Putnam County


known throughout the entire Secof the country in which he lives as Squire Holmes, is one of the most prominent citizens and farmers in Hopewell township, Marshall county. His father, also named Samuel, was a native of Lancashire, England, born in 1786, while his grandfather, James Holmes, was also a native of the same shire. His mother was Hannah Jackson, a native of Chestershire, England, and a daughter of James Jackson, who came to America in 181 2, locating in New Jersey, near Trenton, where he made a permanent home. Samuel Holmes, the father, came to America in 1818, landing in New York city, and going from thence to Clinton, New Jersey, where he married Hannah Jackson. Shortly after their marriage they removed to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where he worked as a common laborer for a time, and subsecjuently operated a lumber yard.

In 1835 the family came west and settled in Putnam county, Illinois, in the heavy timber land. The country was then very sparsely settled, and the father at once commenced the clearing up of the small farm. In his native country he had been educated as a veterinary surgeon, and it is said that he had not a superior in this line in America. Before coming to this country he was veterinary for the Earl of Balcares, and had considerable experience in the line of his profession. He never followed that business in this country for money simply, but responded to calls from Ottawa to Bloomington, and throughout this entire Secof country.

Samuel Holmes, Sr., was a pioneer in Putnam county, and came to this country with his wife, two sons and a step-son. One child died in infancy. Of the sons, Joseph, born November 20, 1819, married Miss Avis Taber, and now lives in southern California. They are the parents of four children, Mary, J. H., Avis and Samuel J. The latter is a graduate of the state university of California, and is a professor of biology in the Chicago university. The other son is the subject of this sketch. In 1850 the father went to California, making the journey overland, and there died shortly after his arrival, October 29, 1850. The mother survived him many years, dying on the old homestead in 1876. Under the old constitution of Illinois, Mr. Holmes became a voter, but never became a partisan politician and never held office.

Samuel Holmes, our subject, was born January 4, 1822, at Trenton, New Jersey, and commenced attending the public schools at Philadelphia after the removal of the family to that place. He also attended one or two terms in the pioneer schools of Illinois. His education, it may be said, was principally obtained by reading and observation. In his desire to acquire knowledge he has many times jumped upon a horse, ridden ten miles to borrow a book, then by means of a dip made of lard, in a saucer, with a rag for a wick, he and his brother would study after their day's work was completed. The two brothers helped clear the farm in Putnam county, and both remained at home until after attaining their majority. For some seasons they made brick, which they sold throughout the country. On one occasion after manufacturing a large number of brick they constructed a flatboat to carry their product south, but were prevented from doing so by low water. In the fall of 1843, in company with another man, our subject engaged in cutting wood for the steamers on the Illinois river. After piling up some eight hundred cords and looking hopefully forward to the time when they could dispose of the results of their hard winter's work, the flood of 1844 came upon them, carrying every stick of their wood down the river. He then went to work with his brother on the farm, and worked thus for nearly two years.

On the 6th of November, 1846, Mr. Holmes was united in marriage with Miss Sarah White, a native of North Carolina, and daughter of William White, also a native of the same state, but who came to this county about 1836. By this union there are four children, Anna, who married George Hume, is now deceased; Jane, who married Amos De Bault, now resides in Oklahoma; Samuel, who married Hulda Newphine, now lives in the state of Washington, and Enmia B., who married Joseph Taber, is now deceased.

Soon after marriage Mr. Holmes purchased a tract of wild prairie land in Henry township, of which he improved one hundred and sixty acres, building thereon a small cabin, in which the family lived from the spring of 1847 until 1849, and then sold out. In the summer of 1850 he went to the gold fields of California, across the plains. He started from Council Bluffs, Iowa, with four men under contract to work for him a year. They crossed the Missouri river May 28, and arrived at Placerville, California, August 21. After working in the mines until the spring of 1852 he returned to his home by the Nicaragua route, arriving home August 1, 1852. While he was away his wife purchased one hundred and sixty acres of land lying east and south of his present farm, but was living in the house where they now reside. From that time until the present he has followed farming, with the exception of two years spent in visiting his brother in southern California. For the past six years he has rented the farm, which comprises two hundred and forty acres of well improved land.

Mrs. Sarah Holmes, his first wife, was born in 1825, and died in 1868. One year later he married Miss Sarah C. Taber, a native of New Bedford, Afassachusetts, and a daughter of Benjamin Nerab (Coffin) Taber, the former a native of New Bedford, Massachusetts, and the latter of Nantucket, Massachusetts. They came west in 1837, and settled in Knox county, Illinois, where he died many years ago. The mother died and was buried in the cemetery at Henry. They were the parents of eight children, three of whom are now living: Dr. Benjamin, now residing in Dallas, Texas; Sarah C, the wife of our subject, and Avis, who married Joseph Holmes, and now resides in southern California. Mrs. Holmes was born January 30, 1816, and was educated in the public schools of New Bedford, finishing her course in the seminary at Providence, Rhode Island. The Taber family were descended from the Coffin family, which was founded by Tristam Coffin, who settled at Salisbury, Massachusetts, in 1642.

In politics Mr. Holmes is an uncompromising democrat, and has taken a somewhat active part in local affairs. For four years he served as justice of the peace in Hopewell township, three years as commissioner of highways and school director and trustee for many years. His granddaughter, Maud E. Holmes, is a graduate of the Henry high school, and has been a successful teacher. She is a very cultured and highly refined lady, and takes great interest in ancient lore, especially all matters pertaining to the history of the family.

Source: The Biographical Record of Bureau, Marshall and Putnam Counties, Illinois  published in 1896, page 120.

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