James Monroe Holmsley, cattleman and Confederate soldier, one of nine children of Burl J. and Lucinda (Wagnon) Holmsley, was born on April 4, 1838, in Richland Township, Madison County, Arkansas. Burl Holmsley is said to have first visited Texas in 1834. He moved his family to the state in 1852 and farmed in Williamson County, then in Coryell County. In 1854 the family moved to Comanche County, where, in 1854, the Holmsleys established the county's first farm on what is now Holmsley Creek, six miles east of the site of Comanche. During the Civil War Holmsley served as captain of Company G of Col. Henry E. McCulloch's First Regiment, Texas Mounted Rifles. His company, raised in Comanche County, garrisoned Camp Colorado, which Holmsley served as commandant from the fall of 1861 until January 25, 1862. After the war he returned to Comanche County, married, and in 1869–70 constructed a two-story stone house. In 1874 he contracted with the Texas Rangers to supply rations for a company of the Frontier Battalion stationed in Eastland County. In 1877 Robert T. Hill took a herd of Holmsley cattle up the trail to Dodge City. Holmsley remained involved in ranching affairs and the dry goods business until his death on April 28, 1881, at Comanche. He was buried there in Oakwood Cemetery. Holmsley was the brother of Thomas Jefferson Holmsley, a banker and cattleman, the first sheriff of Comanche County, and grandfather of Fred Holmsley Moore. Some of Holmsley's papers are preserved at the Barker Texas History Center, University of Texas at Austin.
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James Cox, Historical and Biographical Record of the Cattle Industry (2 vols., St. Louis: Woodward and Tiernan Printing, 1894, 1895; rpt., with an introduction by J. Frank Dobie, New York: Antiquarian, 1959). Thomas R. Havins, "The Texas Mounted Regiment at Camp Colorado," Texas Military History 4 (Summer 1964). History of Texas (2 vols., Chicago: Lewis, 1896; rpt., St. Louis: Ingmire, 1983). James M. Holmsley Papers, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin. W. E. Wrather, "Robert Thomas Hill: A Memorial," Bulletin of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists 25 (December 1941).
Ranching and Cowboys
Ranchers and Cattlemen
The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.
Thomas W. Cutrer,
“Holmsley, James Monroe,”
Handbook of Texas Online,
accessed July 05, 2022,
Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
Original Publication Date:
Most Recent Revision Date:
October 31, 2019