Friday, April 6, 2018

Nathaniel Holcomb's Wife, Hanah?

© Kathy Duncan, 2018

Last night I continued scrolling backward on LDS film # 008114991 on FamilySearch, which are the Court  Records, 1815-1819 for Ste. Genevieve County, Missouri. It turns out that there are records in that group that are dated previous to 1815. Just something to keep in mind as you browse through the records in FamilySearch's catalog.

I was on a mission to find more records about Nathaniel Holcomb or his heirs after having found the guardianship for four of Nathaniel's children (Isaac, Nathaniel, Phebe, and Hannah) that was granted to Titus Strickland on 10 October 1817. I thought that I might find other references to this record or that I might find the older children (Enoch, Esther, Azariah) requesting their own guardians. It is important to remember that I knew Titus Strickland was a guardian to Nathaniel Holcomb's heirs because of this newspaper notice, which appeared in the National Intelligencer in Washington DC on Saturday, 3 January 1818:

It is likely that Titus Strickland became the children's guardian for the sole purpose of representing their land claim. 

Going backward on LDS film # 008114991, image 440,  I first found a reference to three lawsuits, which are repeated in image 437.

Thomas Maddin brought these three lawsuits--two against Hanah Holcomb and one against Robert Jamison, which were filed in the Court of Common Pleas on 16 July 1814. Thomas Maddin was a surveyor and one of the wealthiest men in Ste. Genevieve County. He frequently brought suits against those who could not afford to pay his surveyor fees. These lawsuits may be indicative of land that belonged to Nathaniel Holcomb's estate. Robert Jamison may have been married to Esther Holcomb by this time. The Hanah Holcomb in these suits is too old to be Nathaniel Holcomb's daughter Hannah, who would have only been a small child at this time. This Hanah Holcomb is probably Nathaniel Holcomb's widow. (Another Hannah!!) It may be that Nathaniel Holcomb had arranged to have his land surveyed, and then died before paying for it. That would mean that he was deceased by 1814.

The next record of interest that I found was for an Enoch Holcomb:

This suit filed by the United States against Enoch Holcomb in 1814 also involves Thomas Maddin. However, my best estimate is that Enoch Holcomb, born about 1799, would only have been 15 years old in 1814. Would a fifteen-year-old be sued in that time period? Or is this another Enoch Holcomb??

The last item that I found was apparently a summons for Enoch Holcomb to give evidence before the grand jury in 1813. I do not think there were any age limitations for testifying. There is no indication what this testimony was about.

The only conclusion I can come to at this point is that this Hanah Holcomb is likely the mother of  Phebe Holcomb, Hanah Holcomb, and James Brown. There is no way to know at this point if she is also the mother of the older Holcomb siblings.


  1. Ms Duncan,

    First off, thank you for all your research concerning the Holcomb siblings born at the beginning of the 19th century in Missouri Territory. My 3rd greatgrandfather was the youngest brother, Nathaniel. I have come to accept the speculation that his father is in fact Nathaniel Holcomb VI from Connecticut but another “Hannah” Holcomb? Good luck untangling that mess. It seems that half the Holcombs from Connecticut were named either Nathaniel or Hannah.
    I've often wondered why Nathaniel VI disappeared from the family records in Connecticut. The fact that he may have emigrated to Missouri Territory is a convienient fit. There are half a dozen family trees on that state that VI's younger sister Hannah passed away in 1807 in the “Spanish settlements west of the Mississippi”. There is no documentation given for this “fact” and given the inate inaccuracies of Ancestry's trees it only can lead to further speculation. VI and Hannah's younger sister Peggie (Margaret) is known to have travelled extensively with her husband the itinerant preacher Lorenzo Dow and in fact one of their trips took them down the river to Louisiana Territory in 1807. Peggy is said to have lived with her older sister after their father Nathaniel V remarried. I've always thought that a possible explanation for Hannah's passing in Missouri was her connection to her sister.
    Is it possible that the Hannah Holcomb you uncovered was in fact VI's sister or possibly a cousin? Even the most talented and diligent researchers have tangled the familial relations of all the Nathaniels in the Connecticut line.
    So, is Nathaniel Holcomb of Missouri actually Nathaniel Holcomb VII? It would seem so.
    Is the Hannah Holcomb you have located his wife? Sister? Cousin?
    The Circuit Court record of Friday October 10, 1817 references the heirs of Nathaniel Holcomb as orphans. If the children were orphans in October 1817 this would mean the woman raising them (and later cohabitating with Benejah Brown) was not their biological mother. I have long suspected that this woman that I have taken to calling Ohum Holcomb/Brown was in fact an amalgam of two possibly three women. I've long wondered why the heirs would need a guardian to represent them in court if their mother was still alive. I assumed that their mother had no legal status ie. their parents were never married.
    Again, thank you for all your research into this family.

