Tuesday, December 31, 2013


© Kathy Duncan, 2013

Contrary to popular and persistent belief, Azariah Holcomb was not the son of Azariah and Christina (Shephard) Holcomb. Evidence suggests that he was the eldest son in a group of siblings whose parents have not been identified, but who lived in the area now known as Missouri by Azariah's birth in 1800. Azariah Holcomb's bible does not contain his birth date.

According to Azariah's own bible record, he married Susan on April 20, 1819. Please note that the bible record does not contain Susan's maiden name, which tradition holds was Stafford. This will be discussed later in this post. Various online family trees and web pages place their marriage in either El Paso County, Colorado or Newton County, Missouri. Neither of these is very likely. Probably, Azariah and Susan married in southeastern Missouri near Ste. Genevieve or St. Louis. Perhaps they married in another state. The possibilities include Illinois, Kentucky, and Tennessee. However, to date, no civil or church record of their marriage has been discovered.

The 1820 census for the Missouri Territory suffered a district wide loss, so Azariah's whereabouts in 1820 are unknown. However, by 1826 he was residing in Jefferson County, Missouri.

Azariah and Susan's first child, Nathaniel Holcomb, was born on January 13, 1820. He died on October 22, 1821.

Their second child, Margaret Holcomb, was born July 20, 1822, and she died on November 10, 1822.

Their third child, Hannah Holcomb, was born on March 24, 1824. Hannah survived to adulthood.

On April 15, 1825 the Jefferson County, Missouri county court appointed Azariah Holcomb the constable of Plattin Township. The appointment was withheld pending approval of a $500 bond. On May 2, when the court met again, it was adjourned for a lack of a quorum. They met again on May 5, when Azariah's appointment was confirmed.
[Source: The Heritage News, Jefferson County Historical Society, issue 22, April 2000. Thank you Karen Allman for reminding me about this information.

On 19 July 1826, while residing in Jefferson County, Missouri, Azariah signed a petition to move the county seat from Herculaneum to Hillsboro along with brothers Nathaniel  and Enoch Holcomb.

Azariah and Susan's fourth child, Agustus Holcomb, was born on April 5, 1826. He survived infancy, but died at the age of 18 on January 31, 1845.

Their fifth child, Phebe Holcomb, was born on December 19, 1828. She died after eight days on December 27, 1828.

Their sixth child, Mahalath Holcomb, was born on March 25, 1830, probably in Jackson County, Missouri. She survived to adulthood.

On November 26, 1830 Azariah Holcomb purchased Lots 41, 42, & 88 facing on Lexington St. in Independence, Jackson County, Missouri [Bk. A p. 39].

On December 17, 1830, Azariah Holcomb purchased Lots 95 on Kansas St. and Lots 98, 99, and 102 facing on Liberty St. in Independence, Jackson County Missouri [Bk. B p. 84].

On July 3, 1832, Azariah and Susan Holcomb sold Lots 41, 42, & 88 to James Poole in Jackson County, Missouri. [Bk. B p. 84].

Their seventh child, Manerva Holcomb, was born, probably in Independence, Jackson County, Missouri, on November 11, 1832. She lived to adulthood.

On December 29, 1832, Azariah and Susan Holcomb sold lots 95, 98, 99, and 102 to W.W. Phelps & Co. [Phelps, Cowdry, and Whitmer] in Jackson County, Missouri [Bk. B p. 135].

According to Pearl Wilcox, this location later became famous as the Robert Weston Blacksmith shop.
[Source: Wilcox, Pearl. The Latter Day Saints on the Missouri Frontier, 1972. p. 45]

The property conveyed to W. W. Phelps & Co became the subject of a lawsuit in 1856.

On January 15, 1833, Azariah purchased 12 acres from Jones H. and Clara Flourney. Part SE 1/4 & W 1/2 SE 1/4 S3 T49 R32 - 6 acres [Bk. B p. 150] and Part S end SW SE cor SE S3 T49 R32 -a triangular spaced piece of land containting 6 acres [Bk.  p. 563]

On August 15, 1833, Azariah sold the oddly shaped piece of land to Wm. E. McLelin SW & SE cor E 1/2 W & W 1/2 SE S3 T49 R32 - 6 acres [Bk. B - 328]

Properties in yellow belonged to Azariah Holcomb.
Properities in green belonged to James Pool.
Later James Pool purchased some yellow property from Azariah Holcomb.
Click on image to enlarge.

