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A J Holmes


Posted By: County Coordinator
Date: 3/10/2009 at 13:16:18

Hon A J Holmes, Adoniram Judson Holmes, was a man of the strenuous life. He was born March 2, 1842, at Jackson, Wayne county, Ohio, son of Dr Benjamin Franklin Holmes, who saw the light first near East Aurora, New York, in 1816, and who died in Palmyra. Wisconsin, at the age of fifty-seven years. The immigrant ancestors of the Holmes family was Captain George Holmes, of New Amsterdam, who was born in England about the year 1600. In 1635 he was captain of a party which effected a settlement on the Delaware river. His descendents afterward settled in Virginia, Ohio, Wisconsin and Iowa. A J Holmes mother, Susan (Parker) Holmes, daughter of Ephraim Parker, was born in Massachusetts, March 25, 1771, and died February 20, 1853. Her father was a pioneer on the “Holland Purchase,” New York. Our subjects brothers are B Frank Holmes, who resides in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. His sister, Lucinda M Holmes, died in 1860. Shortly after the birth of our subject his parents moved to Granville, Licking county, Ohio, afterwards to Rouseburg, Ashland county. In 1852 they removed to Palmyra, Jefferson county, Wisconsin, which became their permanent abode.
A J Holmes was a boy of ten when he went to Wisconsin. He was educated in the common and high schools of Palmyra, and at Milton College at Milton, Wisconsin, until the breaking out of the Civil war, then in his breaking out in the Civil War, then in his twentieth year. Like thousands of other college youths he nobly responded to his country’s call and enlisted on August 16, 1862, as a private, his name being carried on the army rolls as “Judson A Holmes” through an error of the mustering officer. He was a member of Company D, Twenty-fourth Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry, under Captain Albert Philbrook and Colonel Charles H Larabee. The adjutant of the regiment was General Arthur, as he eventually became, recently the commanding officer in the Philippines, and Private Holmes was used to tell hoe efficient he was assigned to the Thirty-second Brigade, Eleventh Division, of the Army of the Ohio. In 1863 it became a portion of the First Brigade, Third Division, right wing of the army of the Cumberland. Mr Holmes participated with his regiment in the battles of Perrysville, Stone River, or Murfreesboro, Chickamauga, Chattanooga, Missionary Ridge, the siege of Knoxville and campaigns in East Tennessee and the action near Danridge. From February to April, 1864 he was assigned to duty at General Sheridan’s headquarters.
Upon the reorganization of the Army of the Potomac, Sheridan was transferred to that army. Private Holmes was promoted, receiving his commission as second lieutenant in Company G of the Thirty-seventh Wisconsin Infantry, and was transferred with Sheridan’s command to the Eastern Army, being assigned to the First Brigade, Third Division, of the Ninth Corps, of the Potomac, in June 1864. He did guard duty from White Hose to Cold Harbor, participated in the assault on Petersburg June 15 to 17, the action on the N & P R R June 18, in outpost duty before Petersburg until July 10, and was in the action of the Mine in front of Petersburg, July 30, 1864. In this battle of the Mine his troops held the fort captured until nearly all of our forces had retired, when he and his comrades were captured by the enemy and taken into Richmond as prisoner of war. Some negro regiments had participate in the action of the Mine and were captured with their while comrades. The Confederates in charge of these prisoners arranged them for sleep the first night after falling into their hands, alternating a black private with a white officer, all upon a bare floor, an expression of contempt on the part of the evictors characteristic of those violent times.
Lieutenant Holmes was imprisoned in Danville, Virginia, Columbia, South Carolina, Greensboro, North Carolina, Charlotte, North Carolina, Goldsboro and Raleigh. Transfers caused by the advances of the Federal forces into the enemy’s country. He was paroled March 1, 1865, at Wilmington, North Carolina, after an imprisonment of nearly seven months, was commissioned first lieutenant of Company G, thirty-seventh Wisconsin Infantry, may 12, 1865, was detailed to the provost marshal’s office, District of Columbia, until mustered out, July 27, 1865, by termination of the war. While a prisoner at Columbia he, in company with a comrade, broke out one dark night, and after hiding in the obscure portions of the town until search had ceased took to the open country. For a few days they enjoyed the luxury of freedom, aided and their wants supplied by the ever faithful blacks, but were captured through the aid of bloodhounds and returned to confinement. While in prison at Columbia Lieutenant Homes obtained a copy of Pitman’s short hand through the favor of a kindly guard, and employed his enforced leisure in mastering this art, in company with a comrade who was located in the floor beneath his. They exchanged notes in the characters, lowering and raising the same with a string. Once this act was detected by the guard and the note captured, but as nothing could be deciphered it was accepted as a deep laid plot to prepare for a general delivery on the part of the prisoners and double guards were stationed for some time after.
