Physicist, Oceanographer, Aerospace Technologist, Rancher, Land Developer and Lecturer
Family History - Roots
Coat of Arms - Galicia, Spain
Arias Family Coat of Arms
Ancestors of Richard Holt came to Panama in the early 1500's. Pedro Arias de Avila his most notable relative of the early days of Panama was the first governor of Panama. He came from Segovia, Castille in northern Spain. He was married to an intimate friend, a Lady in Waiting, of Queen Isabella, giving him a favored position in the Spanish politico at that time. He had been a noted soldier and became the leader of the first major Spanish expedition into the Western Hemisphere. He founded cities in Colombia, and then in Panama, establishing Panama City in 1519 and then making it his capital in 1524. Between those years he maintained his capital in Nata, Panama in the western part of the country. Most of the family settled in that area.
Family history in Spain The history of the family is from northern Spain, the Province of Galicia in the northwest portion of the Iberian peninsula. The Spanish dialect is Castillian Spanish from the Castile area. That area of the world was once controlled by the Muslims.
In 711 a Berber Muslim army, under their leader Tariq ibn-Ziyad, crossed the Strait of Gibraltar from northern Africa into the Iberian peninsula. Roderick, last of the Visigothic kings of Spain, was defeated at the Battle of Río Barbate. By 719 the invading forces were supreme from the coast to the Pyrenees. Their progress north was arrested at a battle fought in France, between Tours and Poitiers, in 732 by the Frankish ruler Charles Martel.
The first years of their rule, the Moors, as the Berber conquerors came to be known, held the peninsula (except for Asturias and the Basque country) as a dependency of the Province of North Africa, a division of the caliphate of Damascus. After 717 the country was ruled by emirs, appointed by the caliphs, who were frequently neglectful of their duties; misrule resulted in the appointment and deposition of 20 successive emirs over the next 40 years.
This state of affairs was ended by a struggle between the Umayyad and Abbasid dynasties for control of the caliphate. The last of the Spanish emirs, Yusuf, favoured the Abbasids, but the local officials of the empire supported the Umayyads. The Umayyad faction invited Abd-ar-Rahman I, a member of the family, to become the independent ruler of Spain. In 756 Abd-ar-Rahman founded the powerful and independent emirate, which later developed into the caliphate of Córdoba.
During the establishment of Moorish power, a remnant of Christian rule was preserved in the northern portion of the peninsula. The most important Christian state of the northern peninsula, the small kingdom of Asturias, was founded about 718 by Pelayo, a Visigothic chieftain. Pelayo's son-in-law, Alfonso, conquered nearly all the region known as Galicia, recaptured most of León, and was then crowned Alfonso I, king of León and Asturias.
Alfonso III greatly extended these territories during his reign, which ended in 910. During the 10th century the region of Navarre became an independent kingdom under Sancho I. As the kings of León expanded their domains to the east in the early 10th century, they reached Burgos. Because of the castles built to guard the frontiers of newly acquired territory, this region became popularly known as Castilla, or Castile. Under Count Fernán González (a family name from that region) the region became independent of León, and in 932 the Count declared himself the first king of Castile.
In the 11th century a considerable part of Aragón was captured from the Muslims by Sancho III, king of Navarre, who also conquered León and Castile, and in 1033 he made his son, Ferdinand I, king of Castile. This temporary unity came to an end at Sancho's death, when his domains were divided among his sons. The most prominent of Sancho's sons was Ferdinand, who acquired León in 1037, took the Moorish section of Galicia, and set up a vassal county in what is now northern Portugal. With northern Spain consolidated, Ferdinand, in 1056, proclaimed himself emperor of Spain (from the Latin Hispania), and he initiated the period of reconquest from the Muslims.
Other families names from that region of Spain were Arias, De la Guardia, Guardia, and Gonzalez, all from northern Spain in the area of Galicia and to the East to the French border and to the southwest along the northern coast. All came to the "new world" carrying documents giving them large land grants by Queen Isabella for land in Panama, and some in Colombia.
Dick's maternal grandmother, Clara Gonzalez de Arias was the first in the family in Panama to break the tradition and marry outside Spanish blood lines. She met and married a German engineer, Richard Dinger, from Solingen, Germany who was killed about five years into the marriage in an industrial accident in Honduras. Richard Dinger had been instrumental in developing Panama City's electrical grid under contract to the Americans during the early years of the building of the Panama Canal. His job took him to Honduras to begin an effort in that country and that is where he lost his life.
Some years later, Clara Gonzalez Dinger remarried an American Civil Engineer, Edward L. Galliher, who was on the staff of the Chief Engineer for the Panama Canal, John Stevens. Mr. Galliher was the Chief of the Building Division and was from the State of Massachusetts. He had known John Stevens in the United States and was hired to come to Panama.
Clara Gonzalez Dinger had two young children, Richard Jr. born in 1909 and Adele born in 1911. Adele was Richard Holt's mother.
Pedro Arias was Dick's most noted ancestor, but not necessarily one to brag about. He was ruthless, and even had his most famous explorer Vasco Nunez de Balboa beheaded because he was becoming competition for Pedro. This was even after he had given Balboa one of his daughters in marriage.
From Panama, Arias sent explorers to open South America (Francisco Pizzaro who conquered the Inca nation) and Hernando De Soto (Nicaragua and the United States) and other parts of the Western Hemisphere. One of Arias' daughters was married to De Soto. De Soto died in what is now Arkansas.
Galicia in Spain in the Northwest part of the Iberian peninsula. This area of Spain was never conquered by the Romans nor the Moors. These people were very independent, descendants of the Normans and Vikings who had settled this area between trips back and forth to the Scandanavian area.
The background of the people in that part of Spain goes back to the days of the Celtics and when the Norman/Vikings asserted themselves along the coast of the north of the peninsula. Some settled in that part of the Iberian peninsula and spent the winters there before heading back to Scandanavia. Invasions of Spain by the Moors and the Romans did not affect Galicia in that they were driven out of that region by those Galicians. People of that region are tall, blonde and blue-eyed people of very white skin. The dialect of Castillian Spanish comes from that region. I have a Castillian accent in my Spanish. People pick it up quickly when I talk to them.
Western Hemisphere or the "New World" as it was called at the time of the opening of this part of the world by the explorers. Columbus sailed south from Spain to the coast of Africa and then westward following the trade winds that blow in that direction, leading him to Central America
The Isthmus of Panama that joins Central America and South America. The eastern portion of the land is dense tropical jungle. The western part is mountainous and consists of coastal plateaus very similar to that kind of ground found in northwestern Spain from where the early settlers had come from
Family History in Panama and the Panama Canal
The Spaniards settled the western part of the Isthmus starting in the 1500's with a few developments on the Atlantic coast as well. As commerce grew, Pedro Arias directed the establishment of Panama City as a major commerce center. Although the coastline was not conducive to support shipping because of the tides, this became the center of movement into exploration of both parts to the north/west and to the south.
And of course, the ultimate development of the Panama Canal established the center of attention on that part of the country. Columbus had landed in what is now Colon and determined that no human could live there. Others that followed his discovery also agreed with this assessment, but ultimately that is where the Panama Canal was built under the leadership of the President of the U.S. Teddy Roosevelt.
Dick's grandfather, Richard Dinger from Germany, died in 1913 and some years later, his grandmother remarried a wonderful U.S. Civil Engineeer, a huge Irishman, a Civil Engineer, Edward L. Galliher who became the only granddad he knew.
Mr. Galliher worked for John Stevens, the Chief Engineer of the Panama Canal and then under General Goethals who took over that position. He was given the responsibility for the rebuilding of Panama City in 1906, the addition of an eletrical system in the City, a water system, paved streets and a sewer system for the area. He was later to assume the position in the Panama Canal Zone as the Chief of the Building Division and retired from the Canal in 1933 after 27 years of service. He was awarded the President's Medal by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1915 for his service during the building of the Panama Canal from 1906 through 1915.
Maternal relatives held key offices and have been prominent in financial and political matters in Panama since its beginnings. More than 3/4's of the Presidents of Panama have been related to the family. Politics in Panama have a long history of being very troubled. Some of the issues have revolved around the United States having control of the Panama Canal. But many of the problems have been internal and the story is too complicated to cover in this, my web site. The final straw was the ouster of Noriega in 1989 from his position as the military dictator of the country. Now, Panama appears to be on the road to a well run country. With full control of the Panama Canal, a constant source of income is guaranteed for the government. The problem is to make sure that the income is used wisely. Hopefully that will happen.
Both Dick's father and his maternal grandfather were U.S. citizens, and moved to Panama to work on the Panama Canal. Both ended up with key jobs on the Canal, both died in Panama and are buried in the Corozal Cemetery on the former Panama Canal Zone not more than 50 feet apart.
