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Fairfield County, Ohio
History & Genealogy



Pioneer Period and Pioneer People of Fairfield Co., Ohio.
by C. M. L. Wiseman
Publ. F. J. Heer Printing Co., Columbus, O.  1901

Transcribed by Sharon Wick

of Several Families Prominent in the Early
History of Fairfield County.



pg. 258

     William M. Holmes, the ancestor of the Holmes family, came from England to Baltimore, Maryland, in or about the year 1700.  His wife, Honore Wells, was born Dec. 10, 1724.  They were married when she was in her 16th year.  Their children were, Lenorah, born 1742; William, born 1746; James, the subject of this sketch, was born Feb. 13, 1748; Sarah, 1750.  She married Colonel Alex. McLain, of Uniontown, Penn.; Elizabeth was born Feb. 12, 1753.  She married George Wells, and they settled in Union township, Licking County, Ohio.  Thomas, born 1755, settled in Licking County; Alexander, born 1757, was killed in the revolutionary war.
     William M. Holmes died Mar. 10, 1758.  His widow married Richard Brown, Nov. 17, 1759.  Brown was colonel under General Washington.  He lived in Pennsylvania at that time.  They moved as early as 1796 to Holliday's Cove, on the Ohio river, near the present town of Wellsburg, Va.  Colonel Brown died Feb. 8, 1811, aged 71 years.  His wife died Mar. 28, 1816, aged 90 years.  Their daughter Rachel married General James Wells who settled on the Hooker farm in 1801, and whom we will sketch in another paper.  General Wells was a brother of the George Wells mentioned the husband of Elizabeth Holmes.
     The Holmes family was prominent in the history of this county.  The family of the founder, James Holmes, Sr., consisted of thirteen sons and one daughter.  They were all married and all reared families with one exception.
     Thirteen sons, remarkable for longevity, good character and business ability.  The oldest sons were

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very well educated and filled important positions in life.  James Holmes, Sr., was a soldier of the Revolution, and after the war ended he settled in Washington County, Pa., where he married Ann Whittaker, a sister of Eli Whittaker.  He had quite a family of boys before emigrating to the west and they received a good education for the time in which they lived.  He belonged to the hardy people known as the Scotch Irish.  He came with his family to Fairfield County in 1802.  He purchased the land which lay between the William Murphey farm and what is now Millersport.  On this farm he built the first brick house in that part of the county.  But on this farm in an ordinary log house he reared his large family.  They began to leave soon and settled upon tracts of their own.  The Murpheys, Whittakers, Crawfords, Havers and Cherrys formed a fine pioneer neighborhood.  They intermarried and raised large families, and for one hundred years their influence has been one for good.  James Holmes lived to be 79 years of age and his wife 69 years.  They were buried near the home of Alexander and James, Jr., at the Wells graveyard or George's Chapel, one-half mile north of Luray, in Licking County.  James Holmes was slightly lame, caused by a wound received in the Revolutionary war.  He was a man of sterling qualities, and very prominent in his neighborhood.  He built the first brick house in Walnut township.  Thomas Holmes, a brother of James, settled in Union township, Licking County, Ohio. He died, aged 78 years, and was buried at George's Chapel, near Luray, Ohio.
     Alexander Holmes was the eldest son of James.  He was well educated in Pennsylvania.  He married a daughter of the first William Murphey and a sister

