Thursday, June 6, 2013

Isaac Holliman - A Story of the Old South, Part II

by Glenn N. Holliman

A Holyman Family with Deep Roots in Virginia....

We continue the fascinating story of the family and descendants of Isaac and Ann Gray Holliman....

Below, left to right, Doris Knox, Tammy Hunt, Cyndi Barnett and Sandi Royal visit Holliman graves at Chapel Grove Cemetery, Windsor, Virginia.  All in this photograph, both living and those who have gone before, are descendants of Isaac Holliman, a former slave who had 12 children with Ann Gray, who by family tradition was a daughter of a slave owner. 

Isaac did have a son Robert W., probably born in or around 1851 by an earlier relationship with a woman named Matilda.  Tammy Hunt is descended from these first parents.

According to family records, the girls of Isaac and Anne were Anne Lou, Joanna, Luzerne, Monil J. and Rosanna.  The boys were Isaac T., James H., Jeremiah P., John H., Joseph, P., Joshua, and Nonnie J.  

Who was Isaac Holliman?  The 1880 census states an Isaac Holliman of Isle of Wight, Virginia was born in 1824 and had a wife named Ann.  Her birthday is in uncertain, born perhaps in 1832, 1845 or 1852.  
According to Sandi Royal, Isaac may or may not have been the offspring of his owner, whose name was Holliman.  DNA testing to this date has been inconclusive as to whether Isaac and his offspring are genetically related to the descendants of Christopher Holyman (d 1691).  However, there is not doubt that the two families are historically related by time, place and circumstance.
The name of the white Holliman family that held Isaac in bondage is not known with certainty although Mrs. Royal has an opinion based on careful reading of George Holleman's 1953 history of the family (reprinted by Tina Peddie and available for sale). 
Isaac did adopt the name Holliman, and after having fathered one child, at some point in his life 'jumped the broomstick' (married) a woman named Ann Gray, evidently during the Civil War.  Family tradition records Ann who died in 1930 as 'being the white grandmother' and tales abound of Ann being a slave owner's daughter.  The couple literally 'ran into the woods' to escape Ann's angry parents.
The document below, found by Hollyman historian Jeanette Holiman Stewart, was issued   October 8,1866 at Fortress Monroe, Virginia. The letter requests for Isaac Holliman, his wife, Ann, and son Robert transportation back to Nansemond County (an extinct county which bordered Isle of Wight County).  The three are identified as 'freed people' who, as were tens of thousands of former bonds people, displaced by the upheavals and destruction of slavery during the Civil War. 

Note Isaac's age is listed as 47 and Ann as 21 (which would make her born in 1845) and the stepson of Ann, Robert, is 15.  This Federal document suggests Isaac and Ann were only recently married, given her young age (if accurate) and the lack of children listed.

Next article more on this couple who defied the laws of their time to marry and found a family in post-Civil War Virginia.  And who was Ann Gray?

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!).

Since early 2010, I have been publishing research and stories on the broad spectrum of Holliman (Holyman) family history at . For stories on my more immediate family since the early 20th Century, I have been posting articles since early 2011 at .

Let's save the past for the future! If you have photographs, letters, memorabilia or research you wish to share, please contact me directly at Several of us have an on-going program of scanning and preserving Holyman and related family records. Write please and tell us of your items. Thanks to the Internet, we are able to scan, upload to the web (with your permission) and return the materials to you.

Announcing also a "Seminar and Site" gathering October 18 and 19, 2013 in Fayette, Alabama for Hollimans and associated families whose ancestors are from that area. Space at the Rose House Inn is limited for the occasion due to a football weekend. For information, contact me at the above email. Hope to see some of you there. - GNH

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