Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Uncle Ben

Benjamin Holmes was a single man, yet his Will and his Estate records connected much in the way of his neices and nephews.

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I first came across Benjamin Holmes in an Anson County, North Carolina, land deed. Book Y Page 35. In this quitclaim deed, Benjamin Holmes, Moses Holmes, Solomon Lee, David Lee and Asa Henson, all for 'love and affection', which was the common terminology used when property was being transferred as a gift, to their 'friend and relative', Abner Proctor. There was the usual legalese e about heirs and therefores and oak stumps before more pertinent information came about, the fact that the transfer was of the interest in the property that had came to them as part of the share of the property that John Holmes and his wife Nancy had recieved as their portion in the division of the lands of Nancy's father, Ira Proctor. Now, Abner Proctor was also the son of Ira Proctor. The deed also said that the 5 men first mentioned were all citizens of Perry County, Alabama.

To summarize, this deed basically said that Nancy Proctor Holmes and her husband John had recieved her share of the property of her father, Ira Proctor. This deed was in 1831 and Ira Proctor had died about 1809. John and Nancy Proctor Holmes were also, now apparently deceased. The 5 men were their heirs. Benjamin and Moses were obviously their sons. And Solomon Lee, David Lee and Asa Henson, due to the fact that at the time men inherited property 'in right of' their wives, were their son-in-laws. And certainly, Solomon Lee had married a Martha Holmes and David Lee had married a Haran Holmes. Asa Henson however, had married Penny Proctor. Penny Proctor had been in the 1820 census with two small girls in Anson County, NC, but had married Asa Henson in Perry County, Alabama in 1823. She had been a widow. Therefore, it appears she was Penny Holmes Proctor Henson.

Name:Benjamin Holmes
Birth Year:abt 1805
Birthplace:North Carolina
Home in 1850:Barrons, Perry, Alabama, USA
Family Number:31
Household Members:
Benjamin Holmes45
John C Jones24

As for Ben, I first find him in 1850 census in Barron's, Perry County, Alabama. It says he has a young employee,named John C Jones, who works for him as an Overseer. Ben Holmes was a slave owner.
My question about Ben was, he's 45 here. Certainly he was old enough to appear as head of his own household in 1840 or even 1830. Where was he?

I found no Benjamin Holmes in the 1840 census to have made any sense to have been him. He must have been counted in someone else's household.

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There were 4 Holmes living in Perry County in 1840, maybe 5. There's a Jesse Hone. Looks more like a Horne to me than Holmes.

There's a female led household of "M" Holmes with a woman in her 80's, two females in their 30's and a boy between 10 and 14.

There's a Samuel Holmes, who is a man in his 30's.

There's an A. Holmes which includes a man in his 50's, a woman in her 30's and 6 children.

And there's a John Holmes, with a man in his 60's, a female in her 40's, a male in his 20's and two girls 15 to 19.

In the 1830 census of Perry County, there's only a John and a James. John's in his 50's, but in the home of James, is a male in his 60's and a woman in the same age group.

There is no 1820 census for Perry. It was just being settled.

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Back in Anson County, in the 1820 census, there's only a James Holmes, Jr. and Theophilus Holmes.

The "Jr." indicates an older James Holmes in the same area, but not nessessarily a father and son. Could be an Uncle and nephew, a Grandfather and Grandson, or no relation at all. I do know that James Holmes Jr., remained in Anson County and left a will there. And I do know that Theophilus Holmes also married a daughter of Ira Proctor, Mary, while John had married Nancy.

Going back another decade, there was only James, and I am pretty sure that this had to be James Sr. and James Jr. would have been too young.

Moving forward, in 1830, while there were 4 Holmes in Perry County, the Holmes in Anson had blossomed.

James (Jr) and Theophilus were still there. James was no longer noted as "Jr". There was also the additon of a Joel, an Absolom and an Abraham Jr. Where was Abraham, Sr?

Another jump into 1840 shows a migration, as there is only James, the one who remains and leaves a will.

