Saturday, January 21, 2017

Blakeney Families of West Alabama

by Glenn N. Holliman

Poetry from a Blakeney, an Associated Family of the Alabama Hollimans

The Blakeneys who immigrated from South Carolina to Alabama have a storied history.  Originally of patrician blood from Ireland (far right, one direct ancestor lies buried in Westminister Abby in London) and revolutionaries in the American War of Independence, a branch of this family lived for generations as neighbors of the Hollimans in Alabama. Both families arrived as pioneers in west Alabama in 1830s and intermarried over time.

Two important Holliman genealogists, father and son, Cecil R. Holliman (1902-1986) and Rhodes B. Holliman (1928-2014) researched in great detail both their Holliman and Blakeney lines. Belzy Ann Blakeney Baker (1859-1960) was a grandmother of Cecil Holliman, a prodigious researcher of all his family lines.   

Below, five generations of Hollimans gathered in Fayette County, Alabama in 1956.  The baby, C. James Holliman, b 1953, is now a physician and author of numerous books on emergency trauma treatment. He practices at Hershey Medical Center in Pennsylvania and lectures literally all over the world on his specialty.

As I have written before, the family of Rhodes Holliman have loaned me the manuscripts of a voluminous research which I have been scanning and uploading to a virtual archives at .  There, among 1,500 items, one will find over eighty manuscripts on the Blakeneys and their histories, often compelling and fascinating. 

Some of the material archived has come from James Reed Blakeney originally of Pickens County, Alabama who now makes his home in Georgia.  Reed is a writer and a darn good one.  Several years ago in this space, I reviewed his compelling novel "Sipsey'' named after the river that flows through west Alabama and by the original frontier farms of the Blakeneys and Hollimans. 

Borrowing from real life, Reed wrote of a great, great grandfather, an owner of African-American slaves, and who as a widower fell in love with one of his female servants. Two children were born of that relationship during the time of the Civil War.  In the 21st century, Blakeneys of both races have attended joint family reunions in Fayette County, a testimony to the complexity and richness of the American experience.

Reed has recently published another book entitled "Cotton Fields, Poems from the Fields", a work of both lyrics and memories of growing up in Alabama in the 1930s and 40s.  Reed literally is of the last generation that 'chopped cotton' before the motorized cotton baler arrived to revolutionize Southern farming and life.  Part biography, part poetry and part a history of social change as a family leaves an Alabama farm, I found this work fascinating. 

For example, Reed writes in the introduction of a time before electricity arrived in the rural South - 

"We read and wrote by kerosene lamp light.  Our primary contact with the state of world affairs was a battery powered radio and two periodicals - the Saturday evening Post and the Progressive Farmer.  The battery powered radio was reserved for the Saturday night renderings of The Grand Old Opry out of Nashville, Tennessee and evangelistic sermons from far away places like Del Rio, Texas.

Oh yes - I do remember the cotton fields...the plowing, the hoeing, the picking...all done with mule power and hand power and the ever-present knowledge that economic survival depended on that one crop."

One of his poems, a salute to his hard-working father, ends with these words,

'That life was hard - but in a way
Better than mine is today
At dusk - he heard the Whippoorwills'

Thanks to my second cousins, Dr. Jim Holliman and Glenda Norris,  I have become an archivist for the Blakeneys. Again the archives, free to all, is located at 

Additional manuscripts from Hollimans, Blakeneys and all other allied families welcome.

And it has been a delight to know Reed and to read his works. If you read 'Cotton Fields" you too may listen for the Whippoorwills this spring. - GNH at

"Cotton Fields", "Sipsey" and a fictional account of a crime in Georgia entitled "A Mulberry Summer" can be ordered directly from Blakeney Associates, P.O. Box 846, Social Circle, GA 30025.  "Sipsey" is $20.  A Mulberry Summer is $15, as is "Cotton Fields' - plus $3 shipping.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Some Descendants of Charles Holliman (1795-1842 ) of Fayette County, Alabama, Part 2

In our previous post, Juanita Hendrix Holliman and her Amy Holliman Armstrong provided information and photographs on their Alabama lineage.  This article reflects further on the heritage of her husband, James, and shares more photographs of a family and the times in which they lived. - Glenn N. Holliman, born Birmingham, Alabama

Additional Pictures and Reflections of a West Alabama Holliman and Allied Families
by Juanita Hendrix Holliman

Right, Amy, Juanita and James Holliman in 1985, Marion County, Alabama

A lot of folks left the rural areas of Alabama after World War II, my immediate ancestors included.  By the 1940s many moved to north and the midwest seeking higher paying factory jobs.  Some of these men were veterans who had had traveled to various places on their tours and were unwilling to return to the hard life on small cotton farms which by that time were phasing out anyway.