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of Mrs. John Van Buskirk, of Licking County.  He settled upon the farm where he lived and died, in Union township, in 1802.  He was a fine surveyor and was for some time employed as a land surveyor for the government.  Subsequently he was elected county surveyor of Licking County.  He surprised and disgusted his father by early predicting that the Ohio Canal would some day be built and would pass through his farm.  A prediction that came true.  He reared a family and lived to an advanced age.  His body is said to have been buried on his farm.
     Alexander Holmes was much more than an ordinary man.  About the year 1808 he was appointed an Associate Judge of Licking County and served one term.
     In 1825 Governor DeWitt Clinton, of New York, commenced the Ohio Canal by throwing a shovel full of earth at the Licking Summit.
     Licking and Fairfield Counties united in celebrating this event.  Governor Clinton was received by a committee from each county.  Judge Holmes and Judge Wilson for Licking and Judge Scofield and Colonel John Noble for Fairfield.  Thomas Ewing delivered the oration and Gottlieb Steinman furnished the dinner.  Judge Holmes at this time was one of the most distinguished men of Licking County.  In his early life, in the woods, his father and mother and son Eli paid him a visit.  On the way, in the forest, they noticed a smoke and soon saw the fire.  Mrs. Holmes filled her pipe and gave it to Eli to light for her.  Going to the fire he found a family living and keeping house in a hollow sycamore tree where they had lived for one year.

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     Thomas Holmes, son of James, was born in Pennsylvania, and came with his father to Ohio.  He married Rachel Wells, his cousin.  She was a daughter of George Wells, who married Elizabeth Holmes, a sister of James HolmesGeorge Wells lived in Union township, Licking County, and both he and his wife were buried at George's Chapel.  Thomas Holmes purchased a section of land north of what is now Carroll.  He was there as early as 1806, and a tax payer.  He lived an honorable and useful life and left a good name as the heritage of his children.  He died Oct. 14, 1847, aged 68 years.  Rachel, his wife, died Jan. 8, 1845, aged 59.  They were both buried at the Carroll cemetery.  They were the parents of five sons.  Thomas, James, George, Alexander and Richard.  All dead but the last one named.
     Wesley Holmes, a Carroll merchant, is the only son of George Holmes.  He married Catharine Aldred, a sister of Dr. A. T. Aldred, late of Carroll.
     Elizabeth, daughter of George, is the wife of Captain O. B. Brandt, a farmer near Carroll.  They live on the old home place. Mary, daughter of George, married Dr. Hummel, of Baltimore.  James Brandt, an energetic young man, is a grandson.
     James, son of James, and grandson of Thomas, is a farmer on the old Whittaker place, and also runs the creamery.  He was brought up by James Pickering and wife.  Henry Holmes, brother of James, is the present mayor of Carroll.  The daughters of James, son of Thomas, are Mrs. G. W. Luckey, Mrs. George Groves, of Dayton, Miss Florence of Indiana, Ella, wife of Postmaster Kraner, of Pickcrington; Maria, wife of Samuel Ludwig Reeves, superintendent of workhouse, at Columbus, Ohio.  Richard, son of

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Thomas, married Miss Miller.  They were not blessed with children.  Richard is the only grandson of the pioneer, James Holmes, living so far as we can learn.  The daughters of Thomas Holmes, son of James, the pioneer, were Mrs. Nancy Bayless, of Fort Wayne, Ind.; Elizabeth, wife of Henry Taylor.  She died a short time ago.  They had lived a married life of sixty-five years.  Henry Taylor is a grand old man.  Rachel married for her first husband Dakin Whittaker.  Her second husband was James Pickering, grandfather of the Lancaster postmaster.  Harriet married George Tong, a grandson of W. H. Tong, the man who entertained Bishop Asbury the first time that he preached in Lancaster, in 1807.
     If correctly informed, this brother of George went to California. Alexander, a brother, became blind and spent his last years with Mrs. Taylor.


     George Tong married second time to Nancy Harrison, widow, Mar. 17, 1818. George Tong died Oct. 10, 1825. Nancy (wife), Apr. 10, 1826.


     George Tong, born Aug. 14, 1819, married Harriet Holmes, Sept. 7, 1843.  Margaret Tong, born Sept. 17. 1821, married Amos Drimell, 1838; Elisha Smith, 1844. Nancy Tong, born Aug. 30, 1823, died in infancy.
     The Tongs were prominent in Carroll for many years.  They were good citizens and fine looking men.  Thomas Holmes, Sr., owned a fine section of land just north of Carroll, running to Walnut creek.
     Sarah married John W. Smith.  They have both been dead some years.  Henry T. Smith, of Lancaster,