In 1833 Azariah Holcomb was hired as a carpenter for the Senecas of Sandusky at the Seneca Sub-Agency located in present day Delaware County, Oklahoma. The land sale in August of 1833 seems to have been in preparation for removing to the Seneca Sub-Agency.

The following was written by Frank H. Harris:

"Acting on the recommendation of the Governor of Missouri, Commissioner Ellsworth on August 1, 1833 hired James Pool, from Independence, Missouri, to perform the duties of blacksmith for the Senecas of Sandusky. He also hired Azariah Holcomb, Mr. Pool's brother-in-law, as carpenter, to assist in the proposed erection of a grist mill for the Senecas. These two men did good service for the Senecas for several years. Cherokee West Agent, Vashon, complained in 1835, that Commissioner Ellsworth had no authority to hire the two men.

"Lieutenant Van Horne, while acting Seneca Sub-Agent in 1833, allowed Mr. Pool and his family to live at the Agnecy house. Van Horne state, 'As there seemed to me little probability that the Agency House would be required for the residence of a Sub-Agent: and as it was likely to go to ruin if not occupied: I have directed the blacksmith to occupy it at present.' Mr. Holcomb and his family were sick and were also allowed to live there, where they were cared for by the Pool family. Lieut. Van Horne, conscious of Mr. Holcoomb's illness, reported [on Dec. 31, 1833], 'I think it my duty to say that in my opinion, the man is unfit to be employed by the Department, either as a carpenter or miller.'

"The first blacksmith shop for the Senecas was built on the grounds near the Agnecy House, by Mr. Pool and Mr. Holcomb. It was built, 'of hewn logs, a naile on roof and cost together with the coal-house, only $15.80."

James Pool remained as blacksmith for the Seneca until 1841. Azariah Holcomb left earlier.
[Source:  Harris, Frank H. "Seneca Sub-Agency, 1832-1838." The Chronicles of Oklahoma. p. 75 - 95.]

Azariah and Susan's eight child, Azariah Oliver Holcomb, was born on March 30, 1835. The Holcombs would have been living at the Seneca Sub-Agency in Delaware County, Oklahoma at this time.

On May 2, 1835, Azariah Holcomb, of Seneca Mills,  wrote a plea to Major Armstrong, Superintendent of Indian Affairs, asking for clarification of his position with the Seneca Sub-Agency. He recounted that he had been hired in 1833 as a carpenter to build the Seneca Mills. When they were completed he was to be appointed miller if he was "capable of discharging the duties of the appoinment." He considered this appoinment legal and valid until about January 18, 1835 when Vashon informed him that he had been discharged from his duties as carpenter as of December 31, 1834 and that he would not be appointed miller. He requested reply through Mr. Pool, the bearer of the letter.

[Source: Texas Tech University, Bureau of Indian Affairs]

On January 1, 1835 Azariah Holcomb was appointed as a miller for the Shawnees, salary $600. His employment with them continued through 1839.
[Source: Report from the Secretary of War, transmitting, in obedience to the act of June 30, 1834, a statement of all persons employed in the service of the Indian department during the year 1838. Date: Thursday, January 17, 1839. Publication: Serial Set vol no. 339 Report: S. Doc. 95]

Azariah and Susan's ninth child, Susan Holcomb, was born September 30, 1837, but died a few days later on October 9, 1837.

Azariah was employed in "Kansas" for all or part of 1838 for the Shawnees.
[Source: Kansas Historical Quarterly, volume XXIX, no. 1, Spring 1963]

On December 20, 1838, Azariah was to receive pay for nine months and eight days of work as miller for the Seneca from Lieut. J. Van Horne, but no dollar amount was noted.
[Source: Disbursing agents - Indians. Letter from the Second Auditor of the Treasury, transmitting the accounts of persons charged with teh disbursement of moneys, goods, &c., for the benefit of the Indians, for the year ending September 30, 1830, togethter with the names of sub-agnest, &c. Aprilo 9, 1840. Date: Thursday, April 9, 1840. Publication: Serial Set Vol. No. 366. Report: H. Doc. 173]

Azariah and Susan's tenth and last child, Hulda Ann Holcomb, was born on August 1839. She survived to adulthood.