Of course, many stayed home.  My own father returned from overseas and farmed part time working in a saw mill, and later logging.  Eventually he gave up farming to no one's sorrow!  You have probably read the book 'Now Let Us Praise Famous Men', which describes living conditions of several families in rural Alabama in the 1930s.  There was a sequel of sorts written later describing the descendants of these same families - 'And Their Children After Them'. Both are very interesting in their depictions of their lives and the cotton culture of the South.

James had an older brother, William Garlon Holliman (1927-2013), who did remain in Marion County. He worked in a cotton mill in Winfield for many years, and later drove the book mobile for 20 or more years for the Northwest Regional Library for Marion and two or three other counties. he retired 15 or so years before his death in 2013.  His first wife of many years, Frances Roberts was the daughter of Eula Wheeler and Dewey Roberts. They had one child, Doris Holliman Dannelley who lives in Theodore, Alabama.  For many years, Frances was a dietitian at the local hospital.

  Below, a school photograph of Garlon Holliman in the 1930s and with his first wife Frances Roberts ca 1947.

 Garlon Holliman in 2011

After Frances' death in the mid 1980s, Garlon married Adelle Voce Cantrell, a widow from the Hackleburg area of Marion County.  They were married for about 18 years until her death.  Garlon died December 19, 2013 at Winfield.  Adelle taught school for many years, marrying Garlon after she retired. 

 Below, left to right- William Garlon Holliman, Loudell Holliman Morris, Lela Warren Holliman (Arthur's 2nd wife), William Arthur Holliman, Mildred Holliman Johnson (back), Louise Hollman Baccus,  and James Arthur Holliman on the occasion of William Arthur and Lela's 50th wedding anniversary with their children present at Winfield, Alabama.  The anniversary was in 1980.

Above John and Evelyn (Evie) Abernathy Holliman ca 1930.  The twins on the table are Lois and Lloyd.  John is a brother of William Arthur Holliman and son of Frances Marion Holliman. The picture was probably made in Fayette County, Alabama, their home. John farmed for a living. The other children pictured are Dewey, Oveat, Ector and James, who died as a baby. 

A brother of John was Sydney Holliman, another son of Francis Marion Holliman. Francis married Maud Morris in 1913 and lived in Winfield, Alabama.  Both worked in the Winfield Cotton Mill for many years. They had three sons: Roy, Troy and Edward (called Ed), all now deceased.

Below, Oscar and Ella Holliman Smith, husband and wife.  Ella is a sibling of John and William Arthur Holliman and daughter of Frances Marion Holliman. The couple lived at Winfield and farmed for a living. Their children were Mary Ellen, Ira, Lester, Jennie Lee, Pauline and Flora, all deceased now except Pauline.

Above, Loudell Holliman Morris as a young woman, 1940's.  She is a daughter of William Arthur and Zolena McKay Holliman.  Born in Alabama, she raised three children in Greentown, Indiana. She married James Elbert Morris of Fayette County, Alabama who for many years worked at Continental Steel in Kokomo. Loudell worked at another plant in the area, but mostly stayed home to raise the family. They had three children: James (Jimmy), Linda and Wayne. Loudell, Elbert and Jimmy are now deceased.

Left, Louise Holliman Baccus and her husband, Brady. They lived in Winfield, Alabama where Brady was a county commissioner for about 20 years.  Before that he was an employee of Marion County, and Louise work at one of the sewing plants for several years.  Brady's family was from Fayette County.  They had no children and both are now deceased.  Like her brother, Garlon, Louise was also a daughter of William Arthur and Zolena McKay Holliman.

Below, Mildred Holliman Johnson and husband Harold Johnson, the picture made at Saraland Alabama, 1980's ca. She is another daughter of William Arthur and Lela Holliman. 

Mildred and Harold lived in Marion County for a few years after their marriage, moved briefly to Columbus, Mississippi and then settled in south Alabama near Mobile. Harold died in January 2016. Mildred survives, still living in Saraland, as does one of their daughters, Brenda Johnson Snodgrass. Their other daughter, Barbara Sizemore, lives in Monroe County, Alabama.

