Holcomb from Simsbury, CT to Wyoming Co., NY

From the files of Stephen M. Lawson

   The following information was gathered and organized over a period of years and from various sources to identify both the father and the paternal grandparents of Harriet (Holcomb) Andrews , based on a preponderance of evidence. The Holcomb line has been documented by a Supplemental Application recorded by the National Society of the Sons and Daughters of the Pilgrims - NSSDP. Brief comments about Dr. George E. McCracken are included below.


Identifying the father of Harriet (Holcomb) Andrews

[The information said to be attached is not included here, but is in the files of the preparer. - sl]

The following information from various public records and family sources are cited to support the hypothesis: Jonah Holcomb, father of Harriet (Holcomb) Andrews, is identical to Jonah Holcomb (b. 20 Nov 1774, Simsbury, CT), the son of Josiah and Dorcas (Smith) Holcomb.

Section A provides the birth date and place for the widow Harriet Andrews, and the names of her parents.

Section B shows that Harriet Andrews was the widow of Henry L. Andrew.

Section C cites all of the NY census records from 1800 to 1840 in which the names Jonah and Josiah Holcomb appear, together with all persons with the Holcomb surname found in counties where Jonah lived. An analysis of these records supports the Josiah-Jonah-Harriet line, family structure constructed for Jonah and Sabra Holcomb, and provides no evidence contrary to the hypothesis.

Section D gives information from various sources, including a brother-in-law of Jonah, a genealogist, a family history compiler, a town historian, and various descendants, which lends support to the hypothesis.

Finally, the constructed family of Jonah and Sabra Holcomb is given, including information on siblings of Harriet (Holcomb) Andrews that is not covered in the previous sections.

A. Certificate of Death, State of New York No. 42355 [Copy attached.]

  1. Full Name of Deceased - Harriet Andrews
  2. Age - 81 years 8 months 15 days. Sex - F.
  3. Widowed
  4. Occupation -
  5. Birthplace - Varysburg, NY
  6. Father's Name and Birthplace - Johna Hocumb
  7. Mother's Name and Birthplace - Sabra "
  8. Place of Death - Johnsonburg
  9. Date and Hour of Death: Died on the 15 day of Sept 1892, at about 2-40 A.M.

Conclusions: Harriet ("Hocumb") Andrews was born 31 Dec 1810 at Varysburg (Town of Sheldon), Genesee Co., NY, and died as a widow on 15 Sep 1892 at Johnsonburg (Town of Sheldon/Orangeville), Wyoming Co., NY. Her parents were "Johna" (or Jonah) "Hocumb" (or Holcomb) and wife "Sabra."

B. Censuses, Directory, Will, and Newspaper

1892 - Census of Town of Orangeville, Wyoming Co., NY: Harriet Holcomb - age 80.

1870 - Directory of Wyoming Co., NY: Town of Sheldon, Mrs. Harriet Andrews, post office Johnsonburg lot 4, range 3, farmer, 82 1/2 acres.

1866 - Will of Henry L. Andrew - 7 Jul 1866, proved 6 Aug 1866: Names wife Harriet and brother Freeborn. States "I have commenced a suit in the Supreme Court for personal injury to myself by Royal P. Case...."

1866 - WESTERN NEW YORKER: [Transcriptions.]

1850 - Census of Wyoming Co., NY: 29 Jul 1850, Orangeville, p. 37.

       Andrew, Henry L. 38 M  Farmer  VT 
               Harriet  36 F          NY 
               Freeborn 15 M 
               Rosetta   7 F 
               Melvina   6 F 
               William   5 M 
               George    2 M

Conclusions: Harriet (Holcomb) Andrew(s) was born about 1811-1814 in NY, was wife/widow of Henry L. Andrew in 1866, was living in 1892, and resided in the Towns of Orangeville and Sheldon (village of Johnsonburg), Wyoming Co., NY. It is probable that Harriet married 1830-1834 (at age 19-23), most likely in 1834. Harriet, born at Varysburg (Town of Sheldon) and died at Johnsonburg (Town of Sheldon/Orangeville), probably lived in Sheldon and Orangeville throughout her life.

C. NY Federal Censuses 1800-1840

1840 - Holcombs of Genesee Co., NY

       Chencey  - Sheldon   0 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 - 1 2 1 1 0 1 0 0 1 
       Birdsey  - Sheldon 
       Riley    - Sheldon 
       John M.  - Sheldon 
       Jonah A. - Sheldon 
       Lewis I. - Sheldon

1830 - Holcombs of Genesee Co., NY

       Alphius   - Attica 
       Bridsley  - Sheldon 
       Chauncey  - Orangeville    0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 - 1 0 0 0 1 
       Clyman    - Warsaw 
       George    - Pembroke 
       Jonah     - Orangeville    0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 - 0 1 0 1 0 0 0 1 
       Jonah A.  - Orangeville    2 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 - 1 1 0 0 1 
       Orator    - Pembroke 
       Riley     - Sheldon 
       Sylvanus  - Pembroke