Cristobal Colon, AKA Cristopher Columbus who discovered Panama in 1502 to establish the Spanish dominance of that area
Teddy Roosevelt, the American President who envisioned a Canal across the Isthmus of Panama
Church at Nata, Panama, the first church built in the Western Hemisphere. This is the town in which Pedro Arias and the other members of the Holt family settled in 1515, built this church and the town in an area that is much like parts of Spain. This photo is by Cheryl Holt taken some years ago.
Building of the Panama Canal
The French were the first of the Canal builders across the Isthmus of Panama. Their grand attempt ended in disaster, causing the deaths of many thousands during the construction, until finally they decided it was not going to succeed. They sold out to the United States, a sale which resulted in all the equipment that had been in use was going to stay there. Much of the work digging through the mountain range of the Continental Divide had been done, so that saved the U.S. much time and people. Solving the malaria and yellow fever epidemics also saved many people, in fact cut the death rate to almost zero during the U.S. effort to build this same Canal that had cost so many thousands of the French employees.
These following two photos show the completed locks on the Atlantic Side of the Canal in Gatun, and the two sets of locks on the Pacific Side, Miraflores and Pedro Miguel. The Gatun Locks were the set of locks that required that a lift of 85 feet had to be accomplished to raise ships to the transit level of the Atlantic Ocean to the level of Gatun Lake which was the body of water, fed by the Chagres River, that provided the Canal its level transit from this point to a point about 8 miles from the Pacific Ocean, the locks at Miraflores. At that end of the locks, two sets of locks were required to raise and lower the ships from the ocean level to the lake level. Between the two sets of locks, Miraflores and Pedro Miguel, there was a lake which resulted from the trapping of water from several rivers on the Pacific Side of the Canal.
Gatun Locks on the Atlantic entrance to the Panama Canal
Miraflores Locks in the foreground and Pedro Miguel Locks across Miraflores Lake in the distance.
I am fortunate to have been born and raised in the Republic of Panama ( see the next short paragraph after the aircraft photo for an explanation of why I was born there ). At the time, my dad was a Captain responsible for the operation of tug boats on the waterway. We first lived in the Republic of Panama, and then when WWII started, the Panama Canal Company ordered my dad and his family to move onto the Panama Canal Zone, the ten mile strip that cut Panama in two. The purpose for this was simple. My dad had a "critical job" on the Canal - the Germans were shelling the Atlantic Coast towns and we lived in Gatun which was within range of their deck guns on the German subs. No shells ever struck Gatun, but the Panama Canal management were nervous about any of their key employees being in the danger zone, so the order to move onto the Canal Zone. They moved us to the company town in the center of the Canal Zone, Gamboa, into a brand new development cut out of the jungle. For we children it was a lot of fun living in the jungle. For the adults, not so much fun. I'll explain some of this later on.
US Navy PN-9 Seaplane of the 1920's
This aircraft was the indirect means by which I came to be born in Panama. My dad was a Navy signalman/gunner flying in the rear seat of this 5-man-crew aircraft when it crashed in Limon Bay on the Atlantic side of the Panama Canal in 1921. He was the only survivor of the crash, but it caused him to lose his interest in naval aviation for whatever the reason, and to transfer to driving ships while in the Navy. Besides that fact, he also fell in love with Panama while on this temporary assignment flying out of Coco Solo Naval Air Station on the Atlantic side, and when given the opportunity, asked for an assignment in Panama when his naval fleet was passing through the Canal on their way to China. This request was granted, and he was stationed in the Panama Canal Zone as part of the US military force in that location. Much later, he met and married my mother, a Panamanian young lady, and behold, along came Richard to be born in Panama years later.
Ten generations separate Richard Lee Holt, his brother Fernie George Holt and his sister, Ruth Holt St. John from their ancestors in England that decided to come to the "new world" to gain their fortune or seek new lands.
The following information starts with a condensed historical record of the part of England from which the family originated and the genealogical background of Richard Holt going back to his family roots in England in the early 1500's.
Information has been gathered on many parts of the Holt family from records and data bases in Virginia, South Carolina and elsewhere. Much of the latter years information came from many hours and days and even weeks spent by Richard Holt with his seven paternal aunts in the northern Florida area. This continued up until just a few years ago when the last two Aunts, Mildred and Dorothy, passed away in Eustis, Florida and Orlando, Florida. His grandparents, Fernie George Holt and his wife Clara Carrie Spiva Holt are buried in the Apopka cemetery in Apopka, Florida.
Data is being added daily. Where it is possible, notes are added to each ancestor as this information is available. More is coming all the time.
Under "children" for each ancestor, the name of the direct line for Richard L. Holt is outlined in yellow.
The Family Crest of the Holt family from Cheshire, Northwestern England
Cheshire County, England in Roman times. The resident Celtic tribe of the Cornovii, who occupied ancient the lands that were to become the County of Cheshire, were one of several native British tribes who succumbed and acceded to Roman occupation. In AD 60, the Roman fort of Deva (Chester) was established, most probably to protect access to lead and silver that was found in Flintshire over the border in neighbouring Wales. Following various battles against the Brigantes (based in Lancashire) the full scale occupation of Cheshire began around AD 71.
Chester thus became the most important of the defences against native incursions, and developed into a major military and commercial centre. The settlements at Condate (Northwich) and Salinae (Middlewich), which was the second largest town in the country after Chester, also grew in importance as their salt mines were highly valued by the Roman occupation forces, many of whom received their pay in salt.
The network of roadways that gradually developed were in no small part the result of so-called "salt roads" over which this valuable commodity was transported. By AD 80, Cheshire was pacified and increasingly Romanised. Other industries included smelting of lead at Runcorn and potteries at Wilderspool, though the county retained most of its rural character and native Britons tended more towards agriculture than industry
This map of Cheshire County in northwest England in the days of the Romans. Notice the town of Holt on the western edge of the map.
After Roman withdrawal from Britain in the 5th century, increasing numbers of invasions took place from Scandinavia - the much feared Norse men, or Danes. Yet, they too in turn grew peaceful and wholesale woodland clearances continued as they settled and farmed new lands in the area. By the mid-7th century, Christianity had become widespread, and early churches were erected, one of the oldest at Eccleston, near Chester ("eccles" was actually an old Celtic-Welsh word for a church).
In some ways, Cheshire marked a frontier between the Danes in the north and east and the Welsh to the west, and at least two defensive ditches were dug to keep them out - the celebrated Offa's Dyke, built by King Offa of Mercia between 760-780 AD, and the earlier but less well known Wat's Dyke, built some time before 655 AD, which remained the recognised border until the Norman conquest.
With western Cheshire now largely pacified, the remaining threat now came from the east - from the Danish kingdom based at York. Fortifications were therefore concentrated along the line of the River Mersey - itself a northern border between the Mercian kingdom (Mersey - the boundary river of the Mercians'), and Northumbria. In 914 AD a defensive stronghold was built at Eddisbury and at Runcorn fortifications were strengthened. All along the length of the River Mersey, as far as Manchester, fortified defensive settlements were created, including Rhuddlan, Thelwall, Bakewell and Penwortham and the old hill fort at Eddisbury was strengthened and brought back into service as a primary defence of Chester.
By 930 AD relative peace had been established throughout the kingdom, and apart from infrequent small raids and a particularly savage and effective incursion in 980 AD, the Norse threat had been removed and Mercia was a well defended fortified entity, and remained so until Norman occupation.
By 980 AD the name of the region had begun to resemble its modern name, and was known as Legecaestrescir, meaning the 'shire of the city of the legions', (a reference to the old Roman occupation), and had probably already become a recognised county since 920 AD under the reign of Edward the Elder. During his reign, parts of old Derbyshire were also added to the Mercian kingdom in the form of Longendale and Macclesfield.
By the end of the 10th century, Chester had become the permanent headquarters of Eadric Streona, the King's Governor of Cheshire, Staffordshire and Shropshire and was increasingly ruled as an autonomous region. By 1030 AD, it had come under the governorship of Earl Edwin, grandson of Leofric of Mercia, perhaps the most powerful and influential family in England, and remained so until the Norman Conquest in 1066 AD.
Prestbury Parish Church in use for over 800 years. This church was used by the Holt family for their weddings, funerals and worship. Holts are buried in the church cemetery.
Situated in the Diocese of Chester, Prestbury boasts one of the oldest Parish Churches in the country. It is the oldest church in Macclesfield Deanery and has been at the heart of religious worship in the area for over eight hundred years.
Prestbury derives its name from the words for priest and burh or burgh the Saxon for a fortified place. In the Anglo Saxon period there were three missionary bases or minsters in Cheshire viz. St. John's Chester, Sandbach and Prestbury.
At the Norman Conquest, the Manor of Prestbury came into the hands of Hugh Lupus, Earl of Chester. The church and manor were given to the abbey of St. Werburgh in Chester in 1153. The Norman chapel was built 1190 and rebuilt about 1750. The door and figures above it are original. The first four feet of the walls is original and the join with the newer masonry can be seen in the photograph below. Of the seven figures above the door some were already missing by 1592 when restoration work was carried out by Meredith of Henbury Hall (East Cheshire Past and Present, Earwaker, 1877). At one stage the chapel was used as a private chapel by the Davenports of Henbury.
