representative only

Frontier Justice


Resource On The Loomis Gang:

"The Rise and Fall of the Loomis Gang", E. Fuller Torrey MD. A fascinating and well-documented account of the infamous family whose criminal activity terrorized the residents of Central New York in the nineteenth century. The author conducted an exhaustive study of contemporary sources to produce the final and fullest study of the Loomis Gang.


Why the Loomis Gang? I never knew that the legendary "Loomis Gang" terrorized central New York during the mid-1800's. The gang, at the peak of its activities, consisted of over 200 members spread throughout New York State. The gang ruled for over 100 years until they became an international scandal. This is just a bit of information I gathered while reading about the Loomis Gang.


Brookfield, N.Y.: stone ledges, the Lost Pond, caves where the infamous Loomis gang is reputed to have hidden its stolen horses.


Edmondston, N.Y.: Fire has always been a concern for farmers across our area. Whether it might have been a cow accidentally kicking over a kerosene lantern, or an unwelcome visit from the notorious terrorist Loomis Gang in the early 1800s, farmers had to be careful around the house and barn. By the late 1890s, the Loomis Gang had been rounded up and put away, but the worries of fire, or lightning, still remained a concern for a group of 27 farmers and area business people around Edmeston. Together, they chartered today's New York Central Mutual Fire Insurance Company, in April 1899.


Madison County: Walk by Madison Hall, admire the architecture of this building, situated right on Main Street of the Village of Morrisville, we might forget that the former Madison County Court House is directly linked to the most notorious 19th-century family in Central New York, the Loomis Family of Sangerfield.


It was in October of 1864 that there were several indictments pending against the Loomis boys, George Washington ("Wash"), Plumb and Grove. The family had been involved in criminal activities ever since the arrival of "George Washington Loomis, Sr. and his wife, Rhoda Mallette Loomis", to the Oneida County township of Sangerfield in the early 1800s. The children of George and Rhoda inherited their parents' proclivity toward lawbreaking, and the family engaged in robbery, arson, horse stealing, counterfeiting, and other unsavory activities. "Wash", the leader of the Loomis Gang after the death of his father, studied just enough law to keep the family out of jail, but during the 1860s time was running out for the Loomis Family.


The 1864 Court House had replaced the original building which was erected in 1817. Standing since 1847, the Madison County Court House was, on October 10, 1864, awaiting the trial of the Loomises. In the early morning hours of October 11, a fire broke out in the Court House. The firemen, responding to the alarm, discovered that their hoses had been cut so all efforts to save the building were for naught. Although Wash Loomis was in the crowd of local citizens that fought the blaze, and he expressed indignation that anyone would do such a dastardly thing as cut the hoses, it is believed by most that the Loomises had struck once again. It is very probable that they not only set the fire that destroyed the building, but ensured that the firemen were hampered in their efforts to put the fire out. A $1,000 reward was offered for information leading to the arrest of the arsonists, but no one ever came forward with the hard evidence needed against the Gang. Ironically, although the building was destroyed, the indictments against the Loomises survived because they were in the Clerk's Office next door.


The present Madison Hall replaced the burned structure in 1865, the same year that Wash Loomis was killed and the family home on Mason Road was burned. The Loomis Gang had abruptly come to the end of their power in Central New York State. The remaining family members scattered, never to pose a serious threat again. The new Court House building, on the other hand, rose out of the ashes and served the County until 1908 when the County Seat was moved to Wampsville. At that time Madison Hall became a part of the new Agricultural College, serving as the center of many college functions until 1975. After nearly fifteen years of neglect, Madison Hall has, within the last ten years, undergone significant renovation and restoration, and is recognized as one of the true historical treasures in this county.


One hundred and thirty-seven autumns have passed since the fire in the old Court House. The Loomis Gang live on only in legend and lore, but Madison Hall stands in silent tribute to a community's victory over the crime and corruption of the Loomis Family.


The Parents #2248 George Washington LOOMIS married Rhoda MALLET b. 17 Aug. 1779 (1814) b. circa 1793 d. 16 Feb. 1851 ae 73 d. 2 Oct. 1887 ae 94

