Thursday, August 11, 2022



In the early, bombastic era of the 1920's, a man named John Archie Holmes abandoned his wife and 5 children and set upon a new life and career. There comes a time in ones middle years in many individuals, where every day becomes the same, where there's as much or more behind than ahead, and when one might not be where they wanted to be. At times, this reality is more than a person can take, and a mental break happens. I believe this is what may have happened to John A. Holmes. 

That mental break can cause otherwise sane, reasonable people to make horribly tramatic and destructive decisions, to turn into irresponisible and erratic adolescents again, acting out and causing generational pain and damage in their wake. It doesn't get much more destructive and hurtful than what happened with John Archie Holmes. 

There was a time when Archie had been a responsible young man. When his father, Eli Holmes, died in 1898 at the age of 49, leaving his wife, Ciss, with 9 children between the ages of 19 and 1, Archie, the firstborn, stepped in and supported his mother and younger siblings for a good range of time. 

Name:Archie J Holms[Archie H Holma]
Birth Date:Jul 1879
Birthplace:North Carolina, USA
Home in 1900:Averasboro, Harnett, North Carolina
Sheet Number:18
Number of Dwelling in Order of Visitation:334
Family Number:348
Relation to Head of House:Head
Marital Status:Single
Father's Birthplace:North Carolina, USA
Mother's Name:Mary Holms
Mother's Birthplace:North Carolina, USA
Occupation:Farm Laborer
Months Not Employed:0
Can Read:Yes
Can Write:Yes
Can Speak English:Yes
House Owned or Rented:Rent
Farm or House:H
Household MembersAgeRelationship
Archie J Holms20Head
Mary Holms38Mother
Annie Holms15Sister
Minnie Holms13Sister
Aaron Holms11Brother
Ethel Holms9Sister
Moses Holms4Brother
Mary Holms2Sister

He's seen as Head of Household in the 1900 census, at age 20, and didn't marry until 1909 at age 29. Archie was born in Johnston County, NC and was living in Harnett County at this time. He married in Alamance County to a girl named Nellie Campbell, who had been born in Chatham County. The traveling didn't stop there. The young couple began their marriage working in Cotton Mills and were found in 1910, working in a Cotton mill in Greensboro, NC and living in separate, but neighboring, boarding houses.

You might notice two of the nine children missing from the above 1900 census. Joseph Edgar Holmes, only one year younger than Archie, had started his career as a minister and was attending a theological seminary, perhaps sponsered by an Uncle. Oldest sister and third born, Suwhannie or Swannie, had also set out on her own career as a nurse. These facts will be an important issue in the lives of Archie and Nellie.

They would have 6 children over the next ten years, and lost one of those 6 as an infant. The places of birth of each of those children reveals how often they moved about. 

Oldest daughter, Ruby was born in 1911 in Danville, Virginia. 

Second born, John, we only know was born in North Carolina in 1912.

 Janette, or Jeanette, was born June 2, 1913, in Danville, Virginia. 

A fourth child was born on June 1, 1916, and this child's documents helped to inform me on who the John A Holmes who had came up from Chester County into Richmond County was to start with. 

James Carson Holmes, the fifth child was born in Rock Hill, York County, South Carolina.

Margaret Virginia Holmes, the last child, was born in Charlotte, North Carolina, in 1918.

The 1920 census had the whole family living in Bessemer City, Gaston County, NC, one county over from Charlotte. They were, again, working in the Cotton Mills.

Soon after that was when something snapped in the mind and personality of John Archie Holmes.

Perhaps he had visited his younger brother, the Rev. Joseph E. Holmes, in Harnett County and had gotten jealous over how the life of a minister seemed more relaxed and less physically labourous than the one he had been assigned. Ed seemed to have lived well, and provided a solid middle-class existence for his ever-expanding brood of 15 children with his wife Clementine. Perhaps Archie had felt robbed of a future, having been the firstborn and tasked with supporting his mother and siblings after their fathers birth.There's no way to truly know.

What we do know, is that by 1922, two years after living in Gaston County, the family was back in Danville, Virginia. There, he began a relationship with some or woman, or more, and abandoned his wife and children. Nellie divorced him and eventually would marry another divorced man, Jesse Turpin.


Rockingham Post-Dispatch

Rockingham, North Carolina
23 Feb 1922, Thu  •  Page 7

Archie would return to Chester County that same year, and then moved to Charlotte, as was reported in the papers, and would at sometime after take residence in Rockingham, in Richmond County, NC, where his younger brother, Aaron Holmes is found in 1920. 

