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John Francis "Frank" Holme
Holme was the most famous of the newspaper sketch artists who covered the trials of Adolph Luetgert. Holme's drawings of trial scenes appeared in the Chicago Daily News. Several drawings by Holme are reproduced in Alchemy of Bones, including some original drawings stored in the Special Collections of the University of Arizona Library. Holmes was also a writer and printer. He founded a small publishing endeavor called the Bandar Log Press, putting out limited editions with meticulous attention to the quality of the typography and printing. When friends raised money in the press to subsidize the Bandar Log Press, Mark Twain was among those who contributed. As a newspaper artist, he experimented with a variety of techniques: wood-cuts, chalk-plates, zinc-etchings, copper-plate etching, dry-point, photo-engravings from pen-and-ink drawings, greased crayon and wash-drawings.
A drawing by Holme of the Luetgert trial from the October 21, 1897, Chicago Daily News.
More pictures by Frank Holme are located throughout this Web site. Most of the illustrations taken from the Chicago Daily News were by Holme.
Born: June 23, 1868, in Corinth, West Virginia.
Parents: John Messinger and Eliza Johnson Holme.
1870: Holme's family moves to Keyser, West Virginia.
Education: Attended secondary and high school in Keyser.
1880s: Holme works in the art department of the Wheeling Register. "It was his first opportunity for artistic experiment, and he worked in every medium known to the newspaper artists of those days, — wood-cuts, chalk-plates, and zinc-etchings," Edwin B. Hill wrote.
Late 1880s: Holme works at the Pittsburgh Press. His assignments include a disastrous flood at Johnstown, Pennsylvania, on May 31, 1889. He illustrations gain attention, and the New York Graphic publishes a special edition featuring them.
Circa 1890-1892: Holme comes to Chicago and works at the Chicago Blade. Edwin B. Hill wrote:
© 2003 by Robert Loerzel.
Excerpts from Founder of the Bandar Log Club and His Meteoric Career by John Craig Hammond (Ysleta: Edwin B. Hill, 1936).
When such men as President Roosevelt, Chauncey Depew, Mark Twain, Alexander Revell, George Ade, Kirk LaShelle, Peter Finley Dunne, John T. McCutcheon, Grover Cleveland, James H. Eckels and a score of other prominent men in the art and business world, paused to pay a tribute to Frank Holme, it is little wonder then that thousands and tens of thousands of people followed the work of one of, if not the cleverest, newspaper artists of the day…
I remember ten years ago, when I was on the Chicago Chronicle with Holme. Those were cub days, and Holme even then was known as the right hand of a cub reporter. Take him with you on a story and Holme got the news, drew the pictures, and told you how to write it.
One night a murder story came into the office. It was known as the "headless bicycle rider mystery." A headless trunk had been found in a catch-basin. It was sent t find the story – Holme to get some sketches. It was nine o’clock at night, a long ride on the street car, and a two-mile walk in a driving rain. But the facts were found, Holme secured his sketches, and on the bumping Milwaukee avenue car back to the city Holme drew his sketches and had them ready for the city edition…
…He found a little room (for the Holme School of Illustration) in Van Buren street, close to the lake, and he let his friends know that he could teach drawing by mail. It only seemed a night’s time when the school had branched out until it occupied an entire floor of a big office building. Those were the days when Holme was making money, when his school was crowded with pupils and his mail came in huge sacks…
Excerpts from F.H., a Denver Post article by Eva Dean, , originally published on July 31, 1904, and reprinted in 1935 by Edwin B. Hill:
…Breezing was the way he went about. Of him personally, there are only flashing visions left.
The first one always called up by mention of him is the tall, slender figure in black, with his overcoat flying loose (for never did I see it buttoned; and never did I see him in anything but black). This first vision is always striding somewhere, coat fluttering back, the brimmed soft black hat a little on one side; his companion invariably a bit behind him.
Then memory seems to arrive and look at one out of soft, brown, deepening eyes. There was no sparkle in them, — just shadows, and thought, and kindness. The dark brown hair never shone, but was always soft and fluffy. That thin under-lip had a habit of dropping in stress or concentration of any kind.
When about to embark on new plans or ventures, he was apt to sit down and tell all present a humorous story which would break the tension of expectancy, and make his hearers acquainted and in sympathy with the state of his mind. He was always acting on sudden impulses and plans; but he did not abandon them because they were hastily conceived; and they were seldom unsound, no matter how novel.
One statement he made quite often, and used in his advertising, and was fond of emphasizing. It was: "Personality is the force that dominates events." He seemed to be a living example of it, and to a remarkable extent, on the lives of his friends ever since…
Doing things was his life: helping other people do things; trying to bring them in contact with whatever was stimulating toward the creation of beauty. Somehow I cannot imagine him in the presence of a dallier.
The secret of why he was so poignantly and lastingly successful in "the gentle art" of making devoted friendships was, I believe, unconsciously revealed to me one evening as he sat poised on the corner of a table. (Don’t you remember how he invariably preferred to poise on a table corner in preference of a chair?)
He said: "Do you know, no matter who he is, I can never forget that everybody knows something that I should like to know!"
Memories of Frank Holme
Excerpted from More Than A Memory by Edwin B. Hill, (Ysleta: Edwin B. Hill, 1936):
Holme always worked rapidly and accurately... He seemed tireless. It is said that he did more work than any three other men in his department. An instantaneous appreciation of a situation that interested him was treasured in his mind in all detail until he could transfer it to paper...
In San Francisco, The Bandar Log Press was quiescent. The type had been carefully tied up, when they left Chicago, and in this condition was repacked for shipment to West Virginia. On the arrival of the box, however, it was discovered that a break had occurred; the type was hopelessly pied, and part of it lost in transit.
Holme viewed the ruin. "Well, letter by letter as it dropped out on the type across country it probably sprouted a lot of other Bandar Logs," was his characteristic comment...
Over-work culminated in tuberculosis of the lungs. In January, 1901, he was ordered to Asheville, North Carolina, where he remained for two years.
Idleness was never a part of the life of Frank Holme. Despite remonstrances of his wife and his closest friends, he worked on until he could no longer wield the pen and pencil...
Realizing the end was inevitable, Holme craved the companionship of his newspaper-working friends. The office of the Arizona Republican of Phoenix became a home to him. Here he would commingle with "the gang," staying up oftimes until the paper went to press in the early hours of morning. He was urged to take more care of himself, — to keep hours commensurate with his condition. But knowingly he refused. It was too late, — and, besides, the friendship of co-workers was compensation beyond ordinary comprehension.