It was just the grandest day. Veterans marched in the parade, civic leaders rode horseback. Noble men gave noteworthy speeches and afterwards the Squeedunks ridiculed it all. And on that Fourth of July in 1876, Charles H. Holmes Jr. met his destiny.

For the centennial Santa Rosa threw the biggest party yet seen in Sonoma County. An estimated 8,000 celebrated here; "At an early hour the streets were thronged with carriages, horsemen and well dressed and happy looking men and women," reported the Democrat paper. It was surely more people than the 12 year-old boy had ever seen anywhere, much less crowding the unpaved streets and wooden sidewalks of his hometown.

A procession marched through the "principal streets" led by the Grand Marshal followed by the Santa Rosa Brass Band ("they have improved vastly in their music of late"), the police and departments, veterans (both regular and Bear Flaggers), city and county officials and Odd Fellows' lodge members. There were some participants that might be surprising to us today, such as "Professors of the Colleges" and a "wagon loaded with coal from The Taylor Mountain Coal Mine." Charlie Holmes might well have been in the parade as part of "a company of boys, nearly 100 in number, mounted on horses and appropriately uniformed." By the latter presumably the reporter meant they were wearing shoes, their second best Sunday School clothes and their hair gleamed with a fresh coat of oil.

The rest of this article can be read at the website. Because of recurring problems with the Blogger platform, I am no longer wasting my time formatting and posting complete articles here. I will continue to create stubs for the sake of continuity, but will be publishing full articles only at - Jeff Elliott


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