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Hudson-Mohawk Genealogical and Family Memoirs:
Holmes

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[This information is from Vol. III, pp. 1351-1352 of Hudson-Mohawk Genealogical and Family Memoirs, edited by Cuyler Reynolds (New York: Lewis Historical Publishing Company, 1911). It is in the Reference collection of the Schenectady County Public Library at R 929.1 R45. Some of the formatting of the original, especially in lists of descendants, may have been altered slightly for ease of reading.]

The surname Holm or Holmes is classed among those local names in England which describe the value or situation of the original bearers' residence, such as Hill, Dale, Wood, etc. A flat ground in or near water was called a holm. In early days the name no doubt was Holm, but in repetition of the possessive case the name easily became Holms. The name is yet spelled in some instances, without the "e," in fact, the spelling on the records of the continental army show twenty-seven different spellings, and sometimes the same man was written with two spellings. The name is a familiar one in England, and the early families in America were of that nationality. They were among the early settlers in Massachusetts. George Holmes, of Roxbury, Massachusetts, was made a freeman, May 22, 1639. He was born in the Parish of Nazing, England, a small parish in the town of Waltham, Essex county. His descendants settled in various states of New England, New Hampshire, Maine, Vermont. They intermarried with the Francis Adams family of Kingston, Massachusetts, the families becoming closely allied. The families herein recorded are of the Vermont branch, where they were largely engaged in agriculture. The result of long years of laborious farming, no doubt, was to develop a great desire for the non-informed method, by which much labor could be saved and greater results attained. The "Holmes Self Binder" was the result of their years of thought and experiment. First among all practical binders it accomplished for its inventors, makers and users the most gratifying results, and made the name of Holmes one gratefully remembered wherever men toil in the fields.

(I) Gilbert Holmes died at Lawrenceville, St. Lawrence county, about the year 1863, having lived most of his life in the state of Vermont in the town of North Hero, where he followed the occupation of a farmer. He married, had one son, Hector A., and late in life removed to Lawrenceville, where he is buried.

(II) Hector Adams, only child of Gilbert Holmes, was born in North Hero, Vermont,.died in Chicago, Illinois, in 1903. He was educated in the common schools, where he developed an exceedingly active and inventive mind. About the year 1862-63 he began work on an agricultural implement, now a common sight in the harvest field, but then unknown except as a dream of the inventor, the "Holmes Self Binder." He worked many years on this invention, assisted by his son, Watson Martin Holmes, and in 1879 it was perfected and adopted by the Walter A. Wood Company, then as now, a leading manufacturer of agricultural machinery. The Self Binder was at once placed upon the market, proved an instant success and a large money maker for the Walter A. Wood Company, who manufactured and sold it on a royalty paid to the inventors. Both Mr. Holmes and his son held positions with the Walter A. Wood Company as inventors and advisers. The "Holmes Self Binder" was the first binder in practical use and antedated all others by about one year. It was manufactured exclusively by the Walter A. Wood Company until the patents expired. Many improvements have been added by the original inventors, and it has been one of the leading machines since its first introduction, and is still on the market, although the Walter A. Wood Company manufacture a binder under other patents. Hector Adams Holmes continued with the Walter A. Wood Company in an advisory capacity until his retirement in 1889. His inventions firmly established the fortunes of the family, proved of great profit to the manufacturers and of untold value to the farmer. He was a Republican in politics, and a member of the Methodist Episcopal church. He married (first) Olive Williamson, died 1859, aged twenty-seven years, buried in St. Lawrence county, New York. He married (second) Harriet Knight. He married (third) Helen Lyons, who died in October, 1894. Children of first marriage:

  1. Dr. Bayard Taylor;
  2. Warren C., born 1854, died 1904, at Austin, Minnesota, married Emma Hopkins, of Minnesota, and left a son, Roy Stewart;
  3. Watson Martin, see forward.

Child by second wife:

  1. George Ellsworth, died March 24, 1898.

Mr. Holmes is buried in Lansing, Moore county, Minnesota, by the side of his second wife.

(III) Watson Martin, third son of Hector Adams and Olive (Williamson) Holmes, was born at Lawrenceville, St. Lawrence County, New York, July 23, 1856. He was educated in the public schools, and when a lad of eleven removed to Lansing, Minnesota, with his father, resided in different places in Minnesota until 1879, when he located at Hoosick Falls, New York, his present residence. He continued with the Walter A. Wood Company as stated until 1893, when he resigned and began a line of inventions pertaining to the cotton press and cotton picking machinery. During the succeeding ten years he resided in New England, principally in the city of Boston, Massachusetts. In 1903 he returned to Hoosick Falls, New York, where he has a large interest in the firm of Holmes & Robson, retail furniture dealers, but takes no active part in the business. He is president of the Eastern New York Telephone & Telegraph Company of Hoosick Falls, director of the People's National Bank, and interested in the Walter A. Wood Company. His useful and active life has been a successful one, and he shares with his father the honor of inventing the first practical self binder ever used in the harvest fields, and now found in every part of the agricultural world. He is an independent Republican in politics. He is a member of the Masonic order, and of the Benevolent Protective Order of Elks. He married, September 28, 1881, Ella, daughter of Evi and Mary (Parsons) Randall. They have no children.

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