Rd. and Humphrey Rd., a little east of the property marked Holmes.

And in 1850, Hiram’s “census neighbors” included Hiram Gustin and Arnold Pope before him and Samuel Comstock and Edward Dunham after him. It looks as though the census taker went west on S. Hamilton Rd. and north on Humphrey Rd., finding Hiram somewhere near the intersection. That at least is fairly consistent with 1855.

In 1860: Peter Chapel, Hosea Thayre, Hosea Pope, S. H. Gustin among others before Jerome Holmes, then Miles Newton and Hiram Holmes, then H. H. Pope, Samuel Comstock, and Simeon B Clark and others. This again looks like the same area.

How about Hiram in 1840? I assume the “Ira Holmes” in the 1840 census is really Hiram. (I don’t know of any other indications of an Ira Holmes in Hamilton at that time, and the family is consistent with Hiram’s.) The census neighbors are

Oliver Hubbard
Ephraim Brainard
Aaron Wickwire
George Brainard
Levi Brainard
Ethan H Beach
John Webster

before “Ira” and

Willard Richardson
Almon Richardson
Ogain S Geman
Edwin Smith
John Hubbard
Elijah Burnard
Jeremiah Wickwire
Jeremiah Weller
Orlin Brainard
Willis Booth
Isaac Skinner

after. Comparing to the names around and to the west of Hamilton Center (the intersection of Eaton, Smith, and Poolville Roads north of Poolville) it seems likely Hiram was around there. It’s a little odd, though, that just a few names later we find Isaac Skinner — who apparently lived next to the Holmes property on the other side of Poolville!

And Jabez in 1830? (In 1840 and 1850 he was in the town of Madison.) That starts to get tricky. The census neighbors are

Nathan Foster
Joseph Foster
Chillingsworth Hopkins
Arnazi O Brainard
Walter Blanchard
George L Brainard
Pierce Kingsbury
Levi Brainard
Fear Bures
Bradly Phelps
John Pomerry

before, and

Oliver Hubbard
Thomas S Hubbard
Ephraim Brainard
David Watson
Thomas Kinney
Nathaniel Latham
Calvin Sexton
Henry Isop
Elezer Porter

Hardly any of those names correspond, surname and initial, with a name on the 1853 map; certainly not a cluster of them.

However… several of them do correspond with names in the 1850 census. In particular, Thomas Kinney is family #1653, Bradley Phelps is #1670, David Watson is #1677, and Thomas J Hubbard is #1679. In and among those in the 1850 census are Freelove Dunham; Asaph, Asaph P., and Emery R Richardson; Richard Church; Chancy Isham; John S. Pierce; and Hiram H. Green. They’re clustered around Hamilton Center, which means Kinney, Phelps, Watson, and Hubbard were, which means Jabez was living in that area. Which makes sense, given that his first wife (who died in 1831) as well as two of his sons are buried there.

This kind of bootstrapping runs into trouble, though, when applied to N. Holmes in 1810. Most of his census neighbors aren’t even present in the 1820 census, and only a very few in 1830. The ones in 1830 form a loose sort of cluster in the census and we can take the names between them and look for them in the 1850 census — we find a few. Some of them form a loose cluster, and we can look for some of the names between them on the 1853 map. Unfortunately they end up being scattered from west of Hamilton Center to southeast of Poolville. I think there’s just too much noise for this to work.

But I’m pretty confident I know roughly where Jabez was in 1830, and Hiram in 1840 to 1860. Knowing that may help in locating other relatives nearby.



2 thoughts on “Where?

  1. Have you checked the property records at the county seat? What about any grants or sale of land from the federal government?


  2. I’ve spent some time in Wampsville (yes, Wampsville; my vote for best county seat name ever) looking for Holmes in the grantor/grantee indices. Found some transactions for Jabez, not much else, though it’s possible I overlooked something. I also attempted a title search on the South Hamilton property Jerome Holmes owned but didn’t connect up all the dots. It might be worthwhile to try to trace back other properties known to have belonged to family members. I should go spend another day in Wampsville sometime.

    I’d need to look into how to find grants or sale of land from the federal government; I don’t know how to do that.


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