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History of the Mohawk Valley: Gateway to the West 1614-1925
Lyman Sanford Holmes

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[This information is from Vol. III, pp. 566-567 of History of the Mohawk Valley: Gateway to the West 1614-1925, edited by Nelson Greene (Chicago: The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1925). It is in the Reference collection of the Schenectady County Public Library at R 974.7 G81h. This online edition includes lists of portraits, maps and illustrations. As noted by Paul Keesler in his article, "The Much Maligned Mr. Greene," some information in this book has been superseded by later research or was provided incorrectly by local sources.]

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As a successful attorney at law and public-spirited citizen, Lyman Sanford Holmes has been prominent in the life of Schoharie county for many years. He comes from old families of this county on each side of the family, as his parents were both born here, and is the son of Judge Charles Holmes who was a prominent lawyer and jurist of the latter half of the nineteenth century. The father was a member of the New York state assembly in his younger days and presided over the county and surrogate courts of Schoharie county for a long period preceding his death at the untimely age of fifty-six, on September 5, 1885. Mr. Holmes's mother, who passed away in September of 1923 at the venerable age of ninety-three, was Miss Sarah Baird before her marriage to Charles Holmes.

Lyman Sanford Holmes was born in Cobleskill, Schoharie county, January 21, 1856, and there obtained his early education in the public schools and a local academy. In 1875 he entered Union College at Schenectady, where he completed the regular course in three years and graduated as a member of the class of 1878 instead of that of 1879, as he would have done normally. That his time at college was not all spent over his textbooks is shown by the fact that he was active in college athletics, a member of the Psi Upsilon fraternity and belonged to his class and college quartets. After leaving school he read law in an office in Hornell, Steuben county, New York, for two years, after which he was admitted to the bar in 1880. The young lawyer then went to New York city to gain his first practical experience in his profession in the large organization of Stearns & Curtis, a prominent law firm, where he was managing clerk for three years. Returning to Schoharie county, he entered private practice as a partner of William E. Thorne, of Middleburg, under the firm name of Thorne & Holmes. This association was continued to the satisfaction and profit of both partners until 1885, when Mr. Holmes withdrew in order to go to Schoharie to assist his father in his work as receiver of the Schoharie County National Bank. This bank had failed in that year and Judge Holmes had been appointed receiver. The death of the father in the fall of 1885 before the bank's affairs had been settled left the son and his brother, Lewis C. Holmes, in charge of the bank's business. After this complicated affair had been satisfactorily settled Mr. Holmes returned to private practice as a partner of his brother in Cobleskill. Five years later he returned to Schoharie as the partner of Judge Stephen L. Mayham and his son, Claude B. Mayham, who is still actively connected with the legal profession here. Judge Mayham was at one time justice of the supreme court of New York and held an honored place in the profession. At one time, in addition to his legal practice, Mr. Holmes was for a time associated with his father-in-law in the newspaper business as one of the proprietors of the Schoharie County Standard, and later assumed ownership and control, After the Standard's plant was destroyed by fire in 1914 Mr. Holmes turned his entire attention to his practice, which has since engaged most of his time and energy.

Mr. Holmes was married on the 9th of August, 1887, to Miss Lelia Vrooman, daughter of Lucian and Roselle (Hilton) Vrooman. The Vroomans were natives of this county and always lived here. Mr. Vrooman was a railroad man and connected with the local railway for years. This line was owned by his family before he sold their interests in it to the Delaware & Hudson Railway. Three children have been born to Mr. and Mrs. Holmes: Charles Lamont, who is engaged in the radio business in Schoharie; Marjorie R., a graduate of the Schoharie high school and at present a student in the State Normal; and Babita, who died in infancy.

For many years Mr. Holmes was an ardent supporter of the democratic party, but with the change in public life and policies that has been taking place in the last couple of decades he has shifted, along with many other thoughtful citizens, to an independent position. He had many political views in common with his close friend, the late Theodore Roosevelt, and during the latter's efforts to launch a truly progressive party in this country Mr. Holmes was prominently identified with this movement. He belongs to the Community church of Schoharie and is a Mason, being affiliated with Cobleskill Lodge, No. 384, F. and A. M. Mr. Holmes' venture in the newspaper business years ago was as much an expression of his literary tastes as it was a business undertaking, and he has never lost his love of writing. He is a contributor to various magazines and newspapers and a member of several learned societies, including the Mohawk Valley Historical Association, of which he is vice president; the National Geographic Society of Washington, and the New York State Historical Association. His home in Schoharie is but another manifestation of Mr. Holmes' appreciation of the finer things of life. The house, a handsome residence in itself, is attractively situated on a sixteen-acre tract of ground that boasts a fine orchard and offers unusual opportunities for effective landscape gardening.

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