Account of the HOLMES Family
And their settlement of South Richland, Oswego County, New York

Written by Rev. Jesse H. Jones
as published in the Pulaski Democrat from
September 12, 1900 to August 6. 1902


Part 2:

Chapter 10 - The Great Improvement

     January 19, 1814, about eight years and a half after he had bargained for his farm, John Holmes received a warranty deed of it. The county record shows that lot 105 contained 128 acres, and that he paid $386.25, or three dollars an acre. He had paid interest all the while, what rate or how much can not be ascertained. But he would not have been able to complete his payments even then, only that he got a job on the “Old Salt Road,” which the government built as a military road in connection with the war of 1812; and the extra money thus earned enabled him to do so. Now his farm being clear, he could manage his other encumbered lands more easily, and make a forward move. This he did in association with his father.
     October 13, 1815, Elder Jesseniah Holmes, father of John, obtained a warranty deed for the 19 acres of lot 115 which lay on the easterly side of Grindstone Creek, which lot lay south of lot 105 of which the son already had the deed. This 119 acres was to belong to Harley, the youngest son, in due time, who was then a lad of thirteen and a half years. At this same time, doubtless, John Holmes had a contract for the balance of that lot, and also for the northeast corner of lot 125, which lay next one to the south of 116. Almost the whole of Holmesville is on that lot 116, and the way it came to be there is now to be told.
     John Holmes, like his namesake of a century and a quarter before in Woodstock, Connecticut, was an energetic, go-ahead, thrifty man, who, delighted in making improvements. So between him and his father a dam was built across Grindstone Creek, the same that is there now. The logs which you can see there are the very ones they put in. As far as can be concluded now, we estimate that this was done in that year 1815. The son having his farm free of encumbrance, and the father having the part of the lot he had bought free, and the son having a contract for the rest of that lot and for so much of the next one south as would be flowed, it was deemed prudent to make this great improvement. As soon as the dam was built, a sawmill was put in. I remember it as it was in 1845, thirty years after, the outward shape just as it is now; but the wheel was a wooden one as long as the flame is wide, and the saw was in a heavy gate frame. It was not long after I first saw it that the turbine wheel was put in but the gate frame was still there for years after Mr. Kinyon bought it in 1857.
     Early in the history of that sawmill an event happened, which grandfather related to me, which will sound very strange to the people of now-a-days. It being the time for fish to run up stream out of the lake, grandfather fastened the machinery of the sawmill so that it could not move, and then hoisted the gate to the utmost so as to let a great stream of water flow through and produce on the fish the impression that there was a freshlet. The result came as he expected. The fish started up stream, and he, taking a boat he had, and a jacklight with fat pine, speared a boat half full of great salmon in one night on that stream from where the great gristmill afterwards wad down stream a ways. All the streams empty into Lake Ontario were like that then. Salmon River was so named because it was filled with salmon n those days when the first settlers came in. Now for sixty years nothing of the sort has been.
     That first sawmill was almost as great a step in advance for them as the railroad was when it came. It made frame houses possible in all that region and one of the first ones to take benefit of it was John Holmes himself. As far as can be known the old red house, the frame farm home of his middle life was finished in the summer of 1817. Ann Electa, (Mrs. A.E. Carter) has a positive recollection that according to what her mother told her, Grace Maria was the last child born in the second log house, in which the family lived for eight years. Milton was born August 23, 1817, after the frame house was finished and the family had moved in. Then Esther King, named after her Aunt E.K. Kellogg, (born February 21, 1811), John Newton, named after the great divine and hymn writer, (born March 22, 1813) and Grace Maria, in part named after her mother, (born February 19, 1815) were born as I have said above, just after the entrance of the family into the comparative palace of the old red house, making six children; after them three more came, Almon, (born June 6, 1819), Ann Electa, (born July 16, 1821), and Samuel Newell, named after the missionary, (born May 31, 1823).