He would then end up in the town of Toccoa, in Stephens County, Georgia, and attempt a career in the ministry, and claimed to be a holiness preacher, there he would drop at least two, and possibly three, of his 5 children, in a Orphanage there and an actual Minister named  L. B. Craft  took notice.


The Charlotte Observer

Charlotte, North Carolina
15 Sep 1925, Tue  •  Page 6

John Archie Holmes would return to Rockingham with his oldest son, John, and sought to place him in resisdence with the family and Jim and Sallie Solomon there, while attending a school nearby. While in Richmond County, he had gotten in a bit of some legal trouble with a woman who lived in the Great Falls Mill Village. He also become more than casually acquainted with Mrs. Solomon. By this time in his life, Archie was approaching 50 years old, as was Mrs. Sarah Solomon. Together, they hatched a plot to kill her current husband, James Benjamin Solomon, a relative of mine. I just wrote an account of this story in the following post:

Murder in the Family

Archie Holmes and his bride Sarah, who he had married in South Carolina after the death of her freshly buried husband, obtained the insurance settlement and paid his way out of the legal trouble in Great Falls. They were also later found guilty of murder and sentenced to prison, where I found them both in 1930. However, I wondered what had happened to his children as well as Sarah's children after this tramatic event.

I never found what happened to John Archie Holmes after prison, and contacted one of his descendants. What I did find out was that all they knew was that he had abandoned the family and that they were raised by their mother. This was only partially true. I found it sad that I, a stranger to the Holmes family, a relation of the man he helped plot the murder of, an event his living family knew nothing about, knew more than they did. So, I aimed to find more. 

As far as when John Holmes himself passed away, all I know so far is that he was living in 1939 when his oldest daughter, Ruby married to the husband she would make a life with, William S. Richardson, as he is named as living on her marriage certificate.

And that he was deceased before his first wife, Nellie, in 1966, as he and her second husband, Jesse Turpin, were referred to as "late" in her obituarty.


The Daily Times-News

Burlington, North Carolina
25 Jun 1966, Sat  •  Page 18

But I also desired to know what happened to the 5 children after his incarceration. As they never told their children about anything more than his abandonment, did they even know the truth, or was it as happened in many families, swept under the rug?

Back in the day, shameful events were not spoken of. That fact is revealed time after time in the stories on the TV shows that trace genealogy of celebrity guests, like Finding Your Roots, by Dr. Henry Louis Gates, or Who Do You Think You Are, a show sponsered by  Over and over we hear, " I remember my Grandfather (or grandmother), but know nothing of his past. What is unknown never happened, right? 

By 1930, with John Archie Holmes and his second wife, Sarah Lee Solomon Holmes in separate prisons, his ex-wife, Nellie, was living in Danville, Virginia with her second husband, Jesse Turpin, his teenaged son, and her oldest and youngest daughters, his three middle children were in a far different situation. He had taken them to the town of Toccoa, Stephens County, Georgia, and place them in an orphange. He then, about 1925, had taken the oldest of his two sons, John Jr., according to the newspaper accounts of the relationship of Archie Holmes and Sarah Solomon, and had sought out the Sololmon family for room and board for John, Jr. while he attended school there.

Name:Janette Holmes
Birth Year:abt 1914
Age in 1930:16
Birthplace:North Carolina
Marital Status:Single
Home in 1930:Toccoa, Stephens, Georgia, USA
Map of Home:
Institution:Toccoa Orphanage
House Number:127
Dwelling Number:479
Family Number:512
Attended School:Yes
Able to Read and Write:Yes
Father's Birthplace:United States
Mother's Birthplace:United States
Household MembersAgeRelationship
Janette Holmes16Matron

By 1930, Janette, (or Jeanette) was found, at 16, working as a matron at the orphanage.

Name:James Holmes[James Holmer]
Birth Year:abt 1916
Age in 1930:14
Birthplace:North Carolina
Marital Status:Single
Relation to Head of House:Inmate
Home in 1930:Big Smith, Stephens, Georgia, USA
Map of Home:
Street Address:On Toccoa and Fairview School Road
Institution:Toccos Orphenage lines 51-73
Lives on Farm:Yes
Attended School:Yes
Able to Read and Write:Yes
Father's Birthplace:United States
Mother's Birthplace:United States
Able to Speak English:Yes
Industry:Farm Labor
Class of Worker:Unpaid worker, member of the family

Her younger brother, James Carson Holmes, was working as a farm laborer at the orphanage. In those days, the children were not left idle. Their labor was used as soon as they were old enough to perform it. James was not incarcerated there, he had done nothing wrong. Today, the word 'inmate' means a resident of a prison or jail. In those days, it just meant resident, or roomate. 

