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Posted By: jh (email)
Date: 12/1/2018 at 15:46:54

In days gone by the subject of this sketch, who is a man of great energy, perseverance and determination, did as much to advance the reputation which Johnson County enjoys as a prosperous farming community as any man within its borders. As he was careful and painstaking in the cultivation of his land, shrewd and far-seeing in his business ventures, he amassed a comfortable competency, which he has the satisfaction of knowing was obtained by honorable business methods, as well as by his own undeviating industry. A Canadian by birth, he was born near Montreal February 19, 1855, being the eldest member and the only son in a family of five children born to his parents, Robert and Rebecca (Mahan) Holmes, the former of whom died when the subject of this sketch was but two years of age. Soon after this lamentable event the widow with her family removed to the United States, arriving in Iowa City in 1858, where she made her home for a few years, after which she removed to a farm in Pleasant Valley Township, consisting of about twenty-three acres. Here she bravely labored and reared her family, and here she is still residing at the age of sixty years. Her other children were Jane E., wife of A. J. Morford an ex-soldier of the Civil War; Isabella, widow of W. W. Emmons; Cressela, who died when young; and Caroline, who died after her marriage.

Watson, the only son, passed his boyhood on the farm in Johnson County, and up to the age of fifteen years was an attendant at the district schools of Pleasant Valley Township, during which time he showed good mental capacity and became a very good scholar. He then began working out by the month on a farm, his time being thus employed until he was twenty years of age, when he decided to become the head of a home of his own, and he was married to Miss Jennie Loan, of Pleasant Valley Township, she being a daughter of William H. and Mary Jane (Emmons) Loan, who were among the early and prominent settlers of that section, and were thrifty and progressive tillers of the soil. Soon after the celebration of his nuptials Mr. Holmes purchased a farm of his own in Pleasant Valley Township, consisting of forty acres of improved land, but to one of his ambitious and energetic temperament this was not a sufficient amount of land to satisfy him, and he shortly after added fifty acres to his original purchase. After residing on his farm for five years and greatly improving it in many ways he sold it and bought another tract of one hundred and sixty acres, to which he afterward added one hundred and twenty acres, and he now has an excellent farm of two hundred and eighty acres, which land is well adapted for the purpose of general farming, to which it has always been given. Stock-raising has received a by no means small share of his attention, and he always took great pride in having a good class of animals about him; prior to his removal to Iowa City to make his home in 1890, he disposed of a large number of animals at a fair profit. He still owns his farm, which he rents, and has a very pleasant and comfortable residence in the city at No. 508 South Dubuque Street, where he expects to spend some years in order to educate his children, and perhaps will spend the remainder of his days here. His family consists of four children: Walter M., Emery Otis, Iona B. and O. D. The revenue which Mr. Holmes receives from the proceeds of his farm is amply sufficient for his wants, and he and his family are surrounded not ony with all necessary comforts, but with many of the luxuries of life. In his political views he has always been a Republican, and socially is connected with Kosciusko Lodge No. 6, I. O. O. F., of which he is an honored member.

Source: Portrait and Biographical Record of Johnson, Poweshiek and Iowa Counties Iowa, 1893, pages 119-120.


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