 Chapter 11 - Church and School

     Grace Holmes joined the Congregational church in Pulaski in 1812 by letter; but there is no means of learning from whence the letter came. She made that her church home until her death in 1859, forty-seven years after. It is such long lives in one place which give permanency to community and institutions.
     Concerning John Holmes there is a memorandum in his wife’s handwriting the substance of which I will give, supplying some omissions.
     “When John Holmes moved to Richland the country west of Williamstown was a perfect wilderness, with now and then a scattering log house for human beings. The War of 1812 with Great Britain made it near the frontier, not more than six miles to Lake Ontario. It was a hard lot to pay for more than a hundred acres and clear it up, and support a growing family altogether; but this must be done. He was a strictly moral man, and one that observed the Sabbath and attended meetings when there were any; but he did not profess to love the Lord with all his heart and soul at that time. There was a revival of religion, I think about the year 1815, in which he hoped that he received forgiveness of sins; and he was baptized and joined the church at (place not given or known to me). He immediately set up family prayers, and ever lived a praying man after that. He did something for the cause of the missions, as opportunity presented. There was a small Baptist church organized in South Richland about the year (the year was blank; but it was in 1817). They met in school houses in different districts to worship on the Sabbath so as to accommodate the inhabitants as far as could be.”
     From Deacon J.R. Hutchins, the present clerk, and from printed records, I have obtained the following. The church was founded in 1817 with five members, but the names can not be learned. Probably John Holmes was one. The church was gathered by the labors of Elder Enoch Ferris, then a missionary in the country. Elder Jesseniah Holmes joined that same year. Elder Ferris joined in 1819; and together they supplied the church until 1831, when it numbered thirty members. It is a matter of printed record that John Holmes was clerk of the church in 1828, 1830, 1831, 1832, and 1833; and that from 1835 John Douglass was clerk until 1859 inclusive. Until the close of 1832 either Elders Ferris and Holmes or for the last three years of the later alone supplied the pulpit. Concerning 1833 the only record is the following from a letter of grandmother’s written December 12th, “The Baptist church at Pulaski are building a meeting house and think they can not spare their minister any longer. Of course this church must give him up. They think of getting Elder Burdick.” In agreement with this Elder Elias Burdick’s name appears in the printed records as pastor; and he so continued for some probably three or four years.
     There is yet living in Mexico Mrs. Elizabeth Douglass Ferris, sister of Col. John and Deacon Abel Douglass, and widow of Deacon E.M. Ferris, son of Elder Enoch Ferris, who is now in her ninety-seventh year. From her I have the following interesting reminiscences.
     “I became a resident of South Richland in 1824, when I united with that church by letter from Whitesboro. The church was small, consisting mostly of elderly people. I think I was the youngest member. Rev. Enoch Ferris, the father of my husband, E.M. Ferris, was the pastor. I never heard of their having any previous pastor.  As he was a former missionary for that county, it seems natural to suppose that he was the one who assisted in forming the church. I was a member of the church several years before my brother, Col. John Douglass, was converted and united with it.
     “I can mention some of the early members, but can not tell whether they were the first, though I think likely they were. They were Rev. Enoch Ferris, his wife and daughter Elizabeth; Deacon Bangs, Deacon Bumpus, and their wives; John Holmes, clerk; Mrs (Roxy) Dewey; and Mrs. Hiel Richards later.” Deacon Hutchins mentions Jonathan Burdick as among the early members.
     The school house on “the Old salt Road” was the one where the children of John Holmes attended, and which the family “always called ‘our school house.’” Minerva Dewey taught there in the summer of 1824, and Almon remembers going to school to her. Next summer, 1825, Olive Dewey taught the school, and Ann Electa remembers going to school to her, as she does giving the next two summers to Clarinda Dewey, and in the summer of 1828 to Marcia Dewey. The last three were daughters of David and Roxy Dewey, and were only fifteen and sixteen years old at the time of teaching. Mr. Dewey was the school committee.
     Of the winter school Almon says “In winter, then the snow was deep, we used to put a blanket on out Charley horse’s back; then three of the younger children would get on and ride to school, the rest walking. When we got there we would tie the bridle reins on his neck and let him go home alone, which he never failed to do.
     Almon remembers that himself, Ann, Electa and Newell so rode. The school house was a frame building and was warmed by a large, cast-iron, box stove, as they used to be called. Almon further remembers as among the winter teachers, James Taylor, a Mr. Walker, and “Lawson Muzzy, afterward a Baptist minister, who offered a prize of 50 cents (quite equal to $2 now) to the scholar who missed the least number of words in spelling during the winter term.” Almon “won the prize, having only six words down against him for the term.” Ann Electa remembers “going to Elder Muzzy when she was twelve years old.” That would be the winter of 1833 and 1834, which must have been the date of Almon’s prize. Almon also remembers going to school in the winter to Mary Jane Gillispie and to Mrs. Rebecca Holmes, wife of John Newton, the nest to his oldest brother, which was his last school going in Holmesville. He further says: “This school house served not only for school but for meetings on Sunday for many years. We had preaching every Sunday, forenoon and afternoon, the people carrying their lunch and eating it at intermission. The Sunday school was held after lunch, between the two sermons. One of the ministers that preached to us was Elder Burdick for several years. Then came Elder Muzzy. My grandfather (i.e. Elder Jesseniah) used to preach occasionally.”

 Chapter 12 - Further Improvements

     Sometime early in the twenties, both 1820 and 1824 are suggested, but there is nothing to decide exactly, though I incline to the latter, John Holmes built a small, one story structure on the west side of the stream, close to the dam with flume and water wheel, and put in one run of stone. So a grist mill came to that region. Since 1809 there had been one at Pulaski, but by this new mill the five or six miles up there would be mostly saved for the settlers near about. Deacon Nathan Bangs was the first miller, and continued in that place for several years. After the larger grist mill was built in 1835, this first one was turned over to Mr. Solomon Erskine, familiarly known as “Uncle Sol,” just as John Holmes was known as “Uncle John” and his wife as “Aunt Grace;” and he used it as a hand rake factory. I was in it in the early spring of 1845, and can now see in memory of Mr. Erskine sitting at the south window at work, while his son Hastings sat at the east window; one making hand rake teeth the other the heads.
     Another improvement and help to the community about, was a brick yard which grandfather started early in the twenties down in the valley of the brook, right beside where the first log house stood. Numerous fragments of bricks are strewed about there now. With S.N. Holmes, Esq., I visited the spot in May 1888, on the day Dwight Richards was buried, and brought away a large fragment of the hardest kind of burnt brick, which I keep on my table as a memento. One tradition in our family is that John Newton worked in that yard when he was ten years old, and that would be 1823. Also Almon remembers, when e was five or six years old, seeing General Gillispie hauling brick away; which would be a year or two later.
     Another improvement was the building of the dam and fulling mill toward a mile down stream at what was called Santa Fe. About this Almon writes:  “I remember well when the Santa Fe damn was built. I was a boy six or seven years old. (This would make the date 1825 or 1826) I played and fished in the creek, and saw the frame of the dam before the planks were put on. The fulling mill was built first. Then father entered into partnership with a man named Devero, who put in a carding machine, and colored, dressed and pressed cloth ready for wear. The clothing mill was carried on a number of years, I don’t know how long. Then it was bought and converted into a stove mill by Walt and Sherwood.” Luke Wait was killed there by accident very early in 1850. He was down below, oiling the machinery it was supposed, when his head was caught in the bevel gearing and crushed flat. The machinery was stopped. John Erskine who was working for him ran down and helped bring his body up and carry it home. He reports that Mr. Wait had often said he wanted to die instantly, without any knowledge of what killed him. And so it happened.
     About 1852, S.S. Carter, husband of Ann E. Holmes with Almon for a partner, bought it and ran it as a tannery for a year. Then Almon sold out to Carter; and not long after it ceased to be used. Now all but the old barn has disappeared, and only by careful search can one make out where the building or dam stood. Yet it was a better place for a dam than the one where the village is.
     In building a saw mill, grist mill and fulling mill, as the pioneer of the community, grandfather did over again what another Holmes did more than a hundred years before him had done down in that Connecticut from which his parents came, which shows how capacity runs in the blood.