1820 - Holcombs of Genesee Co., NY

       Oritor   - Pembroke 
       Benjamin - Gates 
       George   - Alexander 
       Jonah    - Orangeville    0 1 1 2 0 1 - 1 1 0 1

1810 - Holcombs of Onondaga Co., NY

       Cyrus  - p. 51 
       Heman  - p. 59 
       Jonah  - p. 61           2 1 0 1 0 - 2 0 1 
       Josiah - p. 60   [3rd]   1 0 0 1 0 - 2 0 1 
       Roxena - p. 51 
       Salmon - p. 12

1800 - Holcombs of Rensselaer Co., NY

       Azariah - 9:6 
       Bariah  - 101:6            Brother of Josiah, Jr. 
       Bethuel - 9:6 
       Eaad    - 9:6    [Eldad] 
       Josiah  - 101:   [Sr.]     1 1 0 0 1 - 0 0 1 0 1 
       Josiah  - 106:6  [Jr.]     0 0 0 0 1 - 0 1 1 0 1 
       Michael - 110:6            Brother of Josiah, Jr. 
       Sam     - 106:6  [Lem]     Brother of Josiah, Jr.

Conclusions: Census records support Harriet being the daughter of Jonah Holcomb of Genesee Co., NY in 1830 and 1820, and Onondaga Co., NY in 1810. The birth year for Jonah is narrowed to 1769-1775. He lived near Josiah Holcomb of same age and similar family structure in 1810. From census records no other Holcomb living in that part of Genesee Co. which became Wyoming Co., NY had a female age 9 in 1820 or 19 in 1830 in the household. Jonah Holcomb, twin of Josiah, born in Simsbury, CT on 20 Nov 1774 is apparently the same as Jonah Holcomb of Wyoming Co., NY, father of Harriet (Holcomb) Andrews.

The birth year of the wife of Jonah Holcomb is 1783-94 in the 1810 census, and 1773-1780 in the 1820 through 1840 censuses. If all censuses are correct, Jonah's wife and mother of Harriett may have died before 1820 and Jonah remarried. However, Jonah's daughter Sabra (probably named for her mother) was born in Dec 1800, and daughter Harriet (named as daughter of Sabra on death certificate) was born in Dec 1810. It is more likely that Jonah's wife's age in 1810 is understated, and Sabra's birth year is probably about 1780.

No Holcombs by the name of Jonah or Josiah, other than those listed here, are found in the indexes to the NY censuses from 1800 through 1840. Also, no Holcombs by these names are found in the indexes to the CT censuses from 1790 through 1810.

D. Other sources

1830-1836 - Various land records of Genesee Co., NY name "Jonah A. Holcomb and wife Hannah" of Sheldon. One transfer, dated 8 Aug 1836, was a purchase from "Alden S. Luce and Sebra his wife of Sheldon."

1831 - Letter dated 10 Jan 1831, from Chauncey Rowe (husband of Olive Holcomb, who was sister of Jonah Holcomb, b. 1774) writes "Jonah Holcomb, last fall, was dying from consumption and there is no probability of his being now alive." Jonah Holcomb of Genesee Co., NY is found in the 1830 Census, but not that of 1840. [Letter copy attached.]

THE AMERICAN GENEALOGIST, Vol. 57, No. 2, p. 73, "Thomas Holcombe's Earlier Posterity," by George E. McCracken. Jonah and Josiah Holcomb, twins, born 20 Nov. 1774. In a letter dated 28 May 1982, Dr. McCracken states that "there were two named Josiah, instead of one, and I shall be glad to print a correction when feasible." One generation of the Holcomb lineage had been omitted, but Dr. McCracken died before the correction was printed. [Letter copy attached.]

Photos of Harriet (Holcomb) Andrews - A photo of Harriet was passed to granddaughter Olive (Welch) Parmenter, but with no identifying marks. A later photo, obviously the same person, was passed to granddaughter Minnie Elsie (Freeman) Morey. The same photo that was in the possession of Olive Parmenter, but printed in reverse, was passed to Mabel Tally Johnson, a descendant of Sabra (Holcomb) Luce. This photo was marked "aunt of Grandpa Luce" by Mabel's mother - hence, probably a sister of Alden or Sabra Luce. From facial characteristics, Mabel concluded that the photo was of a sister of Sabra (Holcomb) Luce. The same photo, clearly of Harriet (Holcomb) Andrews, appearing in the collections of descendants of Harriet and Sebra, and identified as an aunt of Sebra's son, is strong evidence that Harriet and Sabra were sisters. Sabra was very probably named for her mother, and Harriet's death certificate identifies her mother as Sabra, wife of Jonah Holcomb. Another photo owned by Mabel Tally Johnson and known to be of Sabra's daughter Polly (Luce) Smith, strongly resembles that of Harriet (Holcomb) Andrews. Sabra (Holcomb) Luce named one daughter Harriet.

