Friday, August 4, 2017

Holbrook line: James Harmon 1635-1680, Immigrant

It takes all kinds.  Most of our ancestors were fine, upstanding people, who served God, lived their religion, and contributed to the building or/and protection of their country.  And then there is James Harmon. 

We don't know a lot about James, and what we do know is largely from court records and is not very complimentary.  Many believe him to be the son of Frances and Sarah Martin Harmon, but there seems to be no documentation at this point for that relationship.  His parentage remains unproven. 

We don't really know when James first showed up in the New World.  Indications are that if he first touched ground anywhere other than Saco, Maine, it would have been for a very brief period . Based on his history in Maine, it's possible that he was "invited" to leave England, or he may have come as a crew member of a ship and decided, on his own or with persuasion, to stay in the New World.  (Those last two items are purely speculation, but read on,)

James married Sarah Clark, daughter of Edward and Barbara Clark, about 1658 at Saco.  Unfortunately, the record shows that the part of the page showing the date was torn, so we will likely nevver know the exact date.  We an wonder what Sarah saw in him, but she may have had little to choose from, as far as husband material goes.  The couple had two known children, but they were not enough to keep this marriage together. 

In 1655, James made an announcement that he had slandered John Snelling.  This sounds very much like it must have been a church happening, but at the time there was little difference between church and court.  He was likely given a light punishment and returned to his life and occupation, whatever that was.  About the time of his marriage, in 1658, he was sentenced for swearing, a fine and a bond were required.  By 1660, James was known as a wife abuser, and that year he also slashed his father in law with a knife.  He was also charged with not providing for his family. 

The court, believing that James was preparing to leave to go elsewhere, appointed Edward Clark, Sarah's father, to be in charge of James's estate, to provide for the wife and family.  Unfortunately Edward drowned the following year.  Sarah must have felt so alone, with an abusive husband and no father to protect her or to help provide for her children.  James lived sometimes in Saco and sometimes in Kennebunkport, and there appear to be attempts at reconciliation, or at least no attempt at divorce.  Sarah had permission to live with a Mr. Gibbons, possibly as a housekeeper (my guess) and later Mr. and Mrs. Gibbons took in daughter Jane, who was also being abused. 

James left no known record after 1668.  He could have left the area, gone to sea, straightened out, or any of a number of other possibilities.  I suppose this could make the outline for a good story or novel, except, hey, he's our ancestor.  If nothing else, we can thank him for marrying a strong woman who survived in spite of his bad behavior,.

The line of descent is:

James Harmon-Sarah Clark
Jane Harmon-Samuel Doty
Sarah Doty-Josiah Standish
Hannah Standish-Nathan Foster
Nathan Foster-Elizabeth Lansford
Jude Foster-Lydia M.
Betsy Foster-Josiah Whittemore
Mary Elizabeth Whittermore-Joseph R Holbrook
Fremont Holbrook-Phoebe Brown
Loren Holbrook-Etta Stanard
Gladys Holbrook-Richard Allen
Their descendants