In 1589, after the Dissolution of the Monasteries, the church and manor were granted to George Calveley, George Cotton, Hugh Cholmondeley, and Thomas Legh. The first three gave their share of the manor, tithes and advowson to Thomas Legh of Adlington subject to an annual payment to the Dean and Chapter of Chester. The Leghs of Adlington have remained landowners in Prestbury and patrons of the living ever since. The earliest part of the church dates from 1220. The Downes monuments are shown on the page for Pott Shrigley.
In the centre of the village is a sign showing the Legh crest of a unicorn. A much more highly decorated one can be seen on the screen to the Legh Chapel.
Randolphe Holt Born: ABT 1540 Wythington, Prestbury Parish, Cheshire, England Married: Elizabeth Potte 1566 Prestbury Parish, Cheshire, England Children: Randall 1590, Francis
Randolphe Holt married Elizabeth Potte (or Pott) in 1566 in the Prestbury Parish church shown in these photos. Elizabeth had a brother, a physicist, who in 1605 decided that he wanted to go to the Colonies, and looked into joining a group going under the auspices of the London based Virginia Company. John, her brother, was talked into taking Elizabeth's and Randolphe's son, Randall Holt with him to the new world although Randall was only 13 at the time. He went as an indentured servant, a common practice in those days, with John Pott promised to take care of the young lad.
Prestbury Parish Church
The rectory in the Prestbury Parish Church
Taken from an old postcard, this Norman Chapel was built some time around 1190 AD
Randall Holt, Sr.
Born: ABT 1590, Prestbury Parish, Cheshire, England Married: Mary Bailey, 1628, Virginia Children: Randall Holt, Jr. 1629, Hogg Island, Surry County, Virginia
Randall Holt, Sr.: The earliest record of the name Holt in the American Colonies is found in the seventeenth century inhabitants of the Jamestown Colony in Virginia. Randall sailed to America in 1620 aboard the ship "The George". He was a young boy of 13 and indentured for his voyage to Dr. John Pott, a Doctor of Physics, who received 50 acres of land for the "headright" of bringing young Randall to America. When the Census or "muster" was taken in 1625 he was eighteen years old, and listed among the names of Dr. Pott's men in the Maine.
At a court hearing on March 20, 1625, it was ordered that "Randall Holt, upon his petition preferred in Court shall serve and remain with Doctor Pott, his master, until Christmas next-comes twelve months. And that Doctor Pott is to deliver up his indentures and make him free, and give him one suit apparel from head to foot and the barrels of corn".
As was mentioned earlier, John Pott was probably a blood relative of Randall's mother, Elizabeth Potte in England and was asked to take Randall with him to start him in the new world.
It was soon after this that young Randall married Mary Bailey, who was considered a "good catch" for she was the sole heir of John Bailey of Hogg Island and one of the richest men in the Virginia Colonies.
The Council of Jamestown appointed Robert Evers her guardian at the death of her father, and ordered that the dividend of 490 acres on Hog Island belonging to her father was deeded to her. In the list of landowners in 1626 appears the following entry: In Hog Island, Mary Bailey 500 acres by patent.
Randall Holt settled on the island and added to the possessions of his wife 400 acres more in 1636 above the head of ALower Chippokes Creek. In 1639 he obtained patent for another 400 acres.
On August 6, 1650, his son Randall Holt Jr. obtained a grant for 1022 acres in Hog Island as "son and lawful heir".
Many of Virginia’s historical sites commemorate the state’s colonial past. Jamestown, founded in 1607 on an island in the James River, was the first permanent settlement of English colonists in America.
Randall Holt, Jr.
Born: 1629, Hog Island, Surry County, Virginia Married: Elizabeth Hansford, 1663, Hog Island, Surry County, Virginia Children: John M. 1664, William, Thomas, Mary, Jane, Lucy, Elizabeth
Inherited and had patent (title) for the whole of Hog Island. He was commissioned in the British Colonial forces and was called Major Randall Holt, Jr. Member of the House of Burgesses; appointed Justice for Surry County on 12/22/1668. In 1679 he was granted a patent for 1,450 acres on Hog Island. He died that same year.
Pocahontas' Village near Jamestown in the Virginia Colony
Born: 1664, Hog Island, Surry County, Virginia Married: Ann Crafford, 1665, Virginia Children: David 1685, Martha, John, Charles, Joseph, Benjamin
John inherited all the lands his father had owned. He was listed in the 1687 Cavalry of Surry County, Virginia. He was granted the right to operate the ferry between Hog Island and the mainland, James River landing at Archer's Hope Creek on the north side. He operated both a ferry for animals and another for human cargo. By 1704 the Holt family would own 2,768 acres in Surry County. Of this, 1,450 acres were controlled by Elizabeth Holt, wife of Randall Holt, Jr. The remainder was owned by the sons of Randall and Elizabeth. In 1707, John Holt committed suicide which in those days was unlawful and resulted in action being taken by the Colony. According to English law, the land of the perpatrator reverts to the crown. After much legal hassle, John's sons, John Jr., Charles, Benjamin and Joseph attended a hearing on the matter. David, his other son, had already received a substantial land grant from his grandfather David Crafford prior to David's twenty-first birthday. The deposition of the court read in part: "Having labour'd long under a very great indispositon of mind, and at last laid violent hands upon himself", a Coronor's jury found that his estate was forfeited as "Felo de Se". Governor Edward Nott having represented the Crown and made the finding that "his five surviving children are fit objects of our mercy and compassion. Queen Anne commanded the restoration of his estate to them.
David Holt, Sr.
Born: Abt 1685, Surry County, Virginia Married: Margaret Dibdall, 1712, Westover Parish, Charles City County, Virginia Children: Margaret, Ann, Dibdall 1717, John, David Jr., Jane, Sarah, Mary, William
David Holt received a large land grant from his maternal grandfather, David Crafford prior to his 21st birthday. The official land records have these words: "1706 May 2 Vol III p. 107 (Patent Bk 9, p.728): "I David Crafford grant to David Holt, 300 acres, New Kent County S. side of York River, between borders of said river and borders of the Totopotomoys Creek, adjacent to Colonel Johnn Page, Esqr; land of Edward Hawkins and Nicho Gentry."
These similar words were also found in another patent book, patents recorded between 1695 and 1732: "David Holt, 300 acres New Kent Count, S. side of York River......(same as above quote) .....This land granted to Samuell Gentry, 21 Oct 1684, who deeded same to David Crafford, Grqandfather of said David Holt, 5 Jan 1685, who by deed of gift, dated 28 May 1686, conveyed to said David Holt, then and still a minor, the land is granted by order, etc." The land was granted to David Holt soon after his birth by David Crafford his grandfather.
This being of record in the Virginia patent books, at the time of David's father's suicide in 1704, the large land holdings of John Holt, when divided up between his children and wife, did not include a deeding of land to David Holt since he already owned a large piece of land. The other four children received the land of John Holt.
New Kent was inhabited by Native Americans hundreds of years before the arrival of the first Europeans. The Spanish visited the area in the 1500s in search of gold, then 100 years later Captain John Smith explored the area before being captured by natives. Officially created in 1654, New Kent takes its name from County Kent, England.
The county's historical contributions include being the home of Chief Powhatan and his daughter, Pocahontas, and being the site of the end of Bacon's Rebellion, an uprising of Virginia farmers who rebelled against the governor for failing to protect them from Indian raids. It also is the only county in the nation to be the birthplace and marriage place of two Presidents' wives - Martha Washington and Letitia Christian Tyler. The Washingtons were married in St. Peter's Church, which continues to hold services today, and Mrs. Tyler, one of only two First Ladies to die while her husband was in office, is buried in New Kent. Other historical attractions in New Kent include Fort James and Fort Royal, built to protect New Kent from Indian attacks
First colonial port town incorporated on the York River.
Surrounded by the Chickahominy, Pamunkey and York rivers, New Kent County sits squarely between Richmond and Williamsburg.
Revolutionary War History: When the war began, one of the first to volunteere was William Holt, son of David Holt and brother of Dibdall Holt. Later one of Dibdall's sons, also named William, was to become an integral part of the war against the English as part of the Virginia Militia.
Born: 1717 in New Kent County, Virginia Married: 1745, Elizabeth Cocke Children: Elizabeth, William Cocke 1748, David, John
By the time the last of Dibdall's and Elizabeth's children, John, was born in Amelia County, Virginia in 1767. Dibdall already had made plans to take his family and open up the west.
