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Judith Kimball
Thomas Charles Holmes

Adult; History & Military; (Market)

This uniquely written compilation presents genealogical facts, and family lore about a man many East Texans fondly refer to as Goldie. Upon reading about this true American frontiersman, you will discover Thomas Charles Holmes had a thirst for independence, strong family ties, savvy business dealings, hardships, and successes. You will gain insight into this devoted father of eight children and their lives from birth to death. Written in chronological context beginning in the early American Colonial Era and ending right after the Civil War, this book also contains over 350 images of pertinent historical records, including land deeds, marriage and death certificates, journal pages, family bibles, photos, newspaper clippings, and so much more! This dedicated Patriot left a rich legacy that continues to thrive in the generations that succeed him. Thomas Charles did not just bear witness to history; he helped shape it all the days of his life.
“When the Holmeses came to Texas, the grass grew up to the belly of a cow,” Joe Holmes is reported to have said. Born in 1892, that Holmes had living memory of the ancestor at the heart of Kimball’s loving, thorough book, which blends historical research, genealogy, and family lore to examine the life and legacy of Thomas Charles Holmes (1759 to 1861). Thomas Charles fought in the American Revolution, including at the Battle of Eutaw Springs, where it’s reported that the “blood ran ankle deep.” Later, he owned plantations and sought his fortune, picking up stakes with some frequency—he left the Carolinas for Mississippi Territory and later Texas, where in the tumultuous era leading up to U.S. statehood he built a home on a “land grant authorized by Empresario Lorenzo de Zavala and Mexico.”

Kimball’s richly illustrated, heavily documented survey covers what’s know of Thomas Charles’s life in precise detail, with welcome reproductions of key pieces of evidence, from land deeds, war and tax records, family Bible pages, photographs, slave manifests, and even a “character certificate” submitted with a land grant application. (It attests he was “of good moral habits & friendly to the Laws & Religion of the Country.”) Kimball takes care to distinguish between verifiable facts and family lore, offering multiple possible explanations for the nickname of “Goldie” and acknowledging there’s little proof of the passed-down story that he killed 13 pirates—though she offers reasons not to rule it out.

The blend of historical research and genealogical project means that the tone is as celebratory as that “character certificate,” as Kimball credits Holmes as being “a proud patriot, a savvy businessman, and a loving father.” The account doesn’t shy away from controversies, though, in Thomas Charles’s life or those of his kids, such as one son's conviction for the murder of a freed slave. Slavery is dealt with as a matter-of-fact concern, with attention paid to how the 19th century’s shifting regulation of that vicious institution might have inspired Thomas Charles’s choices.

Takeaway: Richly detailed history and genealogy of a pioneering Texas patriarch.

Comparable Titles: Bill Harvey’s Texas Cemeteries, Roger D. Hodge’s Texas Blood.

Production grades
Cover: B
Design and typography: A-
Illustrations: A
Editing: A-
Marketing copy: A