 Chapter 13 - Other Taking Up Of Land And The Incoming Of Kinfolk

     I go back now in time to the beginning again. There lies before me a copy of a part of the original survey of South Richland, as it hangs in the County Clerk’s office in Oswego; and all my statements which follow as to land are from this and other official documents. One point should be kept in mind. Of the contracts which preceded the deeds there are no records, and how many years any one worked before getting a deed no one can tell from them. As near as I could learn from the county records the first deed in South Richland was given to Hugh Gillispie, April 23, 1811, for lot 86, 169 acres, the price being $432.56, a trifle over $2.50 per acre. This lot contains the four corners where the Gillispie school house is, and has been from the first. This lot he sold to his brother Henry, September 18, 1813, for $400. Robert (General Gillispie) bought the north part of the next lot west, (85), April 5, 1819. So as long as any one of the three brothers lived, that was the Gillispie neighborhood. The second deed of land in South Richland was given to Elijah Holmes, the same one who had a farm next north of the farm of Jesseniah in Winfield. It was for lot 60, about a mile north of the Gillispie place on the road to Pulaski; the lot containing 162 acres, and the price being three dollars an acre. But the purchaser never lived on the land. But on January 2, 1832, he gave to his second son, Orange, a deed of the same for $1000.
     The third deed given in South Richland was of Hugh Gillispie to Henry already mentioned.
     The fourth deed in number, but the third as to a new piece of land and the second as to settlement, was to John Holmes for lot 105, of which I have already given an account. He and his father worked together just like a pair of hands. Much the larger purchasings were made by the son, but those by the father were like the other blade to shears. Their purchasings, the father the larger the son the lesser part of lot 116, in which the mill dam and mill pond made by the two illustrates the case.
     John Holmes bought altogether at different times, besides the original farm, the eastern part of lot 104 lying next west of the creek; a part of lot 125 right south of 116 to be flowed by the mill pond; and the eastern part, about half, of lot 115, on which he built the dam and the fulling mill known as Santa Fe. The sum of his purchasings amounted to well nigh or quite 300 acres.
     It is understood in our family that Elder Jesseniah Holmes made his contracts at the same time as his son John, but he made his final payments and got his deeds a little later than the first one of the son. His first deed, dated July 13, 1815 was for that part of lot 107 which lay west of the “Old Salt Road,” and contained 67 acres for which he paid  $235.37. His second deed was obtained October 13 (just three months after) of the same year, and was for the part of lot 116 which lay east of Grindstone Creek, 119 acres. Those two lots went finally to his two youngest children, that on the Old Salt Road to Olive, and that on the mill pond to Hartley.
     One of the earliest of the family connections to come into the neighborhood and settle was Hiel Richards, who married Olive Holmes daughter of Jesseniah and Olive.
     January 9, 1818, Mr. Richards obtained a deed for forty acres on the south end of lot 90, on the north end of which afterwards the tavern-stand was; and it partly lay next to that portion of lot 107, south of it, which Elder Jesseniah had bought about two and a half years before. The price paid was $160. Mr. Richards had been a merchant in what was then called Litchfield, but soon after was changed to Winfield, and apparently had ready cash to pay for his land. How distinctly does his face come up in my memory as he appeared in his later years, when he was familiarly known as “Uncle Hiel.” Some two years and nine months after, viz, on September 16, 1820, he bought his father-in-law the 67 acres of lot 107, which the later had been holding for about five years, paying him the exact sum which he had paid. He afterwards bought land to the north and east of him out of lots 90, 91 and 108, until he owns nearly or quite 300 acres. His home stood and still stands I think, on the west side of the Old Salt Road in a valley as the land lies, near the south line of lot 90.
     Hiel Richards was born April 1, 1790, and his wife Olive Holmes, February 2, 1798. They were married August 2, 1815; and their children were Mary Ann, Dwight D., Elvira, Armenis, Daniel, and Levant. Of these the first married Sewell Gates, and both are deceased; the second married Caroline C. Woodbury, and she survives him; third married William H. Ellsworth and both are deceased. Dwight Richards left one son, John H., who is a manufacturer in Pulaski. Also a son of Mr. and Mrs. Ellsworth lives in the Dwight Richards house, in the south part of Pulaski village. The other three children never married and are deceased.
     Another of the family connections to move up into South Richland was David Dewey, born February 15, 1781. January 3, 1804, he married Roxey, born October 31, 1787, eldest daughter of Elder Jesseniah Holmes; and there were born to them in Winfield, Jarvis Nelson, Sarah, Olive, Clarinda, Marcia A., Jesseniah Harrison, Polly Maria. All these are deceased. One was born after the family had moved up into South Richland, Charlotte E., and she is still living in Pulaski. She reports that the father of David was a Quaker.
     The exact time of the going up of the Deweys into Richland can not be ascertained; but as Charlotte was born there, March 27, 1824, and Mr. Dewey’s first deed of land was obtained September 9, 1823 it is most likely that they went up this year ‘23 or the year before, ‘22. The first deed was for 568 acres of land in Albion, price $400, more land for the money than in any other instance I have found. May 1, next year 1824, he bought all of lot 90 in South Richland, except what Hiel Richards had being 128 acres, of Rudolph and Elizabeth Bunner, and paid $1000 for it. This large sum could hardly have been paid for bare land, and was not. A remark of Charlotte explains. She says, “I always heard from my childhood that my father bought the old homestead of Alvan Kellogg, who kept a tavern there before my father purchased the place.” She further informs me that the tavern was a log house, it stood north of the cross road, and that her father lived in it two years, when he built on the opposite side, the frame house which afterwards stood there.
     Kellogg was Alvan Hyde Kellogg, who was born in Sheffield, Massachusetts, March 9, 1794; and who July 12, 1812 had married sister of Grace Homes. Probably he had taken up this lot on contract put on the tavern-stand and made other improvements, but had not kept up his payments. So Dewey got his deed from the original parties and yet dealt with Kellogg.
     In “28, ‘29, and ‘33 Mr. Dewey bought lot 76 north of him, and lot 75 west of that, they two becoming afterwards the farm of his eldest son, J. Nelson Dewey. Other purchases he made, and throve and prospered in acquiring wealth, until at the time of his death, March 1, 1838, at the age of 57, he appears to have been much the largest landowner living thereabouts.
