of the HOLMES Family
settlement of South Richland, Oswego County, New York
by Rev. Jesse H. Jones
in the Pulaski Democrat from
12, 1900 to August 6. 1902
Chapter 10 - The Great
19, 1814, about eight years and a half after he had bargained for his farm,
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
11 - Church and School
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
John Holmes there is a memorandum in his wife’s handwriting the substance
of which I will give, supplying some omissions.
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.”
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
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.
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.
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;
Holmes, clerk; Mrs (Roxy) Dewey; and
Hiel Richards later.” Deacon Hutchins
mentions Jonathan Burdick as among the early
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.
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.
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.”
12 - Further Improvements
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
deed given in South Richland was of Hugh Gillispie
to Henry already mentioned.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
‘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.
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
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.”
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:
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.”
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.
year 1827, Elder Jesseniah went up “to live with his children.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.’”
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.
comprises all I can learn.
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.”
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.
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.
14 - Another Branch Of The Family
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.
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.
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.’”
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.,
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.
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.
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.)
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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,
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.”
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.”
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.
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.”
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
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
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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
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
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
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.
of 1822 is a choice keepsake and might well be framed and handed down as
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.
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
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.
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.”
and that of Mr. Waters are a very agreeable recompense for the labor of
making the “History.”
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.
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.
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.
15 - Elder Jesseniah Holmes
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.
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.
time when Elder Holmes was ordained, to this removal was something over
twenty-four years, of which period the obituary has this to say.
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
Burdick became pastor and so continued for some years.
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.”
16 - The Village School House
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.
to Part 3