Name:John Home
Birth Year:abt 1912
Age in 1930:18
Birthplace:North Carolina
Marital Status:Single
Relation to Head of House:Boarder
Home in 1930:Little Coharie, Sampson, North Carolina, USA
Map of Home:
Dwelling Number:318
Family Number:322
Attended School:Yes
Able to Read and Write:Yes
Father's Birthplace:North Carolina
Mother's Birthplace:North Carolina
Able to Speak English:Yes
Household MembersAgeRelationship
Robert K Sissons62Head
Laura B Sissons58Wife
John Home18Boarder

John Holmes was a very common name, even for those born in North Carolina. Having ruled out a long list of John Holmes of the appropriate age, and ruling out those who were not John Holmes by reason of wrong race, living with their actual parents, or being connected to other records of who they really were, we're left with this 18 year old boarder in Sampson County, North Carolina, which is right next to Richmond County, where we know he did live for awhile, who may or may not be John Holmes, Jr.

Name:Jeanette Kesler
Estimated Birth Year:abt 1914
Marital Status:Married
Relation to Head of House:Wife
Home in 1940:Toccoa, Stephens, Georgia
Map of Home in 1940:
Street:Elberton Street
Inferred Residence in 1935:Toccoa, Stephens, Georgia
Residence in 1935:Toccoa
Sheet Number:17B
Attended School or College:No
Highest Grade Completed:Elementary school, 8th grade
Weeks Worked in 1939:0
Income Other Sources:No
Household MembersAgeRelationship
Ervin Kesler36Head
Jeanette Kesler26Wife
Gertrude Kesler13Daughter
Laura Kesler10Daughter

Janette met and married Henry Ervin Kesler, a widower, in Stephens County, Georgia and stayed there for awhile, helping him raise his younger children. They would later move to Marietta, Cobb County, Georgia, where Jeanette would pass away on May 25, 2000. Her mothers 1966 obituary named her as living in Atlanta, Georgia at that time.


The Charlotte Observer

Charlotte, North Carolina
14 May 1933, Sun  •  Page 17

Three years after being found in the orphange in Toccoa, a place an associate of John Archie Holmes, the Rev. Luther Blake Craft, had lived and had written a Letter to the Editor of the Rockingham, NC newspaper, noting that John Archie Holmes was not an ordained minister, but an 'Exhorter', James Carson Holmes returns to Danville, Virginia, where his mother lived, and married Annie Mason Proctor Jr. in 1933. The marriage was brief, and must have ended in divorce, as in 1937, his former wife was marrying someone else, a Mr. Tyndall.

In October of 1940, James Carson Holmes WWII draft card gives us some mysterious information. First, it gives his full birth date as August 10, 1916, and his birthplace as Rock Hill, South Carolina. His residence is now Greensboro, North Carolina, and his contact person is Mr. W. R. Richardson, or his oldest sister, Ruby Inez Holmes Richardson.

I could not find John or James beyond this, but I knew they were alive in 1966, as both were mentioned in their mother's obituary as living in Maryland, John in Bladensburg and James in Chevy Chase. 

Nellie's obituary also gave a few more clues that would soon become helpful. In 1966, she had 8 grandchildren and 1 great grandchild. Ruby had no children, Janette had stepchildren, but none of her own, the youngest daughter had 5 children. This left 3 unaccounted for, and left to the two sons.

But James' draft card offered up another clue. Above his legal name was written "uses Joe Humous professionally". In the signature spot, he had signed,"Joseph Humous" with his legal name, James Carson Holmes above it. His profession was given as self-employed, with "Periodical Pub. Co." beside it, meaning he was a magazine salesman, and probably traveled constantly. 

I couldn't find James C. Holmes in Chevy Chase, MD. How about Joe Humous?

Name:Joseph C Humeas
Residence Year:1958
Residence Place:Richmond, Virginia, USA
Spouse:Julia B Humeas
Publication Title:Richmond, Virginia, City Directory, 1958

I did find him, not in a census, but in several City Directories, all within the general area of Washington DC, which seemed to be his territory, the avid salesman. He had married a lady named Julia Beatrice Smith, daughter of Doss W. and Evelyn Lovett Smith, born in Tennesee.