     Besides the two brothers-in-law, with their wives above mentioned, there went up from Winfield also two brothers of John, Horace and Hartley. Chiefly from Mrs. Mary Holmes Dean, eldest child of the former I learn what follows: Horace married Pricilla Barker, in 1817. In October next year Mary was born. In 1821 by a bargain with his father, Elder Jesseniah, Horace took charge of the home farm in Winfield, and carried it on for five years. Probably during that whole time Elder Holmes was pastor of the Baptist church in Winfield, as he certainly was a part of the time, as the recollections of Mrs. Dean show. In the first year an accident occurred which she thus relates, “Your history seemed to take me back to my childhood days, and I was young again. I could see the red house where I was born (the original one built by Elder Holmes, in which also my mother, Elvira, was born) and the hill by Uncle Elijah’s house down which our horse ran once when we were going to Cassville to church, where my mother belonged before her marriage. I think the harness broke, and the horse connenced kicking and ran. I could not have been more than three years old, 1821, but I remember the dashboard was kicked to pieces. My father held on, and at the bottom of the hill (a little past Elijah’s house) succeeded in reining him into the fence. We went into Uncle Elijah’s; my father’s leg was bleeding, and they washed it and did it up.”
     May 5, 1823 Horace obtained a deed of lots 11 and 12 of 104.01 acres out of great lot No. 8 at the Dugway, for which he paid $500 as the county records show. Mrs. Dean remembers that Hartley went up to Albion first, and she tells this little incident:
     “I remember the morning he went away. As I jumped out of my trundle bed, my mother said to me ‘Run and bid Hart goodbye; he is going.’ I ran around the corner of the house and called ‘Goodbye Harto.” He wrote afterward that he had not shed a tear until then.”
     In 1826 Horace moved up into Albion and lived there henceforth. In all nine children were born to him, of whom three, Mrs. Mary Dean, Mrs. Sarah Hall, and Mr. Jesse N. are living, the latter on the original farm.
     The following year 1827, Elder Jesseniah went up “to live with his children.”
     Thus the family of Elder Jesseniah came to be with him in the South Richland region except Roswell, his second child who went to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and became a successful merchant, and Marcia who had married her half cousin Elijah, and remained at Winfield. After the purchase of the tavern-stand by David Dewey, Alvan Kellogg lived for a number of years up at the Dugway near the farm of Horace Holmes and had four or five children. One, Henry Martyn Kellogg, became a Congregational minister; and he left a son of the same name, who is now a minister of the same denomination at Wilder, Vermont.
     Another family connection who moved in was Anna King, eldest sister of Grace Holmes. She married Deacon Bumpus, a widower, and they lived in the first house east from grandfather’s place on the other side of the road. They never had any children. After his death she lived in the third house east from where the Methodist church stands, and on the same side of the street. I remember seeing her there in the spring of 1845, and she was spinning flax with a small flax wheel. She also reeled off some thread on a reel.
     I greatly regret that I am unable to obtain any present trace of Uncle Hartwell’s family; and hence can give only fragmentary information. His first wife Betsey, sister of Sewell Gates, and they were probably married about 1825 or 6. They lived in the house right opposite the saw mill and their belongings, he obtained March 20, 1831, having paid for it $516.50. His father certainly favored him in the bargain.
     Three children were born to them, Angeline, Albert and Levant. The wife died May 25, 1835, aged thirty-four years. December 19, 1837 Levant died aged 7 years, 2 months, 4 days, which would make him to have been born October 15, 1830. During at least one season before 1835 Aunt Esther taught a private school in this house. After a time Mr. Holmes married Mary June -, I have heard it said of Sand Banks, as I remember; and by her he had one son Truman. She died June 13, 1841, aged twenty-five years. After a time he married Harriet E. Leonard, and by her had one child. She joined the Congregational church in Pulaski in 1844.
     Some time toward the end of the forties Hartley Holmes sold all of his property and moved away west. In 1852 he was living in Maumee City, Ohio, and the family of his wife was living with him. During the winter before (1851-2) his son Albert died in California. Concerning this event Mrs. Holmes writes, “It is the hardest struggle to give him up that I have ever been called to endure. Yet I feel that it is my duty to be submissive; for I know that it is wicked to murmur at the doings of Providence. And, if I know my own heart, I do not feel like it. But I am “sorely chastened of the Lord.” It is my daily prayer that it (his death) may be sanctified to us all. Then again my wicked heart says, how can it be best that he must die in order to make me better? But God’s ways are not as our ways and ‘he doeth all things well.’”
     After a while they moved to Tolono, Illinois, a place on the east side of the state, and somewhat south of the center. There all trace of them is lost. While he lived in Holmesville, Mr. Holmes was made a deacon of the Baptist church there (which he had joined soon after the great revival of  1831) and sometimes was delegate to the County Baptist Association. In Maumee City his wife joined the Baptist church with him.
     The above comprises all I can learn.
     Before we pass finally from Elijah a word may be said and I quote from Mrs. Dean. She writes: “I visited Orange (Elijah’s second son) when Leonodas (now of Lincoln, Nebraska) was a baby, and stayed several weeks with Uncle Elijah and Aunt Marcia. My husband was holding a protracted meeting at West Winfield. Uncle Elijah said to me, ‘Mary, I think you have a pretty good husband, if it were not for his new fangled notions of temperance and abolition.’ He never argued with my husband, but he and I had many a set to. He said he liked to talk with me, if I did differ from him; for he talked with so many women who would say ‘Yes, yes,’ to everything he said; but I had a mind of my own.”
     To this I may add a reminiscence of my own, Miss Sophia Holmes, a daughter of Elijah and Marcia, was my teacher on the piano forte for five terms, when my father was pastor of the Presbyterian church in Holland Patent, Oneida County, N.Y. 1851-3, she being the music teacher in a village academy there. The last of March 1853 brother Charles and I went over to her father’s house for a visit. It was a large two story farm house, now torn down. The snow drifts on the way up in the hills were fearful. Two items I distinctly remember. We all stood behind our chairs while Mr. Holmes asked the blessing; and at dinner a glass of hard cider was set at every plate. He had a strong Holmes family look, like grandfather.
     After his death, Sophia and her mother and sister went out west, and lived for a time in Lone Rock, Wisconsin, where the mother Marcia was buried.