The Move to the West: Dibdall Holt with his family and others in the David Holt family including his sister, Sarah, who had married into the Truly family in South Carolina, left Virginia around 1770 and settled in the Villa Gayoso District of the Mississippi Territory, which later became Jefferson County. These words from a narrative in a history of the area: "One typical group, led by Daniel Huay, included 79 white people and 18 slaves; the Huays came out of Pennsylvania and down river via Fort Pitt in 170. In the same year a Mr. Holt, representing settlers from western Virginia, received Council approval for settlement of over 100 families on ten miles of land near the Mississippi River."
A map of the territory about 1773 names him with the first six settlers of the area. This area was still sparsely settled in 1778 when the British delivered it by treaty to Spain. Inhabited in the main by Tories still loyal to the English throne, the area finally became a possession of the United Stattes in 1798, at which time there were 130 settlers in the county, including the Holt family.
On 10/4/1779 a petition from the citizens of Natchez was presented which read "We his Majesty's dutiful and loyal subjects the Inhabitants of the Natchez, beg leave to return you our most sincere thanks for your generous and disinterested attention to our welfare in the Capitulation of Bato Rouge. From every circumstance we had not a right to expect such Terms and are fully impressed with the idea that we owe them to the unexampled bravery of you, the Officers and Men under your command. Altho the unavoidable event of war has reduced you and your Troops to a situation which greatly affects us, yet we have some consolation frfom your being in the Hands of a brave and generous Conqueror". Signing the petition were firty-nine citizens of Natchez, including Dibdall Holt and one of his nephews,
James Truly, son of Dibdall's sister Sarah Holt Truly.
Dibdall Holt had contact with other settlers north of him in Pennsylvania, namely Daniel Boone, who had become famous already for his expertise on the indians of the region and the lay of the land. He had come up with many ideas on moving the settlers westward. Dibdall Holt was interested, and got others in Virginia also interested in moving west where they envisioned large pieces of land on which they could build their futures.
Boone had numerous encounters with the native people of Kentucky during the Revolutionary War. In 1776, Shawnee warriors kidnapped his daughter and two other girls. Two days later Boone caught up with the Indians and through surprise attack rescued the girls. In 1778, he was captured by another band of Shawnee. Boone learned that the tribe was planning an attack on Boonesborough. He negotiated a settlement with Chief Blackfish of the Shawnee, preventing the attack.
The Indians admired their captive for his skill as a hunter and woodsman and adopted him into their tribe as a son of Blackfish. He escaped when he learned the Shawnee, at the instigation of the British, were planning another attach on Boonesborough. The settlement was reinforced and provisioned in preparation for the assault. When British soldiers and the Indians attacked, Boonesborough withstood a ten-day siege and Chief Blackfish and the British finally withdrew.
After the Revolutionary War, Boone worked as a surveyor along the Ohio River and settled for a time in Kanawha County, Virginia (now West Virginia). Here he met many of the settlers already living in that area, including Dibdall Holt. In 1792, Kentucky was admitted into the Union as the 15th state. Litigation arose that questioned many settlers' title to their lands. Boone lost all his property due to lack of clear title. In 1799, he followed his son, Daniel Morgan Boone, to Missouri which was then under the dominion of Spain. Traveling by canoe, he and his family paddled down the Ohio River to St. Louis.
Slaves on the cotton farms in Mississippi in 1800
The Holt and Truly families farmed the land in Mississippi, mostly cotton with some tobacco. Slaves were brought in to do the labor and both families owned many slaves at that time. In later years, the 1860 Slave Ownership records for Jefferson County show the Truly family owning many slaves. The Truly family continued to grow in Jefferson County and other Holts joined them as the years went by, coming from the East, Virginia, North and South Carolina. The following is a tribute paid many years later to a member of the family:
JUDGE JEFF TRULY
Judge Jeff Truly was born in Fayette, July 21, 1861, on the day the Battle of Manassas was fought; was educated in the common schools of the country, afterwards attending a high school in Natchez. In 1879 he entered the law office of the late Captain J. J. Whitney, of Fayette, and studied under him two years; in 1881 and 1882 he was in Saint Joseph, Louisiana, and further pursued his studies in the law office of Steel & Garrett (the senior member of this firm afterwards moved to New York, and became district attorney of Cook County). Upon leaving Messrs. Steel & Garrett, Mr. Truly matriculated at Tulane Law College, New Orleans, and took a common law course.
He was admitted to practice in the fall of 1883, hanging out his shingle in Fayette, and at once showed such energetic zeal and level-headed grasp of fact, as well as a splendid ability to analyze evidence and understand human nature, that he very quickly built up for himself a lucrative practice which continued to grow until December 12, 1898, when he was appointed Judge of the Sixth District by Governor A. J. McLaurin. He served one full term as circuit judge and was re-appointed by Governor Longino. To know of his success in prompt dispatch of business before his courts, quick and uniformly fair and correct rulings, and impartial and fearless judgment in all matters before his tribunal, one has only to ask the attorneys who practiced at the various bars in the district for an opinion.
The following comments from various papers of the state, including "The Fayette Chronicle", show the esteem held for him by those who know him best:
Judge Truly is a man of positive character, a profound lawyer and honorable gentleman. He is always in the lead in his county looking toward the material advancement of his section. In 1886 he was a member of the legislature from Jefferson County and also served on the state Democratic Executive Convention for one or two terms. He served as president of the Alcorn A.& M. College, near Rodney, and for six years was attorney of Jefferson County. Fayette Chronicle, December 9, 189
Judge Truly's record on the circuit bench merited the praise of all. In 1903 he was appointed Judge of the Supreme Court to fill the unexpired term of J.J. Price, native of Rankin County, but now living in Magnolia, who had resigned. Truly's record on the Supreme Bench has been highly endorsed by the bar of the state, and one of his decisions on the railroad rate question formed the basis of most favorable comment in Congress, when the bill was up for discussion in that body. Brandon News, April 6, 1906
He is one of the leading lawyers of Jefferson County and enjoys a most lucrative practice. Personally, he is a typical gentleman of the old school, though he is yet a young man. He has a large, brainy head, and will wear his honor as becomes the dignity of the high office. Natchez Democrat
The State Bar Association met in Jackson in September, 1932 and elected Judge Truly to the presidency of the organization. The Fayette Chronicle, September 9, 1932
Judge Truly celebrated a birthday last Sunday, and on an evening of the previous week the ladies of the Business Women's Circle of the Fayette Presbyterian Church held an informal recitation on the lawn at the Church, complimentary to Mrs. Truly and himself. Judge Truly has long been a Ruling Elder of this congregation and was largely instrumental in influencing the congregation to undertake the erection of the present church edifice. .
Though he has passed the allotted years of man, Judge Truly is still active, alert and forceful, mentally and physically. He has long been recognized as one of the brilliant legal minds of Mississippi, having served both as circuit judge and as an associate justice of the Mississippi Supreme Court with distinction; in returning to the private practice of his profession and the management of his considerable private interests, he refused a flattering offer to move to one of the large cities of the nation as general counsel for a great corporation. He preferred to remain in his home town and county and lend his efforts and talents and means to its upbuilding. Fayette Chronicle, 1935
Tribute appeared in the Centennial Exposition Edition of "The Fayette Chronicle" in 1904
A special thank you to Jeanne Truly Davis for sharing these tributes to Judge Jeff Truly with us.
Typical of the estates in the South
After the Revolutionary War the lands beyond the Appalachians were opened to settlement. Southerners from Virginia and the Carolinas moved into Kentucky and Tennessee and into the Mississippi River valley all the way into what is now known as Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
City of Natchez , seat (1817) of Adams County, southwestern Mississippi, U.S., on the Mississippi River (there bridged to Vidalia, Louisiana), about 70 miles (110 km) southwest of Vicksburg. Established in 1716 as Fort Rosalie by Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne de Bienville, it survived a massacre (1729) by Natchez Indians for whom it was later named. It passed from France to England (1763) at the conclusion of the French and Indian wars.
History of State of Mississippi
The Holt and Truly families, coming from Virginia, had a lot to do with the settling and establishment of the State of Mississippi.
History of Natchez on the Mississippi River
Note that on the sign shown above, the first white explorer of the Natchez area and Mississippi was a Spaniard named De Soto. This is the very same man that was sent out from Panama to do that exploration by another ancestor of Richard Holt, Pedro Arias de Avila, the Provincial Governor of Panama for the Spaniards. His daughter was the wife of De Soto. So the loop was close-knit even back in these days after the Holt/Truly family moved from South Carolina and Virginia to Mississippi.
William Cocke Holt
Born: 16 May 1748, Amelia County, Virginia Married: 1779 Molly Dorman. Edgecombe County, North Carolina Children: Female (name unk), Egbert 1796, Benjamin
Notes: (There are many pages of notes on the Reverend William Cocke Holt - they will be added soon)
Typical tobacco curing barn in the South Carolina region where the Holt family raised tobacco
The major crop in the early colonies was tobacco. The Holt family owned considerable acreage, starting in Virginia, then into North and South Carolina. This barn shown in this photo is typical of the way the curing barns were built. Mule drawn "drags" would go out into the tobacco fields where the croppers would take the ripest leaves near the ground on a tall tobacco stalk, tear these off the stalk, and place them in the drag which was nothing more than a sled with cloth sides that would hold the leaves.
