Monday, August 1, 2016

Some Descendants of William Henry Holleman of Isle of Wight, Virginia

by Glenn N. Holliman

One of the delights of genealogy is meeting distant cousins whose research adds to the tapestry of one's family story.  Last April 2016 at our Isle of Wight, Virginia Hollyman Gathering, I met Susan Gallier White, a serious student of her Holleman and Faison ancestors.  She offers this insightful tribute on her ancestral grandmothers who all pursued higher education in a time in which women were not encouraged to do so.  - GNH

The Maternal Lineage of 
 Susan Gallier White, 3rd great granddaughter of Sally Holleman Faison
                                                            by Susan Gallier White

          In my ongoing study of my line of the Holleman family, I have become intrigued by whom I refer to as “my five orphans,” children of William Henry Holleman (1795-1834) and Jackey Peters Holleman (1798-?).  William was a son of Josiah Holleman and Nancy Clark, and Jackey, daughter of William Peters and Margaret Loftin, grew up in Sussex County, Virginia.

                                                                         Susan G. White

  Below, a tintype, unknown date, of  Sally Holleman Faison  (1823-1909). Sally looks like a  petite lady, and isn’t smiling for us.  Not many people did  when the photography process was somewhat tedious.  Family called her “Mammy Sal.”  She married Josiah W.  Faison, who was from Sussex County, Virginia.  She went  to school in Smithfield, Virginia, at Oak Grove Academy.  She is my third great grandmother.

The Holleman children were James Henry (1819-1858), Margaret Amanda (1822-1891), Sally (1823-1909), Mary Agnes (1829-1875) and John Randolph (1830-1913).  William and his family lived near Proctor’s Road and Mill Swamp church, owning two pieces of land, one 50 acres and the other 116 acres.

  Billy Joe Holleman and I met at the Holleman family gathering this past spring, and we have tried to locate the exact site, but we have not to date.It was near William’s brother Wilson Holleman’s home at Mill Swamp, the lovely place we still know today.  William died in February, 1834, and since Jackey was not mentioned in her husband’s obituary, but her children were, one can supposed she had died by then.  Her last child, William, was born in 1831 and lived only briefly; Jackey most likely died between 1831 and 1834. 

This past spring as I was gathering information about William Henry Holleman, provided by Denise Keeter (an intrepid Holleman researcher and contributor to the Hollyman FamilyTree on suggested I write about his three daughters' educations.  She and I had marveled that the girls were well educated for the time.  William was wealthy (confirmed by his itemized estate) and the two guardians of the surviving five children made payment for clothes, education, room and board that suggest the value they put on on a girl's education.  Rent from William's land and the hiring out of his seventeen slaves provided income.

Left, tintype of Elizabeth Faison (1842-1898), daughter of Sally Holleman Faison.  She looks to be in her early twenties, so this picture was made in about 1860.  I know nothing of her education.  She was born in Sussex County, VA.  She and her sister married brothers, Jacob and James Heath, who were from Duplin County, NC.  All 4 moved to Duplin County, and lived there all their lives.  My mother once told me that this picture was made at her wedding.  I don’t know how she knew that.

Sally, Mary Agnes, and Margaret Amanda Holleman went to school in Smithfield, Isle of Wight, Virginia at the Oak Grove Academy.  Their teacher while there was Julia Elizabeth Benham Hayden, who grew up in Norwich, Connecticut.  Mrs. Hayden had moved to Smithfield in 1826 and taught girls in the home of Archibald Atkinson, probably until 1836, when Oak Grove Academy opened. Helen Haverty King, in her book Historical Notes on Isle of Wight, Virginia, tells us that Mrs. Hayden married Sampson White, and continued her school until 1854, when she was suffered from 'advanced age and physical infirmities.' 

Joel Holleman (1799-1844), a brother of William, and uncle to these children was their first guardian.  Joel was a Virginia congressman and later a U.S. Senator.  Joel’s guardian accounts revealed frequent entries of payments to “Mrs.White.” for tuition.  He also bought books, paper, new clothes, both store bought and home sewn by Rebecca Gwaltney, the girls’ aunt.  They were regularly outfitted with shoes, bonnets, and mention is even made of a “corded skirt” for two of the girls, which was a petticoat of the times.  Margaret Amanda and Sally were boarded out with various friends and family while they went to school.

(One can learn more about Joel Holleman and his families in the spring 2014  issues of this blog. - GNH)

Left, another picture  of Elizabeth Faison Heath, perhaps in her forties.  Note picture taken at studio in Richmond, VA.  My family called her “Mama Bet.” She had  3 children, two daughters, Bettie Florence and Sally.  She had one son, Perry.  She was my second great grandmother.  I have a letter written to her by a friend, expressing how glad she was that her daughters were “studying music.”  Mama Bet died before her mother Sally did. 

Bettie Florence Heath (1871 -1959) daughter of Elizabeth Faison Heath, my great grandmother. She married Jordan Horne, and they had 4 living children, 3 sons and one daughter. The family lived in the town of Magnolia, Duplin County, NC.  One son, Ralph, went to jewelers school in Philadelphia, PA.  Another, Herbert, graduated from Blackstone Military Academy in Blackstone, VA.  Her daughter, Bettie Florence, graduated from Stuart Hall Girls School in Virginia, and then from East Carolina Teachers College.

