Posts Tagged ‘Loomis Gang’

The Loomis Gang Rides Again

Have you heard of the Loomis Gang?  This was a family from Madison county, New York that lived slightly more than slightly outside of the law.

Local lore in Upstate New York is often talked about with shock and awe, or chest out proud of, the outrageous acts reported to have been performed by this complete family of thieves.

When you ain’t got nuthin’ you got nuthin’ to lose, comes to mind.  It is said by many that the mom of this group of 19th century Robin Hoods was the instigator and trained her boys that if it ain’t tied down, bring it home, mentality.

Oh and if you are about to go on trial and all of the evidence against you is in the court house, well then it would be a good thing if the court house burned down, which actually did occur.

One author, Charles Brutcher, of a very rare book titled; “Joshua, a Man of the Finger Lakes”, Syracuse, 1927, made the claim that the founder of the Rockefeller fortunes got his start with a close association with the Loomis Gang.

In this historical novel the author throughout the book used the name of Big Bill Rockwell as he described his life of thievery and deceit, horse theft, bigamy and his association with the Loomis’s is a wild tale for sure.  It is claimed that the author went to the Rockefeller family to attempt to have them purchase his manuscript, can you spell blackmail?, and after being rejected inserted an addendum into the rear of this book that blatantly explained that throughout the book his use of the name Big Bill ‘Rockwell’ should be changed to “Rockefeller” and that the novel was a true story.

Turns out that William Rockefeller, the father of John D. Rockefeller, the founder of the Standard Oil Company, was born in Upstate New York and the genealogy of this family commenced in Moravia, Cayuga county.  Brutcher’s claim was that Big Bill Rockefeller, the convicted bigamist, used to steal horses down around Pennsylvania and Corning areas and would trade them with the Loomis Gang.  Should make a fun project for some serious historians and genealogists to tackle.

Well you may read some modern discoveries that are going on now by a dedicated historian, Robert Betz, in Madison county that is working on these Loomis stories and his articles are being published in the “Madison County Courier” newspaper which you can read online at:

There are several books on the Loomis Gang which you can find by searching on, there is even a VHS video available.

Madison County Records Found! Not Burnt by the Loomis Gang! – Florida Sanborn Maps On-line

Two excellent pieces of news for historians and genealogaholics!

From Charles Page, on the Madison County mail list, from an article in the “Oneida Press” newspaper. Some of the earliest Madison county records have been located in the dark corners of the court house. These records were thought to have been burned by the Loomis Gang in the old Morrisville courthouse fire!

The new county Historian, Mary Messere, located them and she and some volunteers are sorting through to see what has to be done to make them presentable.

So don’t give up hope folks, when you hear that all the records burnt! If I hear any more news on this story I will post it on this Blog site.

The second item of great interest, though not for New York State researchers, is that I was contacted by Mr. Traveler Wendell, who works for the Digital Library Center at the University of Florida. He wanted me to pass the news on that they have ALL of the Florida Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps available on-line and open to the public at I see that Orlando has changed slightly since the first year of 1884 that they have.

The U of F also has some other very nice digital collections at

Though they are not New York maps, he wanted me to let our readers know and to pass it on.

Now if we could only get the University of the State of New York to do this…

Dick Hillenbrand – Upstate New York Genealogy –

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