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. 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
children 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.
The Loomis farm was located in the western edge of the nine-mile swamp extending from Sangerfield Center to Hubbardsville . A big frame house served as headquarters and hideout for most of the law breakers of the region and their stolen wares. By day the Loomis boys posed as respectable sheep farmers. By night they were burglars, barn burners, sheep, cattle and horse thieves. They were most skillful stealing horses by night and changing the markings. On more than one occasion, they were able to sell back the stolen horse to the original owner.
One could claim that the Loomis' were merely opportunists taking 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 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.
In 1854 Wash Loomis met and courted a woman by the name of Hannah Wright. She moved into the farmhouse and took an active part in the management of the farm. She bore him a son (Grove). By 1862 family jealousy over Hannah's influence led to brothers Plumb and Denio offering $50 to an employee called Mott to get rid of Hannah. While cleaning a gun it "accidently" went off and the bullet lodged in Hannah's thigh, severing an artery. She died a couple weeks later. No one in the family ever mentioned the incident.
A large number of indictments were lodged with courts in Oneida and Madison County against the family who responded by robbing the office of the district Attorney and removing the offending papers. In 1864 their bravado escalated with the burning down the court house in Morrisville.
Wash Loomis was murdered on Halloween night 1865 on the farm in Watersville. 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. "Violent death will come to anyone not of Loomis blood whoever has this farm" were his last ominous words. When Wash died, the family fell apart.
In April 1866 a large posse headed for the Loomis place from Waterville, a second from Hamilton and a third from Morrisville. The house was surrounded, a group kicked the door down and handcuffed everyone in the house which was looted from top to bottom and torched. The family were ordered to leave New York within 30 days. No Loomis heeded the warning and their criminal lives continued, spotted with murder, trials and intrigue.
Rhoda died in 1887 aged 94, out-living all her children except Plumb who died in 1903.