Strangers to Us All Lawyers and Poetry

Daniel Henry Holmes, Jr.

Kentucky & New Orleans

Daniel Henry Holmes was born in New York City and later lived with his family in New Orleans. In 1852 his father bought a summer home near Covington, Kentucky, which they called Holmesdale. The young Holmes spent his summers in Kentucky and his winters in New Orleans. As a young man Holmes moved to Holmesdale and took up the practice of law, in what William S. Ward called, "a desultory fashion." [Source: William S. Ward, A Literary History of Kentucky 102-103 (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1988)]

T.B.M. [Thomas B. Mosher], "Foreword," to Under a Fool's Cap: Songs xii-xiv (Thomas B. Mosher, 3rd ed., 1914)(1884), provides still additional information about Holmes's life, but little about his efforts to practice law:

[W]e now know that Daniel Henry Holmes, Junior, born July 16, 1851, in New York City. . . . During his father's lifetime he whimsically called himself Daniel Henry Junior Holmes and still further complicated our means of identification when, in 1884, he signed his verses 'Daniel Henry, Jun." On the mother's side there was English blood which may account for the issue of this first book [Under a Fool's Cap] in London. In 1856, Daniel Henry Holmes, Senior, who sympathized warmly with the South, took his family abroad and educated the children in France. Eight years in Tours and four years at the Lycee Bonaparte in Paris brought "Junior" to the age of sixteen when he was sent to Manchester, England, to be trained for a mercantile career. The life of a merchant, however, was soon given up. The next year another attempt was made to have him enter his father's business in New Orleans. He finally decided against commercialism in any shape and went to Cincinnati to study law which, after his graduation when twenty-one, he practiced in a desultory way for some considerable time.

In 1891, Mr. Holmes visited Europe, spending more of his time abroad than in America, and pursuing his own special studies in Greek, Latin, Italian, counterpoint and harmony. Returning, in 1904, to Holmesdale, the family residence, just across the river in Covington, Kentucky, near Cincinnati, yet south of the Mason and Dixon line, his last years were given up to arranging a large and carefully chosen library, composing music, and writing as the mood of composition came to him. The poet's life as indicated by these outlines was one of continued ease, and in the happiest of households, surrounded by his family and by intimate friends, he came to that great mystery which lies in wait for all. His death occurred suddenly at Hot Springs, Virginia, December 14, 1908.

Daniel Henry Holmes reigned as retail king
The Kentucky Post

The History of the Holmesdale Estate
Covington, Kentucky student essay

"Covington's Department Store Merchant"


Daniel Henry Holmes, Under a Fool's Cap: Songs (London: Kegan Paul, Trench and Co., 1884)(pseud. Daniel Henry) [online text] (Portland, Maine: Thomas B. Mosher, 1910) [online text] (Thomas B. Mosher, 2nd ed., 1911)(Thomas B. Mosher, 3rd ed., 1914)(Thomas B. Mosher, 4th ed., 1925)

Note: "Nine hundred copies of this book have been printed on Van Gelder hand-made paper and the type distributed"

________________, A Pedlar's Pack (New York: Ernest Dressel North, 1906) [online text]

Note: "The large paper edition of this volume consisting of fifty copies all being numbered and signed by the author, was printed on Italian handmade paper, at the Trow Press, in the month of June, 1906."

title page sketch

Daniel Henry Homes, A Pedlar's Pack
(New York: Ernest Dressel North, 1906)


Daniel Henry Holmes, Hempen Home-Spun: Songs (Cincinnati: Geo. B. Jennings Co., 1906)

Research Resources

Betty Nordheim, Daniel Henry Holmes (1816-1898), 3 (2) Northern Kentucky Heritage Magazine 28 (Spring/Summer, 1996)(The article focuses on Daniel Henry Holmes's father and their Covington, Kentucky castle, Holmesdale, which was eventually sold by the family to the Covington, Kentucky School Board. The Holmes castle was demolished by the school Board in 1936).