Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Holcombe Family (5) - Colonial Generations

Part 5 - Joseph, Micah and the Movement West

Three generations named Nathaniel Holcombe carved out lives for themselves and their families in a rugged wilderness called Salmon Brook. On the colonial frontier, far removed from the more established society along the Connecticut River, these families played and important role in the settlement of America. They were a vanguard, a buffer against the unknown and a fragile line of defense for the British Empire. At the same time, they went about their business of staking a claim for themselves, conducting public and private business and building a town. They cleared land, planted orchards, establishing farms, and raised families in the meadows, forests and rocky foothills of the Berkshire Mountains. By the time Nathaniel III turned 80 years old, the revolution was in full swing and America was entering a new chapter. These would be the times of the next generations in this family line: Joseph and his son Micah.

If you missed Part 4 of the story, go here . . .
If you missed Part 3 of the story, go here . . .
If you missed Part 2 of the story, go here . . .
If you missed Part 1 of the story, go here . . .


North Hartford County in the 1760's. At the time of this map, Salmon Brook
is still a small settlement in the northern part of the Town of Simsbury.
Eventually, it would break away and become the Town of Granby.

Joseph Holcombe - 4th Generation at Salmon Brook

Joseph was born in 1728 and was the 6th child and 3rd son of Nathaniel Holcombe III and Thankful Hayes. Early genealogists and family researchers don't have much to say about Joseph and in fact, his very existence has sometimes come into question. It is unclear if he served in the French and Indian War (of which he would have been the right age) but cemetery records indicate that he did serve, at least for time in the Revolution as a Sergeant in the 18th Regiment of the Connecticut Militia. Joseph married Elizabeth Wilcox (or Wilcockson) (b.1723, d.1824) sometime around or before 1750. They would farm and raise seven children in Salmon Brook.

Joseph would live in a tight-knit community surrounded by a large extended family. Both his grandfather and great-grandfather would live long enough for him to know them. He would also witness great changes to the frontier outpost at Salmon Brook. In his childhood, the area was still sparsely populated and concerns of invasion from the enemies of England seemed to be always present. At the same time, all of Simsbury was growing and becoming more established. As a young adult, Joseph would witness the last event of outside aggression with the French and Indian War. After that, the frontier would move far from the Connecticut foothills. But just when peace and tranquility seemed at hand, internal strife would start to affect the farmers of Salmon Brook. The split from England was at hand and the American Revolution would soon consume the life of the colonies.

The gravesite of Joseph Holcombe at Granby Center
Cemetery. His wife Elizabeth is also buried here.
The Family of Elizabeth Wilcockson

Elizabeth Wilcockson was the only child of Joseph Wilcockson (b.1701, d.1760) and his first wife Elizabeth Holcombe (b.1703, d.1727). Joseph was the son of Samuel Wilcockson (II) (b.1666, d.1713) of Windsor and Mindwell Griffin (b.1661, d.1725). He is buried at Granby Center Cemetery. Samuel (II) was the son of Sergeant Samuel Wilcockson (I) (b.1640, d.1712) of Stratford and Hannah Rice (d.1713?). Samuel (I) was the son of William Wilcockson (Wilcoxon) (b.1601, d.1652) from Derbyshire and Margaret Birdseye (b.1611). William and family, including their first born son John, who at the time was two, sailed from London to Boston in 1635 on the ship Planter. He was a linen weaver by trade and the family first settled in Concord and in 1639 and were one of 17 founding families of Stratford, Connecticut. Samuel (I) was an early settler of Simsbury in 1677 and settled at Meadow Plain. He served for many years as a representative of Simsbury to the assembly.