Harold held many jobs - a barber early in his life, then a building contractor and finally he opened a saw sharpening shop.  He was a very intelligent, self-taught person with many abilities. In fact, he built the house in which James and I live in now.  Harold's parents, Alan and Susie Benton Johnson Williamson were from Fayette County. Harold lived in both Fayette and Marion Counties as a young person. 

If you would like to have your family's lineage shared with the extended Hollyman/Holliman/Holleman (and various spellings) families, please write me at  There are other resources available for your family research:

Want to know more about your Hollyman and associated families?  Check out the growing virtual archive at .  This storage unit now has over 700 manuscripts and grows monthly. 

Have questions about Holliman family history? You are invited to join the Hollyman Email List at and the Hollyman Family Facebook Page located on Facebook at "Hollyman Family". Post your questions and perhaps one of the dozens Holyman cousins on the list will have an answer. For more information contact Tina Peddie at, the list and Facebook manager for Hollyman (and all our various spellings!).

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Some Descendants of Charles Holliman of Fayette County, Alabama, Part 1

I am grateful to Juanita Holliman and her daughter Amy Holliman Armstrong for this comprehensive sharing of their lineage, descendants of Alabama pioneer Charles Holliman and brother of my GGG grandfather, Cornelius Holliman (1792 -1862).  - Glenn N. Holliman

A West Alabama Holliman Lineage including the Families of Walters, Blakeney, Henderson, Warren and Hendrix
by Amy Holliman Armstrong and Juanita Holliman

Three sons of James Granston Holliman (1750-1836), Cornelius, Charles, and Warren, in 1836 brought their families to Fayette County, Alabama from Anson County, North Carolina (later Union County, North Carolina).  After this arduous trip on foot and by wagon, they settled in the Newtonville area. The brothers had spent the previous winter in that area, went home in the spring, and returned with their wives and large numbers of children.

Of these three families, two remained in Fayette County Warren Holliman (1801-1876) left about 1840 and led a wagon train of settlers to Arkansas.

Cornelius’ wife, Elizabeth Plyer, died after the family arrived at Newtonville. He later married Elizabeth Lucas Rainwater and the family moved to the Bluff area of Fayette County.

Charles (1795-1842) and his wife, Barbary (Barbara) Walters (1797-1880) remained at Newtonville and raised their children there.  They were the parents of Peter, Asa, Joshua, John, Milly E., Suzanna, James, Jessie, Warren C., Cornelius, Elijah and Aaron.  All except Aaron were born before the family arrived in Fayette County.  Barbary in 1870 lived with her daughter Suzanna.  Charles and Barbary’s burial place is unknown.

Left, a photograph of Warren C. Holliman (1833-1908), the eighth child of Charles and Barbary, was born in North Carolina.

Warren married Mary Blakeney (1835-1896), the daughter of Thomas Blakeney (1800-1892) and Sarah Roberts Blakeney (1807-1861).  Thomas and his family migrated from South Carolina in the early 1830’s and settled at Newtonville.  Sarah is buried at First Shepherd Church Cemetery, established in 1834, at Newtonville.  Thomas is buried at Chapel Hill Baptist Church Cemetery, also at Newtonville.   

                                               Thomas Blakeney, picture on right.

Mary Blakeney was a granddaughter of a Revolutionary War veteran, Captain John Blakeney (1732-1832).  John Blakeney, a native of Ireland, arrived in America about 1750.  He served with Francis Marion during the Revolutionary War.

 Warren and Mary Blakeney Holliman were the parents of John, James W., Francis Marion (1861-1939), Sidney Warren, Moses Jefferson, Sarah, Barbara Elizabeth, and Suzan Kizziah (called Kizzie).

Warren C. Holliman served in Company B of the 41st Alabama Infantry CSA.  He was wounded in 1864 and discharged at Petersburg, Virginia.  His brothers, Cornelius and Elijah, also served in the 41stAaron Holliman, Warren’s youngest brother, served in the 1st Alabama Cavalry, a Union regiment.  (This is one of numerous Southern families whose families were divided by the war. - GNH)

 After Mary’s death in 1896, Warren married Luzia Howard (1848-1901).  Warren died in 1908, and he and his two wives are buried at Chapel Hill Baptist Church Cemetery at Newtonville.

