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A woman of ill repute?

Mary “Polly” Harris (ca 1779- ) and Loammi Holt (1775-1827)

Generation Five Family 1133

Mary “Polly” Harris is a fifth-generation descendant of George and Hannah (Chandler) Abbott: [Mary Mooar Harris (4), Elizabeth Abbott Mooar (3), Nathaniel (2), George and Hannah (1)].

Durrie’s Holt genealogy (p 87) sums up Loammi and Polly (Harris) Holt this way: “He was a hatter at Andover, but failed in business: removed and never returned. His wife was of ill repute, and subsequently lived at the Alms House; had twins b. Mar. 12 1816, 1 d. 1816, 1 d. 1817.” But a search of records suggests there was more to this family than that. The record search is aided by the fact that the area around Andover was not overflowing with Loammi Holts in the early nineteenth century, and the records that were located seem to fit with what else could be found on this family. (The only other Loammi Holt in New England around this time seems to be Loammi Holt in Ryegate, Vermont who was a blacksmith and born in 1799 at Haverhill.)

Polly Harris was the daughter of William and Mary (Mooar) Harris. Mary Mooar Harris was a widow when she died at Andover on 2 August 1820. Mary Harris wrote her will 15 May 1820 and the estate entered probate 5 September 1820. The will includes a bequest of one dollar to daughter Mary Holt, and son John M. Harris receives the remainder of the estate both real and personal. John M. Bailey was named executor. The probate records include statements from each of the two children agreeing to the location of the probate hearing. Son John M. Harris was living in Watertown and daughter Mary Holt was living in Andover. No birth record was located for either Polly Harris or her brother John M. Harris; so far, the only document connecting them to parents William and Mary (Mooar) Harris is the mother’s will.

Loammi B. Holt was the son of Simeon and Sarah (Read) Holt. Loammi and Polly married at Andover on 11 January 1827. Loammi was living in the West District of South Parish for at least some periods of time as he was on the tax role lists there from 1810 to 1818. In the 1810 U.S. Census, Loammi Holt is listed as the head of household in Andover with a household that consists of one male over age 45, one female over age 45, one male 26-44, one female 26-44, and three males under the age of 10. The couple also seem to have been in Gloucester, Massachusetts, or at least connected to a church there, as there are records for four children of Loammi baptized there from 1800 to 1809. These children were named John Harris Holt, two children William Harris Holt in 1802 and 1809, and Mary Harris Holt. The Andover records report births of three infants, twin sons born 12 March 1816 (one of whom died 14 March 1816) and a “child” born 1 August 1817 who died 26 August 1817. It is assumed that the second twin born in 1816 also died as an infant.

80 Carmel Road, site of Andover almshouse 1804-1839

One son of Loammi and Polly, William Harris Holt, married and had a family. The 1896 death record for William Harris Holt lists his birthplace as Gloucester and his parents as Loammi B. Holt and Mary Harris. It is not known what became of the other children born at Gloucester, although the 1810 census records list three males under the age of 10 so it may be that there were two other sons who lived at least through part of their childhoods. Loammi Holt died at the almshouse in Andover 11 January 1827. It is not known what became of Polly. She is known to be living when her mother wrote her will in 1820.

Was Polly Harris Holt a woman of “ill repute”? Who knows. Her mother’s will which left Polly one dollar and the rest of the estate to the son suggests that Polly was not on the best of terms with her mother.

Family 1133 Details:

MARY “POLLY” HARRIS was born about 1779 likely at Andover with death unknown but after 1820. She married on 12 January 1797, at Andover LOAMMI B. HOLT, born at Andover, 23 July 1775 son of Simeon and Sarah (Read) Holt. Loammi died at the almshouse in Andover on 11 January 1827. There is evidence for seven children of this couple.

1. Mary Harris Holt, baptized at Gloucester 3 August 1800. There is no further record and there are no young females in the 1810 census in the household of Loammi Holt.

2. William Harris Holt, baptized at Gloucester 22 August 1802 who died young.

3. John Harris Holt, baptized at Gloucester 14 December 1806; no further record

4. William Harris Holt, either born or baptized at Gloucester, 9 July 1809. William died at Lynn, MA, 21 October 1896. He married at Lynn on 28 May 1837, Clarissa Emmons, born at Lyman, ME, 23 August 1814 daughter of John and Huldah (Shockley) Emmons. Clarissa died at Lynn, 3 December 1890.

5. and 6. Twin sons born 12 March 1816 at Andover. One twin died 14 March 1816, but there is no further record for the other twin.

7. Child with gender and name not listed, born at Andover 1 August 1817 and died 26 Aug 1817.

Sources:, Massachusetts, Town and Vital Records, 1620-1988

Durrie, Daniel S. 1864. A Genealogical History of the Holt Family in the United States More Particularly the Descendants of Nicholas Holt of Newbury and Andover, Mass. Albany: Munsell.

Essex County, MA: Probate File Papers, 1638-1881. Probate of Mary Harris, 5 Sep 1820, Case number 12519.

Mooar, George. 1901. Mooar (Moors) Genealogy: Abraham Mooar of Andover, and His Descendants. Boston: Press of David Clapp.

Smith, Pam. (March 3, 2011). “Andover Stories: Early Welfare in Andover and Its Almshouse for the Poor,” The Andover Townsman Online,

Year: 1810; Census Place: Andover, Essex, Massachusetts; Roll: 18; Page: 255; Image: 00263; Family History Library Film: 0205626

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