Sunday, October 9, 2016

DNA, Cousins and a Promotion

by Glenn N. Holliman

This writer and another writer, Tina Peddie, both Hollyman family historians, gathered in Tennessee 8 October 2016 to discuss genealogy. Tina has moved recently from California to Tennessee.

Joining us for the 3 hour session on DNA analysis were Glenn's two sisters - Becky Holliman Payne and Alice Holliman Murphy.  Alice has explored her husband's Irish roots, and Becky is seeking DNA analysis of her children's Payne background.

Tina has for decades been a force to research and communicate Hollyman history. In the 1980s, she expanded and reissued George Holleman's 1953 ground breaking history of this American family. In 1999, utilizing the technology of the early Internet era, she opened and directed a Hollyman Yahoo chat room.  Most recently, she is the administrator of the Hollyman Facebook page.  She is the go-to person for DNA guidance and explanation for the family. 

 Becky, who lives near Tina's home in Tennessee, took extensive notes during our 
DNA tutorial courtesy of Tina.

During our discussion, Tina and I reviewed our  Holliman roots.  We, and of course my sisters, are descended from Samuel Holliman (1707-1786) who was born in Surrey County, Virginia and died in Johnston County, North Carolina. James Grantson Holliman was a son of Samuel, and is my generation's 4th GGF.  Tina's ancestor was David Holliman, another son of Samuel, who moved to Georgia and eventually a descendant married a Keene, Tina's maiden name. 

Left, Alice Holliman Murphy, makes Texas her home. Both she and Becky attended the national Christopher Hollyman gathering April 1, 2016 in Isle of Wight, Virginia.  She has been collecting material on the Murphy clan, which included a recent trip to Ireland.

My two sisters and I gathered in Tennessee for the promotion ceremony of Becky's son, Bryan, to the rank of lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army Reserves.  One of Alice's children, Jonathan, is on active duty as a major in the Army. 

Below, some of the members of the immediate family who are veterans gathered in Tennessee for the swearing in of now Lt. Colonel Bryan Payne. Left to right are Glenn N. Holliman (Vietnam), Paul Payne (Viet Nam era), Bryan Payne (Iraq) and the father of this writer, H. Bishop Holliman, b 1919, Seaman 2nd class, a radioman on destroyers in the Mediterranean and the North Atlantic in World War II.  

Bishop is the father of Glenn and grandfather of Bryan.  Bishop's grandfather, John Thomas Holliman (1844-1930) and great grandfather, Uriah Holliman (1820-1862) fought in the Civil War.  Bishop's second great grandfather, Cornelius Holliman (1796- 1862) was a veteran of the War of 1812 and third great grandfather, James Grantson Holliman (1750-1836) served as a patriot in the American Revolutionary War in the North Carolina militia.

For information on placing an article, please write Glenn N. Holliman at  For manuscripts and materials on Hollymans and other associated families, visit the growing virtual archive at .  For Hollyman Facebook entrance and DNA assistance, write Tina at

Sunday, September 18, 2016

English Hollymans Known Only unto God

by Glenn N. Holliman

The World War I Battlefields of France
Part 1

The Somme

In August 2016, my wife, Barb, and I along with our Pennsylvania neighbor, Russ, visited friends in Normandy, France.  During that sojourn, Russ and I broke away for a few days and toured the British Empire battlefields of the Somme, Vimy Ridge and Ypres.  While on this sobering visit, I put on my genealogy hat and looked for any Hollyman (Holliman) graves.  

DNA testing confirmed that I am  a descendant of Christopher Hollyman (1618-1691) who immigrated to Virginia in 1650 from Bedford, Bedfordshire and a distant cousin of Englishman Lindsay Holliman.  Both of us have paper trails back to the Cuddington, Buckinghamshire Hollimans in the 1500s, and are possibly descended from the High Wycombe Hollymans of the 1300s.  So those Hollimans (Hollymans) who fought in the Great War are, one could easily argue, my distant cousins, and also most of you who are casting your eyes on this page.

I did not find any gravestones, but I found several names on monuments, and in the words of the poet Rudyard Kipling who lost his only son at Ypres, Belgium, they are known 'Only unto God' as their bodies were never recovered.  They were blasted into bits by artillery fire or ground into the mud, never found, never returned to their families or even one of the seemingly countless British Commonwealth cemeteries that dot northwestern France and southwestern Belgium.

It was at the Thiepval Monument at the Somme near Albert, France that I found the first name.  A Book of Remembrance is available at all cemeteries and monuments listing the names on the memorial or graves.

Below, the massive British memorial at Thiepval, a small village on the Somme Battlefield, contains the names of over 73,000 missing soldiers.

Below, the record book and name on the towering memorial for James Holliman, age 21 from Aspley Guise, Bedfordshire, England.  His home  was only 20 or so miles from Christopher Hollyman's domicile in St. Mary's Parish, Bedford, Bedfordshire prior to his 1650 immigration to eventual settlement in Isle of Wight County, Virginia.

This Jim Holliman died on the first day of the Battle of the Somme, 1 July 1916.  He was killed in the initial advances on German lines.  Almost 20,000, yes, 20,000 British soldiers died on this first day.  This does not count the French who were charging miles away on the right, and of course the Germans who had received an astronomical dose of cannon fire and whose trenches were invaded.  It may well be the most blooding day in the history of warfare.