The Children #5002 Harriet b. 1815 -- d. 1817
#5003 Calista Adelia b. 1817 Married William O. MERRILL, a lawyer d. 1853 in Whitesboro. Died in childbirth, ae 37, leaving 2 children.
#5004 William Walter"Bill" b. 1819 Married Martha BURDICK, d. 3 July 1896 had 6 children.
#5005 Maria Cornelia b. 1821 Known as "The Outlaw Queen." d. 27 Nov. 1893 The most intelligent & aggressive.
#5006 George Washington b. 1823 Had a son, Grove, Jr., by ("Wash") d. 1865 Hannah WRIGHT.
#5007 Grove Lawrence b. 1825 The horseman. "Friend" of Nellie SMITH d. 1878 (Mrs. Ellen KELLOWAY) #5008 Lucia Ella b. 1828 Married Charles EDWARDS, a farmer from d. 1858 Watervale. Died in an epidemic along with only child, Charles, Jr.
#5009 Wheeler Theodore b. 1830 a.k.a. "Theodore Goodnough" in d. 20 March 1911 Canada. Father of 10 children. Son, Charles, died in 1926.
#5010 Mary Charlotte b. 1832 Married a businessman, Asa COLLINS, d. Jan., 1870 and moved to NYC. Died of TB.
#5011 Amos Plumb b. 1834 The worst of the lot. Might have d. 26 Aug. 1903 been married to Adeline GLAZIER. Had 2 children, George and Lena.
#5012 Hiram Denio b. 1836 "Not quite right." d. 7 Jan. 1880 Died in Hastings, NY.
#5013 Harriet b. 1838 d. 1840 Maintained by Sue Greenhagen. Last updated 18 May 2000


Another Source: http://www.morrisville.edu/library/local_history/loomis/gang.html

"Violent death will come to anyone not of Loomis blood whoever has this farm." Halloween Night; 1865".


These were the ominous last words uttered by "Wash Loomis" as he lay dying with his hair and skin peeling from his skull, eyes rolled back in his head and the fractures to his skull bleeding profusely. Wash Loomis was murdered Halloween Night, 1865 on the Loomis Farm in Watersville, New York. Loomis was the leader of the Loomis Gang, a family who had succeeded in terrorizing Central New York with their looting, murder, rape and treachery for over two decades. Some believe the family's horrific legacy lives on in Wash Loomis, his ghost emerging to inflict violent death on unlucky innocents who hear or see his figure.


Anna Collins, wife of the younger and equally evil brother of Wash, Grove Loomis, told how new owners of the Loomis farm were never able to raise crops on its soil where once the Loomis family had sowed abundant amounts of hops, grain, corn and potatoes. Mrs. Collins herself once caught sight of the Ghost of Wash Loomis and this experience lead to a violent death. "I am not a superstitious woman," she claimed, "and Grove's stories of the Loomis curse had often made me laugh." But lo and behold, two days after sighting Wash's ghost, Motty Mason, owner of the Loomis farmstead, committed suicide. In the 1940s, the Loomis farm had been passed on to two of Motty's nephews, Harold and Ed. While Harold was crossing Route 20 one day, he was struck and killed by a passing car. Still today, descendants and neighbors claim there is truth to the Loomis curse.


"Personally, I don't believe in ghosts, " Judy Schenk of the Barge forewarned. Then she began to tell the tale of her brush with the Loomis ghost.


"There is a story that if you hear the thundering hooves of Wash Loomis' horse on Halloween night, someone is going to die in three days' time.". "On this particular Halloween - oh, about a decade ago - we were out camping, not far from where the Loomis farm once stood. There was a full moon out, about midnight; the stars were out, and I heard it. I heard the sound of the thundering hooves. I looked out in the direction where I had heard the sound, but there was nothing in that field. Personally, I don't believe it," she reiterated once again. Although no one died, Judy never did figure out where that noise had come from.


The Ghost of Wash Loomis and the Loomis curse are almost as interesting as the mortal, immoral lives the Loomis Gang led. A year after Wash's death, the New York Prison Association summed it up well: "These men," - the report might have mentioned the women as well - "as might be supposed, exerted great political influence, and it is well understood that they are always ready to reward their friends and punish their enemies, both in primary conventions and at the polls. Although, as we have said, they have been repeatedly indicted, the number of their indictments bears but a small ratio to the number of their depredations. It usually happens that anyone who is particularly active in bringing any of the gang to justice has his barn or dwelling soon after burned, or his horses missing from the stable, or his sheep or cattle from the pasture."


It all began back in 1802 when the unassuming settlers of Sangerfield were joined by "George Loomis", who rode to town from Vermont with 3,000 in stolen gold to his name. He bought a tract of land, which would eventually span 325 acres, and in 1815, he married Rhoda Mallett.


Rhoda was the great matriarch. Evil - think Mama Fratelli of The Goonies - smart, beautiful, haughty and tenacious, Rhoda had a particular liking for counterfeiting money and harassing the women in her sons' lives. Only "one" of the Loomis sons ever married, and when Wash tried to settle down with a woman by the name of Hannah Wright, Rhoda proved capable of murder. In November 1861, while Wash was away, Rhoda set Grove up to "accidently" shoot a double-barreled rifle into Hannah's thigh as he pretended to be cleaning the barrel. She died a couple weeks later, and no one in the family ever mentioned the incident.


