Preface: I purchased my first autograph book in 2021 and have been researching the original owner, Ramona Holmes. The little red book is from Paris, Texas in the 1940s. Ramona was meticulous in documenting details, making it relatively easy to research the individuals who signed her book. I know her best friend and her favorite teacher, for instance. It has been awhile since I’ve blogged about Ramona (I have acquired 5 other autograph books… and have many hobbies that compete for my time). But I thought this year would be a good time to resume the Ramona blog series. If you missed the previous blogs: Part 1 and Part 2.
January 1, 2022
On New Year’s Day Tore Bellis and I trekked 1 1/2 hours to Sulphur Springs, Texas. We fortified ourselves by eating at a charming restaurant, “Haystacks” in the historic downtown. We were grateful a restaurant would be open today. We also like to support small businesses in historic downtowns.
After lunch we ambled through downtown where I found my wings.
Our mission for the day: visit Sulphur Springs, Como and Greenpond. Depending on the app you use on your cell phone, Greenpond may not even appear on the map. This is the area Ramona Holmes and her family have connections to before moving to Paris, Texas.
After a brief exploration of downtown Sulphur Springs, we headed to Greenpond Cemetery to find Ramona’s parents.
The day started sunny enough for winter in Texas. But once we arrived in the cemetery it became frigid, windy, rabbit-hat-wearing weather. (The temperature was in the 30s and dropping). We started out systematic, going row by row through the cemetery, but I got impatient and chose random paths. Tore found the two tombstones, they were directly in front of the entrance.
This is Ramona Holmes’ father, William Walter Holmes.
William served in the military and the document shown is the “Application for Headstone or Marker” document. An upright marble headstone was selected and you can see his wife’s signature under the Applicant’s name, “Mrs. W. W. Holmes”. The document is dated June 6, 1941.
William was born September 1892 and passed away from pneumonia on February 16, 1941. He was 48 years young. He was a farmer. Records show in the 1930s he and Bertha lived in Dallas, Texas where he worked for Ford Motor company.
The 1940 census indicates they owned their own property in Hopkins, county (Sulphur Springs). The value of the property: $1000. I have their address but time and progress over the decades will make it a challenge to locate. I need to locate old maps and compare with modern ones.
Summary: The couple lived in Dallas in the 1930s then moved to the Sulphur Springs area. William passed away in 1941 and the family moved to Paris, Texas.
William’s wife, Bertha Mae (Skelton) Holmes, is buried beside him. She lived to be 89 years old. I had to place Ramona’s autograph book in the photo. It is the reason we are here.
Observation: Bertha’s tombstone has most likely been replaced. It looks modern and is in excellent condition.
View of the cemetery and the cold weather sweeping in.
We went to another cemetery in nearby Como, aptly named, Como Cemetery. We were there to locate Ramona’s twin brothers who passed away at birth in July 1930.
I had no expectations we’d locate them. I’ve searched the Find-A-Grave website and they are not listed at this cemetery or any others. But the death certificates indicate they were born in Dallas and were to buried in “Como Cemetery”.
Given the much larger size of this cemetery, we walked row by row. A local also suggested we try the area furthest from the entrance, because the tombstones are older. We gave it our best effort but were unsuccessful in locating the twins. Before leaving, we caught up with the local and he also mentioned there are other cemeteries in Como. Given we were running out of daylight hours and the temperature was dropping, we decided to save the adventure for another day.
More to come! I’ll also be posting updates on my other autograph books.