Name:Theophilas Hormer
Home in 1840 (City, County, State):Perry, Alabama
Free White Persons - Males - Under 5:1
Free White Persons - Males - 5 thru 9:3
Free White Persons - Males - 50 thru 59:1
Free White Persons - Females - 5 thru 9:1
Free White Persons - Females - 10 thru 14:1
Free White Persons - Females - 15 thru 19:1
Free White Persons - Females - 30 thru 39:1
Persons Employed in Agriculture:1
Free White Persons - Under 20:7
Free White Persons - 20 thru 49:1
Total Free White Persons:9
Total All Persons - Free White, Free Colored, Slaves:9

That's when I discovered that there was indeed, a fifth Holmes in Perry County in 1840. Theophilus had moved his family down there and the Anson County land records verify it as he sells Anson land while living in Perry. His name had just recorded incorrectly by a transcriber and he came up "Horner".

Remember, Theophilus was Benjamin's double-uncle. Two brothers, John and Offie, as Theophilus was sometimes seen, had married two sisters, Mary and Nancy, or Nanny.

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I haven't quite wrapped my head around the Holmes family, yet. I know that the property of James Holmes Jr adjoined that of Ira Proctor. I'm fairly certain that John, James Jr and Theophilus were brothers and sons of James Sr...beyond that, I need clarification. Descendants have them coming from a Revolutionary War soldier in Iredell County who seems to have stayed there. The facts seem incongruent to me. I believe there were two entirely different James Holmes and the Anson County Holmes' were a different group.

But back to Ben.

Name:Benjamin Holmes
Land Office:Cahaba
Document Number:16395
Total Acres:80.2
Canceled Document:No
Issue Date:14 Oct 1835
Mineral Rights Reserved:No
Metes and Bounds:No
Statutory Reference:3 Stat. 566
Multiple Warantee Names:No
Act or Treaty:April 24, 1820
Multiple Patentee Names:No
Entry Classification:Sale-Cash Entries
Land Description:1 E½SW ST STEPHENS No 19N 7E 19

Now, Benjamin Holmes had recieved his land patten in Perry County in 1835, and recall, the 1831 land deed in Anson County stated that he was from Perry County. That quitclaim deed also pretty much implied that his parents were already deceased as it was passing down to the next generation, so the John Holmes in the 1840 census was not the father of Benjamin Holmes. This doesn't mean that the one ten years prior, in 1830, when there was only John and James, was not. So where was Ben, and Moses for that matter?

Name:Benj Holms
Birth Year:abt 1800
Birth Place:North Carolina
Home in 1860:Scotts, Perry Alabama
Post Office:Marion
Dwelling Number:512
Family Number:512
Real Estate Value:1500
Personal Estate Value:30000
Household Members:
Benj Holms60
John Dulin40

He's still in Perry in 1860 and now has a John Dulin working for him. The area he lived in was called "Scotts". Also in Scotts were his brother, Moses, his wife, Belinda and their daughter, Mary.

Name:Moses Holmes
Birth Year:abt 1800
Birth Place:North Carolina
Home in 1860:Scotts, Perry Alabama
Post Office:Marion
Dwelling Number:504
Family Number:504
Real Estate Value:22400
Personal Estate Value:30000
Household Members:
Moses Holmes60
Belinda Holmes39
Mary Holmes10
William Brit35

Other Holmes in Perry County were a 62 year old Sarah Holmes living in Woodville with a 72 year old Abbie Pierce, a 54 year old Sam Holmes and a 70 year old Addison or Madison Holmes with his family, all living very near each other.

There were also two young ladies, an "M" Holmes, 15 and an H or A Holmes 14, living in Marion, attending what looks like a school for young women, with a large number of other girls aged 12 to 18.

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Female Seminary Building in Marion

Benjamin Holmes died in 1863. His will was straight-forward. He owned a great deal of property, farm implements and live stock. He made his nephew, James Lee, also seen as Jame 'Lea', his executor. The other details are not so interesting, and bear no purpose for my post.

It's in his estate records where things get interesting and provide crucial genealogical information.

There were actually two lawsuits in this folder, John Chapman vs James Lee, excutor of Benjamin Holmes, Decd. and George Seigler vs James Lee, executor of Benjamin Holmes, decd.

