Sunday, August 18, 2013

From the Galaxy of Holliman Cousins - Blakeneys, Part 3

by Glenn N. Holliman

More on the Blakeneys, a branch of the Alabama Hollimans....

The last two posts, I have been writing of the Blakeney family of Fayette County, Alabama.  A distant cousin, Kenneth Bowling of Texas, wrote asking how the Holliman family is related to the Blakeneys.  The Hollimans are related in at least two ways (and probably more).

First, the eight child of Thomas Blakeney (1807-1896)  the subject of the last article in this space, was Mary 'Polly' Blakeney (1835-1896). In 1853 she married Warren C. Holliman, the son of Charles and Barbara Walters Holliman, also of Newtonville, Alabama as was 'Polly'.  This couple had eight children of whom many descendants still reside in the area.  Polly is buried in Chapel Hill Cemetery in Fayette County, but unfortunately her married last name is spelled 'Halliman' on her gravestone.

The second Holliman connection is through Thomas Blakeney's first born son, William Blakeney (see below), who died in the Civil War.   He was a 3rd Sergeant in the 41st Alabama Infantry, CSA. William came home on furlough in 1862, where, according to family tradition, he was exposed to measles. There are conflicting stories, but on his return to his unit, then outside of Chattanooga, Tennessee, he became ill, developed pneumonia and died in Charleston, Tennessee in 1863.
William's widow was Elizabeth Clanton Blakeney who later married Thomas Ashcraft by whom she had another child, Thomas Ashcraft, Jr.  William and Elizabeth had given life to one daughter, Belzy Ann Blakeney who married George Washington Baker on November 27, 1878. 

In 1880, Belzy Ann gave birth to Elizabeth Baker, who in 1899 married James Monroe Holliman, a great uncle of this writer.  James Monroe was the father of the late Cecil Rhodes Holliman and Charles Baker Holliman.  Cecil's son is Dr. Rhodes Holliman who has followed in his father's footsteps in cataloguing Holliman and associated family histories.  There well could be other Holliman-Blakeney connections and this writer would welcome hearing about them. 

Below, left to right, ca 1912, Charles and Cecil Rhodes Holliman and their mother, Anne Elizabeth Baker Holliman, grand daughter of William Blakeney, great grand daughter of Thomas Blakeney.

However, let us return to Thomas Blakeney, the great, great grandfather of Reed Blakeney, who wrote the book, SipseySipsey is the thinly disguised story of Thomas' passionate relationship with his housekeeper slave after the death of his first wife.  The unnamed person was an alluring woman of Cherokee and African-American heritage.  The couple had two children, a boy Jerry, and a girl named Sarah

In time, Thomas married another white woman, who quickly sent the mixed race woman packing, perhaps to an Indian reservation.  The children remained, and after the Civil War with the collapse of slavery, Thomas had them apprenticed to him so he could look after their welfare.

The late Walt O. Holliman has written in a Blakeney history that Tom, realizing his sons and particularly his step-sons, would make it untenable for the mulatto children after his death, is said to have given Jerry and Sarah a measure of gold he had buried during the Civil War.  With this generous legacy Thomas also provided them with a horse and wagon and as much farm equipment as it would carry and sent them 'off into the sunset'. 

However Jerry did not go very far and compassionately looked after his father, Thomas,  in his declining years.

Author and family historian Reed Blakeney has established that Jerry settled in North River, Tuscaloosa County, Alabama and married a woman whose maiden name was 'Driver'.   Reed made contact with two of Jerry's  grandchildren - Walter and Willie, who lived in Birmingham, Alabama.  Walter Blakeney was the son of Posey Blakeney, who was the son of Jerry.

Evalina Blakeney Greene, the youngest daughter of Jerry, lived in Tuscaloosa. Reed visited her when she was in her nineties and remembers a very refined lady.  Evalina's only son, Dr. Jim Green, is a retired professor from Oberlin College in Ohio and an aficionado of art, music and literature. 
Walter Blakeney has told Reed that the alluring woman and mother of Jerry did come back to visit Alabama after Jerry married.  Walter chuckled and observed that on that occasion Jerry's mother spent more time with Thomas than with her children!  Thomas carried her back to the train station in his buggy.  Apparently the attraction remained.

Out of the cultural confusion and ethnic chaos of human slavery on the near frontier of the Ante-bellum South, emerged a love story and a compassionate human being, Jerry Blakeney, whose DNA can only be called American - a combination Cherokee, African, Irish and English.    Below a stately and imposing photograph of Thomas Blakeney's son, Jerry Blakeney (1857-1955).
My thanks to the late Walt O. Holliman, Dr. Rhodes Holliman and Reed Blakeney for a reading of their research and photographs on this American family.  Reed kindly shared his insights on this story of love and compassion, which he has turned into a beautiful book, Sipsey.
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!). Mrs. Peddie can assist also in any DNA research.

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.

A seminar is to be held at the Rose House Inn, Fayette, Alabama, October 18 and 19, 2013 for more serious students of Holliman and related families.  Just write me for more information. GNH

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