Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Further Exploring Holleman History in Old Virginia (and North Carolina) Part 13

by Glenn N. Holliman

I am happy to post another article by cousin Allen Holleman who continues to research and write of his ancestors, direct descendants of Christopher Holyman (1618-1691) who migrated from Bedford, Bedfordshire, England with his sister, Judith (b 1621), and made his home in Isle of Wight, Virginia. GNH

A Holleman Family leaves Virginia....
by descendant Allen Holleman, 4th great grandson of John Holleman (1766-??)

My previous article (May 3, 2014) was about JESSE HOLLEMAN, great-grandson of CHRISTOPHER HOLLYMAN, and only briefly mentioned his nine sons and four daughters. While the daughters are important, the focus is on the boys as they carried the family name directly forward. We have very little to relate on four of them, and Glenn Holliman has given us so much knowledge on the second son Josiah, who with his children were a well regarded and successful family in Isle of Wight County, Virginia in colonial times, early America and even today. I will concentrate on the four sons who chose to migrate to North Carolina, leaving the legacy and property of 150 years and family behind. Why...?

JOHN HOLLEMAN, the eldest of Jesse and Charity Cofer Holliman's sons was named for his grandfather and born 4 Feb 1766 in Newport Parish in western Isle of Wight County, VA on the family land by the Blackwater River. We don't know a lot about his early years but can surmise much just because he was the son of Jesse and much was expected of him being the firstborn.

He was schooled in the basics and could read and write and learned math as well.  Most of his real-world education was from Jesse and seems to be mainly in farming, and 18th century land and farming economics.  He doesn't seem to have taken up surveying, one of his father's professions. Yet we see he learned about land appraisal and trading. In 1796 he appraised the estate of his uncle, James Cofer.

About 1783 at age 17, he married NANCY WOMBLE, the daughter of Thomas and Rebecca Womble. It is most likely that in early marriage they lived with Jesse and Charity.  Son Axum was born in 1784 and Davis in 1785. The family farm was well looked after but getting rather crowded, with other siblings. John inherited land from his grandfather THOMAS COFER in 1784, and he and Nancy likely moved there and farmed that until tobacco drained the soils of nutrients.

The original Virginia patent of Christopher Hollyman's original 1020 acres had been well divided by 1800, and there was not a lot of available farmland nearby. The Holleman boys, being adventurous sorts, needed to make their fortunes and futures as Christopher had done in leaving England for Virginia. North Carolina had become a draw for many, with a lot of available land and an emerging "civilization", especially in Wake County near the new state capital, Raleigh. 

All eight of John and Nancy's children were born in Virginia and moved to North Carolina with them. That would have been after 1802 when the youngest, Edwin was born.  Axum, the eldest, bought farmland from Mark Cook in 1804 and sold another parcel in 1807 both in Chatham County, NC.   If he moved south with his family that would place them at least that early.  Axum was an independent sort and may have moved first and influenced the others. 

I can't place John in Wake County solidly until witnessing an 1810 land sale, where his son, Jeremiah bought farmland from Richard Levens.  Generally, witnesses to legal transactions, such as deeds and wills, were substantial citizens - landowners, so he and his sons were well established there already. 

Below, a North Carolina county map with Wake County in blue.  Chatham County is just to the west.  Johnston County bordering Wake is the historic home of another set of Hollimans, Samuel and James Grantson in the 18th Century. GNH

Between 1812 and 1848, John became quite a land trader as he is named on numerous deeds as buyer or seller. He also witnessed several deeds for others, and executor of several wills establishing that he was a respected and trusted citizen of the county. 

John seems to have been a money lender also, and some loans did not go well as he had to take property in settlement of some debts.  That may not have been all bad, but it must have been difficult to foreclose on friends and neighbors. We don't know how many of these there might have been as only the problem loans were recorded by the county.  And we might think he wasn't particularly avaricious as he signed notes as security for others, promising to cover their debts.  Again, only those that didn't go well were legally noted.  Even though the debts were discharged by sale of property, it must have been a hassle to have to travel 25 miles to Raleigh - much of the day by horse, and then deal with the legal issues. 

Below, pioneer John Holleman of the early 19th Century would scarce recognize the metropolis known as the Carolina Research Triangle.  Several millions live in the multi-county region which abounds in numerous universities and high tech services.

A Remarriage and Legal Troubles...
John's wife, NANCY WOMBLE was on the 1840 census but died before 1844 when he marries another NANCY, nee UTLEY. We don't know whether she was a spinster at 50 or had been married to an Utley but suspect the former as the bondsman was Hinton Utley. John would have been quite a catch to support her in her later years and he certainly needed a wife to cook and keep house for him. But, as we shall see, it may not have been a match made in heaven.

The last land sale I have for John is an important issue, even after he passes away in August 1850, as you will see as the history of my 4th GGF comes to a close. He was selling off  properties and transferring land to his son, Edwin.

