These letters were written by Frederick Warren Holmes (1834-1918), a wagoner in Co. H, 77th Illinois Volunteers during the nine active months that he served with the regiment. He was prematurely discharged from the regiment in December 1863 due to poor health.
Frederick (“Fred”) was born on 24 November 1834 in Hopkinton, Merrimack county, New Hampshire. He was the eldest son of farmer Albert Holmes (1808-1879) and Joanna K. Richardson (1813-1887) who were married in April 1833. Joanna was the daughter of Joseph Richardson (1775-1851) and Joanna Gage (1781-1844) of Hopkinton, Merrimack county, New Hampshire.
In the 1850 US Census, 15 year-old Fred was enumerated in his father’s household with his parents, his two younger brothers, 10 year-old Daniel G. Holmes (1840-1912) and 1 year-old Edmund W. Holmes, and an 18 year-old young woman named Amanda D. Powell who would later become Fred’s wife.
According to Fred’s obituary, Fred remained in Hopkinton, New Hampshire, until he was twenty-one years old. In October 1855 he came to Chicago and a few months later to Milwaukee where he remained until June 1856, when he came to Illinois and located in Clayton township of Woodford county. He was married to Amanda D. Powell of Concord, New Hampshire, and in April 1859, they came to Minonk, where they raised two children—Frederick E. Holmes and Laura (Holmes) Cluer.
Fred’s Uncle James Richardson (1818-Aft1880)—a younger brother of his mother’s—was married to Laura Clifford (1825-Aft1880) in November 1842. He began his career as a teacher, operated a grocery store in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania for a dozen years, and in 1857 moved to St. Louis where he founded the Richardson Drug Company which became highly profitable and was the biggest pharmaceutical company west of the Mississippi river. The last letter in this archive was written from the residence of Fred’s Uncle James Richardson in St. Louis where he was trying to regain his health in June 1863.
“For the last few fears Mr. Holmes suffered considerably with the infirmities of age and a year ago last October he went to Low Point and made his home for a time with his daughter, Mrs. Cluer, during which time his Odd Fellow and Rebekah friends of Minonk made a number of trips there to visit with him and to cheer him up. Last June he came back home and he had been here since then.
Mr. Holmes was a millwright and he placed machinery in mills in Minonk, Rutland, El Paso and in fact, throughout central Illinois. He also went to Iowa and Montana and other states in the west and did millwork.
The deceased was a man of few words but sincere and true in all he did. He was singularly devoted to his family and he highly appreciated his friendships. In politics he was a Republican and he was keenly interested in all current events. Those who knew him at all well, considered him an unostentatious but loyal friend.”