John HOLMES + Esthe...
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John HOLMES + Esther (LNU) of Beaufort County

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There are a few mysteries surrounding John HOLMES and his wife, Esther (Easter), of Beaufort County.

  1. Who were his parents?
  2. Who were her parents?
  3. What was his background?
  4. Was he connected to the other HOLMES families in Beaufort County?
  5. Was he the son of George FISHER?

Here's what we know:

  • 1785 - Inherits land from George FISHER. He was the first person named in George FISHER's will, written in 1778 and proved in 1785. He is given the "the Land and Plantation that I am now Owner in the Sd County Whereon the Sd HOMBS Now Dwells." (The 1778 will mentioned John "HOMBS" lived in Pitt County, but the county border moved in 1784.)
  • 1790 - Head of household of 6 "Other Free" in Beaufort County, North Carolina in 1790 United States Census.
  • 1797 - John and Esther HOLMES sell a parcel of land to John GRIST containing 100 acres, part of a larger tract of 640 acres patented 25 January 1773 (doesn't say by whom). It does say the land is "On the Cabbin branch Joining FISHERs Land." (Deed is registered Dec 1799)
  • 1800 - Head of household of 7 "Other Free" in Beaufort County, North Carolina in 1800 United States Census.
  • 1810 - John is apparently dead. Esther shows up in Beaufort County census with the following members of the household (this time they're all recorded as white): 1 white male under 10, 1 white male 10-15, 1 white female under 10, 1 white female 26-44.
  • 1820 - In 1820 United States Census, Beaufort County, North Carolina, "Easter" HOLMES is head of households of two white females, including herself (45+) and one white female 16-25.
  • 1820 - In 1820 United States Census, Beaufort County, North Carolina, John HOLMES, Jr. is head of household of 5, including: one white male under 10, one white male 26-44, 2 white females under 10, 1 white female 16-25
  • 1820 - "Heirs of John Holmes" (named as Polly HOLMES and Sevil HOLMES of Craven County, and William HOLMES and Lovi HOLMES of Beaufort County) sell a parcel of land to James CREAMER containing 50 acres, part of the tract of land that was patented by George Fisher in 1757 on "Cabbin Branch." Deed was written 27 Dec 1820, but it wasn't registered until November 1826.
  • 1830 - In 1830 United States Census, Beaufort County, North Carolina, John HOLMES is head of a household of 6, including 2 white males 5-9, 1 white male 30-39, 1 white female under 5, 1 white female 10-14, 1 white female 30-39.
  • 1840 - I have been unable to locate anyone known to be members of this HOLMES family in the 1840 census. There is a William S. HOLMES, but I believe he's the Clerk of Court and I'm not sure that he's connected with this family as he always uses the middle initial "S", whereas the William HOLMES who was an heir of John HOLMES Sr. only signed his name with a mark on that 1820/1826 deed.
  • 1844 - John HOLMES, Jr. sells a parcel of land to Allen BUCK containing 25 acres from George Fisher's patent, "that fell to the said John HOLMES by the death of his Father it being a piece out the Fisher patent Adjoining David CREMER, Noah SPEER (Noah Spear), and Allen BUCK."
  • 1850 - In the 1850 United States Census, Beaufort County, North Carolina, John HOLMES is head of household for the following: John Holmes (54), Cieley Holmes (57), Jane Holmes (19), Sally Holmes (17), Sophia Holmes (14), John Norriss 10. (John NORRIS would have been the son of Alpha MORRIS and her previous husband John NORRIS. John NORRIS, Sr. died and Alpha remarried William HOLMES, son of John HOLMES and his first wife, name unknown.)
  • 1860 - John and Celia Avery/Averitt HOLMES are found in the 1860 census with one child living in their household, Enoch Avery HOLMES. I think the child is actually Enoch AVERY (AVERITT), son of Stephen AVERY and Nancy GARDNER. And I think Stephen AVERY is the son of Celia AVERITT (AVERY) and Thomas HARDY. (There was a bastardy bond from May 1825 in which is detailed a child born to "Selah Averitt" by Thomas Hardy and the child is named Stephen.)
  • 1870 - John and Cieley HOLMES have an empty nest. The two are still living in Chocowinity in the 1870 Federal Census.
  • 1872 - John HOLMES dies. You can see his will here.

Some interesting things worth mentioning:

  • In George FISHER's will, the second item is him granting freedom to his "old fellow Toney" and his "wench Sary." His father, Randolph FISHER, bequeathed the two to George in his will of 1751, along with two other slaves, Tom and Sambo.
  • I can't help but wonder if John HOLMES, Sr. is the son of George and either a free black woman or a slave. If it was a slave, then it seems possible that it was Sary.
  • Of course since after John HOLMES Sr.'s death the whole household is now being listed as white, I wonder if his mother might also have been mixed race or Indian — enough to make him appear "Other" (than white) to the census takers, while still making it possible that he married a white woman and had children who "passed" as white after his death.