 Chapter 14 - Another Branch Of The Family

     But the line of Elder Jesseniah was not the only branch of the Holmes family that came up out of the mother town of Pomfret, Connecticut, and helped build up the settlement of which John and Grace Holmes were the pioneers. It will be remembered that the next child before Jesseniah, born to Nathaniel son of Jehoshaphat down there in Pomfret, was named Nathaniel also, after his father; and that he was born August 14, 1760. His burial place is in the private burial ground on what is now on the Andrus Rockfeller farm; and a sketch of the story of his life is now in order. I give the only dates known.
     October 4, 1760, seven weeks and two days after his birth, this Nathaniel was baptized, the date being furnished by the clerk of the Congregational church of Pomfret. Infant baptism was the custom in those days, and was administered by sprinkling. The next date is March 26, 1782, on which day he was married to Mary Adams, born June 5, 1760, a little over nine weeks before her to be husband. The family tradition is that they were married in Groton, Connecticut, that the wife’s home was there, and that she was of the same family as John Adams of Revolutionary fame. Probably their first two children and perhaps two more were born there or elsewhere in Connecticut. These were Mary, born November 9, 1783, who married a McLaughlin and never came up here; Isaiah born March 14, 1787; Olive born September 17, 1788; and Jesseniah born August 12, 1790. These last three all came up into this region, and are buried here. Besides one that died in infancy, two others were born, probably in Richfield, Otsego county, up to which place the family first came, viz, Eliakim, born May 11, 1794, and Phoebe, born November 9, 1796.
     Concerning the going up out of Connecticut, Mr. Roswell W. Holmes of the third generation writes: “I suppose that they went from Groton, Connecticut to Otsego Co., N.Y., by ox team, and that it was near Cooperstown or Richfield Springs (it was the latter), that they first made their home. Grandfather (Nathaniel 2nd) first bought 40 acres of land, and when grandmother (Mary Adams) heard that he had only bought 40 acres she said, ‘Go back and buy more. I can pay for 40 acres with my loom.’”
     When this going up took place can not now be ascertained; but probably some time in the last decade of the last century. That they settled in Richfield is certain; for in the record in the County Clerk’s office at Oswego, it reads that “February 10, 1832, Isaiah Holmes of Richfield, Otsego Co., bought,” etc.
     The first deed in Oswego County to any one of this group was to Jesseniah 2nd, given in April 1825, for a piece of lot 89, 6.36 acres, price $35, when he was thirty-five years old, married and with children.
     Jesseniah Holmes 2nd, son of Nathaniel and Mary (Adams) his wife, was born August 12, 1790, but whether in Connecticut, or in Richfield, N.Y. I can not learn. He married Martha Sweet in the latter place on Sunday, September 9, 1810; and they lived on the farm of her folks for several years, apparently ten at least; and then they moved up to South Richland. There he died April 29, 1872, aged 81 years, 8 months and 17 days. His wife was born August 17, 1793, and died June 4, 1869, aged 75 years, 9 months, 18 days.
     From Mr. H.J. Brown of Watertown, a grandson, I have this word: “Our knowledge of Jesseniah Holmes 2nd is rather limited, especially as to his early life. He lived with our grandmother, Martha Sweet, in the old ancestral home, for some years after their marriage; and where several children were born to them. Later, as their family increased, they began to cast about for a home of their own; and finally emigrated to Oswego County. They made the journey in an emigrant wagon, driving a few cows and oxen over the almost impassable roads existing much of the way between Winfield and their prospective home. The journey was a weary one, and not devoid of accident; for a runaway occurred, which wrecked the wagon and made havoc of the household goods. Upon his arrival at South Richland he built a rude log cabin upon the farm he afterwards occupied during most of his active life. This log house, however, was but a temporary home. His energy and industry soon led to the erection of a comfortable frame dwelling.”
     Now I turn to the County records again. That first piece of land, 6.86 acres, appears to have been about where the Slosson Richards’ house stands on the top of the hill, now for many years tenantless, with windows out and doors swinging wide, all falling to decay. Who built that house? (Now torn down.)
     The second deed was also to Jesseniah 2nd, and was for eighty acres from the west side of lot 106, given August 8, 1827, the price being four dollars an acre. This land lay right against the east side of lot 105, the first purchase made by John Holmes, the original pioneer. October 17, 1831, Jesseniah 2nd obtained his third deed, being for 23.59 acres out of lot 89, which was next right north of lot 106; and for which he paid $100. Perhaps this piece included all of lot 89 south of the highway. It looks so by the map. The three pieces lying contiguous, gave him a farm of almost 110 acres. On this land south of the highway, as I remember it, the “frame dwelling” stood. How long before the date of these deeds the contracts were given, and the family moved on to the land I have no means of knowing.
     The year 1831 was the chief year for the purchasings of land by the members of this group. January 6th of this year, Eliakim obtained a deed for fifty acres of land, to be laid off, as nearly square as possible, out of the southeast corner of lot 126, the lot which cornered on to the southeast corner of lot 116 on which the village of Holmesville is built, price $225. September 15th was the great day. On that day Isaiah obtained a deed for 53.05 acres out of lot 127 which is next south from that one which the Pride saw mill stands, (or used to), price $600. Was this the whole of the lot on the west side of the Old Salt Road? The same day he bought of his brother Eliakim, for $350, the square of land which the latter had bought for $225 the January before. By these two purchases Isaiah came to have a farm in one plot of over a hundred acres. On that same day Nathaniel Holmes, the father, obtained deeds for two pieces of land. One was for 43 acres and 36 rods of the south part of lot 107 that lies on the east side of the Old Salt Road. The land fronts on the land bought by Hiel Richards of his father-in-law Elder Jesseniah Holmes, eleven years before. The second piece was sixty-eight acres on the south side of lot 108, next east from 107; and the two formed one farm of almost 112 acres. The price paid for the two was $1000. Finally on that same day Nathaniel Holmes and Mary, his wife sold to Eliakim, their son, for $350 the first of the two pieces above mentioned.
     On this place a house was built nearly opposite where Captain Waters used to live, in which Eliakim and his father, Nathaniel, lived until the death of the latter, March 3, 1850, “of old age,” his nephew, John Holmes, wrote; he being 89 years, 5 months and 11 days old. His wife, Mary (Adams) had predeceased him by four years, having departed this life August 5, 1846. After the death of his father, Elialim sold out and moved west, and my rrace of him ends.
     Isaiah Holmes at various times bought pieced of land right about him until he owned well nigh of 200 acres. October 16, 1835 his father bought a piece of almost fifty acres next to him for $350; and then although seventy-five years old he provided further against old age. Eleven years longer he and his wife lived together, and four years after her he departed as I have said.
     Isaiah Holmes was first married to Sally Richards, January 3, 1813. She was born March 9, 1794, and was a sister of “Uncle Hiel”, and of Elvira, wife of Nelson Dewey. To them were born Daniel R., September 2, 1815; Edward A., June 19, 1817; Sarah Slosson, October 12, 1819. This name seems to show that Slosson Richards and the mother were kin. Also there were born to them Judson, January 1, 1824; and Bradley H., June 5, 1829.
     The birth of the next child requires a special paragraph. Isaiah had gone up into South Richland and taken up land and built his first saw mill, which was on the cross road from the Old Salt Road toward the residence of Mr. Griffin. Then he went back to Otsego county to bring up his family; and on the return a son was born whom they named John B. The date of his birth was Sunday, January 27, 1833. This event and date fix the time when Isaiah became a resident of South Richland. In due time he built, and for many years lived in the house now owned and occupied by Mr. Andrus Rockfeller.
     After John B. there was also born to them Truman S. Then, July 8, 1843, “Sally, wife of Isaiah Holmes, died,” as the tombstone records, being 49 years and 4 months old.
     November 2nd of the same year he married his cousin Eliza Babcock, (born June 8, 1809); and to them were born Roswell W. March 30, 1846, named after the son of the original Roswell who went to Philadelphia; the son as I remember, being up in South Richland on a visit to his kin that summer. There were also born to them, Andrew B. October 27, 1848; and Ann Eliza December 27, 1850. Eliza the wife died December 27, 1865.
     The next year, November 23, 1866, Isaiah “married the widow of a soldier, Mrs. Martha Thompson, aged about 36, and by her had a son born October 4, 1867; who John B. having died some four years before, was named John D. At the birth of this son Isaiah was 80 years and nearly 7 months old; and it is still remembered with what pride he carried the boy about when he went to the village. He lived nearly three years longer and died June 23, 1870, aged 83 years, 3 months, 9 days.
     We now return to Mr. Brown’s account of Jesseniah. In his “confortable frame dwelling, he lived for many years a prident industrious life. In addition to tilling the farm, he kept a shop where shoes were made and repaired; also harnesses. He was a very successful keeper of bees, having at times hundreds of hives, which added greatly to his income. Much might be written of the hardships of their early life, when the grain must be carried miles through the almost trackless forest for grinding, when a musket was a needed accompaniment of a journey through the woods; for bears and other wild animals were to be found at times.”
     “Jesseniah Holmes was of the stuff of which pioneers are made, and his courage and energy were equal to the occasions. The farm was cleared and became productive, his family grew to manhood and womanhood, and old age found him in confortable circumstances. Ten children grew up around him, eight sons and two daughters. They were Waldo, Jesse, Levi, Septimus, Ozro, Elliot, Jasper, and Henry. The daughters were Lura and Paulina.”
     Four of the sons went out into the vicinity of Peoria, Illinois; and Elliot into California. Henry became a Methodist minister, “located in the Northern N.Y. Conference. He died near Rome some years since. Paulina married James S. Brown of Richland; and passed the greater part of her life on a farm two miles from Holmesville where she died. She was the mother of nine children, six of whom are living,” of whom Mr. H.J. Brown is the eldest.
     “In his political views our grandfather was first a whig and then a republican. In religious faith he was a Baptist. He was a quiet unobtrusive man, sincere and conscientious; and his life, although an uneventful one, was still a power for good in the community.”
     At this point I may group together the generic facts about the Holmes family in South Richland. Two branches of that family settled there, the branch of Nathaniel and the branch of Jesseniah. The latter came first, and the first of all was Elder Jesseniah’s eldest son John. In all, four children of Jesseniah, forming four families, settled about “The Mills,” the farthest, Roxy, being hardly a mile and a half away, being those of John and Grace, Hiel Richards and Olive, David Dewey and Roxy, and Hartley and Betsey. The fifth family, that of Horace and Pricilla, settled up in Albion at the Dugway.

