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.

Sunday, August 7, 2016


by J. Allen Holleman


As I have written at this space, I am taking a time out from blog writing for a while in order to concentrate on building a virtual archive at  In the meantime, cousin Allen continues to produce excellent material on his Holleman branch that left Isle of Wight County in Virginia and migrated to North Carolina in the early 1800s.  Earlier Susan G. White in this space wrote of her maternal descendant from her Holleman ancestors in Isle of Wight, Virginia.  I invite others to utilize this blog to share their research with others.  - GNH

Allen Holleman continues....

Previously I have posted articles on Jesse Holleman, Sr. (1737-1824) and his sons John (my 4th GGF) and Jordan. I had so little on the younger Jesse, only the lineage and a few scant notes that it would have been just a few dull paragraphs.  To the rescue has come a cousin, through 2 or 3 lines (Holleman, Womble and possibly Sims) - Clayton P. Mann of Burlington, North Carolina.  He is a direct descendant of Jesse, Jr. and has researched him very well and provided far more data than I had been able to find to then.  He has to be named a co-author as well.

...was born about 1768 in Isle of Wight County, Virginia (IoW), the third son of Jesse Holleman Sr. (1735-1824) and Charity Cofer (1735-abt 1810), both from prominent and prosperous families in the Virginia Tidewater region.

Below, Allen Holleman in Isle of Wight County, Virginia
The senior Jesse was the GGS of Christopher Hollyman (1618-1691) who had immigrated from
Bedford, England in 1650 and later received a royal patent* of 1,020 acres.  Jesse Sr. had inherited about 200 acres of that from his father, John, and was a planter himself and became a well-regarded citizen, Baptist minister, surveyor and patriot in the American cause.  He and Charity raised nine (or more) sons and two daughters.

(*Royal in that it was granted by the governor who was appointed by the crown.)

Hereinafter, the younger is known as Jesse and any mention of the father will be as Jesse, Sr.

Jesse Holleman, Jr. and Patience Pope (1769-1830) of Southampton Co, Virginia were married 26 February 1795 in that county by the Rev. Ben Barnes. The bondsman was Simmons Gwaltney, his brother-in-law.  Patience was born about 1769 to Nathan Pope and Patience Everett. They didn't wait long to start a family as first son, Zachariah was born within a year in 1796.

The earliest official record we have found of Jesse, is a tax listing in Isle of Wight, VA (IoW) of 2 September 1799.  This shows he had farm property there at the time.  We cannot be sure where that was, relative to the plantation of his father and grandfather and where he was born. Most probably by Mill Swamp in the Newport District of IoW and on the Blackwater River, the far west edge of the county.

The main cash crop was tobacco and that leeched the soils so badly a field was good for only a few years. It took several more years for nutrients to return naturally. Farmers did not have a strong understanding of soil replenishment at the time.  Another issue was that the production of tobacco in Virginia was greater than even the strong demand in England, driving the price and profitability downward.

 Most of the farmland in IoW, Surry and Southampton counties was either owned and in use or depleted as was theirs.  As with thousands of others, it seemed more effective to move on once a farm was no longer productive.

About 1804-05 Jesse and Patience, along with his older brother John and wife Nancy (nee Womble) moved to Wake County, North Carolina and settled in the southwestern district, known as Buckhorn. Both couples had children under 5 years old. Nancy's father Thomas Womble and brothers William and Thomas, Jr. also came south about the same time, although it seems several Wombles had migrated up to ten years earlier.   Her older sister Frances, called Frankey, with her husband Frederick Taylor was in Buckhorn at least by 1799.

Some Pope families also had moved to Wake but most seem to have settled in Johnston and the part of Cumberland County that is now Harnett.

From an 1872 map of Wake County.   This is almost 70 years after John and Jesse Holleman and other brothers, Jordan and Jonathan, settled in Buckhorn District, then into other areas as well.  In that later time some land of their children  can be seen:  EHolleman  (Edwin, son of John) underlining the C  and K in Buckhorn and just down the road, WHolleman (Wiley, son of Jordan, arr. 1815).  These are under Harris Lake of today. These are just two of the Holleman tracts.  I  cannot point out Jesse's farms.    Under the B is Shady Grove Church, near New Hill.  Over the Big White Oak Creek on Fayetteville Rd. is where Jesse built the bridge discussed.  That road is the New Hill-Holleman Road of today, and  where it is crossed by the lower Avent Ferry Rd. (shown as J W Collins) is now Holleman's Crossroads.    Chatham Co. is to the west, to the south is Harnett Co. (estb. 1856 from Cumberland Co.) and  Johnston Co. is on the east side.

