Pioneer Period and Pioneer People of
Fairfield Co., Ohio.
by C. M. L. Wiseman
Publ. F. J.
Heer Printing Co., Columbus, O. 1901
of Several Families Prominent in the Early
History of Fairfield County.
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THE HOLMES FAMILY
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
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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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 Holmes. George 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,
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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.
Tong married second time to Nancy Harrison,
widow, Mar. 17, 1818. George Tong died
Oct. 10, 1825. Nancy (wife), Apr. 10, 1826.
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,
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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
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
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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
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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
Wells. Mrs. 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
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 Cool.
Rebecca 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
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 John. Colonel 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