The mule would be directed to the curing barn when the drag was filled to the top. There it would go under the over-handing roof shown on this barn where mostly women would take the leaves, tie them onto sticks about four feet long, as many as they could accomodate on a stick. Men would then take these sticks and carry them into the barn where they would be passed up to men already in the barn and up on the built-in racks that went all the way to the top of the inside of the barn. These racks were about four feet apart and the sticks would be placed on them as tight as they could be packed.
When the barn was filled from top to bottom, then a fire would be ignited in a small enclosed fire pit on the outside (back) of the barn with the smoke and heat transferred from the fire to the inside of the barn through a long chute. This fire would be tended day and night for about two weeks or until the tobacco leaves were thoroughly dried out.
The sticks would then be removed, the leaves carefully stacked onto trays and those trays then transported to the auction houses where buyers would come from all over the world to buy the product. Most of the tobacco was shipped back to Europe.
Tobacco plants ready for harvest
A cropper holding freshly picked tobacco leaves. In the early days, mules would tow a drag between the rows of the tobacco plants with croppers working on each side of the drag. As the mule moved along commanded by the croppers, the bottom leaves would be broken off the tobacco stalk and carefully placed in the bottom of the drag so as not to tear up the leaf. This was very important. When the drag became full, a mule handler would then take over and lead the mule with its drag to a nearby tobacco curing barn where a crew of men and women would await the arrival. The tobacco leaves would then carefully be removed from the drag and tied onto sticks for placing in the barn to cure. The Holt family owned hundreds if not thousands of acres of land on which tobacco was the major crop. That had been done in the family since the very earliest of colonial times. Another crop on the sandy soil of the regions was peanuts which also grew well in that climate. Richard Holt, as a young lad, worked at least two full summers on the family tobacco farms in the Conway, South Carolina area, doing every one of the many chores of harvesting tobacco.
Tobacco and the Holt Family
The Holt family were the early settlers in South Carolina, especially in the northeast corner where the land was the best for growing tobacco, the golden leaf, which was highly prized by the Europeans. They owned thousands of acres of land in the Pee Dee River area which was to become the center of the tobacco growing industry. By the end of the 19th century, a new variety of tobacco, called "bright leaf" because of its lemon yellow color from flue-curing, was being produced and sold for premium prices. Before the American Revolution, South Carolina was exporting annually almost a million pounds of tobacco to Britain and Scotland and receiving about 17,000 pounds of manufactured tobacco from the British. After the war, tobacco cultivation increased, and South Carolina introduced regular warehouse and inspection procedures. Markets opened in the Pee Dee/Waccamaw/Conway area, and much of the leaf from South Carolina was sent to Virginia and North Carolina for processing and manufacturing.
As time went on, South Carolina's special flue-cured tobacco brought the Middle Country and the Piedmont of South Carolina into the larger agricultural picture. During the Civil War tobacco exports practically ceased, but by the turn of the century, the tobacco industry was back in full force.
During the latter part of the 21st century, the tobacco industry changed forever. Domestic demand for tobacco decreased over health concerns. Law suits with the tobacco companies created funding for the tobacco producing states for health issues.
Tobacco growers and allotment holders also received funds to help the local economies remain stable. Bales of tobacco instead of piles on the warehouse floors meant less need for space in warehouses. Less need for warehouse space meant less need for warehouses. Contract growing with manufacturers replaced much of the traditional auction market system. Demands from manufacturers like retrofitting tobacco barns for indirect heat placed added financial demands on growers. The centuries old traditional tobacco system is now changed forever.
Tobacco continues to bring a good profit for some growers. Others have decided to produce alternative crops in addition to tobacco or to get out of the business altogether. Even though tobacco has slipped from the #1 commodity in cash value to #4, South Carolina’s bright leaf is still coveted by manufacturers for its quality.
Tobacco Facts • The heaviest concentration of tobacco production is in the Pee Dee River area between North Carolina and South Carolina, but growers and allotment holders are listed in 45 counties. • Tobacco generates millions of dollars a year in sales tax revenue for the state. • Tobacco is an international market. • Tobacco is a close-knit family business. • Tobacco growers work hard to produce a top quality product. • Tobacco rolls over 5-7 times in the economy.
The Holt family began growing tobacco from the earliest days in the Colonies. The family eventually owned thousands of acres of land, mostly devoted to growing this crop. The center of the tobacco growing area in the South Carolina area, the Pee Dee River was Conway, a town dominated by the Holt and Booth families.
The Move to South Carolina
The Reverend William Cocke Holt traveled throughout the Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina areas marrying a young lady from Edgecombe County, North Carolina in 1779. He served in the Colonial Forces against the British in the Revolutionary War. He was awarded a tract of land, 252 acres on the Waccamaw River, South Carolina, in Horry County which was to become the home ground of the Holt family for several generations up until Richard Holt's grandfather, Fernie George Holt.
The first counties in South Carolina, Berkeley, Craven and Colleton were formed in 1682. Granville was formed in 1686. Seven Judicial Districts were formed in 1769, one of those the Georgetown District which was formed out of the Craven County area. After the American Revolution forty more counties were formed including Georgetown in 1800 and from that county, Horry County in 1801. The land was opened for development and settlers from Virginia were encouraged to move to South Carolina where large tracts of land were made available for development. The Holt family took up the challenge and many of them moved to South Carolina from Virginia where they had lived since the early 1600's. They settled in Horry County, around the Pee Dee River and the Waccamaw Rivers with the towns of Conway developing in that area. South Carolina became the home country of the ancestry of Richard Holt's family from that point on in the family history. Conway, South Carolina became the center of the family region.
For thousands of years before Europeans arrived in present-day South Carolina, our state was occupied by Indians, sometimes called American Indians or Native Americans.
At least 29 distinct groups of Indians lived within South Carolina. These groups are called tribes. Today, the many places in South Carolina that bear the names of tribes attest to the important role Indians played in the state's history.
Sadly, the Indian population in South Carolina and throughout the United States greatly declined after the arrival of Europeans. Tribes were weakened by European diseases, such as smallpox, for which they had no immunity. Epidemics killed vast numbers of Indians, reducing some southeastern tribes by as much as two-thirds. Populations declined even further due to conflicts with the settlers over trade practices and land.
Many of the tribes that once lived in South Carolina are now extinct. This means that there are either no surviving members or that they no longer organize themselves as a tribe.
A few tribes, however, still exist and are active today. This means that descendents of the original tribe organize themselves, either socially or politically, as a group.
The Catawba, Pee Dee, Chicora, Edisto, Santee and Chicora-Waccamaw tribes are all still present in South Carolina as are many descendents of the Cherokee.
Horry County, South Carolina
Note: The following write-up on Conway, South Carolina has been copied from the City of Conway description:
"Conway is one of the oldest towns in South Carolina. Originally named Kingston, the town was created in 1734 as part of Royal Governor Robert Johnson's Township Scheme. It was laid out on a riverbluff in the center of what became Horry County.
Many area residents fought in the American Revolution and small engagements were fought near Kingston at Bear Bluff and at Black Lake. Francis Marion, who was known as the Swamp Fox, had an encampment near Kingston just across the Waccamaw River.
After the war, patriotic citizens wanted to discard the mane that honored Great Britain's King George II. The County's name was changed to Horry (pronounced O-Ree) in honor of General Peter Horry in 1801 and a courthouse was established in Kingston.
Kingston's name was later changed to Conwayborough for General Robert Conway.
By the 1820's, Conwayborough was a bustling riverport. Naval stores with the production of tar, pitch, and turpentine were premium occupation for area residents. Planters who developed plantations both large and small owned much of the land along the Waccamaw. Among these were "Snow Hill," "Sonwood," "Keysfield," "Oregon," "Bells Bay," "The Ark," "Longwood," and a "Woodbourne" in Horry County. Throughout the rest of the county were small farms and plantations.
When South Carolina seceded from the Union, area residents rallied to the cause. Thomas W. Beaty and Benjamin E. Sessions of Conway signed the Ordinances of Secession in Charleston. Near the end of the war, Union Soldiers occupied the town for a time.
During the 1870's, the lumber and naval store industries continued to expand. Riverboats transported passengers and goods along the Waccamaw River between Conwayborough and Georgetown. The South Carolina General Assembly shortened the town's name to Conway in 1883. In 1887, the railroad reached Conway and in 1898 the town elected its first mayor."
The Holt family in the Conway area had two major interests in the local economy. Farming of tobacco and the production of what is described as "naval stores", pitch, tar and turpentine used in the ship building and repair business all over the world. It was from this background that Fernie George Holt to be described later came as well as others that moved to Florida from South Carolina.