There were several repeat pages of similar form to that above, like an outer husk and the following inside pages.  A different set for each individual. And written on them were Fi Fa or Levy lee Fi Fa.

A Writ of Fieri Facias, or Fi Fa for short, is a court order commanding  the Sheriff to collect a judgement by either getting  the money or to levy and sell sufficient property of the person or persons named in the document to take care of the monies due. To levy means to seize or attach property by judicial order, then to convert that property into money.

One page read "To Any Sheriff of the State of Alabama, Greeting....You are hereby  commanded , the of the Goods and Chattels, Lands or tenements of James Lee, if found in your County, you cause to be made the sum of Ninety-one dollars  and 9/100 cents.......8th term of our Probate Court A. D. 1868 recovered against  him as the Executor of Benjamin Holmes, deceased for the use of James C. Chapman. Also, the sum of $1.00....FI FA.

These papers repeated themselves for John Chapman, James C. Chapman, George Chapman, Martha Chapman, David Chapman, William Chapman and W. H. Sanders, executor of the estate of Elizabeth Sanders, deceased. 

Also listed in the suit was Martha Roberts and husband John Roberts, Mourning Allen and husband Gray Allen, John W. Henson and Richard H. Lee. Those were all a little different. For instance, they recieved $409.90 instead of the $91.09 that the Chapmans and Sanders recieved.

And it would read, "Gray Allen as Grantee for his wife Mourning". 

And there was one more individual listed in this group that recieved a little bigger piece of the pie, William Henson.

See, according to family trees, (I've not seen a tombstone), William Henson was supposed to have died in 1859. And here, he obviously was not. Attorney Shivers was filing in his behalf.

And also in this grouping was George Seigler.

Now, I knew exactly who some of these individuals were. John W. Henson and William D. Henson were the sons of Asa Henson by his first wife, Penelope, "Penny" Holmes. Martha (Proctor) Roberts and Mourning (Proctor) Allen, were children of Penelope "Penny" Holmes by her first husband, Ira Proctor Jr., son of Ira Proctor, Sr. and his wife, Rebecca. All signs point to Benjamin Holmes and Penelope (Holmes) Proctor Henson being brother and sister, meaning Martha Proctor Roberts, Mourning Proctor Allen, John W. Henson and William D. Henson were the nieces of nephews of Benjamin Holmes. Note that Asa Henson had 3 daughters by his second wife, Emeline Elkins Henson and these 3 were not included. The relation was through Penelope. 

Richard H. Lee was a brother of James Lee and Benjamin named James as his nephew, his apparent favorite, in his will. Richard had a few additions in his shuck, as he and sometimes, he and his brother, James, together, had gotten into a little financial hot water and there were a couple of lawsuits, like Isacc Billingley vs James Lee and Richard H. Lee, that had claims to any inheritance he, or they, might have gained from their Uncle Ben Holmes. 

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Ben Holmes made most of his money in Cotton. 

Now, so I knew who the Lees, the Hensons and the Proctor sisters and thier spouses were. But what about the Chapmans and who was George Seigler? The only thing I knew was that somehow, some way, they were heirs of Ben Holmes.

Moses Holmes

I decided to look a little closer at Moses Holmes and see if he might offer a little more information. 

Name:Moses Holmes
Birth Year:abt 1800
Birth Place:North Carolina
Home in 1860:Scotts, Perry, Alabama
Post Office:Marion
Dwelling Number:504
Family Number:504
Real Estate Value:22400
Personal Estate Value:30000
Household Members:
Moses Holmes60
Belinda Holmes39
Mary Holmes10
William Brit35

The first thing I discovered was that the people who think, they were descended from Moses Holmes had it all wrong. First, they have him coming from Green County, and his line of Holmes could very well have come from Green County, North Carolina prior to arriving in Anson, but this Moses in Perry County was from Anson County, NC. And second, you notice I said "who think". 