Wake County, NC, Deeds, Book 18: pp. 584-585:
10 Apr 1848.
John HOLLEMAN of Wake Co to Edwin HOLLEMAN of Wake Co
for $125, tract adj. Johnson Busbee, Allen Jones, Burwell Utley, containing 279-3/4 acres.
Signed: John HOLLEMAN
Witness: John Bennett

Many of us are familiar with an abbreviated abstract of the will of John Holleman, but it leaves out some wording that is significant and indicaties some strained relationships, shown in italics.

Wake County, NC, Wills- Book 27:pp. 088-089:
Will of JOHN HOLLEMAN SR. of Wake Co, NC.
To beloved wife NANCY HOLLEMAN the interest of $500, to be paid by executor during life tenure or widowhood then the $500 to be divided among my heirs.

Wife Nancy HOLLEMAN to have all of property she brought to my house when I married her.

It is my will and desire that my beloved wife NANCY HOLLEMAN have the interest of five hundred dollars as before named and what property she brought to my house as before named and no more. It is my will and desire that she have that much of my estate as her only shear (sic) in my estate in any way what ever=
To son JOHN HOLLEMAN $1 as his only shear in any and all in any way whatever=
To lawful heirs of son Jeremiah HOLLEMAN dec'd. $1 to be equally divided among them all and as there only shear in any and all of my estate in any way what ever=
Furthermore it is my will and desire that my executor herein after named shall sell all of my property consisting of land, negros and perishable property... and furthermore collect all debts due to me - and all the moneys arising from the sale of all my property... 
to be equally divided among children whose names follow: AXUM HOLLEMAN, DAVIS HOLLEMAN, EDWIN HOLLEMAN, PEGGY BRIGHT, BETSY WILSON, NANCY DUPREE.
...appoint son Edwin HOLLEMAN executor.                                                                                                                                13 Oct 1846.                                                                                                                                                         Signed: JOHN HOLLEMAN                                                                                                                                         Witnesses: R.M. Brown, John Brummet                                                                                                           Proved August term 1850 by R.M. Brown and John Bennet

John died in August of 1850.  Nancy, surely in a state of grief and confusion and inexperienced in legal matters, likely thinking she would be able to remain in the home and on the property she had shared with her husband and perhaps thinking she was to receive the $500 stated, gave agreement of the will, by receipts to Edwin, son and executor. 

Then finding the ugly facts: that the interest only of $500 was not enough to live on and worse, she was not to remain in the house nor did she inherit any property.  Beloved wife indeed?  It was customary then for a widow to be granted a place to live for her life or widowhood - unless she remarried.  

We can only speculate as to how and why the will was written this way. Was John so callus as to toss her out even after he was gone?  Was she so difficult he just didn't care?  Or did he just see her as a cook and housekeeper and no more?  Was his mental state in his 80's such that he didn't realize how this would affect her? Or was he so influenced by his progeny - Edwin, in particular, as claimed? Or was this an inadvertent omission? We cannot know for sure but we can surmise, considering the very specific wording of the will.  It was very direct.

After the realization that she had a problem, through a lawyer named Saunders, she filed suit against Edwin and the other heirs, in the Wake Court of Pleas and Quarter. Claiming that her husband had a personal property estate of "$8000 or some such large amount" (a LOT of money in 1850) and asking for 1/3 of all the real property he "seized and possessed" further that "through some improper influence, left her without a home".   

Pleas and Quarter was more of an administrative court handling relatively minor cases and staffed by Justices of the Peace.  And a panel of three JP's twice considered this case, in Nov. 1850 and in 1851, decided that she was not entitled to additional properties but that she should be supported and twice awarded a years supply of household supplies and foods paid for by the estate. 

The lists of foods is informative in that it tells us what was normally available. Beef was not included although cattle were raised in North Carolina.  Beef was more expensive, and chicken more common and cheaper.
Most was preserved by drying, smoking or salting.  List of Nov. 1850: 2 barrels corn, 300 lbs. pork (most likely smoked or salted bacon or hams), 1 barrel flour, 20 lbs. coffee, 4 gallons molasses, 20 lbs. lard, pepper, spices and ginger, 1 bushel salt, 15 lbs. cotton, 5 lbs. wool, 10 lbs. butter, 2 gal. vinegar.  
Again in 1851 the court awarded: 2 barrels corn, 200 lbs. bacon, 30 lbs. sugar, 25 lbs. coffee, 5 gallons molasses, 20 lbs. lard, 20 lbs. butter, 1 bushel salt, 4 gallons vinegar, pepper, spices and ginger, 15 bushels potatoes, 5 bushels Irish potatoes, a lot of vegetables.  (I don’t know if this meant a specified amount or grouping  or just a whole bunch of vegetables.)
It is presumed that she went back to live with her Utley relatives, and we lose track of her.  The other progeny went on to live their lives, and we have quite a lot of records on them
Next we'll examine the three other brothers of John who had moved to North Carolina....Allen Holleman, 2014 

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!).

There is also a massive Holyman and Associated Families Tree available for review.  For an invitation to this collection of over 18,000 individuals, please write

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