George and Rhoda Loomis had a large family of six sons and four daughters. Not one among them had a good soul, and not one among them cared for anything but stealing and getting away with it, whatever it took. From their most tender and youngest years, George and Rhoda rewarded their children for stealing. When George Loomis died in 1851, he bequeathed to his stock his pathological tendencies and his passion for thievery. It wasn't a year before his son Wash Loomis took over the family and rapidly made the Loomis Family one of the most successful and wicked crime syndicates of the nineteenth century. The family's influence extended for hundreds of miles in every direction; North into Ontario, East into Vermont, South into Pennsylvania and West almost to Lake Erie. Until Wash's death on October 31, 1865, their criminal activity never waned.


The Nine Mile Swamp, named for the nine miles of Loomis property that extended from Sangerfield Center to Hubbardsville, still exists and served as a sanctuary for the gang when the law came in pursuit, or - more typically - when the Loomis family needed a place to stow their stolen wares. The Loomis' were most skillful stealing horses. The Loomis' changed the markings on the horses they stole by tightly bounding a hot baked potato to create a white marking, silver nitrate to darken light markings, and using a variety of chemicals, even paint to disguise the horses they stole during the night. On more than one occasion, they were able to sell back the stolen horse to the original owner, leaving the owner none the wiser. One could claim that the Loomis' were merely opportunists taking full advantage of the weak and corrupt nature of American law at the time.


They counterfeited money when the panic of 1857 struck the country and utilized the chaos created by the U.S. Civil War to escalate their illicit activities - particularly where it concerned horses - and enhance their treasure trove. Under the stewardship of the suave and handsome Wash, the family was able to escape the law when needed. Corruption and crime were rampant, and officials in Oneida and Madison Counties regularly accepted gifts from the Loomises. In some cases, the Loomis family appeared on the regular payroll and even kept friendly relations with their neighbors. As the sheer extent - geographic and otherwise - of their activities became apparent, it was their greed that doomed them. Their activities became increasingly more violent, they had less and less qualms about attempting murder, carrying out murder or kidnapping to escape justice.


In the mid-1850s, a member of the gang living on the Loomis farm threatened to go to the sheriff to get the due he claimed the Loomis family neglected to pay him. Wash promised to right his pay, but shortly thereafter, in the back of the Loomis home, the man was found partially disemboweled, a scythe through his abdomen. A coroner concluded it was an accident (or his own death might have followed), but the locals knew better: it had been murder.


When Wash died in 1865, the family fell apart, and at least one Loomis, Plumb Loomis, finally met justice. It took three attempts at hanging before his feet hung and the rope finally strangled his throat; he finally went limp. One account described Plumb after the first attempt: "his face contorted until it seemed as if his eyes were ready to pop from their sockets. His tongue thickened and protruded between empurpled lips. Urine ran down his legs, soaking through his pants. " Although the crowd watching asked for his confession, he never would let the truth escape his mouth. Satisfied with Plump's death, no other Loomis was ever lynched. They were told to leave New York in 30 days. No Loomis heeded the order and their criminal lives continued, spotted with murder, trials and intrigue until Rhoda and her remaining children finally passed away - we can assume none to rest in peace.


The infamy of the Loomis Gang was such that it even made headlines abroad. In 1867, the Quarterly Review in London carried a piece on the Loomis Gang, highlighting the lawlessness of the state of New York. In 1941, Harriet McDoual Daniels wrote a novel entitled the Nine Mile Swamp. In the foreword, she writes, "Was it the overabundant life which marked them, united with some evil strain, that led them into devious corked paths?" Her novel is an imagined story - some might say wishful thinking - of what might have been had just one of the Loomises not been "united with some evil strain."


In Waterville, New York, about 15 miles down the road from Hamilton, the Waterville Historical Society still gives tours once a year of the major Loomis family sites. The home of the Loomis family is no longer standing; neither is the courthouse, where so many times they diverted the grip of the law. Brian Bogan, a seventh grade social studies teacher at Waterville Central School, continues to preserve the history of the Loomis Gang. He teaches his students the local history of 150 years ago and gives them a bus tour of the Nine Mile Swamp and the Loomis Farm.


Waterville High School students pass their time, particularly on crisp October days when the anniversary of Wash Loomis' death approaches, on the Loomis Bridge, which still crosses over Nine Mile creek. There they tell ghost stories, hear voices and hope to see the Ghost of Wash Loomis. If evil does exist, as the true parts of this history seem to attest to, and ghosts do haunt certain quarters of this world, then upon hearing the thundering of horses' hooves or sighting the outline of a dark, handsome man wearing nineteenth century garb this All Hallow's Eve, A prayer that Wash hasn't marked you for a violent death.