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Antebellum mansion on the Tombigbee

Moses Holmes died in 1862, the year before his brother Benjamin. There are family trees that show him in Green County, NC with a large family as early as 1800. Now, how could a man born in 1799 or 1800 be head of a household in 1800?  Can't. That was an entirely different Moses Holmes. This Moses Holmes, by virture of the 1831 Anson County Quitclaim deed was clearly in Perry County by 1831. The other Moses Holmes had a huge family, but this Moses Holmes, when he died in 1862, only had one child, his daughter, Mary. 

In fact, Moses may have been in Perry County as early as 1822, when he signed a petition to the legislature in Alabama for the release of 16th lands in Perry County. I actually believe all of the Holmes were in Anson in 1820, and took off for Alabama in the early 1820's. 

Like his brother, Ben, Moses didn't appear in the census records until 1850. So, where were they? Whose house were they in?

Name:Moses Holmes
Marriage Date:13 Apr 1842
Marriage Place:Perry, Alabama, USA
Spouse:Balinda Evans
Film Number:001644077

He did marry, however, in 1842, to Belinda Evans. And he and Belinda would have one child, Mary, about 1850. 

His estate papers are over 100 pages long and can be found on He was obviously much wealthier than his brother Benjamin, who was wealthy enough, and his only child, a virtual Scarlett O'Hara of child, must have been spoiled. He gave her the finest. And he treated his wife pretty well too. 

Belinda had remarried, after a decent period of mourning, to Jesse Holloway Lide, so in the estate papers, she is seen as Belinda Lide. She was considerably younger than Moses, but in her 40's by her marriage to Lide, so they had no children. 

Belinda was an educated woman, because she settled the massive estate and signed off on numerous expenses, primarily for the use of her daughter Mary. Now sometimes Mary was seen as Mary J. and other times Mary A and even in her first census as Mary E. She may have carried a long name and mulitiple middle names. 

There were payments to Judson College for her tuition and books. Payments to her Art Instructor and her Latin tutor. A piano shipped from Paris. Dresses shipped from Atlanta. Payments to her personal taylor, Mr. Tate of Marion. She had exotic birds. This girl was a princess. 

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Judson College
Judson, the college that Miss Mary Holmes attended, was the fifth Women's College in the United States, having opened  its doors in 1839. Only the Souths finest young ladies were in attendance. It was named for Ann Hasseltine Judson, the first female Foreign Missionary to Burma and was funded by the Alabama Baptist Convention, and still is to a large part. 

Belinda Evans Holmes Lide, was found to not be suitable as the guardian of her own daughter, due to the fact that she was a married woman. However, as she had served as the executrix of her husband, Moses's estate, so again was she  called to serve as the Executrix of another. 

The above is from the estate files of Mary Holmes. Mary would follow her father in death in 1868. She was still a young woman and not yet married. Her mother, Belinda Lide, served as executrix.

Remember when I said "who think" concerning persons who believe they are descendants of Moses Holmes? There was a Mary Elizabeth Holmes who married a Rev. John Lee West in Marion, Perry County, in 1876 and lived until 1924. But it could not have been this Mary. Neither Moses nor Benjamin Holmes have any living descendants.

As for Belinda, she lived a long life and died in Marion in 1900. She was buried beside Moses in Hopewell Cemetery in Marion. His dates of birth and death correct, but his place of birth incorrectly given as Green County, NC. He was our Anson County Moses.

Name:Moses Holmes
Birth Date:8 Sep 1799
Birth Place:Greene County, North Carolina, United States of America
Death Date:27 Oct 1862
Cemetery:Hopewell Cemetery
Burial or Cremation Place:Marion, Perry County, Alabama, United States of America

Concerning the Chapmans and George Seigler, I have yet to figure them out. What I do know is that the Chapmans were the children of a William Chapman who died in 1859, and his wife Easter or Esther Seiglar Chapman, and that George Seigler served as bondsman for their wedding. How they arrived at being heirs of Ben Holmes, I do not know.

The estate records of Moses Holmes gave little hint, with only 2 mentions of Chapmans and no mention of Seiglers.

John Chapman was mentioned as owing a note to the estate of Moses Holmes, which means Moses had lent him money.

It also appears that Moses Holmes served as the Executor of the Estate of William Chapman (Sr.) when he died.

So, the search continues.....

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