 Note
     The following letter of reminiscences from Mr. Edwin C. Waters gives me especial pleasure, and is a distinct contribution to the “History.” If there are any others who are reading it, who have knowledge of other facts concerning those early days, which they are willing to communicate, I should be glad to hear from them.  Rev. J.H. Jones
     Dear Sir: I take great interest in the History of Holmesville in the Pulaski Democrat. I note what you say about the date when the old Dewey tavern was built. My father (i.e. Captain Waters) came from Winfield in the year 1822, and worked to build it. Deacon Bangs was the boss of the job. It was not all done that year but the family moved into it. About seventeen years ago I cut off twenty feet from the south end, and fixed it up for a dewlling house; and I found an old piece of money, (one cent) date 1822. I have it now to keep.
     The next winter after father went back East and returned in the spring, and was married in October 1823 to Mary Pride, Squire Pride’s daughter. My eldest sister, Phoebe, was born the next year.
     About the first grist mill that was built, my father put up the building in 1824 as you wrote. Deacon Bangs was the first miller, and an agent came to him and wanted him to buy a new square to use in carpenter work. He went with the agent up to the Salt Road and got it, because the latter did not want to drive down through the woods to Holmesville, the road was so bad. He gave three dollars for it. I have it now, and used it last week on my work. It was the first carpenter’s square sold in Oswego county. The name and date are on it, “Hewes pat., 1824.”
     The first tavern was a log building kept by a man named Bird. It was called Beehive, because a little straw beehive was the sign on a post in front of it. A lot of soldiers marched along by the tavern in the War of 1812 up to the battle at Sackets Harbor. At the tavern they got the landlord in the bar to deal out his three cent whiskey, while one of them went into the back yard, took out the back end of the Dutch oven, and took out a lot of new bread, and went along and got some honey and had a good supper.
     About Isaiah Holmes. The year he was 80 or 81, he lived with his third wife and they had a son. I was collector in the school district where I live, and where I went to school to Miss Dodge, now your wife. The year the law changed every one paid Fox, and the old man found fault about it. I went to him to get the Fox, and he brought me the money a laughing, and said “Say, Waters, I will get it all back. Look over in that cradle and see my little boy.”
     Father and I used to do the undertaking, and made most of the coffins in those days. When Uncle John Holmes died he made the coffin and case, and went with a team and attended the funeral. He used to furnish coffins for from three to seven dollars including attendance with the team. When the price got up to $7 the folks thought it was to high. Things have changed in my day.
     If I could see you I could tell you more about my folks and the old times; and about the Indians that went through on the Old Salt Road. I can see now John Holmes and all the old people up in the old school house, and in the church as it used to be. Best wishes to yourself and your wife.
 Edwin C. Waters