The war was closed and this young lieutenant found himself, in common with hundreds of thousands of other young soldiers, facing the problems of existence in Civil life without adequate preparation for the same. The best years for fundamental education were gone from them, they must now do what they could, prompted by ambition and pride to serve their country in the walks of peace as faithfully as they had in war. That so many succeeded in attaining eminence under these disadvantages is a credit alike to themselves and the country where such success is made possible under its institutions. His pastime as a prisoner now became his support as a student, he entered the law department of the University of Michigan and in due time graduated there from and shortly after began the practice of law in Boone, Iowa in 1868, which remained his home for the rest of his life. His skill as a stenographer, an art then unusual in the courts of the new west, enabled him to supplement the scant earnings of a young lawyer until he was well established in the profession. After a year or so he formed a co partnership with another young attorney. L W Reynolds, also a graduate of the Michigan Law School, and the firm of Homes & Reynolds soon rose to more than local prominence. It remained until dissolved by the election of Mr Holmes to congress and was acknowledgedly the leading law firm in the city.
Hon A J Homes official career commenced son after his residence was established in Boone. He held several minor offices, such as notary public, clerk of the city council, city solicitor and mayor, and was elected by the Republicans of his county to the lower house of the nineteenth general assembly in Iowa. Before his term as such legislator had fully expired he was nominated by the Republicans of the tenth congressional district of Iowa as their candidate for representative in congress and was elected as such to the forty-ninth session of the national legislature. He was twice re elected, and served with distinction in the fiftieth and fifty-first congresses. He secured he passage of a bill for the relief of the “River Land Settlers,” which had troubled his predecessors in preceeding congresses for over twenty years, a bill which also passed the senate, but was vetoed by President Cleveland, then carried by a two thirds majority over the president’s veto, lacking but six votes. But undeterred by this he secured from the secretary of the interior such action and inquiries as eventually, after his own term in the house had closed, resulted in the passage of the much desired relief, and closed the incident of the “River Land Matter” in Iowa forever.
At the organization of the fifty-second congress the Republicans of the house, by practically unanimous action in caucus, selected Mr Homes as sergeant at arms of that body, without any solicitation whatever on his part, a position which he accepted and satisfactorily filled during the stormy career of that noted congress.
A J Holmes was married on February 28, 1878, to Miss Emma, daughter of Z Allan and Margaret (Robson) Folsom, relatives of Mrs President Cleveland. Of this marriage there were children born as follows: Lulu Emma, who was born Jun e12, 1879, but did not live, Judson Harold, who was born November 6, 1881, and died February 12, 1884, and Clarence Folsom, who was born May 26, 1886, and is living with his mother in Boone.
After the close of his congressional career Hon A J Homes returned to Boone and essayed again the practice of the law. But his many years in public life had seen his many years in public life had seen his clientage vanish and it was slow work recalling the business. He also made some investments in the neighborhood of Arkansas Pass, Texas, which though considered promising, turned out unfortunately, and he lost his fortune. He endeavored to meet these changed conditions bravely and patiently, but the long years in camp and field, the hardships of early life and the strain of official duties had impaired his health, and with deep regret his friends noted the gradual failure of his intellect. In time this required is entrance tot eh state infirmary at Clarinda, Iowa, where some months after the spark of life flickered and finally went out, on January 21, 1902, in the sixtieth year of his age. The interment was in Boone, January 23, under escort of the Odd Fellows, of which fraternity he was a member, and with an attendance of many of his old friends. He was also a member of the Grand Army of the Republic and of the Union Veterans Union, his connection with eth latter having been made in Washington, D C and of the Loyal Legion of the United States, Commandery of Iowa.
“Major” Holmes, as he was brevetted by his personal friends and neighbors at home, was a man of fine physical mould. Tall, straight, of die proportions, he enjoyed to the full of life of athletics, exemplifying President Roosevelt’s oft repeated injunction, he lead “the strenuous life.” He won his way fully as well by untiring effort as my metal abilities. No check in the trail of a case at law discouraged him, but he renewed the contest with fresh courage and new weapons promptly on the following morning. He was generous to a fault, but had no ill personal habits. Liquor never touched his lips during the whole course of his life, nor was he given to the use of any kind of narcotics or stimulants. The pleasures of the field, the hunt upon the open prairies before they were convert dint o farms and while wild game yet was plenty, field games of foot ball and the life, pedestrianism for its own sake, these claimed him. At one time, missing his train at Des Moines, he walked home by the country roads between four in the afternoon and late bedtime. He loved good literature, and having a phenomenal memory made many of its choicest phrases his own at call. He knew no limit in the credit he extended to his friends and they could draw on him for personal services, money or his time with never failing certainty. Happily not many abused this confidence. He evidently enjoyed army life, and had he chosen this field at the close of the Civil War there is no reason to believe that he would not have achieved distinction similar to that by his old adjutant of the twenty-fourth Wisconsin, General Arthur.

1902 Boone County History Book


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