1840 Elk River Twp, Newton County, Missouri, page 227:
Azanah Holcomb 0110101 - 11110011

On January 9, 1843 Azariah Holcomb was paid $147.12.  for his work with the Choctaw Agnecy.

McDonald County, Missouri census:

14 Nov 1850 McDonald Co., MO, 53rd Dist, p. 116:
Azariah Holcomb 50 MO
Susan 54 KY
Minerva 18 MO
Azariah Oliver 15 MO
Hulda 11 MO

1850 McDonald Co., MO p. 112:
Sanders Wheeler 27 Farmer TN
Mahala 21 F MO
Henry  4 MO
Hulda  3 MO
George Jamison 21 M

1850 McDonald Co., MO p. 112:

John Walker 28 Farmer 500 TN
Hanah 26 MO
Louiz  6 MO
Azariah L.  4 MO
Julian  3 MO
Pleasant 8/12 MO
Minerva E. Pool 16 MO
Sarah A. Pool 14 MO
[Minerva E. and Sarah A. Pool were the daughters of James and Phebe (Holcomb) Pool.]

Azariah's brother Enoch Holcomb died in 1852. Enoch Holcomb's estate, case #03827B, was filed in St. Louis County, Missouri in 1852/3. His probate named his siblings: "Isaac Holcomb brother of decd who resides in St. Louis County and Nathaniel Holcomb brother of decd who resides in California and Azariah Holcomb and Hannah wife of James Scagg and the children of Esther Jameson who was a sister of decd who reside in the South western part of the state of Missouri and the children of Phoebe Pool whose residence is unknown to me."

In 1857 "Smith Elkins was elected to fill the vacancy [created by the death of Representative Thomas Jones of McDonald County, Missouri], defeating Azariah Q. Holcomb, who walked to Jefferson City to contest the election.
[Source: Encyclopedia of the History of Missouri, vol. 4]

Azariah Holcomb was appointed the postmaster at Rutledge, McDonald County, Missouri on May 13, 1859.
[Source:  National Archives and Records Adminstration (NARA); Washington, D.C.; Record of Appointment of Postmasters, 1832-Sept 30, 1971; Role#:72; Archive Publication #: M841.]

McDonald County, Missouri census:

1 June 1860 McDonald Co., MO, Rutledge Twp:

Azariah Holcomb 59 M Farmer $200-$20 b. MO
Susan Holcomb 63 F b. MO
A.O. Holcomb 25 M Miner b. Seneca Nation
Elizabeth Nelson 4 F b. MO
[Elizabeth Nelson was the daughter of Azariah and Susan Holcomb's daughter Minerva (Holcomb) Crook Nelson]

1860 McDonald Co., MO, Elk River Twp, p. 88:

Mahala Wheeler 30 F Farmer 500-400 MO
Wm H. 13 M MO
Hulda A. 12 F MO
James C.  5 M MO
Wm. H. Sutherland 24 M MO

The details of Azariah and Susan Holcomb's life after 1860 are filled in by their granddaughter Elizabeth Kerfoot, daughter of Minerva (Holcomb) and William Nelson, which was recorded by her daughter:

"Elizabeth Kerfoot"

"[Elizabeth lived to be at least 95.  Her daughter wrote this as Elizabeth (Betty) told it. I don’t know what age.  It has a few discrepancies.  Jean Werkheiser]

"Born in Rutledge, Missouri May 19, 1856.  Her grandfather was Azariah Holcomb, called Squire Holcomb, was a judge in Rutledge. Her grandmother was Susan Stafford Holcomb.  Her father William Nelson who had a sister Elizabeth.  He enlisted in the Civil War and Betty saw him a few times when he visited her aunt. Her mother, Minerva Holcomb Nelson, died when Betty was 8 months old.  The home of Azariah and Susan Holcomb was burned when the City of Rutledge was set afire during the war and they took Betty to their daughter’s, Mrs. Sanders Wheeler (formerly Mahala Holcomb).  She had three children, Henry, Hulda and Jim.

