Pity Charlie Holmes; his bad luck streak continued as his wife nearly burned to death.

That misplaced sympathy appeared in a 1901 Press Democrat item (transcribed below). Today we find it offensive the PD would cast him as the main victim, but turn of the century Santa Rosa ain't like today. The odd story of Charlie Holmes - and particularly, the troubled history of his relationships - offers a revealing peek at how much of a dark side from someone extremely well liked our ancestors were willing to tolerate.

As explored in the previous two chapters, Charlie was front and center for every banquet, holiday parade and amateur stage show. He joined every club he could and was an officer in our local National Guard Company E. Charlie was elected City Marshal (same as being a Chief of Police) in 1898 and was easily reelected two years later.

As Marshal, his duties included being the city tax collector and on November 19, 1901 it was discovered his office had been robbed overnight. Nearly $1,300 - equal to about two years of a worker's earnings - was gone, but nobody knew at the time how much was missing because Holmes' wasn't paying attention to bookkeeping. Worse, the PD article suggested it was an inside job. If that were true, Charlie was the main suspect but regardless, he was on the hook to pay the money back if it was not recovered.

It was two days after the theft that Margaret Holmes had her accident, her clothes catching fire after she fell while carrying a lighted oil lamp. Charles was still at his office but others in the household came to her rescue. "The flames were extinguished, but not before Mrs. Holmes sustained several bad burns," it was reported.

The PD did not link the accident to stress resulting from her husband's legal woes. The paper observed, "...Mrs. Holmes is subject to sudden spells of illness...one of the attacks spoken of came on and she fell with the lamp." More about this in a minute.

The rest of this article can be read at the SantaRosaHistory.com 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 SantaRosaHistory.com. - Jeff Elliott

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