Elizabeth Holcombe was the daughter of Sergeant Jonathan Holcombe (b.1678, d. 1761) and Mary Buell (b.1677, d. 1720). Jonathan was the son of Nathaniel Holcombe (I) and Mary was Martha Buell’s sister (see previous post on Nathaniel I), making Joseph and Elizabeth cousins, twice. Mindwell Griffin was the 7th of 10 children of John Griffin (I) (b.1601, d.1681) and Anna Bancroft (b.1627) from Derbyshire, England. By the late 1640’s John Griffin was manufacturing Tar Pitch and Turpentine in the wilderness around Salmon Brook thus making him a very early (perhaps the first) settler of Simsbury. Anna Bancroft’s parents, John Bancroft (b.1596, d.1647) and Jane (?) sailed from England with their children in 1632 aboard the ship James. John Bancroft is descendant from (1) Thomas, (2) Ralph, and (3) John Bancroft of Chellaston, England. Ann Langfort was the daughter of Edward Langfort of Wales. Hannah Rice was the 3rd of nine children of Richard Rice (b.1609?, d.1709) and Elizabeth . Richard came to America in 1635 and resided at Cambridge and Concord, Massachusetts.

The Children of Joseph Holcombe and Elizabeth Wilcockson
  • Son Micha Holcombe and his descendants are covered in detail farther down in this article.
  • Daughter Rosanna Holcombe (b.1752, d.1843) married Isaac Goddard (b.1752, d.1840), the son of John Goddard II and Mary Hillyer in 1776. They had nine children and lived out their lives in Granby. Isaac served in the Revolution and is buried at Granby Center Cemetery; Rosanna is assumed to be buried there as well.
  • Daughter Louisa Holcombe (b.1754, d.1815) married Abner Phelps (b.1761), the son of Charles Phelps in 1785. They settled on a farm in Bloomfield, Connecticut. After Abner’s death, Louisa moved to Johnstown, Fulton County, New York and lived with her only known child, Eli.
  • Daughter Elizabeth Holcombe (b.1755?) married Elisha Hinsdale (b.1761, d.1827) the son of Jacob Hinsdale and Mary Brace. She was his second wife and they had three children and settled in Norton, Ohio (see Betsey, below). Elisha served in the Revolution as a Fifer in  company commanded by Captain Theophilus Munson of Colonel John Chandler's 8th Connecticut Regiment.
Elizabeth and Elisha's Gravesite, Wadsworth, Ohio
  • Son Joseph Holcombe II (b.1758) married Sarah Ford (b.1765), the daughter of John Ford and Sarah Wood in 1784. Joseph was a Sergeant, then Lieutenant in Lieutenant Joel Hayes command, Connecticut Militia in the Revolutionary War. Joseph and Sarah eventually settled in western Massachusetts in the 1830’s. Joseph and Sarah had eight children.
    • Joseph and Sarah’s son, Lory, served in the War of 1812 under Sereno Pettibone at New London, Connecticut with his cousin Luman (son of Joseph I’s sister Mercy).
  • Daughter Betsey Holcombe (b.1760?) was born but little is known about her. One source indicated that Betsey married Elisha Hinsdale but a more trusted source lists the marriage to Elizabeth. It may be that they are the same person.
  • Son Levi Holcombe (b.1767, d.1831) married Martha Benjamin (d.1850) in 1797 and they lived out their lives in North Granby. Levi and Martha had two known children. There was also noted to be another Levi Holcombe (a cousin) who married the same Martha so it is unclear which family Levi belongs to.
Levi and Martha's gravesite at Granby Center Cemetery.
Joseph and Elizabeth would live out their lives in the place first settled by Nathaniel Holcombe (I) almost 130 years earlier. They would witness the formation of a new nation and the newly formed Town of Granby. Joseph died on 1813 and Elizabeth would live until 1824 and die at age 100.

Micha Holcombe - West to New Frontiers

Born in 1751, he was the eldest (?) child of Joseph Holcombe and Elizabeth Wilcockson, Micha (or Micah) was the last of this line to start a family in the Salmon Brook/Granby area of Connecticut. His son Apollas would therefore be the last of the line to be born in the town first settled by his Great-Great-Great Grandfather, Nathaniel I in the late 1600s. After serving in the Revolutionary War, Micha headed west and settled in the Town of Bloomfield and Town of Mendon, Ontario County, New York. The combination of new opportunities in the “west” and economic stagnation at home enticed young men like Micha to take their families and head out into the frontier. His movement west was part of a greater migration of New Englanders as western New York, much of which was still wilderness and part of which was set aside for Revolutionary War veterans, was opened up to settlement after 1790.