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is their son, and Thomas, another son, lives in Indiana.  Marietta, the daughter, is the wife of Dr. Stewart of Pickerington.  One of the chief characteristics of the Holmes family is good looks, and Mrs. Stewart is not deficient in this respect.
     William Holmes, son of James, was born in Pennsylvania and received some schooling there. He lived as early as 1803 on a fine farm in Licking County and late in life moved to Janesville, Wisconsin, where he died.  He was an associate judge of Licking County from 1820 to 1830.
     Richard Holmes, son of James, married a Cherry and moved to Schoolcraft, Michigan, where they lived and died upon their farm.
     James Holmes, Jr., was born in May, 1785, in Washington county, Pa.  He came with his father to Fairfield County in 1802. His wife was Elizabeth Wells, and they were married in 1806, and settled upon
a farm in Union township, Licking County, Ohio.  His wife was a sister of Mrs. Thomas Holmes, and had several other relatives in this township.  George, Richard, Joseph, William and Bezeleel Wells.
     A Methodist church was built in that neighborhood in 1812 and called "Wells' Meeting House."  In late years a brick church was built and called "George's
     Here also is the Wells, Hand, Ford and Holmes graveyard.
     Rev. George Callahan, a farmer and Methodist preacher lived in this neighborhood many years.  His wife was a Wells.
     Callahan was born in 1766, in Pennsylvania, and died in Jersey township, Licking County, in 1839, aged 73 years.

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     He was a circuit rider in western Pennsylvania and in the year 1787 crossed the Ohio and preached at Carpenter's fort, while a company of soldiers stood guard to protect the white people from the Indians.  Philip Ford, the grandfather of James and Charles Pickering, married a daughter of this Rev. George Callahan.  He was the first M. E. preacher in Ohio.  James Holmes, Jr., owned and improved four or five different farms in his life time, selling the last one in 1833, and moving to Fairfield County.  In 1835 he moved to Hebron and became a merchant, in which he failed.  He was wealthy and did not lose all.
     When he died his body was embalmed and placed in a vault at George's Chapel. His wife gave direction to bury her body in the grave, which was done.
     This old settlement and the graveyard is an interesting spot.  James Holmes was county surveyor for several years.
     Samuel Holmes moved at an early day to Marion, Ohio, where he reared and educated a small family.  He was for several years the county surveyor, an important office in a newly settled county.  He has been dead at least sixty years.  Several of his children died young in years.  His son Samuel was deputy postmaster of Marion from 1849 to 1853 under Samuel A. Griswold, now a resident of this city.  He moved from Marion to Sycamore, in Wyandot County, where he died.
     A daughter of Samuel Holmes married James S. Reed, an old merchant of Marion and at the time of his death the leading banker and one of the wealthy men of Marion.  He was an accomplished business man, well informed, and had few, if any, equals in the

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city of Marion.  His wife outlived him but is now dead.  Samuel's sons, Richard and Charles, are both dead.  George, a son of James Holmes, Jr., married Sarah Gill, a sister of John Gill.
     A daughter married James Harvey, who began his business career selling tobacco and whiskey to the laborers on the national road.  When Holmes failed as a merchant, Harvey bought the stock.  His wife died early, and he married Miss Hand, a wealthy woman.  He then moved to Newark and was rated the richest man in Licking County.
     Reason Holmes, son of James, moved to the state of Michigan and spent his life upon a farm.  Roland Holmes, son of James, went to Missouri at an early day, married there, and died childless Basil Holmes was a physician and married a Miss Cochran.  He died near Kirkersville, Ohio, at Eli's house.  Lemuel Holmes, son of James, moved to Wisconsin, was a farmer and reared a family.  Eli Holmes settled upon a farm first in Walnut township and in the early days ran a distillery on section four.  In late years he purchased a farm near Kirkersville and spent his old age there.  He was a fine looking and much respected gentleman, and an enthusiastic member of the Methodist Episcopal Church.
     Eli Holmes married a daughter (Sallie) of Richard Brown.  She was a granddaughter of Edward Brown, brother of Colonel Richard Brown, father of Rachel Wells or Mrs. General James WellsMrs. Brown was a Whittaker, a sister of old Dakin and Eli Whittaker.  When quite old Holmes moved to Putnam, Ohio (Zanesville), where he died.
     Archibald Houston married his daughter, Amanda. His son, James H. Holmes, is a pension clerk in