Born: 1796, Georgetown District, South Carolina Married: Ann Grainger, 1819, Horry County, South Carolina Children: Benjamin, William, Thomas Benjamin 1824, Wilson, Margaret, John
Egbert was the second born to Dibdall Holt and Elizabeth Cocke and the elder son of two boys. The 1825 tax return for Egbert shows him to own 150 acres of land in Horry County.
He fought in the War of 1812 against the British with Captain Loveless Gasque's battalion, 27th Regiment of the South Carolina Militia.
The Historic 27th. South Carolina
The Twenty-Seventh was especially claimed by Charlestonians as their regiment, and in consequence of its local popularity many of the best young men of the city were in its ranks. The average intellegence and social position of the rank and file were thus greater than most regiments. It was not equal to some others in its discipline, But under Gaillard, or any of its officers who possessed its confidence, it would go anywhere and do anything. . . . There was too much intellegence and too little rigidity of discipline in its ranks for men without force of character to command it sucessfully. This regiment . . . had served only in South Carolina but it had been peculiarly fortunate in its service. It had won honor in the Fort at Secessionville in ‘62; had been Taliferro’s mainstay at Wagner on the 18th. July; a portion of it had been Elliot’s garrison at Sumter when the boat attack was repulsed; and two of its sharpshooter regiments had obtained honorable mention at Pocotaligo.
The United States declared War on Great Britain on June 12, 1812. The war was declared as a result of long simmering disputes with Great Britian. The central dispute surrounded the impressment of American soldiers by the British. The British had previously attacked the USS Chesapeake and nearly caused a war two year earlier. In addition, disputes continued with Great Britain over the Northwest Territories and the border with Canada. Finally, the attempts of Great Britain to impose a blockade on France during the Napoleonic Wars was a constant source of conflict with the United States.
The War of 1812 is one of the forgotten wars of the United States. The war lasted for over two years, and while it ended much like it started; in stalemate; it was in fact a war that once and for all confirmed American Independence. The offensive actions of the United States failed in every attempt to capture Canada. On the other hand, the British army was successfully stopped when it attempted to capture Baltimore and New Orleans. There were a number of American naval victories in which American vessels proved themselves superior to similarly sized British vessels. These victories coming after victories in the Quasi War (an even more forgotten war) launched American naval traditions.
On December 24, the Treaty of Ghent is signed ending the war. The war in the field continues until mid-February.
On January 8, 1815, American forces, under General Jackson, decisively defeat the British forces trying to capture New Orleans. The battle, which takes place after the Treaty of Ghent has been signed, is the most decisive American victory of the war.
Some call it the Second War of Independence, for when it ended and the US had fought Great Britain to a stalemate, America's independence was assured.
The Treaty of Ghent brought the hostilities to an end, except for some scattered fighting which continued for a short time. But it settled the issue of the independence of the American Colonies.
This is where the Civil War started, at Fort Sumter, Charleston, South Carolina
Few places are more closely associated with early Civil War history than Charleston.
Many know the story of the secession fever that gripped the state and the city, resulting in the signing here on Dec. 20, 1860, the document that took South Carolina out of the Union.
And most can tell the story of the first shots fired at Fort Sumter a few months later. But Charleston's Civil War story didn't end in the spring of 1861.
Many serious Union attempts were made to capture or cut off the city, which became one of the leading ports for blockade runners. Battles on land and sea were fought within a few miles of the city's famous waterfront. But the Confederates managed to hold Charleston until February 1865, suffering periodic shelling from long-range Union guns.
Despite the bombardment and a great wartime fire, much of the city's historic fabric remains. The old neighborhoods in Charleston offer one of the best walking experiences in the country. Streets are lined with antebellum homes and historic churches, most having some association with the city's Civil War history. Fort Sumter is always visible from the waterfront promenades where, more than 140 years ago, people watched the war begin.
Years of sectional differences and months of high drama finally boiled over when, during the early-morning hours of April 12, 1861, Confederate gunners fired the first shots of the Civil War at this Union bastion in the middle of Charleston Harbor.
After 34 hours of pounding, the fort's commander, Maj. Robert Anderson, surrendered. The victorious Confederates occupied, using the strategic location to keep the Union navy from the harbor and to protect blockade runners. After an unsuccessful Union attempt to bypass the fort by water, Union land-based guns were brought within range, eventually pounding Sumter into rubble.
The advance of Union Gen. William T. Sherman forced the Confederates to evacuate the fort Feb. 17, 1865.
Thomas Benjamin Holt
Born: 23 December 1824, Horry County, South Carolina Married: 1849, Leacy Jane Suggs Children: William Franklin 1850, Thomas, Mary, John, James, Martha, McDonald, Dillon, Emma, Lewis, Frances
William Franklin Holt
Born: 29 July 1850, Horry County, South Carolina Married: Frances H. Gerald 1871 Children: Herbert, Fernie George 1874, Martha, Sarah, Nettie, Willie, Mary, Phenie, Norman
Confederate soldiers from the 10th South Carolina Infantry
William Franklin Holt grew up into manhood during one of the most trying times that men can have, brother fighting brother to the death. The Civil War began when William Franklin was but 11 years of age. The war actually began in South Carolina with the destruction of Fort Sumter.
The Civil War between the northern and southern sections of the United States, which began with the bombardment of Fort Sumter South Carolina on the 12th of April 1861, and came to an end, in the last days of April 1865, with the surrender of the Confederates, was in its scope one of the greatest struggles known to history. Its operations were spread over thousands of miles, vast numbers of men were employed, and both sides fought with an even more relentless determination than is usual when " armed nations " meet in battle.
The duration of the war was due to the nature of the country and the enormous distances to be traversed, not to any want of energy, for the armies were in deadly earnest and their battles and combats (of which two thousand four hundred can be named) sterner than those of almost any war in modern history.
For the purposes of the military narrative it is sufficient to say that eleven southern states seceded from the Union and formed the Confederate States of America. Jefferson Davis was chosen president of this confederacy, and an energetic government prepared to repel the expected attack of the "Union " states. The " resumption " by the seceding states of the coast defenses (built on land ceded by the various states to the Federal government, and, it was argued, withdrawn therefore by the act of secession) brought on the war.
The total loss of life in the Union forces during the four years of war was 359,528, and of the many thousands discharged from the services as disabled or otherwise unfit, a large number died in consequence of injuries or disease incurred in the army. The estimate of 500,000 in all may be taken as approximately correct. The same number is given as that of the Southern losses,. which of course fell upon a much smaller population. The war expenditure of the Federal government has been estimated at $3,400,000,000; the very large sums devoted to the pensions of widows, disabled men, &c., are not included in this amount (Dodge). In 1879 an estimate made of all Federal war expenses up to that date, including pension charges, interest on loans, &c., showed a total of $6,190,000,000.
General Robert E. Lee after the surrender of the southern forces
President Abraham Lincoln
Fernie George Holt
Born: 23 September 1874, Horry County, South Carolina Married: Carrie Dean Spiva, 1892 in Frankfort, Franklin County, Kentucky Children: Myrtle, Lee Roy 17 September 1904, Floyd, Beulah, Mildred, Florence, Marie, Vera Betty, Kelly, Dorothy
Fernie George Holt was born soon after the Civil War had ended. When he was just 18 years of age, he married Clara Carrie Spiva from Kentucky who was from a prominent family in that State. They moved to Florida in 1893 with a group of people from Horry County, South Carolina. They settled in Holmes County Florida in the city of Bonifay, the County Seat. Located in the northwest section of the State of Florida in an area later to be known for its southern hospitality and natural beauty, Holmes County was established on January 7, 1848 as the State’s twenty seventh county. It was the second county established after the Florida Territory achieved statehood in 1845. The group from South Carolina and some from North Carolina began the turpentine, marine supply business in that area which was full of the majestic piney woods. The turpentine business in South Carolina and Georgia had tapered off and Florida was just underway. They bought thousands of acres of land in the north Florida panhandle.
Fernie and Clara began a family which was eventually to number 10 children, all of them born in Bonifay.
Fernie George Holt was a big man, 6' 6" tall and of very broad shoulders. He was well known in the area as he aged and took on many responsible community positions in his early years in Florida.
A turpentine still in operation in the back woods in 1895
A turpentine farm; my granddad had thousands of acres covered with pine trees where turprntine was extracted
A turpentine still in 1925 in the "piney woods" of Florida; that was where my granddad operated a mill just like tjis one.
