Saturday, March 6, 2010

Mary Polly Lucas Holliman Part II

Since our February 26, 2010 post we have heard from many members of our extended family. Much thanks to all for writing and passing along new information and photographs about Holliman family history. Your contributions are encouraged and welcome.

The photo below is of Norman S. Holliman of Tennessee taken by the gravesite of his great, great grandmother, Mary Polly Lucas Holliman in Bluff, Alabama. She is a grandmother of almost all reading this story.

A native of Rockdale, Texas, Norman is the son of the late August Harold Holliman, who is the son of Cornelius Elmer, who is the son of Cornelius Holliman, who is the eighth child of Uriah and Polly Lucas Holliman. A genealogy of Uriah and Mary Polly's offspring is listed at the end of this post and has been added to the Family Lineage Page (on the left on this blog).

Feature Story:

Part II –A Compassionate Heroine: The Story of Mary Polly Lucas Holliman
By Dr. Rhodes Holliman, originally published in Southern Times Magazine of Tuscaloosa and West Alabama, issue no. 125.

In May of 1862, Mary Polly in her home in Fayette Co., Alabama heard from some source, that her husband Uriah and son, Charles Daniel, were sick in Okolona, Mississippi, where a very congested camp had been established after the retreat from Corinth (Battle of Shiloh). They were trapped in an epidemic of measles and pneumonia that enveloped the camp. She hitched up the mule to a wagon and traveled the primitive dirt roads and trails to Okolona, a distance in excess of 70 miles to attempt to care for her sick husband and son. Uriah died on May 8, 1862, and Charles Daniel died on May 12, 1862.

She stayed long enough to bury her husband and son, and then drove the wagon back to the home place near Bluff, while suffering the ravages of measles contracted while acting as caregiver to her family. Their graves are among the many ‘unknowns’ in the Okolona Confederate Cemetery. She remained in desperate condition while convalescing at home. One can only imagine the tragedy what would have occurred if she had died, orphaning seven children at home between the ages of 14 and two. She survived this frightening ordeal to become one of the great, compassionate, pioneer ladies of northwestern Fayette County.

In 1865, when James Franklin and John Thomas returned from the war, Mary Polly had nine of her 13 children at home for a short time. James and John, at ages 26 and 21, would soon be married and moving out to start their own families. The remaining children: females aged 17, 11, nine and seven, and boys aged 16, 13 and fiver, were the ‘work force’ on which May Polly depended to handle all the many chores inherent in sustaining a successful farm. She could hitch up a mule to a plow and till the soil as well as any man. As her brood began to mature over the next 12 years, she saw two boys and two girls marry local sweethearts and move away to Texas, the new frontier for patent land. Another daughter would marry a Holliman cousin and move to Oklahoma, leaving only one daughter and one son to assist in maintaining the farm.

As children abandoned the old homestead for ‘greener pastures’, Mary Polly developed a vocational interest that would endear her to the population of northwest Fayette county and enhance the qualities of her character that are engraved on her grave stone: “Pioneer Strength – Integrity – Human Kindness!”

Professional medical services were virtually unknown in post-war Fayette County so, while maintaining her farm, she became the only source of medical assistance in her community as an herb doctor, caregiver and midwife to many of her neighbors. As her reputation of competency spread, her medical ‘practice’ spread geographically. She would accept appeals for help from all over the area, then saddle up a mule and ride out to provide services.

She charged $5 for midwife services, which included prenatal checkups, moving in to the expectant mother’s home and performing the delivery, staying for a week or more of postnatal care of mother and infant, plus cooking for the family, doing the washing and cleaning the house. If ever a grave stone spoke the truth to the memory of the one interred, it is her stone. One of he God’s great compassionate mothers is at rest in Springhill Baptist Cemetery in Bluff Community, Fayette County, Alabama.

Mary Polly finished her days at the home of her youngest son, Joshua Warren Holliman (1860-1944) in Vernon Alabama, Lamar County. This writer had the privilege of talking to Joshua in the 1930s and hunting on his farm as a boy. One of the last recollections that Joshua had of his mother comes from our family archives. She was ‘sitting in a rocking chair on the front porch of an old dog-trot house, smoking a corn cob pipe, dipping snuff and nipping from a quart of Four Roses whiskey that was sitting on the floor beside her chair!” What a unique way to remember a lady whose life-long work ethic brought comfort and support to so many.

