Saturday, November 26, 2011

The Holmes Family of Winterport Maine

My Holmes family originates from the town of Milton Keynes, in Buckinghamshire, England, as far back as the 16th Century.  It is believed that prior to that the name was found in Lancashire prior to the Norman Conquest in the 11th Century.

The immigrant Holmes ancestor from my family was my 10th great grandfather John Holmes (1612-1667), who arrived with his wife Sarah on the ship Paul in April of 1635.   He and his successive four generations settled in Plymouth and Cambridge Massachusetts.  My 7th great grandfather, Ebenezer Holmes (1696-1761) married Patience Phinney, who is accepted by the Mayflower Society to have been a Mayflower descendant of Thomas Rogers

Ebenezer & Patience had 13 children in Plymouth, Massachusetts.  Their second oldest son, Jeremiah Holmes the First, married Phebe Crymble, his first cousin.  (Phebe's mother was Elizabeth Holmes, sister to Ebenezer).

Jeremiah & Phebe had Jeremiah, Jr. (1752-1799), who was my 5th great grandfather.  Jeremiah was the first to leave Massachusetts for Maine.  Around 1791, he and his wife Nancy Robinson (1760-1797), migrated north to Orrington Maine, in Hancock County, where they both died a few years later.  Their five children, Nancy, Thomas, Jeremiah III, William and Lander (the latter two having been born in Orrington), were left orphans at a young age.  Guardianship of the children was given to John Bishop, Gentleman and Rofrater Cotton, Esq., both of Plymouth.  The children stayed in Maine, however, and eventually migrated across the Penobscot River to Winterport (which until 1860 was part of Frankfort), in Waldo County. 

While the youngest child Lander died by the age of 4, the remaining four children (Nancy, Thomas, Jeremiah & William) each started their own large families in Winterport.  They lived off of the southern end of Main Street, down near the waterfront, and they ultimately had their road named after themselves.  "Holmes Street" is still the name for this small road, which contains ten old houses.  Across the entrance to Holmes Street, on a hill on Main Street, is the main homestead, ultimately owned by Thomas & Jeremiah, and where they raised their families, including my 3rd great grandmother, Harriet Holmes-Morgan (1816-1856), whose son, William Sanford Morgan, was a Civil War hero.

The Holmes family was very wealthy (I believe they were involved in shipping), and they maintained a large presence in the harbor town of Winterport throughout the entire 19th Century.  While many parts of this family appear to have vanished just after the turn of the century, and some others moved to Portland and Presque Isle Maine, only a few specific Holmes families remained into the 20th Century (some of which I'm unsure of the exact connection to my Holmes families):

1.  Jeremiah Holmes (Harriet's brother, Thomas Jr's - son) (1844-1931) married Helen Staples and raised a family in Winterport.  His daughter, Buford, married Charles Curtis and had a large family in Winterport.  Jeremiah was drafted into the Civil War at age 18. 

2.  Hiram Holmes (1809-1884) and his wife, Mary Avery, had at least seven children in Winterport.  Hiram would be old enough to be the sibling of Thomas Sr., but I see no record that he is.  Ancestry family trees appear to state that his father was Ephraim Holmes of Machias, so it's rather unlikely.

3.  Cecil Holmes (1896-1955) and his wife Elizabeth lived in Winterport as well.  No clue what their relation was, if any, to my Holmes ancestors.  Cecil's WWI service records state his sister was Annie E. Holmes-Ryder

4.  Clyde Holmes (born around 1915) who married Maxine Edmonds.

5.  Herbert Holmes (1908-1965) and his wife Helen.

Gravesites for the Holmes family, in Oak Hill Cemetery, Winterport Maine.

Pedigree chart for Harriet Holmes-Morgan, who appears to be of entirely English descent:


  1. Hi Scott: We have been doing research on our maternal side and know that we have a relative named Hiram Holmes from Maine that lived during the middle of the 1800's. There are two Hiram Holmes' from Maine but we think that we are related to the one who lived in Biddeford or nearby Biddeford. We have records to show that a Hiram Holmes was named as the father of our great-grandmother, Josephine, born in 1868.

  2. Any kin to Thomas J. Holmes of ala. Or his daughter Marissa Beulah Holmes? Pleasant ridge Ala.

    1. Mary, can you provide birth years for these two? His name is extremely common in Alabama. Thanks, Scott

  3. On page 242 of Mayflower Descendants it says the Patience Phinney that married Ebenezer Holmes is no longer accepted as the Patience Phinney who is the proven Mayflower descendant. That Patience Phinney is accepted to have married a James Coleman (she would have been under age 15 when Ebenezer married in 1719). The ancestry of your Patience Phinney is considered unknown. I would think she is of the same Phinney/Finney family and has a similar heritage but is currently a mystery.