Before this battle ended in November 1916 there were over 1,000,000 British Empire, French and German casualties.  The lines had only moved a few miles.  This was a four year war, 1914-1918, of attrition in which over 20 million may have died on all fronts.

The memorial wreaths at Thiepval August 2016 on the 100th Anniversary of the horrid Battle of the Somme.

Much has been written on World War I.  

Here are some volumes in my library which I can recommend on the Somme.

Next Posting, the Battlefield of Ypres were two other Hollymans (Holliman) died.

Saturday, September 10, 2016


THE TALE OF A NEW COUSIN…but not in the usual way
by: Allen Holleman

In mid-March 2016, while in the final stages of planning for the Hollyman family gathering, I was contacted through Ancestry DNA by a woman who was a match to me. I had seen the match, and there was one other with the Holleman name as part of the ID and numbers of others who have Holleman lineages listed.

I’ll call her Susie, as that is what she’s always been known by.  But I’ll not identify anyone directly, for privacy reasons.

Susie related that she was born in Florida in 1956 and immediately adopted. She grew up in south Florida, went to Auburn University, met her husband when he was in medical school, and has lived in Birmingham, Alabama since. They have four beautiful daughters who are all educated and with established families of their own.

Her daughters had given her the DNA test as gift because she was curious about her origins but was not looking for her birth-parents. She had never known the name of Holleman and wondered how she might fit into this family if indeed she did. She had close matches to three of us plus others with Holleman lineages. After looking closer I responded that she indeed seemed to be a Holleman cousin. We corresponded more after the Hollyman Gathering in VA and got very comfortable with each other. Besides emails, we had quite a few phone conversations.

With the strongest matches being in a great-uncle’s line, she appeared to be there. I contacted some cousins, and two brothers had a memory from their mother about such an event. I remained in contact while they discretely inquired. This was quite sensitive and required a lot of delicacy.

Indeed what they heard from their mother seemed to be correct. It seems all of the females in the line were aware, even those too young at that time to have the full story. It appeared certain that it was not one of the younger girls but their aunt who was 32 and unmarried then. The aunt did marry later, in the 1960s, and had two sons; that made discretion even more imperative. I remained the only contact for now and tried to keep her insulated and to soothe any speculations from the daughters, although Susie remained quite patient even with as little as I had given.

While the cousins worked on how to handle the discussions and revealing details, I worked on the DNA matches. When it was certain where Susie fit with records and DNA confirmation, the two sons were delicately advised.  The younger brother was so ecstatic about having a sister, he called Susie to tell her what we had found. He then flew to Birmingham to meet her. At first the older brother was so taken aback he wasn't quite ready to accept it. After a few weeks, he had become more accepting and has now welcomed Susie enthusiastically. Their Mother passed away in 2005.

In late July, Susie's travel plans allowed her to come to Raleigh and a 'reunion' was planned and she, her husband and three of the daughters have been officially welcomed and all are thoroughly charmed with these new cousins.

There are many factors in DNA but cM is an effective measure of relativity.  Basically by analysis finding exact copies of segments of the first 22 chromosomes that two (or more) people have.  The measurement is in cM (centiMorgans, named for the scientist  who developed the process). Adding those gives the total cM - the measurement we use.  Chromosome 23 determines gender.

Several other cousins also quickly tested at Ancestry, the results were soon returned.  The DNA matches found were pretty conclusive early on. Mine with her is 2nd cousin: 251.9 cM. The two cousins who got the details confirmed each match her in the 840-50 cM range as 1st cousins and with each other as brothers at 2667 cM. Susie’s match with her (half-) brother is 1670 cM.

I had mentioned another match, and when I advised Susie that he is a professor at the University of Alabama Law School, she said, “My daughter is graduating there next week!” It turns out that the daughter did not have classes with him but does know him, and I encouraged contact and for Susie to meet him as well and tell him her story. In the meantime, he and I made contact. I didn’t get an impression that he was going to reply quickly, so I gave him enough to pique his interest and a little background. He now has the full story after contacting his mother and cousins and he is as excited and enthusiastic as the rest of us. Their match is at 535cM.

I am so pleased that I could put bits and pieces together and get this story on to a happy new beginning.

I never expected DNA to play such an important role in our family but it certainly has made a believer out of me!

As this is an encouragement for DNA testing as well as a wonderful story, I want to add a post-script on two other findings.

My Mother was a Jones and I was having difficulties in connecting any beyond my Great Grand Father but I contacted a match and found her mother has traced the Jones and Canada families of North Carolina and Virginia to 1800.

The second was just this week (Sept 2016) in emails with a 55 cM match  that felt promising.  We compared notes on lineages and found a common connection to my GGM's Olive lines. Her folks had done much research.  Our Most Recent Common Ancestor (MRCA) is James Olive, b. 1713 in Virginia.  We both got a lot of Olive DNA to match at 55cM 9 generations (for her, 7 for me) back.  And I now have the Olives back to 1646 in Virginia.

Our primary research is still genealogical through records but genetic genealogy through DNA is becoming more important all the time.  We encourage DNA testing, you never know what - or who - you may find.