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Washington, D. C.  His daughter, Catharine, married Josiah Whittaker.  His son, Eli, lives in Milford, Illinois.  Basil, in Terra Haute, Indiana.  His daughter, Nancy, married Enos Wilkins, of Granville, Ohio.
     Joshua Holmes, son of James, moved to Indiana and died there . He was the father of the late Mrs. James Ewing, of Pleasant township.  Mrs. Ewing's daughters were handsome, like their mother, and were well educated.  The eldest married a schoolmate named Zollars, of Licking County, Ohio.  He was a lawyer and they moved to Fort Wayne, Ind.  He was for one term a Judge of the Supreme Court of Indiana.  Mrs. Bennett, the other daughter, lives in Chicago, Ill.  Mrs. and Judge Zollars are prominent people of Fort Wayne, and delightful people to meet.
     Joseph Holmes, son of James, lived and died in Walnut township, near Buckeye Lake; the farm is now owned by John Zollinger.  He married a sister of Peter, George and Jerriah Haver and of Mrs. D. Pope, Mrs. Thomas Cherry, Mrs. John Meason and Mrs. John Brandon.  A bevy of sisters noted for good taste and fine manners.  They were prominent in a fine circle of nice people.  Of the Methodist Church he was an honored and consistent member.  He lived to a good old age, respected and honored by all who knew him.  He was a fine talker and it was a great pleasure to hear him at his best.  He was a good looking man and his daughters, Mrs. Aldred and Mrs. Whittaker, were handsome women.
     Peter Holmes was the oldest son of Joseph.  When about thirty years of age he started from Cincinnati to New Orleans and was never heard of afterwards

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William Holmes, son of Joseph, moved to near Fort Wayne, Ind.  He became a stock dealer and soon moved to Pittsburg and engaged in the stock commission business at East Liberty.  He died a few years since.  Joshua, George and Reason were farmers.  George lived a short time in Lancaster.  George married a Reese, and Reason married a Thompson, and they spent their lives upon the old home farm.  Upon the death of Reason, in due time, his widow married Peter CoolRebecca was the second wife of William Murphey, Sr.  Hester died young. Elizabeth married David Cherry.  He died in a few years and his widow married John Aldred, who recently died at Pataskala, Ohio.  Nancy married John Whittaker and they moved to New Lexington, Ohio, where they were prominent and highly esteemed.
     Nancy Holmes, daughter of James Holmes, and the only daughter, married Charles Brown and they moved to Uniontown, Penn., where they spent their lives.
     Charles Brown and Nancy Holmes were married Sept. 9, 1819, and moved immediately to Fayette County, Pa.  Mr. Brown died on their farm in Fayette Sept. 14, 1835.
     Colonel Alexander McLean, who married Sarah Holmes, was a very able and distinguished citizen of Pennsylvania.  He was a member of the legislature and filled many important public offices.  He was a civil engineer of distinction and represented Pennsylvania in the survey of Mason and Dixon's line, which was completed in 1783.  He died in Uniontown, Fayette county. Pa., Dec. 7, 1834.
     Colonel Alex. McLean had six brothers and all were surveyors.  Three of the oldest assisted in the

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Mason and Dixon survey prior to 1766.  On account of opposition on the part of the Indians of the "Six Nations" and of the Delawares and Shoshones.  Mason and Dixon's line was not completed until the year 1783.  The finishing work was done by Colonel McLean and his brother JohnColonel McLean was born in York Co., Pa., in 1746, and located in what is now Somerset County, Pa., as a surveyor in 1765.  He married Sarah Holmes at or near Storrstown, Pa., in 1775.
     This sketch is not so complete as we could wish, but for want of information it is the best we can do.  What is known of so large and so remarkable a family is worth preserving.




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