Thursday, May 5, 2011

The 'Holliman' Name

by Glenn N. Holliman

The Name Holyman and its Spelling Varieties

Recently I was perusing, a subscription service, and clicked on Family History.  Lo and behold, the site revealed the numbers of Holliman (and other various spellings) households in the U.S. and the states in which persons of this spelling reside.  Here is what I found.


This is the 4,999 (not 5,000 mind you) most popular name in America, and there are all of 1,350 households in the country with this name.  Frankly, that is a tiny portion of perhaps 75 to 100 million or so residences in these United States.  This confirmed my 'feeling' that there were not many of us out there.

Where do Hollimans live?  As those of us who follow these things are generally from the southeast, and as Holymans entered North American in Jamestown, Virginia, the vast majority of us still live in the south and southwest.  Here is a partial ranking of those of us who in Colonial times adopted an 'i' and dropped the 'y'.

Georgia - 15.3%
Mississippi - 14.4%
Alabama - 11% (my state of origin)
Arkansas - 9.1%
Texas - 8.4%
Tennessee - 5.4%
Oklahoma - 4.4%
Illinois - 2.7%
North Carolina - 2.4%
Virginia - 2.4%
South Carolina - only 1%

Hmmm....So the Hollimans left Virginia, settled for a while in North Carolina in the 1700s,and generally kept moving southwest to the states of the Old Confederacy.  We did not go much further west than Texas and Oklahoma (California has all of 2% of the Hollimans).  One group did go north to Illinois, perhaps African-American Hollimans who live in the Chicago area, part of the migration between the world wars?
No one of this spelling live in Maine, the Dakotas, Idaho, Wyoming, Nevada or Arizona.


Let's try a variation on the name, Holloman.  A bit more common - this spelling is 3,350 on the list or about 2,240 households in the entire country.  What a difference a vowel  makes!  Again a very predominant Southern name.

North Carolina - 23.5%
Virginia - 11.6%
Texas - 7.1%
Georgia - 6.7%
South Carolina - 5.8%
Florida - 4.6%
Mississippi - 3.3%
Alabama - 3.1%
Tennessee 2.1%

Whoo...those descendants of Christopher Holyman, Sr (d 1691) who stayed in Virginia and migrated to North Carolina (and put down roots) tended to spell their name with an 'o' not an 'i'.


This spelling, fairly common in Isle of Wight County, Virginia a ranks 10,490 as the most common in America; pretty low.  There are about 1,350 families in America with this spelling.

Texas - 21%
North Carolina - 18%
Illinois - 5.1%
Tennessee - 4.8%
California - 4.6%
Michigan - 4.3%
Georgia - 4%
Mississippi and Okolahoma - 3.5% each
Virginia 3.3% or only 43 residences

Were a number of these Hollemans African-Americans who moved to Chicago and Detroit between the world wars?  Perhaps the descendants of slaves from the deep south?  Perhaps?


Opps...this spelling is the 30,255 most popular, pretty low in the name 'market'.  There are only 260 residences of cousins who use an 'o', instead of the 'a' in the last syllable. And where do you live?  No surprise, again the deep South.

Mississippi - 19.8%
Texas 12.1%
Georgia - 11.3%
Alabama - 7.4%
and so on....

Granted in the Colonial times and in early censuses (dare I say this) our ancestors and those dealing with official records may have lacked certain 'spelling skills' which has led to our various spellings.  Whatever happened to Holyman and Hollyman, the names that show up in England and early Colonial records?


Strangely, the spellings of Holyman and Hollyman have disappeared (almost).  Only 75 residences in the entire U.S. are labeled 'Hollyman'.
Illinois - 15.6%
Missouri - 15.6%
California - 15.6%

Does this suggest a later migration to the Colonies from another family?  Virtually none by this name live in the Deep South as do the known descendants of Christopher Holyman, Sr. (or Hollyman).


This is the spelling one will find in 16th and 17th wills in England, and yet in all the United States, only three residences have this spelling. One person each in Missouri, West Virginia and Pennsylvania.

Next post, back to the 19th Century....

So if you are descended from the three brothers, Charles, Warren and Cornelius Holliman, who immigrated to Alabama in 1836 from the Carolinas, you may wish to attend a Holliman Family Round Table at the Fayette County, Alabama Civic Center, October 15, 2011, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.  To reserve lunch, contact Glenda Norris at or Glenn Holliman at


  1. This is amazing; I always wonder how many people were named Hollimon, because the name isn't very popular. After reviewing the photo, I noticed that one of the men (Ulysses) has the same name as my Father. I remember that my great grandmother had a very light tone of skin color and she was from the South; I always wonder if it was possbile for her ancestors to have been of the opposite race; anything could have happen during those turbulent times. Keep moving forward with your research and keep us posted.

    1. Debbie,

      Could you write me at and share more about your lineage. Several of us are compiling an inventory of the many branches of the Holliman/Hollimon and various spellings. We would like to include your branch is you have no objection. Glenn

  2. Hmmmm so are we all in some way related?