Pine turpentine producers in operation in Florida
In the early decades of the twentieth century, the longleaf pine region of Georgia and Florida was responsible for producing 70 percent of the world's supply of naval stores-the collective name for products such as tar, pitch, spirits of turpentine, and rosin obtained from pine trees. A century earlier, the dominance of North Carolina in the production of turpentine earned it the title of the Tarheel State (for the black gummy tar that would accumulate on the bare feet of workers). It was the highly resinous wood (often called fatwood) of the longleaf pine tree that made it so desirable and sparked the naval stores industry throughout the Southeast. The term naval stores was originally applied to pitch and tar needed for waterproofing the wooden sailing vessels of the Royal British Navy in the seventeenth century. In fact, British sailors earned the nickname "tars" from their practice of dipping their nappy hair braids in pine tar. As the industry evolved, the distillation of fatwood kindling shifted to the processing of pine gum extracted from the living longleaf pine tree.
Crude turpentine is found in the resin canals of the inner bark and sapwood of various coniferous trees. This gummy fluid is not the sap of the tree. Upon distillation, crude turpentine yields two components; essential oil (spirits of turpentine) and rosin. These products still have many uses today. Spirits of turpentine is important in the paint and varnish industry as a thinner. It is also used as a solvent for rubber, in medicine and in the manufacture of many chemicals. Rosin, a brittle faintly aromatic solid, is used in the manufacture of soap, varnish, paint, linoleum, sealing wax, drugs and oilcloth. It is the chief sizing material for paper.
But it was tar, not turpentine, that was most important in the early development of the South. In the naval stores industry, tar is the crude liquid that drips from the burned wood during slow combustion. Pitch is a partially carbonized and condensed product obtained by boiling or burning tar. Tar and pitch were among the earliest exports of the country, and the industry was practically the only means of livelihood in the early days of the Carolinas. Indeed, the history of the naval stores industry is closely identified with the economic development of the South. Pitch was used chiefly for caulking wooden sailing vessels and tar to coat the riggings. Eventually pitch was replaced by welding bead and the tarry rigging of sailing ships fell before the steam engine and diesel oil.
By the turn of the century, the vast longleaf forests of North and South Carolina soon played out, and turpentiners, a migratory lot, began to take their equipment and their help to Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi and Florida. By the 1920s, the last of the virgin longleaf forests had been cut throughout the Southeast. Second-growth timber was not as rich in gum as virgin timber, and chemical alternatives to naval stores began to be developed instead. The name "naval stores" continues to be used even though spirits of turpentine and rosin became the major products. Today, many other countries, including China and many South American countries, produce more turpentine and resin than the United States.
However, it wasn't until the years following the Civil War that the production of turpentine in Florida began to rapidly increase.
Gum from the pine tree was distilled into rosin and spirits of turpentine in what has been described by many as an "oversized liquor still." The collection and processing of pine gum was a year-round ordeal and often required a large labor force. Work was physically demanding and often began when the sun broke through the tree line and ended as darkness was cast across the sky. Dripping with sweat from a relentless heat and harassed to the verge of insanity by constant swarms of gnats, laborers would work their way from tree to tree chipping shallow gutters (called streaks) into the fresh wood of the tree face. This cut face would direct the gum down into a box notched into the bottom of the tree by a broad axe. However, these boxes were often very destructive to the pine trees-essentially girdling the tree at its base. In the early years of the twentieth century, technology improvements allowed gum to be collected in clay or metal cups hung from the tree by a nail.
A squad of workers traveled from tree to tree dipping gum from the cups and depositing it into barrels. When a worker finished his task on a tree, he would sing out a particular name he had chosen for himself (usually this was a town). A talleyman would record this song with a dot. The number of dots determined a worker's pay. Barrels of gum were hauled to a nearby distillery and refined. In the winter season when gum production slowed, brush and other debris were raked from around trees to prevent the tree face from catching fire. Despite the flammability of raw gum running down a tree face, woods were often deliberately (yet skillfully) set on fire by turpentine men to keep the ground clear of thick shrubs and vines so a turpentine crew could move about easily and as a proactive means to lessen the threat of wildfires set by cracker cowmen.
To house laborers, crude shantytowns (called quarters) were often constructed by employers. An onsite commissary provided groceries, work clothes, and other supplies for laborers. Once a month, scrip would be issued to the workers that could usually only be redeemed at that operation's commissary. For this reason, few workers would ever find themselves free from debt. A laborer could move to another operation only after his debt was cleared. Sometimes, this led to the "pirating" of one operation's workers by another operation's recruiter. However, pirating was a dangerous business, with mistakes sometimes paid for with a recruiter's life. For those workers who received legal tender, payday often meant drunkenness, shootings, and knife and fist fights as farmers, wranglers, and turpentine workers converged on the small towns dotted throughout the longleaf woods of Georgia.
Along with the naval stores industry of the longleaf pine flatwoods, a unique culture evolved. Songs of turpentine crews could be heard floating through his airy pine forest: "Waycross, Mobile, Seaboard." As the songs of the turpentine crews faded so too did a unique industry and culture. In the end, the naval stores industry of the southern pine forests would lose out to cheaper markets overseas and to better substitutes.
When the industry began its decline, Fernie George Holt sold his land and took up the responsibilities of operating a large penitentary in northern Florida. He also got the Coca Cola franchise for all of northern Florida which became a very lucrative business for him. That he did until he retired and moved to Ocala, Florida.
Lee Roy Holt, his second born, was enamoured with the ocean since they only lived about 30 miles from the Gulf of Mexico. He left home at the age of 16 for a job on the railroad with the full support of his father, but his real love was the ocean and this job was to be temporary until he could find his place working on the sea. When he reached the age of 18, he joined the U.S. Navy.
The family remained very close to each other, all of the girls marrying locally and remaining in the northern part of Florida for many years. Fernie George and his wife were also in close contact throughout these years with the family in South Carolina and remained so until their death.
Both Fernie and Clara are buried in the Apopka, Florida cemetery.
Lee Roy Holt
Born: 17 September 1903 Bonifay, Holmes County, Florida Married: Adele Dinger de Guardia, 1932, Panama City, Panama Children: Richard Lee 1935, Fernie George 1936, and Ruth 1939
Lee Roy couldn't wait to leave home in Bonifay, Florida. By the time he had reached the age of 16 he was surrounded by brothers and sisters, and his interest was not in the turpentine and coca cola work, it was in the ocean. He had made many trips from Bonifay to Pensacola and Panama City, Florida to watch the U.S. Navy ships and aircraft and he was enamored with that kind of life. His father, Fernie George encouraged this interest, so when Lee Roy reached 16, his dad gave him permission to seek out a life of his own away from the family farm business.
He was still too young to join the Navy, so his first job was working as a fire stoker, stoking the huge steam engines on the Florida railroad system, shoveling fuel into the steam boilers of railroad engines. This was very hard work as he was later to tell his son Richard. But his interest in joining the Navy never waned, and when he reached the age where the Navy would take him, his father gave him permission to join.
The Navy tests administered to Lee Roy when he joined showed that he had a capability to enter technical areas that were of help to the U.S. Navy, so he was sent to radio school where he became qualified as a Navy Radioman/Signalman. He completed the necessary schooling and was assigned as a radioman in Naval Aviation. One of his first assignments took him to Panama in Central America and he fell in love with that country since it reminded him so much of his homeland in Florida.
US Navy PN-12 Seaplane
Lee Roy began his flying career in the Navy flying as the radio signalman and machine gunner in the rear of PN-12 seaplanes as pictured above. His job was to be in contact with Naval air stations around the world and with the controllers that directed the aircraft in which he was flying.
A serious flying accident in Limon Bay on the Atlantic side of the Panama Canal in 1924 changed his mind about flying. On a takeoff from Coco Solo Naval Air Station located in Limon Bay on the Atlantic Side of the Panama Canal, his aircraft struck a buoy and resulted in the other four crew members being killed, Lee Roy being the only one to make it out of the crash alive but badly injured. He was sent to Pensacola Hospital in Florida for treatment and recouperation.
With this accident, he lost his interest in being in Naval Aviation, and since his interest had been in driving Navy ships anyway, when he was discharged from Pensacola, he applied for and was accepted into Quartermaster school where he would learn the art of driving Navy ships. He completed this school and was assigned sea duty on light cruisers and destroyers.
He had reached the ultimate position in life, he thought, driving these huge Naval ships, standing behind the steering wheel and being in control of their movements, of course with instructions from the Officers in command of the ship. Lee Roy was in seventh heaven in this job. He did well and was rewarded with rapid advancements, reaching the level of a Petty Officer before two years went by. This was his training ground for what was to come later in his very exciting life on the Panama Canal.
Destroyer USS Kane 1920 sea trials
Light cruiser Saint Louis 1922
He was assigned to a Naval destroyer squadron in 1926. Lee Roy's naval unit was on its way to China from the East Coast of the U.S. and had to transit the Panama Canal. During its stay for refitting in Panama, he again fell in love with the land and traded duty with another Navy man stationed in Panama. This led to a tour in Panama and an eventual discharge from the Navy in 1929. He wanted to live in Panama and not have the Navy transfer him to some other location.
