James Henry Holmes, Jr. (b. 1879), the son of James Henry Holmes (1833-1907) and Esther Maria (Deavitt) Holmes (1854-1925), was born on March 27, 1879, in New York. The oldest of six, he had three brothers and two sisters. In April 1894, Esther and her six children moved from Caldwell, New Jersey, to Esther's hometown of Moretown, Vermont.<
James and his siblings finished school while living in Moretown and Waterbury, Vermont. In 1901, James and his younger brother, Henry, began work for the Charles H. Cross Bakery in Montpelier, where James' duties initial included running the bread cart, delivering orders and occasionally working in the candy room or doing odd jobs. From 1903 to sometime between 1912 and 1914, James worked in the company's shipping department. From July of 1914 to at least 1918, he worked as a school janitor in Montpelier. James was also a member of the Modern Woodmen of America and the Independent Order of Odd Fellows.
In 1903, James met Myrtle "Mertie" Gallup (b. 1882) of Plainfield, the daughter and oldest child of Hoyt Ransom Gallup (1851-1920) and Lizzie (Glidden) Gallup (1861-1915). Mertie had two brothers, Charles Henry Gallup (b. 1885) and Harry M. Gallup (b. 1888), and one sister, Leila M. Gallup (b 1892). James and Mertie were married in Plainfield on December 31, 1903. James and Mertie had three children who lived to adulthood, (Maurice) Wendell (b. 1905), Pearl (1912-2008), and Myra (b. 1916) Holmes. Additionally, in 1910, the couple's infant son, George Holmes, died on December 30 at 29 days old.
James and Mertie kept 30 diaries predominantly for the period from 1892-1916. James' daily entries roughly summarize what he did each day, focusing primarily on his work and social activities. Other topics discussed in James' diaries include: family and neighborhood news, household chores, Modern Woodmen of America and Independent Order of Odd Fellows meetings and other leisure activities.
James also recorded information pertaining to deaths, funerals, births, weddings, and fires in the community, sometimes including time of death as well as any unusual or noteworthy circumstances surrounding the death. Several violent deaths and suicides are mentioned. Lists of deaths, fires, births, and weddings mentioned in James' diaries form the basis of the transcriptions linked here.
"Washington County Deaths, Funerals, Births & Fires" is family diaries known as the Holmes Family Diaries, 1892-1929 (MSA 484-485).