HERBERT JAMES HOLMES. - It would perhaps be an easier task to name the occupations that Mr. Holmes has not followed than those in which he has been engaged, as he has dabbled in all sorts of enterprises, amongst which might he mentioned the bakery trade, the work of a taxidermist, (which really was the business that he followed most of his life); an employe in the stock yards and for the railroad company and a rolling mill. In addition to this he has managed some picnic grounds, property for others and his own farm, in addition to numerous other enterprises. It is now almost forty years since he first came to Rosedale, and although he has traveled extensively during these four decades, his home has been here, with the exception of three years.
Herbert James Holmes was born in the little village of Soberton, Hampshire, England, and is the son of Alexander Day Holmes and Martha (Earwicker) Holmes, both natives of Hampshire county, where they were reared to maturity. Alexander Holmes was a grocery man and a postmaster for some time, and passed his whole life in England, and there he and his wife are buried. They were the parents of eight children.
Herbert James Holmes spent his boyhood days in his native village where he received his education in the little village school, and when he was fourteen years old, he went to the town of Portsmouth, where he learned the trade of a baker and pastry maker. When he was twenty-eight years old he felt the desire for a wider field for his energies, and decided to come to America in search of wealth and adventure. He succeeded in finding both, though the adventures came in abundance long before the wealth, but there was never a time when he suffered for lack of money. In 1872 he embarked at Southampton on an American bound boat, and commenced his new life; he came direct to Kansas City, and immediately gained employment with the old Kansas City Railroad Company in the capacity of a taxidermist, which trade he had learned in his boyhood. His special work was to stuff buffalo heads which were shipped in from western points for some time, but it was discovered that they were so long on the road, that many of them spoiled. Mr. Holmes, accordingly, went out with a hunting party and he skinned the animals on the ground. During the next two and a half years he put up about sixteen heads a month for the railroad company, and also a great number for himself, which he sold. He kept up this kind of a life until 1893, at which time the company sent for him to come in, as there were few demands for stuffed buffalo heads, in that year of the panic. Mr. Holmes was an exhibitor at the Chicago Exposition, the great World's Fair, representing the railroad company in whose employ he had worked. Samples of his handiwork are seen in the houses of many of the wealthy families of America and foreign countries, and amongst them may be mentioned the two heads that he stuffed for the Czar of Russia, and which are doubtless to be found in the palace of this monarch. Mr. Holmes was on familiar terms with all of the old time scouts and hunters, such as Colonel W. F. Cody, Lamb, and many others. Indeed he has hunted with these redoubtable characers on numerous trips. After he severed his connections with the railroad company, he was offered special inducements to go to Denver and continue this line of work, but his wife prevailead on him to decline the offer as she was in a constant state of uneasiness because of the dangers to which he was exposed. At that time, indeed, there was considerable risk attached to a life of the kind he led, for without regard to the risk of being killed by some wild animal, there were constant uprisings of the Indians in that part of the country, and many battles were fought in the vicinity of the camp where he stayed. Upon his return to domestic life, he secured a position in the stock yards, and later re-entered the employ of the railroad company, working for them in various ways, and later he became an agent for some wealthy people, taking care of their property. He bought seven acres of land from Mr. Saurs, and on this he built the beautiful home where he has resided since that time. Amongst the vocations which he has followed, he worked for a rolling mill, and for a time he ran a picnic ground, which brought him in a good round sum. At the time of the boom he sold out this ground, and with the proceeds he bought a farm of seventy-nine acres at fifty dollars an acre, and after three years' time, during which he lived on the farm and superintended its management, he sold the land for one hundred dollars an acre, and he came back to his home in Rosedale. He is not now engaged in business of any sort, but he owns nine houses, which he built, and the rent derived from these gives him a nice income.
Before Mr. Holmes left England he married Miss Caroline Webb, a little English girl, the daughter of Charles and Eliza (Clark) Webb, life-long residents of England. Their daughter, Caroline was born February 8, 1845, in the county of Hampshire where she spent her girlhood days. She became the mother of just a dozen children, six sons and six daughters, but of this number four died in infancy, two passed away after they had become mature, and the other six are living now, and it may be of interest to make a brief mention of each. Alexander, who won the American wing-shot medal, is named after his paternal grandfather and is now the city clerk of Rosedale; Lizzie, named after her maternal grandmother, but with slight variation, is married to H. W. Cooper, an engineer on the railroad and they maintain their residence on the Argentine road; Ada married William Schisley and now lives in Denver; Herbert died soon after the family came to Rosedale; Harry is a barber in Rosedale; Thomas owns a dairy south of Rosedale; May died in her twentieth year after she had blossomed from girlhood to womanhood, and she is buried in Junction cemetery; Louis Frederick is a barber of some reputation in Pasadena, California, and at the time of the St. Louis Exposition, the following invitation was sent to him to be present at the fair: "The honor of the presence of Louis F. Holmes is requested at the celebration of the One Hundredth Anniversary of the acquisition of The Louisiana Territory, to be commemorated by the Dedication of the Louisiana Purchase Exposition, St. Louis, April 30th and May 1st and 2nd, 1903. David R. Francis, President Louisiana Purchase Exposition. Thomas F. Carter, President Commission."
Mr. Holmes is a member of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks. He has never cared to mingle in politics very much, and has had no desire to hold any political office. In all national questions he is a strict Democrat, but in local elections he is an independent voter. His genial manners and hearty speech have won him many friends, who are never tired of hearing him relate stories of his hunting experiences, and of his many thrilling escapes.
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