    Tom Holcomb

    1. Tom - Thank you for your comments. This could turn into a long and lively dialogue, so I would like to invite you and anyone else who is interested in researching Holcombs to join the Holcomb/Holcombe Family Researchers on facebook.

      I'm not sure where to begin. Margaret "Peggy" Holcomb Dow's sister Hannah Holcomb married Smith Miller. They basically raised Peggy after her mother died. This Hannah and Smith Miller ended up in Natchez. Then Hannah left Miller and ran off with another man. This brought great shame to Peggy and broker her heart. Her sister Hannah had gone to the "Spanish country" and died there.

      Titus Strickland was the guardian of Nathaniel Holcomb's minor children. The purpose of the guardianship was to clear a land title claim for them. Women in that time had little to no legal status. Typically, the guardian of their children was acting on behalf of their legal or financial interests (often an inheritance). The guardian was often another family member. At this point it is impossible to determine if Titus Strickland was a relative. However, we may figure that out yet.

      Minors with living parents routinely had guardians. One of my great-great grandfather's was the guardian of his own two daughters because he was representing their interests in their deceased mother's inheritance. That was luck for me because that was how I finally found the girls' maternal grandfather.

      James Brown was the half brother of Phebe (Holcomb) Pool which can be documented. Since Phebe married in Benajah Brown's home, it seems likely that he was her step-father. Hannah (Holcomb) Skaggs and James Brown are in the same household in California in 1880 and are listed as brother and sister, so Hannah is another half-sister. James Brown died at the home of Phebe A. (Holcomb) Owens, the daughter of Nathaniel Holcomb (one of the Holcomb siblings), suggesting that James Brown may have been a half-brother to Nathaniel. I would say that James Brown's mother was the widow of Nathaniel Holcomb and that she was married to Benajah Brown or else James Brown would not be using the Brown surname.

      Whether the widow of Nathaniel Holcomb was
      his last wife or his only wife is unknown. She could be either one. Since James Brown seems to be her last child and possibly her only child by Benajah Brown it suggests that she may have been a woman at the end of her child bearing years, which puts her in the running to be an only wife and mother of all of the children. Still, would not be uncommon for Nathaniel to have more than one wife.

      This Hanah Holcomb is the earliest identifiable Holcomb female in the area and in the record she is next to Robert Jameson/Jamison. That seems like more than a coincidence.

      I suspect the elder Nathaniel Holcomb who died in Missouri is Nathniel Holcomb VI, and Nathaniel Holcomb VII would be his son who went to California and died in South America.

      I've been working on straightening out the Nathaniel Holcombs. And have posted a crude chart on facebook. So far, it may only make sense to me--it needs a little more work. However, it is possible to sort out the Nathaniels. Nathaniel VI served in the Rev. War and left a record. The problem is connecting him from his last record in the 1780s to the Nathaniel in Missouri in 1806. That's a big gap. It will be even more difficult if he was mostly in the frontier regions. There is a Nathaniel Holcomb in Natchez in the mid-1790s, but cannot connect him either.

      Please join us facebook. Lots of Holcomb cousin/reserchers there.


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