The exact time of his departure from New England is not entirely clear. He was still recorded in the 1800 census of Granby, Connecticut and then appears in the 1810 census in the Town of Bloomfield, New York (noted as four males and one female in the household). In 1813, he was listed as a taxpayer on the first assessment roll of the Town of Mendon along with his (assumed) son's Samuel and Apollas. He has not been found in the 1820 or 1830 Census but there is a Michael Holcombe living in the Town of Washington, Macomb County in the 1840 Census and listed as between 80 and 90 years old.

The present-day Town of Bloomfield was formed in 1990 with the merger of the hamlets of East Bloomfield and Holcomb. Holcomb was probably named after a different Holcombe who settled next to the train station and developed much of the town after 1860. It seems that all of Micha’s children moved on, either to Michigan, to neighboring counties in New York or to parts unknown.
About Micha from a biography on Ira Holcombe from The History of Macomb County . . . Micha Holcomb, father of Apollos Holcomb was born in 1752; served in the Revolution and died in 1840, in Washington, Macomb Co., Mich.; his wife was Hannah Hayes . . . the patriot ancestor of Mr. (Ira) Holcomb left in the family three varieties of ancient buttons – one stamped “Mayflower” one a relic of the Revolution with an “eagle,” and another sort whose date and meaning are unknown.
Western New York about 1810 with some of the first counties formed.
Between 1801 and 1820, the area grew in population to over 100,000.

Hannah Hayes and the Children of Micha and Hannah

No information has been found on the ancestry of Hannah Hayes. However, since we know that Micha was born and raised in Salmon Brook / Granby it can probably be assumed that Hannah was of the same Hayes family that has been described in previous reports and a descendant of the George Hayes family of Salmon Brook. Micha and Hannah’s marriage has been recorded in the records of the Congregational Church in Turkey Hills (East Granby).

Available information on the children of Micha Holcombe and Hannah Hayes is somewhat limited. As families expanded and became more mobile, some of these generations are less likely to be included in 19th century family genealogies. In addition, census data from the early 19th Century is not very detailed and that makes it much harder to determine family connections. Computer translation errors (of microfilm) and incomplete information also makes it difficult to find names. The 1820 census lists a Horace living in Rush, Virgil living in Mendon (both in Ontario County) and Samuel and Apollas living in Hartland (Niagara County), all in western New York. It would seem to make sense that these would be Micha’s sons as Rush and Mendon are very near Bloomfield and Hartland was known to be the home of Apollas. This was prior to various family members heading to Michigan.
  • Son Virgil Holcombe (b.1787, d.1855) was listed in both the 1840 and 1850 United States Census living in Milan, Monroe County, Michigan. He married Sophronia Hubbard and had nine known children (all boys): Edward, Lorenzo, Julius, Justin, Seymour, Ansel, Samuel, Earl and Albert. Virgil and Sophronia are buried at Rice Cemetery, Milan along with many descendants. A couple of sources have indicated that he is the son of Micha Holcombe and Hannah Hayes, so as research has continued, this writer has become more confident that this is the right Virgil Holcombe. Cemetery records in Michigan and other records from New York indicate that Virgil served in the War of 1812 and it is known that a Virgil Holcombe served in the same regiment as brother Apollas.
Virgil Holcombe's gravesite at Rice Cemetery outside
Milan, Michigan. There are at least 28 Holcombe names
at Rice Cemetery. Most, if not all of these names, are
descendants of Virgil Holcombe and Sophronia Hubbard.