Below right, Francis Marion and Nancy Henderson Holliman with children William Arthur and Ella.

 Francis Marion Holliman (1861-1939), Warren and Mary’s son, married Nancy Jennie Henderson (1860-1913), the daughter of Hugh and Nancy Henderson.  About 1902, Francis Marion and Nancy moved away from Newtonville, first to Eldridge in Walker County, then to Winfield in Marion County.  They were the parents of four surviving children: Sidney Warren (1886-1980), John A. (1889-1970), Ella (1892-1983),  and William Arthur (1899-1983). Ella married Oscar Smith.

 William Arthur Holliman  married Zolena McKay (1903-1930), the daughter of Archibald McKay.  They had three children.  After Zolena’s early death, William Arthur married Lela Warren (1908-1996), the daughter of John Franklin Warren and Emeline Smith Warren.  Lela and William Arthur had two children, the last a son, James Arthur, who married Juanita Hendrix, the daughter of Roy Lee Hendrix and Mary Katherine Wagnon Hendrix.

The 4 surviving children of Francis Marion Holliman and Nancy Henderson Holliman at a Winfield, Alabama reunion in the 1960s -  from left:  Sydney (1886-1980), William Arthur (1899-1983), Ella Holliman Smith (1892-1983), and John Holliman (1889-1970).

James and Juanita have one child, a daughter, Amy Holliman Armstrong.  William Arthur and Lila Holliman are buried at Winfield City Cemetery in Winfield, Marion County, Alabama

Right, William Arthur and Lila Warren Holliman on their 50th anniversary in 1980.

Amy Holliman married Brandon Wayne Armstrong, and they are the parents of a son, Aiden James Armstrong

The above is a partially revised version of an article originally printed in The Heritage of Fayette County, Alabama, publishers Heritage Publishing Consultants, Inc., 1999.  Sources are family knowledge, tombstones, census records for Fayette County, Alabama; various marriage records; Roster of South Carolina Patriots of the American Revolution compiled by Bobby Gilmer Moss; application for pension made by Warren Holliman; The History of Newtonville and Its Pioneer Citizens by Buren Sullivan; The First Alabama Cavalry, USA, 1862-1865, by William Stanley Hoole; Forty First Alabama Reg’t Infantry Confederate States of America, by George B. Wright; letter from G.R. Holliman dated 1977. Additional edits by Glenn N. Holliman.  Photographic credits are Mrs. Lela Warren Holliman collection, Rhodes B. Holliman and Juanita Holliman.


Juanita Hendrix Holliman adds:

John Holliman (1889-1970) married Evelyn (Evie) Abernathy (his first cousin) and lived in south Fayette County until their deaths.  A son, Lloyd Holliman, lived near Birmingham, as recently as 4-5 years ago. Another son lived in the north, not sure where.  The only daughter, Lois, lived in Mississippi and died there, I think.  Dewey Holliman, another son, lived near John in Fayette County.

Sydney Holliman (1886-1980) resided in Marion County, Alabama and had 3 sons.  Ed Holliman continued to live in the Guin/Winfield area, Troy Holliman lived for many years in Tuscumbia, and Roy Holliman lived for many years in Tennessee, but returned to Winfield, Alabama, some years before he died.

Ella Holliman (1892-1983) married Oscar Smith and lived in the Winfield, Alabama area. Some of their children went north.  Pauline and her husband live in Ohio.  Genny Lee and her husband lived at Guin, Alabama.  Flora and her husband, Donald Miles lived for many years in Ft. Wayne, Indiana, then returned to Guin, Alabama.  Ira Smith lived in Ft. Wayne many years then returned to Winfield. Not sure about the other children, but don't think they lived in Birmingham area.

William Arthur Holliman (1899-1983) had 3 surviving children by Zolena McKay, his first wife.  William Garlon Holliman married (1st) Frances Roberts, and (2nd) Adelle Cantrell Voce. He lived with both wives at Winfield.  Loudell Holliman married James Elbert Morris of Fayette County, and they moved to Greenville, Indiana in the 1950's, raised their children there and remained there the rest of their lives.  Louise Holliman married Brady Baccus of Winfield and they lived in Winfield the rest of their lives.