 Comments
     This letter and the recollections of Mrs. Charlotte Brown agree, and fix the date of the moving of David Dewey up from Winfield as 1820. Their last child born in Winfield was Polly Maria, born February 21, 1819. Mrs. Brown says they lived two years in the log tavern; and Mr. Waters says the farm house was built in 1822. Mrs. Brown was born March 27, 1824, the only child born in Richland.
     That cent of 1822 is a choice keepsake and might well be framed and handed down as an heirloom.
     Squire Pride was probably the very first settler in the southeast part of Richland, as the Gillispies were in the southwest. Phoebe Waters made a notable contribution to the history of South Richland by preserving a perfect set of the printed annual reports of the Baptist County Association from 1839 down, and presenting them to the Baptist church.
     If someone could tell when that log tavern was built, and who built it a point of interest would be cleared up. Alvan Hyde Kellogg who married Esther King, Sunday, July 12, 1812, may have built it, and may have been started to furnish a boarding place for men engaged in building the road from Syracuse through to Sackets Harbor, which was then an important military and naval place.
     The case of Mr. John Holmes is very remarkable. His father was eighty years and over six months old when he was born. I wonder where there is the record of another such instance.
     I will venture to quote from three of the kin. Uncle Almon says “I consider your History perfect.”  Roswell W. of Telluride, Colorado says, “it is beautifully written, reads like a romance.”  William E. Hurd of Syracuse, N.Y. says, “It is very interesting to us all. I have purchased a fine scrap book and the girls paste the articles in as fast as we get them.”
     Such approvals, and that of Mr. Waters are a very agreeable recompense for the labor of making the “History.”

     The branch of Nathaniel which came in later, contained of five families. These were Isaiah and Sally, Jesseniah and Martha, Eliakim and __, and two daughters. Of  these, Olive was the third child of Nathaniel. She first married a Mr. Allen, by whom she had two daughters, Laura, born February 8, 1811, who April 2, 1828 married Philip Minckler; and Phoebe, who married Nelson, brother of Philip. A daughter of Laura is Mrs. Helen, wife of Robert Jones, who lives a little east of the graveyard. Newton Minckler is the son of Nelson and Phoebe. After the death of Mr. Allen, Olive married James Robinson, and they had children.
     The other daughter of Nathaniel Holmes was the youngest child, Phoebe. She was born November 9, 1796. October 27, 1814 she married Elnathan Mason Jr. (born August 12, 1791); familiarly known as “Squire Mason.” They lived about opposite the Baptist church, and their children were, Harriet Newell, Mary Ann, John R., Maria Z., and Adelia S. Squire Mason died October 11, 1855, his wife almost a quarter century later. November 8, 1879, at the home of her youngest child who had married Mr. David Fleming, and lived beyond Daysville, near the lake. Concerning her (Mrs. Mason), Mr. Roswell W. Holmes of Telluride, Colorado, wrote, “The dear, dear lady, she was always so clean spiritually, mentally, and physically,” a high testimony.
     Of these five families of the Nathaniel Holmes branch the farthest lived hardly a mile from “The Mills;” and they with the sour of the other branch made nine Holmes families of the same generation which were living at one and the same time and for many years within a mile and a half of the mill dam, the center of the whole settlement. That gathering of nine families, living thus all at the same time there, who cleared off primeval forests, and laid the foundations of society in that place, is a very plain, and it seems to me conclusive reason why the village was fitly named Holmesville, and should always have borne that name.