    • Son Julius served in the Civil War with the Michigan 20th Infantry Regiment, Company ‘D.’ This regiment saw action at Fredericksburg, Vicksburg, the Wilderness, Spotsylvania, Petersburg and Appomattox.
    • Son Justin served in the Civil War with Hall’s Independent Battalion of the Michigan Shartshooters, Company ‘B.’ Organized toward the end of the war, the battalion saw action at Petersburg, Five Forks and Appomattox.
    • Son Samuel served in the Civil War with the Michigan 6th Infantry, Company ‘F.’ He was mustered out early in New Orleans in the summer of 1862 and died in October of that year of disease. Of the 582 casualties suffered by the 6th Infantry, all but 76 were from disease.
  • Son Samuel Holcombe was born but not much is known about him. If he survived to adult-hood, he could be the Samuel living in south-eastern Michigan or one living in Ohio. Both are of the right age to be the sons of Micha. There was also a Samuel Holcomb from New York serving in the same Regiment as Apollas in the War of 1812 and as stated above, the 1820 United States Census lists a Samuel Holcombe living in Hartland, New York (also the home of Apollas).
  • Son Horace Holcombe has also been hard to track down. One might think that the name was not that common but in fact, there were a number of Horace Holcombe’s living in the 19th Century and it seemed to be a popular name with this Holcombe family as well. This may be the Horace that settled in Monroe or Washtenaw County, Michigan. A Horace Holcomb was listed as a Veteran of the War of 1812, from New York and living in Monroe County and census records indicate that there was a Horace Holcomb, of the right age, living in Washtenaw in the later years of his life. Also, a Horace and Horace Jr. from Monroe County, Michigan served in the Civil War (possibly a son and grandson or possibly the Horace noted as the son of Apollas or his son). In addition to Michigan, there is at least one Horace Holcombe of the right age that was living in western New York State at the time.
  • Son Apollas Holcombe (b.1791, d.1823), the next in this family line is covered in detail in a separate post found here.
  • Son William Holcombe (b.1792?) like Samuel and Horace has been hard to trace. If he lived to adulthood, he could be the William living in far western New York at Collins in Erie County or the William living at Union in Montgomery County, Indiana. A better guess is that it is the William living in Norton in Summit County, Ohio in the 1850 census and Parma in Cuyahoga County, Ohio in the 1860 and 1870 census. This William was noted to have been born in Connecticut and his wife was born in New York. Even more interesting, they had a son named Apollas; a very rare name and the same as William’s brother who was, by that time, deceased.
  • Son Micha Holcombe II (b.1794?, d.1861?) is likely the Micha recorded as living in Dryden, LaPeer County, Michigan in the 1840 Census. That Census lists one boy under the age of 5, one boy between the ages of 15 and 20 and one female (presumably his wife) between the ages of 40 and 50. In the 1850 Census, Micha (spelled Michiel in that record) is living in the same house as his widowed sister-in-law, Mehitabel Bunnell, the wife of Apollas Holcombe. A source has indicated that Micha and Mehitabel were married and that would not be unusual. Mehitabel was known to have traveled to Wisconsin toward the end of her life and died in Green County in 1851 so it could also be that she lived in Micha’s home after the death of her husband Apollas but never remarried. In the 1860 census, Micha is living with his son James, also in Dryden.
Micha Holcombe II's gravesite at South Dryden Pioneer Cemetery. Also
on the stone is the name Larned Holcomb, born 1840. There are a few
other Holcombe names in this cemetery, including a nephew, James.

Micha, himself, went on to Michigan in his old age. He may have lived his last years with one or more of his sons or even grandsons who had settled in the state. He died in the Town of Washington and is reportedly buried at Washington Cemetery. Micha’s generation represents a real milestone in the timeline of American History. When he was born, America was a colony of England hugging the Atlantic coast. By the time of his death, the nation was over 50 years old and drifting toward civil war.

Research Notes: The Holcombe family in America is well documented, both on-line and in print. I would encourage you to search the web to find out more. The Holcombe Family Genealogy website is a good place to start and provided me with a wealth of information about the family. I also found a some great information in "The Brittle Thread of Life," a fairly recent book about Salmon Brook by Mark Williams (2009). Other sources include: Colonial Connecticut Records, the Bliss Family Website, genealogy books on the Holcombe, Buell and Bliss families (some of which are now available on line), various census and other vital records found on-line (some at AncestryDotCom) and other sources.

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