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George N. Holmes. For thirty-two years an employe of the legal department of the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad, at the general offices at Topeka, few men are better known or more highly respected than is George N. Holmes. Prior to the time he entered the employ of this line, Mr. Holmes had many interesting and remarkable experiences, and his career is one which exemplifies the value of perseverance, fidelity and integrity in gaining position and fortune.
George N. Holmes was born at Stamford, Lincolnshire, England, January 11, 1853. His father, George Holmes, was a native of Norfolk, in an adjoining shire, and his mother, Sarah Nelsey, was born at Boston, Lincolnshire. They were the parents of thirteen children, of whom George N. was the seventh born. The two eldest daughters are residents of Hemel Hempstead, England; the third daughter is living at Boston, England; a son, James Robert, is in Western Australia, at Kalgoorlie; the youngest son is living in Vancouver, British Columbia; and the two youngest sisters are living in North Topeka, having come to the United States in 1900. Mr. Holmes belongs to a family noted for its longevity, three of his grandparents having lived to nearly the age of ninety years; and George Holmes was eighty-five at his death.
George N. Holmes received his education in private schools in his native land and there received some business experience as a clerk in a dry goods store. He came to the United States in 1873, and, after a year of the most remarkable experiences and vicissitudes arrived in Kansas, where with good luck, hard work, loyal service and the good fortune of securing a good and faithful woman for a wife, he has advanced to a position of honor and trust.
When Mr. Holmes arrived in America it was during the great panic of 1873, when work was exceedingly scarce. With a companion, also from England, he began tramping to find employment, and in their travels they passed through the states of Pennsylvania, Maryland, West Virginia, Ohio; Indiana, Illinois, Missouri and Kentucky, and finally arrived at Kansas City. While in the tunnel of the Wabash Railroad there, Mr. Holmes became separated from his young companion, whom he never saw nor heard from again. Mr. Holmes arrived at the three bridges, Topeka, on the morning of Sunday, on a fine day in the spring of 1874. He had lost his last “shin-plaster” quarter while sleeping in a haystack in Missouri, and was absolutely without funds. Approaching a house to ask for something to eat, he found the family at morning prayers, and the man of the house, who afterwards proved to be Professor Smith of the Quincy School, was very kind to him and asked him to breakfast. His benefactor then introduced him to Ben White, a blacksmith and fellow-countryman, who invited Mr. Holmes to live at his home, where he remained for a month and assisted the blacksmith in his work. Mr. White then introduced him to W. H. Sprinkle, a farmer, who employed him for nearly two years, or until Doctor Ward, of Silver Lake, heard that he was an old dry goods salesman and engaged him for his drug and general store. Mr. Holmes, however, did not care for this business and after a short time resigned and returned to his farming operations, this time with A. S. Thomas, who at that time was clerk of the United States Circuit Court. Going to Topeka to secure his salary, Mr. Thomas noticed that Mr. Holmes was an excellent penman, and, after a consultation with his deputy, hired him as an assistant in the office, where he remained for six years. There he attracted the attention of George R. Peck, the noted attorney, who, recognizing his ability, persuaded him to enter the legal department of the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad. Mr. Holmes has the utmost confidence of the officials of his company, who have found that they can depend absolutely upon his accuracy, ability and loyalty; and has also gained and retained the friendship of all who have worked with him or have come into contact with him in any way. He has been successful in his investments, and at the present time is the owner of a pleasant home and well improved farm in Soldier Township, where he expects to pass the closing years of his life, after his days of usefulness to the railroad have passed, but which, it may be said, will probably be many years in the future. From the first day of May, 1874, to the present time he has never missed a day’s employment.
Mr. Holmes married Miss Cynthia Grace Auld, a daughter of Capt. Dan Caldwell Auld, a pioneer of Kansas who settled in Marshall County in 1856. Captain Auld was born in 1809, in Pennsylvania, from which state he went to Harrison County, Ohio, at an early day, and from the Buckeye State to Kansas. He married his cousin, Jane Auld, whom he had courted for a bashful lover, quite after the fashion of John Alden and Miles Standish. Captain and Mrs. Auld became the parents of eight children, born in Ohio, and two in Kansas, Mrs. Auld dying at the time of the birth of the last child. A few years later Captain Auld married Mrs. Hyde, the widow of the noted Doctor Hyde, who owned the property on which is now situated the Knights and Ladies of Security Building. Captain Auld was an ardent Union man during the Civil war, and organized a company for the Thirteenth Regiment, Kansas Volunteer Infantry, which was commanded by Col. John A. Martin. In his later years Captain Auld held many positions of public trust and responsibility, and was twice sent to the Kansas Legislature. He lived to a ripe old age and died when eighty-seven years old while on a visit to his daughter, Mrs. George N. Holmes. Three children were born to Mr. and Mrs. Holmes, namely: Mary Isabel, who is the wife of Louis Fleischer, whom she married October 15, 1895, the Fleischers being an old and honored pioneer family of Kansas; Anna Maud, who died November 21, 1899, as Mrs. Isaac Robinson; and George, who died in August, 1896.