Sunday, November 26, 2006

Loomis - Osborn Connection, The

“And now... for the rest of the story.”

(with apologies to Paul Harvey.)

When George Walter introduced readers to Rhoda Mallett in his 1953 book, “The Loomis Gang,” he described her as a tempestuous eighteen-year-old: beautiful, educated, but bold enough to do frying-pan battle with a sheriff bent on arresting her unscrupulous father.
She claimed to have been descended from French royalty - a fact that has intrigued historians and genealogists far more than it may have impressed local folks of that time. If she had declared, “My uncle is Amos Osborn!” that would have gotten their attention, for Osborn was, in the early 1800’s, one of the wealthiest, most-respected men in Waterville - local royalty, as it were - but she didn’t.
Osborn had come from Trumbull, Connecticut, in 1802, bought Benjamin White’s land, built an impressive brick house on a knoll in the center of the little village and opened a distillery in “Whiskey Hollow.” He then appears to have urged his younger brother William to come to Waterville to seek similar fortune and, then, his older sister, Abigail, who was married to Trumbull native Zacchariah Mallett. Mallett had had trouble with the Connecticut constabulary, so Osborn may have thought that in giving him a job and providing a home for Abigail and her three children - boys named Wheeler and Silas and a little girl named Rhoda - he could give them all, in effect, a “new start” in life.
Amos Osborn’s wealth increased. His home - which stood where the Green Acres Plaza is now located - was among the most elegant in Waterville, his children the best-educated, and his son, Amos Ozias Osborn’s - written accounts of life in Waterville continue to be the most reliable and complete historical resources. The Osborn Family both made and saved history, but the one family they never, ever wrote about was the one named “Loomis.”
George Walter not only missed the connection, but threw researchers an extra curve by misspelling Abigail’s maiden name “Osburn” instead of “Osborn.”
Had author E. Fuller Torrey and film maker Brian Falk known “the rest of the story,” they might have explored reasons for an apparent break between the two families and the resulting psychological impact it may have had upon young Rhoda and the role she later played as a mother and founding member of the infamous “Loomis Gang.” The proverb says, “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.” Perhaps that author knew Rhoda!

The above historical and genealogical material, assembled by PsBrown in 2003, has been forwarded in greater detail to Loomis descendants and researchers and has served as the basis for a study written by Will Mackintosh, of Deansboro. Walter Wheeler of Porterville, CA, using his own research, has also written of the newly-discovered Osborn-Loomis connection.

1 comment:

Patricia Rowe Stone said...

You wrote "Osborn had come from Trumbull, Connecticut, in 1802, bought Benjamin White’s land, built an impressive brick house on a knoll in the center of the little village". I thought you might be interested to know that the cornerstone on the brick house was dated 1811. My family owned the house from the early 1940s until about 1958, so I grew up there. I remember seeing the cornerstone and am reasonably sure that was the date. I believe the small wood frame house next to it that was attached to several garages was built in 1798, but my memory is a little fuzzy on that one.