Saturday, October 21, 2017

The Two Azariah Holcombs

© Kathy Duncan, 2017

The two Azariah Holcombs were very likely first cousins, born only a couple of years apart. The only similarity between them is their name. However, many descendants in my line insist on confusing them, merging them, and muddling them up in a variety of ways.

Normally, confusion of this sort results when two men of the same name live in the same place in the same time period. Sorting them out requires the usual tools of genealogy research: documents, math-- sometimes a calculator comes in handy, maps--or just a basic sense of U.S. geography, and logic—an ability to connect the dots. Presently, DNA test results are used, but more of that later. The one tool that you won’t find on my list or in my toolbox is a sledge hammer. I know a lot of researchers resort to a sledge hammer when the dots don’t connect; they just pound that square peg into a round hole until wedges into place. Why? Probably because it seems to eliminate uncertainty. Maybe because it nets them a “desirable” lineage. Ultimately, the sledge hammer method is, at its worst, unethical and, at its best, sloppy and lazy.

Now, to the two Azariah Holcombs. I am going to refer to them here as “the other Azariah Holcomb” or “the New York Azariah Holcomb” because he was born in New York as opposed to “my Azariah Holcomb” or “the Missouri Azariah Holcomb” because he was born in Missouri.

First up, the other Azariah Holcomb, who was born in Sand Lake, New York and died in Sugar Grove, Pennsylvania. His tombstone, which can be viewed on his Findagrave memorial states that his birth date was May 8, 1802, and his death date was May 9, 1889. He shares his tombstone with his wife Mary Ann, who was born Feb. 1, 1812 and died Sept. 12, 1903. They are buried in the Wesleyan Cemetery in Sugar Grove, Warren County, Pennsylvania.

This Azariah Holcomb’s birth date exactly matches the birthdate of the son of Azariah Holcomb Sr. and his wife Christina Shephard as provided in Azariah Holcomb Sr’s Revolutionary War pension file.

Notice the long list of siblings for Azariah Holcomb Jr. that are provided here. They include Melita Holcomb, Junia or Junius Holcomb, Michal Holcomb (a daughter), Lunia Holcomb, Azariah Holcomb, Marianne Holcomb, Aretus Lyman Holcomb, Christina Holcomb, Gilson Holcomb, John S. Holcomb, and Lamira Holcomb. 

Note there is also a Mary Ann P. Cole or Cale born whose birth date is only a few days different from the birthdate of Azariah Jr.’s wife Mary Ann, who shares a tombstone with him. Evidently, Azariah and Christina Holcomb’s bible also contains the birth records of some of their children’s spouses.
Azariah Holcomb Sr.’s Revolutionary War Pension file is also important because it contains his statement of where he resided after the war:

Note that Azariah Holcomb Sr. states he was born in Simsbury, Connecticut, and after the war he moved to Vermont, where he lived for three years. Unfortunately, he does not state how soon after the war he moved to Vermont. Then he moved to Sand Lake, New York where he lived continuously for the next forty years or so. Since his deposition was given in 1832, we can count backward from 1832.  That would mean he was in Sand Lake, New York from roughly 1792 to 1832, possibly earlier. That means that he was not living in Missouri during those years. Therefore, the children listed in his bible were born in New York. Also, since he married Christina Shephard in 1789 and she survived him, Christina is the mother of all of his children.

My conclusion:  Azariah and Christina (Shephard) Holcomb of Sand Lake, New York had a son named Azariah Holcomb Jr., born on May 8, 1802. Azariah Holcomb Jr. married Mary Ann P. Cole or Cale and moved to Sugar Grove, Warren County, Pennsylvania.  Based on census records, Azariah and Mary Ann lived in Warren County from at least 1850 until his death in 1889.

Warren Co., PA, 31 July 1850:

Azariah Holcomb  50 NY
Marian ----- 38 NY
Sylvester ------ 18 PA
Philander ------ 16 PA
Sherman ------ 14 PA
Almira ------ 10 F PA

Russelburgh, Warren Co., PA, 20 July 1860:

Ezeriah Holcomb  64 NY
Mary ----- 54 NY
Sherman ----- 25 PA
Norman ------ 3 PA

Warren Co., PA 25 July 1870:

Holcomb, Azariah  68 NY
-----, Mary 58 NY
-----, Norman 14 PA

Warren Co., PA 16&17 June 1880:

Holcomb, Azariah 78 NY fb. CT mb. NY
-----Mary A. 68 NY fb. NY mb. NY

Note that the other Azariah gives his father’s birth place as Connecticut and his mother’s as New York.

