Holmes’ Corner, officially renamed in 2008, was the home of Samuel Holmes, who is remembered as one of the most prominent pioneers in Snohomish County. Holmes was born in Illinois on June 25, 1853. His father was a well-known lawyer in Illinois. His mother, Sarah, was born in North Carolina in 1830. One of four children, Samuel attended Law’s Veterinary College and started his own practice after graduating at age 17. Holmes then moved to Iowa, when he was 23, and by 1877 he was also working as a part time butcher— an unsuccessful business venture. Samuel married Anna E. Towne in 1885. Anna’s mother Eliza Towne was born in Ireland; she was a practicing doctor for many years. Anna attended Tabor College, in Iowa, and was a successful music teacher. Samuel and Anna had four children—Mae Pearl Sweet, Guy, Anna, and Fred. (5) However, Samuel was rumored to be a philanderer who may have fathered other children.
While still in Iowa, Samuel tried his hand at a few more businesses, eventually becoming successful when his health declined in 1886. (6) He then moved to the West Coast where he traveled through Portland, Tacoma, and Seattle, before settling in Edmonds. Once there, he and his wife stayed with George Brackett, the founder of Edmonds, until they were able to build their own cabin. The Holmes family then moved to their own homestead where they were awakened by a cougar on the first night. Slowly, they cleared the first 18 acres of their land and began to raise cattle. They later built a new, larger house approximately a quarter mile away from their first cabin. Samuel was a member of the Odd Fellows Lodge, Number 405, and he was an active Democrat. (7)
In 1918, it was reported that the highly respected Samuel Holmes had attempted to kill Mrs. Sevilla Salyer, a new resident who had just purchased the entire Holmes homestead. After the attack, Samuel committed suicide by shooting himself with a revolver. On the Monday of the incident, Salyer went to the office of Dr. O.W. Schmidt with a gunshot wound to her head and other evidence of having been in a struggle. She told the doctor that Holmes had threatened to commit suicide, although she didn’t know if he had followed through. Evidence suggests that Holmes was mentally ill. There were reports that Holmes had previously threatened to “get” prosecuting attorney Black for a grudge related to another issue. Witness testimony said Holmes planned to buy a revolver and “clean out” his enemies. Salyer testified that she had employed the 65- year-old Holmes as a hired man. She had no altercations with him until he threatened to kill her and others.
When Holmes attacked, she ran into her kitchen and locked the door. Holmes then crashed through a plate glass window in the front room, jumped through the broken glass and broke a second pane to Salyer’s bedroom where she was hiding. When Salyer ran to hide in the closet, Holmes shot through the closet door. He then stuck the revolver through the hole in the closet door and Salyer grabbed hold of it and broke off the stock. Holmes dragged Salyer through her bedroom, but she was able to grab her own revolver from where it was kept by her bed. Unfortunately, her gun did not fire and she and Holmes continued to struggle. The attack ended when neighbors appeared on the scene causing Holmes to flee into the house. He fired two shots from within the house and was later found dead. Sheriff McCullough was the first to find the man lying on a lounge with the weapon still in his hand. A coroner’s jury declared his death a suicide. (8)
Throughout history, Holmes Corner has had its fair share of intrigue. Chris Jacobs, owner of the house at 21031 7th Ave W., across the street from the Holmes homestead, said that he was told his property used to be a speakeasy in the 1920s. The current structure is a remodel of the original 1920s dwelling. Judy Tozzer, a great granddaughter of Anna and Samuel Holmes, said that the property across the street was not associated with her ancestors.
(5) Shiach, William Sidney, ed. Illustrated History of Skagit & Snohomish Counties. Chicago: Interstate Publishing Company, 1906. pp. 953-54
(8) The Herald, “Shoots Self as Bullets Aimed at Woman Fail.” August 1, 1918
Holmes Corner (Snohomish County Assessor, 1998)
21031 W. 76th Ave., Edmonds (Hoogkamer, 2013)
Holmes Corner (Hoogkamer, 2013)
George and Etta Brackett in front of their home, circa early 1900s (HistoryLink via the Edmonds-South Snohomish County Historical Society)
Holmes’ descendants at the renaming of the corner (The Beacon, 2008)
Holmes Corner Sign (Hoogkamer, 2013)