Name:Joseph C Humeas
Residence Year:1960
Residence Place:Silver Spring, Maryland, USA
Occupation:Sales Manager
Spouse:Julia S Humeas
Publication Title:Silver Spring, Maryland, City Directory, 1960

The couple had two children, a son and a daughter, Joseph Carson and Johanna Humeas, bringing the total of Nellie's grandchildren to 7.

Name:Joseph Carson Humeas
Birth Date:12 Nov 1949
Marriage Registration Place:Loudoun, Virginia, USA
Marriage Date:3 Sep 1982
Marriage Place:Loudoun, Virginia, USA
Father:Joseph C Humeas
Mother:Julie B Smith
Spouse:Jill Ann Sorensen

Joseph Jr.'s marriage certificate revealed he had been born in 1949 in Georgia. 

Name:Joseph Humes
Birth Date:abt 1919
Birth Place:Georgia
Marital Status:Married
Relation to Head of House:Head
Residence Date:1950
Home in 1950:Chatham, Georgia, USA
Dwelling Number:72
Worker Class:Private
Household MembersAgeRelationship
Joseph Humes31Head
Elizabeth B Humes29Wife
Josephine Humes6Daughter
Joseph Humes Jr0Son

Which helped me find the family in the 1950 census, where Julia B. was called 'Elzabeth' and Johanna was called 'Josephine'.


The Times Dispatch

Richmond, Virginia
11 Jun 1961, Sun  •  Page 108

The marriage announcement of his daughter revealed that by 1961, they family was indeed living in Chevy Chase., was they were in 1966 in Nellie's obituary.

Name:Joseph C Humeas[Joseph Humeas]
Residence Date:1990
Address:3558 Shore Dr
Residence:Virginia Beach, VA
Postal Code:23455-1707
Second Address:586 Virginian Dr
Second Residence:
Second Postal Code:23505-4253

James Carson Holmes, aka Joseph Carson Humeas, retired comfortably in Norfolk, Virginia and had a vacation home in Virginia Beach. 

There, he would pass away in 1991, at the age of 75. James aka Joe's death certificate revealed he had cancer and his father's name was given as "Archer" and his mother as Nellie. His profession was a retired Publisher in the Printing industry.

I had found James Carson Holmes, who had changed his name, but what about his older brother John? I had not found one clue on John, except that upon hi mother's death, he was living in Bladenburg, Maryland. Could John have changed his name as well? 

I followed the siblings of John Holmes, II to see if he was mentinoed as living in their obituaries. The youngest child, Margaret, was the only sister with children, two daughters and three sons. I found a hint in the wedding announcement of her oldest daughter, Jo Ella.


The Daily Times-News

Burlington, North Carolina
03 Jul 1961, Mon  •  Page 4

Among the description of a beautiful wedding was a list of out- of- town guests. They included Mr. and Mrs. Ervin Kesler of Atlanta, Georgia. This was the middle daughter, Janette and her husband, the bride's aunt. There was also Mr. and Mrs. Joe Holmes of Chevy Chase, Maryland. This was James Carson, aka 'Joseph Humeas' Holmes and his wife. His family had accepted him as Joe, but not the 'Humeas'. Then ther was Mr. and Mrs Lawrence E. Holmes of Bladensburg, Maryland. Hmm, where had I heard of that city before? 

By Benson Lossing - The Pictorial Field Book of the War of 1812

In Nellie's obituary , of course. John Holmes Jr. was living in Bladensburg in 1966 when his mother passed away. At that time, she had 8 grandchildren and 1 great-grandchild. Margaret had 5, 'Joe' had two, one missing. Could Lawrence be that missing grandchild, a son of John?

Name:Lawrence E Halmes
Birth Date:abt 1913
Birth Place:North Carolina
Marital Status:Married
Relation to Head of House:Head
Residence Date:1950
Home in 1950:Bladensburg, Prince George's, Maryland, USA
Dwelling Number:330
Father Birth Place:USA
Mother Birth Place:USA
Occupation Category:Working
Worker Class:Private
Same House:Yes
School Completed:S12
Grade Completed:Yes
School Attendance:30 or over
Weeks Worked:52
Other Income:none
Supplemental Income:none
Relative Income:none
Relative Other Income:none
World War II Veteran:Yes
Household MembersAgeRelationship
Lawrence E Holmes37Head
Virginia M Holmes35Wife
John G Holmes1Son

So, I looked for a Lawrence E. Holmes in Bladensburg, Maryland. He had been born in North Carolina in 1913, the same year John Holmes II had been born. It appears that John had also changed his name, like his brother, James. He also was the father of one child, John Gregory Holmes.

