Niagara County

1897 Biography - William Howard Holmes

Holmes, William Howard, has been all his life a resident of Wilson and his ancestors for three generations have lived, died and are buried within five miles of his present residence. The great-grandfather and mother, John and Anna Holmes, came from Saratoga county some time previous to 1818, and settled on a farm in what was then the town of Porter, afterwards became a part of the town of Wilson, but is now in the town of Newfane. The house was on the north side of the Lake Road, and on the east bank of Hopkins Creek. He died there and he and his wife lie buried at Olcott. The grandfather, Daniel Holmes, was born in Saratoga county, N. Y., July 3, 1789, and the grandmother Sally (Taylor) Holmes, was born in same county, February 21, 1792. They were married February 12, 1811. In May, 1812, they moved to Carlysle. Schoharie county. They there together united with the Presbyterian church in September, 1813. In February, 1818, they moved to the Holland Purchase, stopping till spring in his father's old house near Hopkins Creek; then going into a new log house on the farm he had already bought, now owned and occupied by his daughter, Mrs. J. G. O. Brown. There were at that date no regular religious Sabbath services in town. Early in the spring of 1818 Daniel Holmes began holding Sabbath services in a school house; the services consisted in prayer, praise and the reading of a printed sermon. In January, 1819, a Presbyterian church was organized at the house of John Holmes by Rev. David M. Smith of Lewiston. It was formed with six members, John and Anna Holmes, Daniel and Sally Holmes and Peter and Ruth Crosby. Mrs. Crosby was the daughter of John and sister of Daniel Holmes. Additions were from time to time made to this membership and in 1835 a church building was erected in what is now Wilson village. Previous to this, regular services were kept up in school houses and barns, and as most of the time the church was unable to support a pastor, these services were led by Deacon Daniel Holmes. Much of the time he held a Sunday school also in another school house several miles distant. He was deacon, elder, clerk of session, and most of the time trustee in this church. He was for many years commissioner of deeds, and held a commission as captain of the State militia. He died at his home May 26, 1858. His wife survived her husband many years, and saw her children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and great-great grandchildren gathered about her in her old home on several Thanksgiving days. She died May 17, 1889, retaining almost to the last her faculties fully, and her interest in her family, the church, and every effort for good everywhere. The father, Richard C. Holmes, was born December 21, 1813, and came with his parents to Wilson in 1818. Brought up in this new country his opportunities for education were very limited, but were well improved. He early united with the Presbyterian church, of which he became an active and devoted member, serving as deacon, elder and trustee, and for thirty years superintendent of Sunday school. He was for many years trustee of school district, and was elected on the Republican ticket supervisor of the town in spring of 1877. He died after a short illness April 8, 1887. His first wife, the mother, Betsey C. (Frost) Holmes, was born October 4, 1819. She was a devoted wife, mother and Christian woman. She died suddenly March 9, 1870. His second wife Anna M. (Loomis) Holmes still survives. William H. Holmes was born October 22, 1840, was brought up on a farm, attending district school and a few terms at Wilson Collegiate Institute. October 4, 1861, he was mustered into the United States service for three years at Elmira, N. Y., as a private in Captain Ellsworth's Co. G, 7th N. Y. Cav., and was mustered out with the regiment at Washington, D. C., March 31, 1862. Going alone and at his own expense to the army of General Banks in the Shenandoah Valley, Va., he enlisted at Newmarket, Va., April 23, 1862, in Captain Cothran's Battery M, 1st N. Y. Light Artillery, and served therein till April 27, 1865, when he was discharged near Raleigh, N. C. He participated in the battles of Winchester (Bank's retreat), Cedar Mountain, Antietam, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, Resaca, Dallas, New Hope Church, Kulp's Farm, Peach Tree Creek, and siege of Atlanta, and many skirmishes; was never wounded or taken prisoner, and was never absent from the battery a day except when detailed by proper authority for other duty. He held no rank but private, but from July 30, 1864, till muster out he was acting ordnance sergeant of the Artillery Brigade, 20th Army Corps. Had charge of collecting the cannon; some of them large pieces, abandoned by the enemy in their works about both Atlanta and Savannah. Returning home he worked on his father's farm summers and taught school two winters, and on November 7, 1867, was married to Jennie Pettit, adopted daughter of Lauton Pettit of Somerset. She was for many years an invalid and died August 5, 1877. On March 24, 1881, he was married to Mary E. Tenbrook, daughter of Matthew Tenbrook of Pendleton. They have two sons Merle Howard and Le Roy. Daniel Holmes had nine sons, seven of whom grew up and had families, but these two boys and their father are the only descendants bearing the family name now living in Niagara county. William H. keeps alive his soldier memories by active membership in Peter A. Porter Post, G. A. R. He served his town two terms as supervisor, being elected as a Republican in 1891 and 1892. He and his wife were for many years members of the Presbyterian church, but they and the oldest son are now connected with the M. E. church.

Contributed 2017 by Lisa Slaski from Landmarks of Niagara County, New York, by William Pool, D. Mason & Co., Syracuse, NY, 1897

Design by Templates in Time