The Loomis Gang And The Ghost Of Wash Loomis
Maroon News, a newspaper of Colgate University.
www.maroon-news.com/news/2004/10/29/ArtsFeatures/ The-Loomis.Gang.And.The.Ghost.Of.Wash.Loomis-786553.shtml
By Brandy Bones. Published: Friday, October 29, 2004


Keith M., LOOMIS GANG, Thursday, 30 Jul 1998


Yes, there is a book called "The Loomis Gang" by George W. Walter, available through North Country Books, Inc, 311 Turner Street, Utica NY 13501. Excellent book with lots of genealogical info on the immediate family. I read it cover to cover and could not put it down. Yes--I am kin to them, but distantly related through our common ancestor, Joseph LOOMIS of Windsor CT. Carol Martin


Ride with The Loomis Gang, E. Fuller Torrgy, M.D.,
An exciting account of the legendary Loomis Gang which terrorized Central New York during the mid-1800's Erie Canal times, North Country Books, 1997. http://www.eriecanalmuseum.org/shop/item.asp?id=1041 http://www.ouroldetowne.com/morrisville_preservation.htm#The%20Loomises%20and%20Madison%20Hall The Loomises and Madison Hall Walk by Madison Hall on a crisp, Fall day, and you can't help but marvel at it's magnificence. As we admire the architecture of this building, situated right on Main Street of the Village of Morrisville, we might forget that the former Madison County Court House is directly linked to the most notorious 19th-century family in Central New York, the Loomis Family of Sangerfield. It was in October of 1864 that there were several indictments pending against the Loomis boys, George Washington ("Wash"), Plumb and Grove. The family had been involved in criminal activities ever since the arrival of George Washington Loomis, Sr. and his wife, Rhoda Mallette Loomis, to the Oneida County township of Sangerfield in the early 1800s. The children of George and Rhoda inherited their parents' proclivity toward lawbreaking, and the family engaged in robbery, arson, horse stealing, counterfeiting, and other unsavory activities. Wash, the leader of the Loomis Gang after the death of his father, studied just enough law to keep the family out of jail, but during the 1860s time was running out for the Loomises. The 1864 Court House had replaced the original building which was erected in 1817. Standing since 1847, the Madison County Court House was, on October 10, 1864, awaiting the trial of the Loomises. In the early morning hours of October 11, a fire broke out in the Court House. The firemen, responding to the alarm, discovered that their hoses had been cut so all efforts to save the building were for naught. Although Wash Loomis was in the crowd of local citizens that fought the blaze, and he expressed indignation that anyone would do such a dastardly thing as cut the hoses, it is believed by most that the Loomises had struck once again. It is very probable that they not only set the fire that destroyed the building, but ensured that the firemen were hampered in their efforts to put the fire out. A $1,000 reward was offered for information leading to the arrest of the arsonists, but no one ever came forward with the hard evidence needed against the Gang. Ironically, although the building was destroyed, the indictments against the Loomises survived because they were in the Clerk's Office next door. The present Madison Hall replaced the burned structure in 1865, the same year that Wash Loomis was killed and the family home on Mason Road was burned. The Loomis Gang had abruptly come to the end of their power in Central New York State. The remaining family members scattered, never to pose a serious threat again. The new Court House building, on the other hand, rose out of the ashes and served the County until 1908 when the County Seat was moved to Wampsville. At that time Madison Hall became a part of the new Agricultural College, serving as the center of many college functions until 1975. After nearly fifteen years of neglect, Madison Hall has, within the last ten years, undergone significant renovation and restoration, and is recognized as one of the true historical treasures in this county. One hundred and thirty-seven autumns have passed since the fire in the old Court House. The Loomises live on only in legend and lore, but Madison Hall stands in silent tribute to a community's victory over the crime and corruption of the Loomis Family. Further Reading: Torrey, E. Fuller. Frontier Justice: the Rise and Fall of the Loomis Gang. Utica, NY: North Country Books, 1992. Walter, George W. The Loomis Gang. Prospect, NY: Prospect Books, 1953. The New York Sun's History of the Loomis Gang (1877) The following history of the infamous Loomis Gang was written by Amos Cummings for The New York Sun in 1877, and was reprinted in several upstate journals. Copied to Documents.
Note: "Today July 8th, 2005"--(I am going here!)Loomis Gang Country Tours/Old Fashioned Ice Cream Social - Take a guided tour through the Nine Mile Swamp are where a 19th century family held Central New Yorkers captive for over 60 years by committing arson, stealing horses, murdering, kidnapping, smuggling, counterfeiting and more... Learn an interesting piece of history. Cost $5.00 per person. Buses. Route 12 to Waterville. At stop light, go straight onto Stafford Avenue. Stafford runs right into White Street. The Waterville Historical Society is at 214 White St., Waterville. Tours begin at 9 a.m. Saturday. Also, See the Loomis Gang exhibit at the Historial Society. From 1-3 p.m., partake of the Old Fashioned Ice Cream Social.


Loomisgang Page 2 new/10-2009
Index
Index Page 2.
Index Page 3.
Return to the top!