"Minerva Holcomb had a daughter, Katherine Crook by an earlier marriage who was a half sister to Betty. Katherine went to live with their mother’s sister, Hulda Holcomb Carroll who had several children. Mary, Dick and ???, Stephen and Jefferson.

"Another sister of their mother was Hannah Walker.  They had a large family, the oldest son William serving in the war.  There were also Rebecca, Julia who was a musician.  Three boys, one of them Hugh and another Finley, who died from a thorn infection.

"Two brothers of her mother were Jacob and Azariah Oliver (whom she alled Uncle Oliver).  Both came to California in the gold rush with Sanders Wheeler (their brother in law).  They struck gold near Sacramento, but Sanders Wheeler died of a fever and his gold was sent home to his wife who bought a farm with the money. Jacob settled near San Bernardo, California but was not heard from after that.

"Oliver Holcomb went to Colorado and took up a ranch at Colorado City [Dirty Woman Creek Ranch, 1859].  He bought cattle in Indian Territory with his gold.  He married Nancy Jackson [Smith?] in Colorado and they had three children. Phoebe, LaFayette and Eliza. Nancy died when Eliza was 8 months old.  She was buried on the table land between the present Colorado Springs and old Colorado City.  Before Nancy died, Oliver froze his feet trying to save his cattle during a hard winter but he finally lost the cattle.

"Oliver then took his three children and housekeeper and started for Missouri to get his father and mother to return to Colorado with him. He left the children at Nebraska City with a Dr. Young and wife, old schoolmates of his father [No. He left them in Colorado City]. Oliver went on to Neosha, Mo. to his sisters’ (Mrs. Mahala Wheeler) and found that his mother had died a month or more before.  After visiting a few weeks, he started back for Colorado with his father Azariah, Katherine and Betty.  At Nebraska City, he found that Dr. Young had died suddenly during Oliver’s absence.  Oliver waited at Nebraska City two or
three months as the Young family wanted to go to Colorado but the boys had to dispose of their belongings.  During this time Katherine and Betty had typhoid fever and Katherine died (13 yrs. of age).  Then Oliver, his father, Betty, Mrs. Young and her two boys joined a large covered wagon train going to Colorado Springs.

"On the trip Oliver drove a big wagon with a team of four horses and his father Azariah had a light spring wagon with one horse.  One day seven Indians in war paint rode up to Azariah and one pointed a gun at him. He told Betty to get down in the bottom of the wagon and finally the Indian dropped his gun and asked for tobacco which was given him and they rode off with no damage done. The train passed many places where Indians had run the wagons into the Platte, had stolen cattle, oxen and horses and murdered the immigrants. There was too large a party in the train for the Indians to tackle."

Susan Holcomb, wife of Azariah, died on 3 June 1862, age 66, according to Azariah Holcomb's bible. If Azariah and Susan removed to one of their children's homes after their house burned, then Susan may not have died in McDonald County, Missouri.

On January 21, 1865, A. Z. Holcomb of Colorado City, Colorado paid $3.33 in taxes. His profession is listed as lawyer.
[Source: Ancestry.com. U.S. IRS Tax Assessment Lists, 1862 - 1918 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2008.]

Azariah's death was recorded in his bible: Az Holcomb died May 5th 1866, age 66. His name appears on the pioneer memorial stone in Mesa Cemetery, El Paso County, Colorado.

A close look at Azariah Holcomb's bible is extremely revealing. The entries for his children's births and deaths appear to be in his handwriting; however, the fact that the children's birth dates are not in chronological order indicates that these events were not recorded as they occurred. Therefore, this bible is probably a later record and may have been a replacement for one lost in their house fire.

Azariah Holcomb bible
click to enlarge

Azariah Holcomb bible
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Azariah Holcomb's Siblings