From there, I was able to rebuild the life of John aka Lawrence Holmes. The 1950 census revealed that he had served in WWII. On Fold3, I found his records that revealed at that time, in 1942, he was living in Queens, New York, was a Salesperson, and was married. He was dismissed in January of 1943 for disability, which was asthma. 

Name:John Holmes
Relation to Head of House:Lodger
Home in 1940:Mount Pleasant, Westchester, New York
Map of Home in 1940:
House Number:314 316
Sheet Number:6B
Household MembersAgeRelationship
Joseph Lazarus43Head
Bertha Lazarus40Wife
John HolmesLodger

John had changed his name at theapproximately the same time as his brother, James. In 1940, he was single, and still John.

Name:Lawrence E Holmes
Marriage License Date:20 Jan 1942
Marriage License Place:Queens, New York City, New York, USA
Spouse:Virginia M Parrish

Two years later, when he married, he was Lawrence. He married a young lady named Virginia Mason Parrish, who was from Fluvanna, Virginia. In 1940, she had been living in Queens. There's a possibility she was related to James's first wife.

Name:Virginia M Parrish
Estimated Birth Year:abt 1915
Marital Status:Single
Relation to Head of House:Lodger
Home in 1940:New York, Queens, New York
Map of Home in 1940:
Street:37th Street
Inferred Residence in 1935:New York, Queens, New York
Residence in 1935:New York
Resident on farm in 1935:No
Sheet Number:2B
Attended School or College:No
Highest Grade Completed:High School, 4th year
Hours Worked Week Prior to Census:48
Class of Worker:Wage or salary worker in private work
Weeks Worked in 1939:32
Income Other Sources:No
Household MembersAgeRelationship
Emil Stahl35Head
Mina Stahl33Wife
Emil Stahl Jr6Son
Babetty K Amann27Lodger
Virginia M Parrish25Lodger

Another clue was that John/ Lawrence's military papers described him as Blond with blue eyes. Having seen photos of James children, that appeared to be a family trait. Margaret had one blonde child out of five. They were a handsome family.

John's story read much like that of his brother. He started out in sales. From that first appearance as an intact family in 1920, to traveling to Richmond County, NC in 1924 to go to school. He's later found in Mecklenburg County, NC, In Charlotte. Through Virginia to New York City, where he lived on Broadway, and then Queens. After the War, he and Virginia settled in Maryland, where they raised their only child. 

Name:Lawrence E Holmes[Lawrence Holmes]
Birth Date:26 Jan 1912
Residence Date:1993
Address:5176 N Pueblo Villas Dr
Residence:Tucson, AZ
Postal Code:85704-3718
Second Residence Date:1996
Second Address:7500 N Calle Sin Envidea 120
Second Residence:
Second Postal Code:85718

They retired to Tucson, Arizona.


Arizona Daily Star

Tucson, Arizona
20 Nov 1995, Mon  •  Page 10

Virginia died there in 1995, where it is revealed that she had worked for the US Government for many years in D.C. Virginia was buried in her hometown in Virginia.

Name:Lawrence E. Holmes
Birth Date:26 Jan 1912
Death Date:26 Sep 2000
Cemetery:Byrd Chapel Methodist Church Cemetery
Burial or Cremation Place:Kents Store, Fluvanna County, Virginia, United States of America
Has Bio?:N
Spouse:Virginia P. Holmes

John would live another 5 years and would be buried beside his wife in Fluvanna in the year 2000.

What would cause sons to change their name? When you think about it, women, at mariage usually take on their husbands last name, but sons bear the burdon of the name their father gave them. Was John and James so ashamed of the acts of their father, John Archie Holmes, that they changed their names so that they would never be associated with him?

During the course of my research, I made contact with a descendant of John Archie Holmes and Nell Campbell. They had the incorect family line and parents of John. I told them who his parents were and at first, they were very grateful. I asked them what the knew of him and found out they knew basically nothing. His children had went on with their lives as if he never existed and told their own children that he had abandoned Nell, and that is all they knew.They were excited to know more, then when I told them the story, they did not want to know anymore about him. Shame is a strong emotion and can cause the course of a family story to take sharp turns for the remainder of time. A door had been closed off to generations to come. I opened it.

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