The cash crops were tobacco and cotton along with vegetables and livestock for meats.

In April 1806, Jesse was a buyer at the estate sale of Joseph Betts in Wake Co.

Jesse had learned more than farming from his father, Jesse, Sr., a surveyor also who during the Revolutionary War served as 'Surveyor of the Roads' for Isle of Wight Co. Also showing that he had become a prominent citizen, the younger Jesse was appointed to a similar position for Wake County on 16 February 1807, to "be overseer of the road in the (place) of Willis Hicks, deceased, and that the same hands work on said road as usual".  He certainly would not have been appointed had he not demonstrated skills and experience for the position.

And further on 15 August 1807, he was appointed with several other men "to view the public road leading through by the plantation of Robert Brown and to lay off a new road if necessary".
Wake is a large county and Jesse's home in the southwest corner was over 20 miles from Raleigh, another 25 miles to the northeast corner and over two hundred miles of roads even then.   It took quite a long time by horseback or wagon to cover that territory.

Four years in his position with the county was long enough, and the travel may have been taking too much time away from his farm, home and family.   It probably didn't pay very well, so in the court records of 20 May 1811 it was "ordered that Britain Mims be appointed overseer of the road in the (place) of Jesse Holleman".

It seems that surveying was  his primary profession.  Good surveyors were in demand and  highly regarded.  We will see too that he was also a builder.

His days in public service were far from over however and in May 1811 he was selected as part of a "committee to allot dower lands to Nancy Levins, widow of Jacob Levins, deceased, on White Oak Creek, 55 acres of a tract of 157 acres joining Moses Hicks".  His abilities as a surveyor were still needed.

(A widow's lifetime dower right is to 'life estate' of 1/3 of all real property of her late husband and unless specified by a will, the courts appoint trusted men of the community to decide which part of the lands go to her, the widow and which to the children.  The dower does not convey title and goes to the children per will or probate, at her passing, so no deed was required.)

On 17 February 1812 the Wake County, "commissioners let the contract for building a bridge across White Oak Creek on the road leading from Hillsborough to...Jesse Holleman".

And later: "the Commissioners appointed to let the bridge across White Oak [Creek] reported to this court that the same is completed" and ordered that 23 pounds* be paid for building this bridge by the County Trustee to Jesse Holleman".

*(Even into the 1820's the courts still used pounds, shillings and pence in reference to currency.)

Twenty-three pounds was a substantial sum of money, well over $100,000 in today's dollars for such a project* and it's fair to say he didn't build it alone.  White Oak Creek was rather substantial, navigable by small boats and was a tributary of the Cape Fear River.  And this was on a main road so the bridge had to be very strongly constructed and expected to last for many years.   As the contractor and supervisor he hired a number of competent workers for this major project.

*(The 'relative value' of building that same wooden bridge by hand today would translate to between $150,000-$200,000 or more now in materials and labor.)

On 22 February 1814, he was "drawn to attend" the next County Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions* for the May 1814 session, as a juror.

*(similar to District Courts of today, meeting each quarter. Also the court handled adminstrative duties, taxes and estates issues.)

On 17 May 1814 he was appointed to serve on a grand jury along with 14 other men.

For several years those are most of what we have on Jesse and his children. He is not on the Wake poll tax records in 1805 but his brother John is.   Jesse may have been either still in Virginia or newly arrived in North Carolina. We know from the notations above that he was in Wake by 1806 and likely before as one year is not quite enough to be recognized as a upstanding citizen to be appointed Surveyor of the Roads and serving on a jury.

The 1806-1808 Wake poll tax records have disappeared. The word poll is Old English for head (...count) and was charged to male property owners allowing only them to vote, hold office or serve on juries. It was used to keep free blacks and poor whites from participating in the political process. The word poll has found its way into modern English in several references, mainly in politics still.

He is listed in 1809-1814 as having 65 acres and one slave (most likely a field hand) in Buckhorn District of Wake County. Afterwards no slaves are listed. His boys were getting old enough to help work the farm.