 Chapter 15 - Elder Jesseniah Holmes

     The original pioneer out of Connecticut came up from his pioneer home in Winfield, in the summer of 1827, to live and die with his children in their pioneer homes in South Richland; and made his and his wife’s abode partly with his son John and partly with his daughter Olive, wife of “Uncle Hiel” Richards. He was about sixty-four and a half years old.
     December 2nd of that year his adopted daughter Minerva was married in the house of Mr. and Mrs. Richards to Asa C. Dickinson, Elder Holmes officiating. To them was born Hon. Don M. Dickinson of Michigan, Post Master General under Cleveland.
     From the time when Elder Holmes was ordained, to this removal was something over twenty-four years, of which period the obituary has this to say.
     “He preached at various places and, like his Master, as we hope, went about doing good until the church at Steuben called him to preach to them, which call he accepted; and his labors were blessed with a revival of religion in which about forty were baptized. He continued there about two years. They were anxious he should continue longer, but while there he received a serious injury by his horse falling with him from which he never recovered. It affected his nerves and his health so much that he thought he could not preach. The next summer (?1814) he visited the Ballston Springs, and found some relief, so that he continued to preach in destitute places, until at length he removed to Richland, Oswego County, in 1827, for the purpose of living with his children. He still continued to preach occasionally, and sometimes he would exhibit the gospel in a very striking and vivid manner. He attended  a protracted meeting in Colosse, where he experienced a great revival in his mind. His earthen treasures which he exhibited clearly.”
     In connection with this meeting at Colosse, Mrs. Mary Holmes Dean, eldest child of Horace Holmes of the Dugway, relates the following: “They were having revival meetings in the church at Colosse, which my grandfather attended. Returning home on horseback, he met his youngest son, Hartley, who was not a Christian. Alighting from his horse the father asked the son to kneel in the road, which he did; and that father right there took that son in the arms of faith to God and wrestled in prayer for his conversion. People passing, stopped and joined the circle. The son was converted then and there; and another man was also, who became a preacher of the gospel.”
     Ann Electa writes concerning this period. “He (her grandfather) used to preach when he first came, one Sunday in the Dewey school house, the next in the Gillispie school house. They were two miles apart.”
     Almon thus described Elder Holmes: “My grandfather was about five feet ten inches high, well built and proportioned; and weighed about 160 pounds. He had brown hair and eyes, and a good voice.” Ann Elects says, “He had the same complexion, and colored eyes and hair as father and was thin in flesh, a very nervous man. He had a fond voice and was considered a fine speaker in his day.” John Erskine in telling me about him said, “What a voice he had.” He further said that from his father’s house, where the Walworth place was afterwards, he had distinctly heard what the Elder said preaching in the Dewey school house three quarters of a mile away. These various testimonies show that he had a very uncommon voice and gift for preaching.
     John Holmes had light brown eyes, and light, thin, fine brown hair; and so must his father have had according to the testimony. Hence, with his light complexion and spare form, Jesseniah would have been what is called the sanguine temperament.
     The family of my wife, Mr. and Mrs. Chester Dodge and their children lived for several years before 1837 on a farm about two miles north of Pulaski. Not far from there lived Mr. Sylvester Brown; and in his barn Elder Jesseniah Holmes used to preach, he also did in the barn of a Mr. Thomas in the same neighborhood. A sister of Mrs. Jones, Mrs. Mary Cook, of Oswego, frequently attended the preaching and enjoyed it very much. Elder Holmes often preached with the tears streaming down his face; and so he easily melted his audience to tears also. This power to touch the heart was the secret of his success.
     There was associated with him another preacher of decided eccentricities, called “Father Calkins” who had come up from Connecticut. His given name was Jonathan as letters from him to grandfather in my possession show. Being an itinerant minister without landed estate, he loved to sing,  “No foot of land do I possess, No cottage in this wilderness.”
     Well, someone in Connecticut, holding him in high esteem as a preacher, and taking compassion upon him in his destitution, bestowed upon him as a free gift a cottage and house-lot. But after a little it so choked him because he could not sing truthfully his favorite lines that he would not keep the present but restored it to the giver.
     It is also told that one time Elder Holmes and Father Calkins were holding a meeting together, and were the guests of a Mr. and Mrs. Meiga, parents of Geary Sherwood’s mother. Morning prayer was before breakfast, and the good housewife was afraid the breakfast would burn if it was left out over the fire during prayer time. So just as they were kneeling down she took the kettle off the hooks over the fire, (cook stoves were unknown then) and set them down on the hearth. Where upon Father Calkins broke out with “O Lord, the pots and the kettle make such a rattling that I can’t pray.” We should think in such a case of rudeness now-a-days, that his breakfast ought not to have tasted good; but the event was not strange in those days.
     1832 was the last year that Elder Holmes acted as pastor of the church in South Richland. That year he and his wife  went to live with their son John and so continued for the eight years which remained to him on the earth.
     In 1833 Elder Burdick became pastor and so continued for some years.
     From Miss Juliet, daughter of Mrs. Mary Cook, I have this antidote. In his later years Elder Jesseniah was known to have spells of dreadful melancholia. In the winter at such times he would run out barefooted into the snow; and when remonstrated with, and asked why he did so, he replied, “I want to see of I can not get some of the pain out of my heart into my feet.”

 Chapter 16 - The Village School House

     Sometime in the twenties, just when can not be now ascertained, a log school house was built about a third of a mile south from “The Mills,” as they were then called, “on land now owned by Mr. Hardy.” The date must be as early as the building of the grist mill, or earlier. The first frame school house was built in 1835, on the west side of the highway nearly in front of where the old barn now stands on the John Holmes place. Afterwards, when Mr. Holmes came to build up that place in 1841-2, he caused the school house to be moved across the highway, near the northeast corner of the present lot. John Erskine remembers going to school to Milton Holmes in that school house on the first site. That was probably before Milton’s marriage, March 15, 1838. Let me describe that school house for I was often in it as a boy and man. It was about twenty-five or thirty by forty feet, and was set side to the road. The entry was in the south end at the east corner. About four feet was taken off of the south end inside, clear across, of which four feet square was an entry, where the door was, a like part made a closet in the southwest corner; and the central part was a recess with a window in the center, the floor raised one step, there being a board deck made flush with the edge of the raised floor, and a board seat back against the wall. This recess was the place for the teacher; and for the preacher when meetings were held there. A narrow platform raised one step ran around the three sides of the building, west, north, and east. A continuous seat ran around also on the platform against the wall, with a desk in front to correspond, and an opening in the middle and at each end for scholars to step up and take their seats. Along in front of this desk was a low board seat around on three sides for small scholars. In the middle of the open space was the stove, the pipe of which wandered along to the rear end where it went into the chimney. Besides the window in the recess there were two on each side, and I think two in the north end. How many pictures troop up into memory of events which happened there. Mrs. M.G. Allen Orvis, who lived in Holmesville when a child, remembers going to school to Harriet Tubbs and Maria Gillispie in that school.

Continue to Part 3
 


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