        Joel Holleman died in 1844, and Joseph Pretlow, from neighboring Southampton County, and possibly a family friend, became guardian to the two youngest children, Mary Agnes and John Randolph Holleman.  Joseph is mention several times in Thomas C. Parramore's book, Southampton County, Virginia.  He was a Quaker by faith, taught school, and learned of a Quaker school for young ladies in Philadelphia, run by Harriet Mickle Whitall and her sister Sally.

       Whitall’s family published John M. Whitall, the Story of his Life, in 1879 that contains many entries by Harriet.  The school did very well, she said.  Joseph sent Mary Agnes to Philadelphia for a term there, in 1845, when she was 15.  We even know where the school was located, on the NW corner of Race and Franklin Streets, Philadelphia. Ms. Whitall closed the school that year, so Mary Agnes only went the one term, but she went well turned out.  Pretlow makes note of dresses, a parasol, and gloves.  He made entry of a $34 charge for her return travel expenses home from Philadelphia.

Below, Bettie Florence Horne (1903-1980), daughter of Bettie Florence and Jordan Horne.    She was their only daughter and earned a college degree from East Carolina Teachers College.  She never married.

The two guardians eventually turned over the girls' final estate balances to the husbands of the young ladies.  By 1845, each girl had married and settled nearby.  Mary Agnes even married her husband, John Archer Cotton, in Pretlow's home in 1847. 3

In 1836, William Peters, grandfather of above girls, directed in his will that his man Jacob” was to be hired out to provide money for the education of his children, one daughter, Jackey, and two sons, James and Matthew.  He also directed that two thirds of his estate proceeds be used to educate his grandchildren.  By 1857, all children and grandchildren had been educated, so  Jacob was sold in a transaction conducted by Peters' executor, his son James E. Peters.4   Margaret Amanda, James, William and Sally with her husband Josiah Faison, each received 1/13 of the proceeds.  Mary Agnes was not mentioned.

Left, Alma Luesta Melvin Horne (1900-1989) married Ralph Coffield Horne, a son of Bettie Florence Heath Horne.  Alma was from Sampson County, NC.  She was my grandmother, and she was a school teacher when she and Ralph met.  She taught school all of her adult life, in NC.  I can remember her working on college home correspondence courses when I was about 10. 

Here is Florence Elizabeth Horne (1925-1993), my mother.  She married Neil Edward Gallier, and they had 3 children, my two brothers Neil Edward, Jr., Frank Wilson II, and me.  She attended East Carolina Teachers College, now known as East Carolina University, for two years.

As we know the land in this region had worn out in the years leading up to the Civil War, and the aftermath of the war tore apart the already exhausted economy.  But as I look back to this series of events, I see that I stand on the shoulders of educated women.  Jackey and her daughters Margaret Amanda, Sally, and Mary Agnes were given schooling that even in their time was a luxury.

My family line is through Sally, and I have a letter a friend wrote to Sally's daughter Elizabeth (Mama Bet in our family lore). In the letter she mentions how glad she is that Elizabeth's girls are “studying music.”5   Mama Bet's daughter, my great grandmother Betty Florence Heath, sent all 4 of her children to school, and her only daughter graduated from college. (The boys did not!) 

My grandmother, from Sampson County, NC, was a school teacher and I can remember her studying college home correspondence courses.  My mom, a child of the depression, went to college for 2 years, and always drilled into my head that I would go to college (which I did!).  

I just wanted to share with you the gift my foremothers gave me.  I know that despite the history of backwaters and worn out land of Isle of Wight, Southampton and Sussex counties in my life, I own the value of an educated woman!  - Susan Gallier White, 3rd great granddaugher of Sally Holleman Faison


1King, Helen Haverty and others. Historical Notes on Isle of Wight, Virginia.  Virginia Beach, VA:  Donning and Company, 1993, p. 115.

2Parramore, Thomas C. Southampton County Virginia.  Charlottesville, VA:  University Press of Virginia, 1978, pp. 60, 147.

“Married.”  Mary Agnes Holleman marriage announcement.  The Republican, Petersburg, VA.  January 27, 1847, p. 3, col. 1.

The Oak Grove Academy in Smithfield, Virginia

4Loose Court Papers of Sussex County, Virginia, 1754-1870, #1858-22.  Peters, et als V. Peter’s Executor.  These papers were discovered for me by Gary M. Williams, Clerk of the Court. Josiah and Sally Faison’s share of a ¼ of a 1/13 portion was $7.38.  Calculating using that amount, sale of Jacob totaled $383.76.  A note in these papers names William H. Basdorn as charging $1.00 “for crying (calling the auction) Jacob at Public Sale.”  The arrangement for Jacob to be hired and his wages provide funds for education was outlined in William Peters’ will of 1836.

5Personal correspondence to Elizabeth Faison Heath, dated 1 July 1884, from Mary Crawford, Reams, Virginia

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1 comment:

  1. Wow, Susan, this is wonderful! You have a treasure of information and insight into these women's lives during that time. Was helpful to me as well, as Margaret Amanda Holliman was my 3rd great Grandmother.. Thank you so much, Cousin!