William Arthur had 2 surviving children by his 2nd wife, Lela Warren.  Mildred Holliman married Harold Johnson of Fayette County and they lived for a while at Winfield, moved to Mississippi briefly, finally moved to Saraland (near Mobile), Alabama.  Mildred and one daughter are still at Saraland. Another daughter (of Mildred and Harold) lives near Monroeville, Alabama.   

James Arthur Holliman (1944) (always James, never Jim!) is my husband and we live on his parents' homeplace (which we own), though in a different house which James had built  in 1977.  The old house (in fair condition) is still standing next door to us.  James worked for about 46 years at Continental Conveyor & Equipment Company in Winfield, in 2 or 3 different jobs, but for many of those years as a receiving clerk.  He retired in 2011. About 2 years before James retired, Continental changed owners and became Joy Global.   We cattle farm in a small way.  James has raised cattle since he was in his early 20's.  We presently have about 20 cows, a bull, 11 calves, 8 donkeys, in addition  to 2 dogs (heelers) and an uncertain number of cats.  

I am from Fayette County (which adjoins Marion County).  I've worked in several offices since going to work in 1970, while still in vocational school.  Mostly I've worked for construction companies and for a period worked for an architectural firm. My first job was at Continental Conveyor, where I met James.   Presently, I work at Rebasco Decorators, a retail store in Fayette, Alabama, which sells carpet, paint, blinds, fabric (finish construction products).  My employer's main business is as a painting/flooring contractor, and I do paperwork work required for the contracting business (payroll, billing,  etc.) as well as store work. 

James and I have a daughter, Amy, who married Brandon Armstrong of Winston County, Alabama, and they now live in Winston County.  She graduated in 2003 from University of North Alabama at Florence, Alabama, with a degree in Family and Consumer Science. She is employed by Northwest Alabama Mental Health, and works as a social worker, dealing with intellectually challenged adults.  They have a son, Aiden James Armstrong, born 2009, who is in 2nd grade.

William Arthur Holliman was a farmer for many years, and he also did carpenter work.  For a few years he worked at a pants manufacturing  plant in Winfield.  He was born at Newtonville in south Fayette County, and moved during his early childhood to Eldridge, a community in Walker County, near Winfield, and for a brief period, his family lived in Arkansas.  They returned to the Winfield area and in 1919 he married Zolena McKay.  He and Zolena and two of their children were living on a rented farm near Winfield in 1924 when a farm became available for sale (the property James and I now own).  He purchased the farm and he and Zolena lived there until her death in 1930.  

Later in 1930, he married Lela Warren.  He lived there until his death in 1983. Lela continued to live on the home place until she entered a nursing home a few months before her death in 1996.   Lela and Arthur did leave their farm for 2 years during the 1930's. They moved to Brilliant and truck farmed, selling their produce to the miners who worked in the coal mines at Brilliant, in an effort to earn money to pay for their place (this was the Depression and money was scarce).  In the late 1940's a small church, The First Assembly of God, was established in our community.  Lela and Arthur were early members of the church. The church building was built by a number of neighborhood men, including Arthur, who did much of the carpenter work.  The church remains active today, though it has been re-named.

Francis Marion Holliman (1861-1939), Arthur's father, worked at farming, though I'm uncertain if he actually owned his own property.  Later in his life, after his wife's death lived with his children, different ones at different times.  He spent a good bit of time with Arthur's family. In fact, he died at Arthur's home.  His tombstone, put up long after his death, indicates a death date of 1939. However, he was counted in the 1940 census, so probably he died in either 1940 or 1941.  Unfortunately, James did not know him, as he (James) was born in 1944.  

From all accounts I've heard of Francis Marion, he was a hard worker. He did much work on Arthur's farm (now ours), doing ditching, plowing, and other farm work. His wife, Nancy Jane Henderson, was born in 1860 in Fayette Co. AL (her stone says 1861 but that is an error) and died in 1913. She stumbled and fell while working in a pea patch, and the injury progressed to a point that it killed her - possibly infection, possibly a hernia caused by the fall, not sure of this, but I know the injury was what caused the later problems. She apparently lived only a short while after her accident. Francis Marion was born in 1861 in Fayette Co.  Nancy Jane (Jennie)'s father was Hugh Henderson, who served in the 41st Alabama Infantry, as did Warren Holliman, Francis Marion's father.  Her mother was Hugh's first wife, named Nancy, who was mostly likely a Cook.  

Additional Commentary and Photographs to follow in Part 2.