Tuesday, April 5, 2016

A Holyman Gathering in Virginia

by Glenn N. Holliman

A report on the First National Gathering of the Descendants of Christopher Hollyman (1618-1691)....

They came from Washington, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Texas, Arkansas, Tennessee, Alabama, North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia - direct descendants of the Englishman who migrated in 1650 from Bedford, Bedfordshire to Isle of Wight, Virginia. This picture taken at the Smithfield, Virginia Hampton Inn were many stayed and sessions were held.

Christopher Holyman (or Hollyman) settled in 1661 along the Cypress River and in 1684 nestled his family in northern Isle of Wight County along the Surrey County border.  He left his four sons over 1,000 acres to be divided amongst themselves.  Direct descendants - the Barlows and Hollemans still live in the county and in southeast Virginia and provided hospitality for those who traveled back to the community where the American venture of this extended family began.

Right, Steve Holleman of South Carolina and Allen Holleman of North Carolina.

Counting spouses and significant others, over 50 individuals from March 31 to April 2, 2016 enjoyed visiting and sharing research on our various lineages.  Organized by Allen Holleman of Raleigh, North Carolina and coordinated with the great assistance of Joe Barlow and Billy Joe Holleman of Smithfield, Virginia, cousins explored early home sites of 17th century Hollymans.

Below, after first sessions and an afternoon stop at the Isle of Wight Museum (a gem of a museum), the group traveled to the original plantation of Christopher Hollyman.  Billy Joe Holleman, owner and steward of the Hollyman plantation, explained who is buried in the family cemetery adjacent to the 1830 Holleman House and other older out buildings.  After a tour of the grounds and farm, Billy Joe and his wife hosted a late afternoon 'feast' of gourmet Smithfield ham and rolls at the Mill Swamp Baptist Church fellowship hall.

Many expressed their deep feelings at being able to walk the ground where Christopher Hollyman and family had girded virgin timber, cleared the first fields, raised livestock, corn and a cash crop and thrived in the New World.  And from this place, our ancestors lived and eventually began the western movement across what became the United States of America.  

Below, Sarah Barlow Wright, whose mother was raised in the Holleman House in Mill Swamp, shared her knowledge of the 1830 colonial style residence.  On this property Hollemans have lived and continue to live since 1684.

Billy Joe Holliman even provided a 'hay wagon' to take cousins deep into the former plantation fields to share the site of the oldest cemetery known to hold the remains of ancestors. Right in red, Laurie Sherrod and in white top with black dots, Jeanette Holiman Stewart.

Below in light green, Brenda Holloman of of Wake County, North Carolina, shared her thoughts as the group gathered at the oldest cemetery located on original Hollyman land. In living memory, a house of unknown age, but old, was located near this location.  Is this then the unmarked grave of Christopher Hollyman and some of his 18th century descendants?   We may never know.  Then again, what if?

 At the Hampton Inn community room, sessions were held on our English heritage and research papers and booklets distributed by Lynn Holliman, Steve Holleman, Allen Holleman and Glenn Holliman.  Importantly consensus emerged to formally organize a Christopher Hollyman Families Historical Society with future memberships and gatherings.  Among the goals of the Society will be to conduct scholarly research and share and preserve that research and family documents and photographs.

Below center in light blue, Joe Parker, acknowledged 'dean' of Hollyman family history, donated a volume of his research to be scanned and uploaded to the family's new virtual archive at www.bholliman.com/ .

Development of a Society web site is to be explored that would link or fold into the site current assets.  These being the Yahoo Hollyman group chatroom and Hollyman Facebook page developed and administered by Tina Peddie (who can be reached at desabla1@yahoo.com) and the Hollyman Ancestry.com Tree administered by Jeanette Holiman Stewart (who can be reached at htreekeeper@outlook.com).  Other assets include two administered by this writer - http://hollimanfamilyblogspot.com/ and a virtual archive at www.bholliman.com/ .

Additional photographs of this emotional and important Gathering can be found at the Hollyman Facebook page. Photographs on this page provided by Alice Holliman Murphy of Texas.

Please continue to watch this space not only for more items of family history, but information on the emerging Christopher Hollyman Families Historical Society....

1 comment:

  1. We'll finally reach home this afternoon, but still marvel at all research and documentation of historic Hollemans. Thanks again for your devotion to this family. Great job by all who planned this event.