THE HOLCOMBES, NATION BUILDERS, by Mrs. Lewis D (Hannah Elizabeth Weir) McPherson, 1947, p. 31. Josias IV and Jonah Nov. 20, 1774, sons of Josias Holcomb and Dorcas Smith. Jonah Holcomb moved in 1789 with his father and grandfather from Granby, Conn. to Stephentown, N.Y. where he was a farmer. Jonah T.<sic>, Jan. 3, 1799, m. Hannah b. 1801, d. Feb. 24, 1850. ch. (b. Granby, Conn., or Verysburg, Wyoming Co., N.Y.)....

Letter dated 21 Feb 1989 from Raymond L. Caryl, Town of Sheldon Historian: "I feel that Chauncey, Jonah A., Harriet and Sebra (married Alden Luce) are all children of Jonah Holcomb(e)." [Letter copy attached.]

For the record, the following researchers have reached the conclusion that Jonah Holcomb (b. 1774) was probably the father of the person indicated:

Researcher:                      Ancestors:              Relation to Harriet 
                                                           (Holcomb) Andrews 
Truman Leslie Holcomb            Jonah T. [A.] Holcomb   Brother 
Mabel Irene (May) Tally Johnson  Sabra (Holcomb) Luce    Sister 
Barbara Jean (Ferris) McCreight  Sabra (Holcomb) Luce    Sister 
Patricia (Merry) Saylor          Chauncey L. Holcomb     Brother 
William R. Hunt                  Chauncey L. Holcomb     Brother

Final Conclusions:

Harriet (Holcomb) Andrew(s) was born 31 Dec 1810 at Varysburg, Genesee Co. (now Wyoming Co.), NY, the daughter of Jonah and Sabra Holcomb. About 1834, Harriet Holcomb married Henry L. Andrews, who died 17 Jul 1866 in Wyoming Co., NY. Harriet lived as a widow until her death at Johnsonburg, Wyoming Co., NY on 15 Sep 1892.

Jonah Holcomb was born 20 Nov 1774 at Simsbury, CT, the son of Josiah and Dorcas (Smith) Holcomb, and twin of Josiah. The family moved in 1789 to Stephentown, Rensselaer Co., NY. Jonah has not been located in 1800, two years after his probable marriage date and a year after his son, Jonah A. Holcomb, was born. In 1810, Jonah and his twin brother Josiah are found in Onondaga Co., NY, Jonah then having one male aged 10-16, two males under age 10, and two females under age 10 (Harriet not yet born). In 1810, after the census, Jonah moved to Genesee Co., NY, living at Orangeville in 1820. (His brother Josiah had died in 1817.) The 1820 census for Jonah adds a male age 10-16, and a female under age 10 (Harriet). Jonah was near death at the end of 1830, and his brother-in-law Chauncey Rowe reports "there is no probability of his being now alive" in Jan 1831. Jonah's widow, Sabra, was living at age 60-70 with their eldest Chauncey Holcomb in 1840, Chauncey's mother-in-law being deceased. Sabra was born 1773-1780 according to the 1820 through 1840 censuses.

The family of Jonah and Sabra Holcomb, consistent with the findings herein and supplemented by family sources....

Prepared by Stephen M. Lawson on 13 Aug 1992


Dr. George E. McCracken (1904-1986) was Editor, Publisher and Owner of The American Genealogist from Jan 1966 through Mar 1983, continuing as Consulting Editor until his death in Aug 1986. A tribute to Dr. McCracken appears in the Apr 1983 issue of TAG, notice of his death in the Jul/Oct 1986 issue, and a memorial biography in the Jan 1987 issue.

Dr. McCracken's series of article on "Thomas Holcombe's Earlier Posterity," in Volume 57 (1981) of TAG, provides the standard reference for the Holcomb family in America. He had planned to prepare an article concerning the omitted generation of Holcombs between Josiah (1717-1805) and Jonah (1774-1830/1) in mid-1982, but failing health required that he reduce his genealogical research and writing, including passing TAG on to the management of others.

An inquiry to Dr. McCracken in Aug 1986 concerning the Holcomb correction, brought his reply dated 14 Aug 1986 that his wife had undergone surgery two days previous. Dr. McCracken died 11 days later, on 25 Aug 1986, leaving a legacy of over 65 years of interest, research, writing and publishing of genealogy. Mrs. Emily Elizabeth (Swettman) McCracken died 8 Feb 1989, less than a month before her 87th birthday anniversary on 4 Mar.

In his 28 May 1982 letter, Dr. McCracken writes: "There is not the slightest possibility that Thomas Holcombe was the son of Gilbert Holcombe and Ann Courtenay because there is sufficient evidence to prove that at the time when our Thomas was living, they died without issue in England. This was the burden of the first article on genealogy which I ever wrote and nothing has come up to disprove this conclusion." It is certain that he, and all Holcomb descendants, would welcome the discovery of documentary evidence on the origins of Thomas HOLCOMB, who died at Windsor, CT on 7 Sep 1657.


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