Two jolly young bachelors -- healthy, wealthy, and wise, as young bachelors go. Gentlemanly and genteel, coourteous and generous, honorably and manly, industrious and intelligent, and consequently successful and popular -- nine men out of ten, and perhaps ten women out of nine, would so pronounce upon John D. Baker and J. Dobbin Holmes -- and they deserve it all. If to deserve success is more than to win it, then to achieve it is better than to inherit it. Few young men in the South have inherited fortunes since the war, but those who have made it for themselves are very numerous. Baker and Holmes belong to the latter class. They are well matched, and worthy of each other, possessing in an unusual degree the fine attributes that go to make up the successful and respected business man, gentlemen at once, and hard workers.
The business was established originally by Mr. Baker in 1889. Previous to that time he had spent a number of years in the grocery and grain business, and thoroughly mastered its details. Mr. Baker was born in Robeson County, N. C., i 1864, and received his education at Davidson College, in his native State. His father was Captain Angus S. Baker, and his mother Harriet McEachem, both of fine old Scotch families. When he left college Mr. Baker at once went into business, and in 1886 came to Jacksonville to live with his uncle, the late Judge James M. Baker. Here he continued his business training, until in, 1889, he branched out for himself, as above stated. A year later Mr. Holmes acquired a partnership, and the firm was changed to John D. Baker & Company, Mr. Holmes being a silent partner, as he was then traveling for C. Burkhalter & Company, of New York. Mr. Baker had been an etensive traveler, both in this country and abroad, and has acquired a degree of polish and general knowledge of the world not usually expected in a laborious man of business.
Mr. Holmes is also a North Carolinian, and came from Wilmington. He is a son of the late John L. Holmes, a most estimable gentleman, and highly respected lawyer. His mother's maiden name was Sallie M. London, and through her he is descended from the celebrated Sharpless family of Pennsylvania. From the schools of his native City he went to the Maryland Agricultural College, an institution that teaches all branches of study usually taught in other colleges. In 1884 the family moved to Jacksonville, and Mr. Holmes accepted a traveling position with John E. Hart, a wholesale grain and seed merchant. For twelve years he traveled in Florida, representing different houses, and when he took a partnership with Mr. Baker the most valuable capital he brought to the new firm was the hundreds of friends he had made during his long career as a commercial traveler. He was thoroughly known to the trade, and by his affable manners and well established character for honesty and integrity, he found no difficulty in securing as his own customers those to whom he had sold while representing other firms. In 1891 the firm name was changed to Baker & Holmes, and thenceforth he devoted his time exclusively to the business of the new firm.
Baker & Holmes, in their brief career, have established and built up for themselves one of the most remarkably successful business enterprises ever known in the State. Starting without any trade at all, their business now amounts to neary $500,000 annually, and is still growing. Wholesale grain, hay, flour, grits, meal, fertilizers, cottonseed meal, and building material are their principal lines; but they make a specialty of brick, lime and cement. Their facilities for handling these goods are suprioer, enabing them to undersell competitors, and yet supply the very best quality of goods. At the foot of Main Street they have a snug, cozy office, where their friends are always welcomed after the hearty and hospitable manner that has become a characteristic with them, and it will be strange if one or the other don't find time to offer such entertainment outside the office as will appeal to an anxious palate and become a refined taste. This is one of the pet houses of Jacksonville, with a personnel that is without reproach.