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.
Design and typography: A-
Marketing copy: A