There are many tales to tell about Mary Polly Lucas Holliman and her large family. There is a separate, exciting story about each one of them. There are very few cemeteries in Fayette County where you can’t find one or more Hollimans descended from Mary Polly. Her descendants spread out over Mississippi, Oklahoma, Texas and Alabama.

Tombstone of Mary Polly Lucas Holliman

(photo courtsey of Norman Holliman)

In our next post, Dr. Rhodes Holliman continues his story of the Holliman family with a two part biography of John Thomas Holliman (1844-1930).

The Children of Uriah Holliman and Mary Polly Lucas Holliman
compiled by Dr. Rhodes Holliman

1. Mary Elizabeth Holliman, born Sept. 12th, 1837, died Oct. 9th, 1841.

2. James Franklin Holliman, born Jan. 28th, 1839, died 13 May, 1911. 1st Lt., Co. B, 58th Alabama Infantry Regt., captured at Missionary Ridge, TN, on Nov. 25th, 1863. Spent the remainder of the War in Johnson's Island Prison Camp for Confederate Officers, in Erie, Ohio. He was released on June 13th, 1865. He returned to Fayette County to become a teacher and farmer. He married Rebecca Utley Stewart on July 2nd, 1865. They had 4 children (3 boys and a girl). Rebecca died and JFH married one of his former students, Bertha Lee Powell. The had 5 children (3 boys and 2 girls). JFH and both wives are buried at the Holliman-Stewart Cemetery, Bluff, AL.

3, Sarah Jane Holliman, born Oct. 3, 1840 in Fayette County, died Oct. 15, 1915, buried at Cottonwood Cemetery, 6 miles east of Eustace, Texas. She married Charles Stephen Coppell in Fayette County on July 13th, 1864.

4. Charles Daniel Holliman, born May 6th, 1842, died May 12, 1862 of diseases mentioned above while in the Confederate Army. Burial probably in the Confederate Cemetery, Okolona, MS.

5. John Thomas Holliman, born April 23, 1844, died July 12th 1930 in Fayette County. Burial at Caine’s Ridge Cemetery, 4 miles south of Fayette, AL, on Route 159. Was known as "Hico John" to distinguish him from 2 others of the same name in the county. Married (1) Sarah Corbett: one child, William Perry. She died in childbirth. Married (2) Martha Jane Walker: 5 sons. JTH was a Pvt. in Company H. 41st Alabama Infantry Regr., CSA. He surrendered at Petersburg, VA, on Feb. 15th, 1865, near starvation. He took the oath and was paroled to a farmer in Indianapolis, Indiana, where he worked until the fall of 1865 and then walked home to Fayette County, AL.

6. Elijah Holliman, born April 16th, 1846, died July 10th, 1864, from typhoid while serving in the Confederate Army. He was a Pvt. in Company I of the 56th Alabama Partisan Rangers. He died in a Confederate Hospital near Lagrange, GA and his buried in Confederate Cemetery under gravestone that reads E. Holman.

7. Nancy Palestine Holliman, born April 7th, 1848, died Dec. 12th, 1923. Married John Pinion: no issue. She is buried near her mother, Mary Polly, in Springhill Cemetery near Bluff, AL.

8. Cornelius Holliman, born Dec. 16th, 1849, in Fayette County. Married Sarah Elizabeth Smith at Fayette. Moved to Rockdale, Milam County, Texas. Buried Texas Eagle Cemetery. This is Norman S. Holliman's great grandfather.

9. William Perry Holliman, born March 29th, 1852, in Fayette County. Married Sarah Holliman, a distant cousin and daughter of Warren C. Holliman and Mary Blakeney of Newtonville, AL. Moved to Rockdale, Milam County, Texas. Resided near Cameron, Texas.

10. Martha Ann Holliman, born June 27th, 1854, married Rufus Buckner. Resided near Alvord, Texas.

11. Rebecca Drucilla Holliman, born March 4th, 1856. Married John Thomas Holliman, cousin, and son of Warren C. Holliman and Mary Blakeney of Newtonville, AL. Moved to Ardmore, OK. He was called "Black John" due to the color of his hair and to distinguish him from two other John Ts living Fayette County at the same time.

12. Emily Frances Holliman, born March 14th, 1858 in Fayette Co. Married (1) Abner McClung in Fayette County. Moved to Eustace, Texas, where she had relatives and there married Joe Reynolds.

13. Joshua Warren Holliman, born Aug. 26th, 1860, died Jan. 6th, 1944. Married Martha Goulsby, resided in Vernon, Lamar County, AL, until his death. Buried in Vernon. His mother, Mary Polly Lucas Holliman, died at his home in 1913.

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