Memories of Deer Park, Oxen, Early
Farming Linger About Holmes House
The house that Canada Holmes built on the Crawfordsville
road was a show place.
BY AGNES M'CULLOCH HANNA.
"I remember the deer park on the
Canada Holmes place. Seven or eight
deer lived for years in the sugar-
bush on his large farm and were
always objects of interest. Deer have
been hunted out of this part of the
state and it was a sight to see them.
"I remember Mr. Holmes's industry
and his willingness to work for
Others. He circulated a petition to
have the first bridge built across
White river about where the Em-
merichsville bridge now stands. It
took days and days to get the necessary
number of signatures from all
tlie folks that lived on or near Eagle
creek. We had had to cross by the
ford that was where the dam is; Mr.
Holmes took his time to go the
rounds and get the names on the paper.
The bridge was built largely
because of his efforts."
"I remember the great four-ox
teams that hauled a wain or wogan
piled high with barrels of flour or
bags of meal, made from wheat or
corn raised on Eagle creek farms
and ground at his mill. He would
take great loads to the Indianapolis
market, and his oxen would pull the
wagon. Sometimes he took the flour
or grain to Traders Point. He was
an industrious man, and was
considered a pattern for young men
sixty and more years ago."
Father Arrived in 1821.
These are memories old neighbors '
hold of William Canada Holmes. He
was a son of William Holmes, who .
came to the "New Purchase," 'now
Marion county, with his young wife,
Elizabeth Lyons, in 1821. They were
the parents of twelve children, nine
sons and three daughters. William
Holmes took up land near the Na-
tional road, and was interested in
establishing saw and grist mills.
Among those he built were the
Kunkle and the Billy Holmes mills.
Canada, his third son took over
the management of the Holmes mill
when hew as 17 years old. He ran it
well, and made money so that he
assisted his father when he needed
funds; put by a reserve for capital,
and attended school when the mill
In 1849 he married Catherine
Johnson, a daughter of James Johnson
on the Crawfordsville road. The
children of the Holmes family spent
many days with their adored Grandfather
Johnson and the entire family
gathered at his home for Sunday
dinner. Harry Johnson, who for
many years was chief of the fire
department, was one of the grandsons
of James Johnson. The Johnson
house recently has been removed
from its site and altered into a two-
Went to River Road.
After their marriage Canada and
Catherine Holmes lived on the
family farm, and then went to the
Nelson farm on what is called the
"River road," north of the
Crawfordsville road. There he installed
a large grist mill on the mill race
and demonstrated his marked business
ability, buying and selling farm
products, hauling logs to town and
helping to clear land.
Sometimes when Eagle creek was
in flood he would take a lantern and
go in the storm to see that all was
well at the mill. His wife, sharing
his anxiety and fearing for his
safety, would follow him as he made
the inspection trip and then hurry
back to the house to be within doors
when he returned.
From that farm he watched affairs
in the neighborhood, and as his
family increased— he had six daughters
and two sons—he looked about
for a larger property. In 1857 he
bought the old Isaac Pugh farm
with its brick house set among
evergreen trees. There was a large
acreage to which he added, and he
developed the rolling acres into a
model farm. Huge barns were built
and at one time he was feeding more
than two hundred mules for sale
down South. Fine cattle and fast
horses were raised. Abundant crops
of grains and fruits rewarded his
care. He bought the first reaper
used in Marion county, it is said.
Larger House Built.
After a few years he decided to
build a larger house. Bricks were
made on the place and about the
time of the civil war this large house
was begun. The plan was elaborate.
There are two entrances, one on the
south under a portico which is
surmounted by a white plaster
entablature, and one on the east under the
tower. The paired windows are
joined by ornate revels of stone on
the south and east facades. The roof
brackets are carved in fancy leaf
Inside the house are two intersecting
halls, with flights of stairs, the
front one distinguished by easy
risers and wide treads. Built-in
clothes presses and many drawers
and a dumb waiter to carry soiled
linen to the basement are special
The finding of a spring of water
made possible the bathroom with
tub and shower, not usually found
in city or country houses of that
day. Part of the water from the
spring fed a fountain where there
were goldfish, and along the streamlet
cedars planted and benches installed
so that a cool retreat was
White Marble Vsed.
In the house were white marble
mantelpieces with basket grates for
the use of coal as the house had
a furnace and coal was brought in
by the car load. The woods used
in the doors and trim were walnut
and cherry. In the library a desk
was built in under shelves and this
room was used as an office when
Andrew William McQuat owned the
On the upper floor Mr. Holmes
made a school room for his young
daughters. Blackboards were on the
walls and two teachers lived at the
house to instruct the girls in their
books and music. Later the girls
came to the city for lessons in art
and then went to Oxford seminary
"to be finished." Occasionally a
preacher came to hold services for
the family and the helpers on Sundays.
In the yard among the plants were
most curious little figures or 'amorini'
which the children of the family
called "the children" and used as
playmates. Such examples of garden
statuary were being introduced to our
country at this time.
Wide Business Interests.
Mr. Holmes's business interests
multiplied. He was made president
of the Fourth National bank; he was
a partner in the firms of Coffin,
Holmes & Landers, and Holmes, Pet-
tit & Bradshaw, pork packers; and
with Hervey Bates in the hominy
mills south of Washington street.
This plant burned down twice and
after the second fire Mr. Holmes was
too unwell to be interested in
rebuilding. He bought land in Haughville
with the hope that the Northwestern
university, now Butler university,
might be relocated in that neighborhood.
He gave land worth many
thousands of dollars to manufacturing
plants locating there. Holmes
avenue is named for him.
The long trips to and from town,
four times a day, were taxing as his
city interests increased. The family
decided to move away from their
neighbors, the Millers, the Horna-
days, the Carters and others; away
from the gardens, the sugar bush,
the melon patch and all the delights
of country life to a house in Indianapolis.
Holmes Death in 1883.
The farm was bought by "Dick"
Bright, by Stoughton Fletcher, by
Andrew McQuat and others. The Mc-
Quats lived there some years and
enjoyed the spaciousness and beauty of
the place. Then the land was bought
by Curtis Rank, who now holds it.
The crops are always bountiful, and
the new road takes travelers near
enough to see the house with its air
of stability and its memories of much
William Canada Holmes died in
1883, a few years after coming to the
city to live. Six children and his
wife outlived him.
Four members of the family live
in Indianapolis—Mrs. Thomas Christian,
the Misses Ellen and Rose
Homes and Johnson Holmes. The
picture does not show details of the
house or large yard; members of the
family have much of the fine furniture
bought when it was being constructed,
and all have memories of
life as it went on in that fine farm,
once called the finest in Marion
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