He stayed in Panama, first being employed as a radioman with Tropical Radio, a commercial telephone and telegraph company supporting communications throughout all of Central and South America, using his Navy skills as a signalman until a position was open for him on the Panama Canal to operate vessels on the waters of the Panama Canal. That didn't take long.
The Beginning of a career on the Panama Canal
He was hired on the Panama Canal as a launch/small craft operator, first driving the daily passenger launch from Balboa Harbor to the Island of Taboga, a 12 mile trip.
He met an American woman working for the Panama Canal as a clerk, married her in 1930 and they had a son whom he named Kelly after his brother in Florida. But that marriage lasted only a year because Dorothy, his wife, was arrested in the Panama Canal commissary stealing goods, and she was destined to be deported from the Panama Canal as was the custom with any employees who broke the law. Lee Roy was not going to leave Panama because of her error in judgement and the crime of stealing from the U.S. Government. Instead of returning to the U.S., Dorothy moved into Panama City with their son, and Lee Roy divorced her.
Two years later he met a wonderful Panamanian girl who came from one of the leading families in Panama. They eventually married after the family spent a lot of time trying to talk Adele out of marrying an American. She did anyway. Adele's father, a German citizen working on the Panama Canal as a contractor, deserted her mother who at the time had two small children. Her mother met an American, Edward Galliher, who was the Chief of the Building Division on the Panama Canal, and Mr. Galliher took the responsibility for the raising of the two children of Clara Dinger. He turned out to be a wonderful man for the entire family as will be told later in this writing. Lee Roy and Adele's first child was born in 1933 and died soon after birth.
Lee Roy became very depressed after this event, and with the help and encouragement from his family in Florida, quit his job with the Panama Canal and moved he and Adele back to Jacksonville, Florida where he bought a small motel. He expected to operate this motel as an income source. Adele was 22 years of age at this time and Lee Roy 29.
They could not affort to hire help to service the facility, so he had Adele doing all the housekeeping for the rooms. She had never done this kind of work, having had maids in Panama within her family to do this. She also became pregnant during this time. The difficulty of the work, the pregnancy, and the harsh living conditions soon cause a rift in their marriage. Adele contacted her mother Clara in Panama about the situation. Clara and Ed Galliher, her husband, decided to go to Florida to investigate what was happening.
A 1934 Ford Roadster with a rumble seat
Ed and Clara booked passage on a ship to New York; bought a brand new car when they arrived there and drove to Florida. There they found the situation was deteriorating rapidly. They talked Lee Roy into selling the motel and going with them to California where Lee Roy said he had contacts among his ex-Navy friends that could land him a job even in these tough depression-era times of the mid-1930's.
So they drove off to California in the roadster, Ed and Lee Roy in the front seat most of the way, and Clara and Adele in the rumble seat. In the womb was the future Richard Lee Holt. It was a long and difficult drive across the United States in those days.
In California, Ed and Clara booked passage on a ship back to Panama with the car, and left Adele and Lee Roy there in San Diego. Lee Roy had rented a small trailer for Adele to live in while he looked for a job. Things got worse. Adele again contacted her parents in Panama who promptly sent money for passage on a ship back to Panama for both Adele and Lee Roy. He spent the money, not on tickets, but on gambling and carrousing with his Navy buddies.
Adele then sent word back to Panama about the events, and they then sent a ticket for a single passage for Adele. She boarded a ship of the Dollar Line in San Diego in early January 1935. She arrived in the Port of Balboa, Panama on January 19, 1935 the same day as Richard Lee was born.
Lee Roy decided some months later to return to Panama. He had been in contact with Ed Galliher who still had a lot of political contacts on the Panama Canal. He got a job for Lee Roy lined up again operating small craft on the Panama Canal. Lee Roy returned to Panama on his own about two or three months after Richard Lee was born.
Typical of the motor launches operated by the Panama Canal, this was the launch to Taboga Island at the Pacific entrance to the Canal. Other launches used were for transporting Pilots and crews to board ships as they made their way into or out of the Panama Canal.
In June of 1936, Adele and Lee Roy had their second son, named after Lee Roy's father, Fernie George Holt.
A short time after this, he applied for duty on the harbor tugs and was hired in the position of tugboat captain after some schooling in the art of handling tugs.
A daughter, Ruth was born to the couple in January of 1939.
His progression on the Panama Canal took him to the larger sea going tugs. In early 1942 he was selected for some more schooling at the Maritime Academy in San Pedro, California.
The schooling referred to above was of much interest to the whole family. Lee Roy asked for and received permission to take his family with him to Los Angeles to be with him while he was attending the Maritime Academy in San Pedro. This was a very rare thing to have happened since the U.S. was at war and this was an especially bad time for the nation. The landings at Normandy had just taken place. The world was upside down, but Lee Roy asked for this special consideration and it was granted to him. So the entire family was flown to Los Angeles in late June of 1944.
Fortunately, Adele had an Aunt living in Los Angeles named Arcadia and she took the family into her home for a place to stay while Lee Roy was riding the "red car" transit system daily to attend classes in San Pedro. The children started school at the Magnolia Avenue School in the Pico Blvd. area of West LA. Richard was just going into fourth grade and George into second. Ruth was just starting school and was in kindergarten at the start of the school year.
Immediately after school began, it was obvious that the Holt brothers were far advanced over the other children, so both boys were promoted, first one grade, and then two grades above the grade level they would have been in in the Panama Canal schools. They completed one full semester at the Magnolia Avenue School of the LA School District before their dad completed his schooling at the Maritime Academy.
Tugboat Mariner - large sea going tugs employed by the Panama Canal
Tennessee being towed by the Mariner around slides in Culebra Cut in the early days of the Panama Canal
The trip back to Panama after Lee Roy's schooling was a major event in the history of this family. Lee Roy, since he had a critical job on the Panama Canal, was assigned a return flight on the first military aircraft heading to Panama, and he left for home. The family did not!
Thus began a saga that took almost six months to complete.
First a train to Brownsville, Texas where the family stayed for almost a month waiting for a flight south toward Panama. Because of the war situation, the seats were assigned on a priority basis, and a woman and her three children did not have a very high priority in the light of the seriousness of the war that was going on.
The first leg of the flight home took the family to Mexico City where they camped out at a small hotel for almost two months. Then to Guatemala City, again to a small hotel for another two months, then San Jose, Costa Rica for a month, and finally back to the Panama Canal Zone. This was a real education for the children, learning how to survive and act in all these environments. The school year was almost completed before they got back home, but because their mom had been schooling them during the travel home, none of the children lost any time in their education.
The Holt family had been moved from Gatun to Gamboa in 1941 when the German U-boats began their shelling of the Atlantic towns. Lee Roy Holt, because of his seniority was assigned a large cottage right in the center of the town of Gamboa. That worked fine until his son Richard was ready to begin going to middle school, at which time he would have had to ride the Panama Railroad train from Gamboa to Balboa every day for school. Lee Roy did not want Richard to have that exposure where all kinds of problems arose every day.
He asked for a transfer from a superb job as a full-time Pilot and part-time sea going tugboat skipper, and accepted an assignment as a Captain on the Thatcher Ferry in 1948 so that the family could reside in Balboa. He hated the job driving the ferries from one side of the canal to the other, but it allowed Richard, and then George, his brother, to avoid having to ride on the train to go to middle (Jr Hi) school in Balboa.
Lee Roy decided in late 1948 to send Richard off to school in the United States, and with the help of the Pastor of their church, the First Baptist Church of Balboa, made the decision to enroll Richard at Wheaton Academy just outside of Chicago, in Wheaton, Illinois. Richard left home in August of 1949 and his brother George a year later, both enrolled at Wheaton Academy.
Lee Roy suffered a heart attack and died on July 15, 1951 when both Richard and George were home for the summer of 1951. He had reached the age of 46.
Thatcher Ferry - prior to the building of the Bridge of the Americas across the Canal in the 1960's, this was the only means that Panamanians or Americans had for getting from one side of the Canal to the other. Two ferries were built in the shipyards in Balboa. The third ferry was brought down from the Staten Island run in New York. When Dick reached Middle School which was located in Balboa, 20 miles away from Gamboa, and he would have to ride a train to and from school and a bus late after school if he participated in sports, Lee Roy decided to take a job on the ferry boats in Balboa Harbor so that Dick would not have to do that and then George later, and then Ruth also. He did not want to do this but sacrfificed for the children to keep them from problems on the trains which had a reputation for a lot of toruble aboard them.
Richard Lee Holt
Born: 19 January 1935, Panama City, Panama Married: 1983 Cheryl Esther Albers, Ventura, California Children: A Wonderful Step-daughter and her husband Steven Geair who has just retired from the Navy after 20 years, Steve & Michelle Lynn. Michelle has given us two super grandsons, Shilo and Dakota
If life really begins when conception takes place, then you could say that Richard Lee Holt had a most tumultuous beginning to his life. Maybe this was why his life turned into a very exciting set of events that led from his birth throughout his adult life.