He was Santa Rosa's top lawman by day, top scallywag by night: Around the turn of the last century, Charlie Holmes was both Town Marshal and leader of the Squeedunks. It's as if Bruce Wayne split his time between Batman and performing Monty Python skits.

This is the fourth and final chapter in the story of Charles H. Holmes Jr., who was surely among the most...colorful people to come from Santa Rosa. While this article is centered on his Squeedunkery, here we also find how all those loose threads introduced earlier were resolved during the 1910s, when Charlie was in his fifties.

Charlie always craved attention and as a kid he saw the Squeedunk's Fourth of July antics were the biggest hit at the town's celebrations. Having an audience with everyone you ever knew laughing and cheering because of a silly speech seemed an easy route to popularity, and for him it was. The first newspaper item about him appeared in 1894, when the 30 year-old Charlie stood on the corner Fifth and Mendocino streets and yapped about politics and bugs. In keeping with the spirit of nonsense, the editor commented "thunderous applause greeted his apostrophes" and joked he didn't shut up until someone "brought the muzzle of a six-shooter on a level with his open mouth."

Now flash forward six years to 1900. Charles Holmes is a Spanish-American War vet (although his National Guard company never left the Bay Area), elected and then reelected as marshal, a popular afterdinner speaker and comic entertainer, and not the least of it, chairman of the "Ancient Order of Squeeduncks."

The Press Democrat - which adored the Squeedunks and Charlie in equal measure - devoted much coverage to their planning sessions for the upcoming Fourth of July. The meetings were held at City Hall (probably in his marshal's office) and mainly concerned which of the guys would be elected Squeedunk Queen. Dressing in women's clothing was always a major part of the Squeedunk shtick, and that's enough said about that. The most interesting element in those articles is that about two dozen members were named, revealing both how large the group was and how it cut across divisions by age and social status.

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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