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--Arvord M. Abernethy--

After September, 1982

[James Franklin "Jim" Holmes was the father of Marion Franklin "Frank" Holmes.]

With the recent passing of Frank Holmes, passed one more chapter of an American institution. “The Village Blacksmith”, a very useful character made famous in the poem by Longfellow. [Marion Franklin "Frank" Holmes died May 18, 1980.]


The accompanying picture was recently found among the things of Mrs. Lilljedahl, the mother of Vivian Drake and Olivia Postelle and the late David Hedgpeth. Mrs. Lilljedahl will be remembered by many of us as Mrs. Rufe Hedgpeth and she is the daughter of Dillard West, shown in the center of the picture. The man on the right is Jim Holmes, the father of Frank Holmes. The other person is unknown. [D. Rufe Hedgepeth married Sitha O. West on 18 June, 1907--Hamilton County Marriage Record Bk. 4, p. 447, Rufe Huedepeth died in 1938 and Sitha married John Lilljedahl.  Sitha (West) (Hedgepeth) Lilljedahl died September 26, 1982.]


Notice that the sign states that horse shoeing is their specialty, and that the two men have their horse shoeing boxes in front of them. When I was a kid, the blacksmiths would stack the old shoes they took off of horses in a neat pile just outside the front door, advertising their business like the striped pole does for a barber.


The shop is thought to have been located in the 100 or 200 block of South Bell . Do any of you know for certain? The picture was probably made about 1910.


Dillard West was probably born in Grayson County , Texas and came to Hamilton County in 1874. His father, William Madison West, was a farmer, but he did a lot of doctoring in the community which now bears his name, West Point . Dr. West gave the land for the West Point Cemetery , and a historical marker has been placed on the family plot.


The Holmes family came from East Texas in 1908. They came by train to Hico and then on over to Hamilton by stage. Many of you can remember when Saturday night was a busy place in Hamilton . If you happen to be one of those people, you would always see Mr. and Mrs. Jim Holmes visiting around the square some and then heading for the picture show. That was their weekly indulgence.


I remember as a kid going to blacksmith shops just to watch the men doing their different jobs. It was hard for me to understand at first how the smithy by turning the blower that blew cold air could make iron get white hot.


In a dry spell like we are having now, people would bring their wagon or buggy wheels to have the iron rims on them shrunk so they wouldn’t fall off. This was done in a big vise concern. Dad would have us drive the wagon or buggy down through the creek so the wooden wheels would swell and that would keep the rims on.


With the passing from the scene all over America of “The Village Blacksmith” where is a boy going to go to learn what people mean when they say, “hit the iron while it is hot?” Where will he learn that he cannot make it alone, just as the sparks quickly went out when they flew off alone from the smithy’s work? Who can he look to with “large and sinewy hands” to learn that work is honorable and to sweat is not a disgrace? And that the chimes of the anvil during the week are a reminder of the chimes of the church on Sunday?



“This is the hottest day I’ve seen in my life”. How many times have you heard someone say that lately? They were not in Seymour , Texas on August 12, 1936 , when it officially registered 120 degrees, the highest ever in Texas . The highest ever recorded in the United States was at Death Valley, California, on July 10, 1913, when the thermometer hit 134.6 degrees.


You probably heard the weathermen say that June was the hottest it had ever been since 1898. If this can be of any consolation to you, the coldest winter America has recorded was the one just following, 1898-99. Better try to can some of this up.



Shared by Roy Ables


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People and Places: Gazetteer of Hamilton County, TX
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Copyright © March, 1998
by Elreeta Crain Weathers, B.A., M.Ed.,  
(also Mrs.,  Mom, and Ph. T.)

A Work In Progress