A Brief History of the Imes Family

  By Carmen Harleston

Earliest available records indicate that Anne Arundel County, Maryland, near Annapolis is where the Imes family in America began.  The earliest spelling of the name was I-I-A-M-S.  Over the years as members of the family migrated away from Maryland, the name underwent many changes.  Some of the other spellings were: EYOMES, IJAMS, IJAMES, IAMS, IIAMES, and IMES.  Many of these spellings are still used today.

William Iiams, the immigrant, married Elizabeth Cheney sometime in the late 1600s.  They had six children: William Jr., Elizabeth, Richard, George, Hester and Susannah.  It is from William, the first born, that our lineage continues.

William Iiams (son of the immigrant) was born in 1670.  He married Elizabeth Plummer, who bore him nine children.  The sixth child, John (born in 1712, married Rebecca Jones) was the next link in our family genealogy.  John and Rebecca Jones Iiams had eight children.   John and William are of particular interest to our family history.

Oral family history relates that John (son of John and Rebecca Iiams) fathered a child by a slave woman, “Hona” (who was owned by Joseph Howard, an Iiams acquaintance).  A boy child, named John, called “Jack” was born January 1, 1775.  Little Jack and several other slaves were later given as a gift to Joseph Howard’s daughter Elizabeth.

Elizabeth Howard married William Iiams (who was the biological uncle of Jack).  Elizabeth and her husband moved from Anne Arundel County to Washington County, Maryland near Hagerstown.  They took with them several slaves including Jack who was about twelve years old.

Jack remained with Elizabeth and William Iiams until he was about seventeen years old.  At that time, the Iiams’ moved to Fairfield Co, Ohio.  They sold their land and all the slaves except Jack, who was allowed to choose his master.

Jack first lived with Andrew Kline. During the next seven years, Jack married a slave woman (name not known) and three children were born.   He was then sold to Jacob Seibert where he remained for eighteen years.  During these years, ten more children were born to Jack and his wife.  Those children were sold south, and were never seen again.  Later, Jack’s wife died.

Jack took a second wife, Susan Pindle, a slave girl twenty years younger than him.  She, like Jack was born of a slave mother and a white father.  A law in Maryland at that time stated that a child born of a white parent would be given his freedom at age twenty-one.  However, before she was twenty-one, Susan had already given birth to two children, who by law would remain slaves forever. Jack was determined that somehow all of his family would be free.   He made a bargain with his master, and worked several years to pay for their freedom.  The family then moved just a few miles across the Maryland State line to Franklin County Pennsylvania near Mercersburg.

Documented information about the family is sketchy during the period of 1824 to the 1860s.  Oral history relates that Jack and Susan had thirteen children.  The names of many are not known.  It is presumed that several children were female and probably were married before the 1850 Census (the first census that listed each member of the household by name).  Those daughters would have been listed under their husband’s name.  Some of the children may have moved away or died young.  The six known children of Jack and Susan Imes were: William, John Jr., Samuel, David Henry and Eliza.  Two additional girls (names unknown, who were under age 10) were listed with the family in the 1840 Franklin County Pennsylvania Census record.  Nothing more is known of these girls.

William Imes, the eldest son, appears in the 1850 & 1860 census in Montgomery Township with his wife Fannie and children Charles, Mary, William and Margaret. The death of a child (no age or sex is given) is noted in the Dietrich Funeral Home records of August 1854.  Fannie’s death is listed as October 13, 1862.  No burial sites or other information has been found regarding William and his family.

John Imes, Jr., second son is found in the 1850 census with his wife Elizabeth and six children: David, Mary, James, Esau, Caroline and John.  Deed records at the Chambersburg courthouse show that John Jr., bought 34 acres of land and later gave his father, Jack one acre with a house on it. 

John’s wife Elizabeth died sometime around 1852-53, and on June 17, 1854, John died of consumption.  After the premature deaths of both parents, the six children appear to have been separated, each growing up with different families.  Almost nothing is known of the fate of David, Mary and the youngest child John.

James Imes, second son of John Imes, Jr., served in the Civil War with the Pennsylvania USCTs and later served with the 9th Infantry, Company K (“Buffalo Soldiers.”) After his military time he settled in Carlisle, PA.  He married Jane Strange and died four years later.  No children were born to them.

Caroline & Esau, the fourth and fifth child of John & Elizabeth Imes, both attended Oberlin College in Ohio during the early to mid 1870s.  Caroline married a Rev. M. Peter Johnson and settled in Topeka, KS.  Six children were born to that union. Esau served in the Civil War, after which he moved to Byhalia, MS.  There he was a teacher. He met and married Catherine Ingram, had five children and died of heart failure at age 50 (November 8, 1907).

Samuel Imes (the third son of John and Susan Pindle Imes) became a farmer.  During his early years he lived and worked on several farms in the Mercersburg, Pennsylvania area.  He joined the Presbyterian Church, and met and married Sarah Moore (eldest child of James and Rachel Moore). Shortly after the birth of their fourth child in 1848, the young family moved some 80 or 90 miles to Juniata County, Pennsylvania to work on the Robert McAlister farm.   In the years that followed, seven more children were born. 

In 1863, Samuel purchased a large farm in Walker Township.  Over the next few years, he worked hard to improve the land.  Although Samuel and Sarah had seven sons, only William remained at home to help with the farm.  The eldest son, George joined the Pennsylvania USCTs and served in the Civil War.  Benjamin Albert went to Oberlin College for further education and to become a minister.  Thomas went to Philadelphia to study medicine.  Martin and David went to Cleveland and Toledo respectively to seek their fortunes.

Throughout his life, Samuel remained a faithful and active member of his church.  He was held in high esteem by members of the community.  Samuel Imes died February 3, 1893, his wife Sarah, the following year, on January 9th.  Both are buried at the Lost Creek Cemetery in McAlisterville, PA. 

The farm remained in the family for fifty-three years, until 1916, when William sold it and moved his family to Detroit, Michigan.

David Imes (fourth son of Susan and Jack Imes) married Adaline Braan in Franklin County, PA and later purchased a 53-acre farm.  By 1850, five children had been born to them.

In 1854, four years after the early death of his wife, David sold his farm for a handsome profit.  He moved with his five children, his father, Jack, and the housekeeper to Juniata County, PA.  Shortly after his arrival, he purchased a farm.  On December 25th of that year, David married Sarah Ann Wilson.  Nine children were born to them.  David was a successful farmer and acquired a lot of property.  He left a sizeable legacy to his immediate heirs.  Many of his children remained in the area while others migrated to other parts of the state and elsewhere.    

Henry Imes, (youngest known son of Jack & Susan) grew up in the Franklin County area.  He married Elizabeth Cuff.  No record of any children born to this union has been found.  Henry was a soldier in the Civil War and was killed in action at Dutch Gap, VA on August 17, 1864.

Eliza Imes (the only known daughter of Susan & Jack) was listed as being fifteen years old in the 1850 Census, living with her parents.   Her name appears in the accounting of her brother John’s estate settlement, after his death in 1854.  Eliza purchased a few items.  No record of her has been found after that.  It is presumed that she was married before the 1860 Census and would have been listed under that husband’s name.

John “Jack” Imes died on July 2, 1871, he was 96 years, six months and two days old.  He is buried in the Ebenezer Methodist Church Cemetery near Port Royal, PA.  David Imes died December 17, 1894.  He too, is buried at Ebenezer Cemetery.