From 1812-1816 records show he served on several juries, was buyer at several estates sales, witnessed a number of wills and estates and testified in court.

In 1815 he has acquired another 100 acres of land as the tax records show. We might presume it was acquired through one of the estate sales but I have  not found a deed or other record to tell us just how. Interestingly in 1817, he is again shown with just 65 acres.  A mistake?  No. On the line just below it shows Jesse paying the poll tax for Zachariah Holliman with 100 acres. As the poll tax is charged to males at age 21, he was most likely born in 1796 in Isle of Wight Co., VA.

The Wake tax listing for Jesse from 1818-1822 again show him with 165 acres.

In 1823 the tax record on the 100 acre farm shows the poll tax was paid by second son, Nathan.  This seems to be about age 24 rather than the more usual 21 as the later census records indicate he was born in 1799. He later moved to Georgia along with Zach and died after 1880.

Jesse, Patience and John and Nancy along with her brother, William Womble's family, the Johnstons and a few others, were instrumental in founding Shady Grove Baptist Church in the New Hill area in 1823.  The 1872 map of Wake Co. above shows the church near the Hillsborough-Fayetteville Road, that became the New Hill-Holleman Road of today.

By the 1830 census in Wake, youngest son Ezra (1803-1865/'66) and wife Rebecca (nee Womble, 1804-1870) are in Buckhorn near his uncle John and her aunt, Nancy.  Daughter  Zilla (1804-after 1880) and husband William Barker (1785-1862) are also nearby in Buckhorn District.   And the two older sons have moved on.  For more on the children see the addendum on "The Progeny of Jesse Holleman".

Jesse passed away on 8 September of 1829.  It may have been rather sudden or unexpected as he seems to have not left a will.  Youngest son Ezra was appointed administrator by the probate court and he held sales of the personal property items.  Much of that was in farming and building tools but surprisingly it seems kitchen and household items also that we would think Patience would have needed...,  unless she was moving in with one of the children.  She even had to buy the bed and some furniture, her spinning wheel and even the Bible.  I' would love to see that Bible as it surely had a lot of family entries.  Patience died later, in 1830.  *NOTE BELOW on PROPERTY....

I guess nothing is safe when the courts get their fingers into it.  Any wonder these folks had little use for or faith in  government?  And for some reason the final probate wasn't filed into court records until November 1831 - more than two years after his passing.

Jesse Holleman was certainly his father's son. Both were farmers, surveyors and active in their communities without being directly in politics; both served as Surveyor of the Roads in their respective counties.  Both helped found Baptist churches and while the younger likely led services and even preached a few sermons in the formative period of Shady Grove Church, the elder served two terms as the minister of Mill Swamp Baptist Church in IoW County, VA.  Mill Swamp Baptist was the first non-Anglican church in Virginia.

Father and son were highly regarded by friends and neighbors and the community, evidenced by being asked to serve on juries, to witness many legal documents  and to help evaluate and settle many estates.  Both would have served also in the local militias though those records have been lost.   Jesse Holleman and his brothers are all men of whom we can be proud of as ancestors.

*NOTES ON INHERITANCE OF PROPERTY:  Until after the Revolution the colonies were under English law and custom of Primogeniture in which the eldest son inherited all of the real estate.  In that, no wills or deeds were required as the property passed to him at the father's death.  The very practical reason for this was to keep property, mainly farms, as intact as possible rather than having it sub-divided at each generation.  Land was not subject to probate.

Further, unless specified by a will, laws of the time required all personal property subject to probate to be sold and converted to cash for the heirs and any creditors.

In 1784, North Carolina enacted a statute that provided for all the sons to share equally in the land and buildings.  As the two older sons were in Georgia, this seems to have passed to Ezra, subject to the 'widow's dower', a life estate of 1/3 of the land (the 65 acres).  That would pass to the son(s) at her death. This explains why we have no deeds to Ezra for the transfer of the lands.

Jesse Jr. was the son of Jesse (Sr.), my 5th GGF. His brother John was my 4th GGF, so Jesse, Jr. was my 4th Great-Uncle.  Following this article will be one on:"The Progeny of Jesse Holleman" in which tells the story of his children: three sons and one daughter.

-J. Allen Holleman, Jr.: Raleigh, North Carolina and Clayton P. Mann:  Burlington, North Carolina

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 .