Next up, my Missouri Azariah Holcomb, who was a very different person from the other Azariah Holcomb of Warren County, Pennsylvania. While he is a very different person, it takes much more effort to connect his dots.

My Azariah Holcomb, according to his bible record, was born in 1800:

According to the 1850 and 1860 census records, he was born in Missouri.

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

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]

Azariah's birthplace is also consistently reported as being Missouri by his children who survived to 1880. However, there was no Missouri in 1800. Instead, there was a Louisiana Territory. My guess is that he was identifying his birth place as being in the area that later became Missouri.

In 1833, Azariah Holcomb is living and working at the Seneca Sub-Agency in what is now Delaware County, Oklahoma. He was hired because he was James Pool's brother-in-law. James Pool married Azariah’s sister Phoebe Holcomb in the home of Benajah Brown of Ste. Genevieve County, Missouri in 1824.

Phoebe Holcomb had a half-brother named James Brown. It is likely that Benajah Brown was Phoebe’s step-father and James Brown’s father. That would mean that her mother had married Brown after the death of her Holcomb father. Therefore, her father was deceased by 1824.

Phoebe Pool and Azariah Holcomb are named as the siblings of Enoch Holcomb in his probate. 

Specifically, the siblings of Enoch Holcomb are listed as being:

-Isaac Holcomb brother of decd who resides in St. Louis County
-Nathaniel Holcomb brother of decd who resides in California
-Azariah Holcomb
-The children of Esther Jameson who was a sister of dec who reside in the Southwestern part of the state of Missouri
-The children of Phoebe Pool whose residence is unknown

The birth order of these Holcomb siblings is roughly this:

Esther Holcomb b.c. 1796 in Tennessee
Enoch Holcomb b.c. 1799 in Missouri
Azariah Holcomb b.c. 1800 in Missouri
Isaac Holcomb b.c. 1803 in Missouri
Nathaniel Holcomb b.c. 1805 in Missouri
Phoebe Holcomb's exact birth year cannot be determined because she died prior to the 1850 census. On the 1840 census she is 30 - 39 years old, which places her birth between 1801 and 1809. Since Phoebe married James Pool in 1824, her birth date would be closer to 1801, making her anywhere from 23 to 14 at the time of her marriage. Since there is no consent given for her, she was likely of age.
Hannah Holcomb b.c. 1812 in Missouri
James Brown  b.c. 1818 in Missouri

Since Enoch’s probate does not name a brother James Brown, that suggests that Enoch Holcomb and James Brown do not share the same mother. Given the range of these children’s births, 1796 to 1818, it is possible that their father had two wives. However, the fact that the Browns only seem to have had one child suggests a woman at the end of her child bearing years, so all of these children may have had the same mother, and James Brown’s omission from Enoch Holcomb’s estate settlement may be an oversight.  

More importantly, note that none of these children was born in New York. Their father is deceased by 1817, and their mother has remarried a Brown. Their mother cannot be Christina (Shephard) Holcomb, whose husband Azariah is still living in New York in 1818 when James Brown was born in Missouri.

So who is my Azariah Holcomb’s father? My favorite candidate is a Nathaniel Holcomb who was living in Ste. Genevieve, Louisiana Territory [now Missouri] in 1805 and 1806 when he was sued by William Cochran's estate for a debt of about $50.

Signature from William Cochran dec'd lawsuit

In 1806, he signed a petition in Ste Genevieve in the Louisiana Territory.

He was deceased by 1818 when Titus Strickland, acting as guardian to his heirs, was trying to clear up the title for land in Missouri. Strickland's efforts continued through 1820. To date, the names of the heirs of Nathaniel Holcomb are unknown.

My final conclusion is that only one of the two Azariah Holcomb’s can be the son of Azariah and Christina (Shephard) Holcomb, and that their son was the other Azariah Holcomb—the one who married Mary Ann and died in Sugar Grove, Pennsylvania.

If my Azariah Holcomb's father is Nathaniel Holcomb, then who was Nathaniel connected to and how could the two Azariah’s be cousins?? Nathaniel Holcomb was likely the missing Nathaniel Holcomb VI, son of Nathaniel Holcomb V and Hannah Holcomb, and a brother to the Azariah Holcomb who married Christina Shephard. Obviously, a lot more research needs to be done to establish who Azariah Holcomb's father was and what his connection was to the Holcombs of Connecticut. 

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