|*Seeking valuables in the wreckage, Galveston, Texas|
Much of the information in this blog entry was taken from a letter written by Aaron Hall Holland in 1964 detailing his Hall/Holland family history. Aaron was 84 years old at the time he wrote the letter.
On September 3, 1850, Amanda and her family lived in the Western Division of Anderson County, South Carolina. Amanda’s father was a farmer with real estate valued at $2,500. Amanda’s grandfather Joseph Hall lived next door.
On July 23, 1860, Amanda lived at home in the 4th District of Anderson County. She was enumerated as Cinderilla Hall.
On June 14, 1870, Amanda lived with her family in the Varennes Township of Anderson County. She was enumerated as C. D. A. Hall, age 23, keeping house.
At age 35, Amanda married Leroy Thomas Holland (my second great-grandfather) on August 3, 1879 in Anderson County. The marriage notice ran in The Anderson Intelligencer on August 7, 1879—“Married, August 3d, 1879, by Rev. W. P. Martin, at the residence of the bride’s father, Mr. Leroy T. Holland and Miss C. Amanda Hall, youngest daughter of Mr. Aaron Hall.” (Note: I incorrectly listed the year as 1878 in my blogpost for Leroy Thomas Holland. I re-read the news article to check the date and it was 1879. I’ve corrected that on Leroy’s blogpost so I’m not publishing incorrect information. I apologize for that error.) It was the second marriage for Leroy and first for Amanda. Upon marriage, Amanda became the stepmother of Eliza Ann, Marion Scott, William Harrison, Brown Lee, Elijah Jeffers, Andrew Turner, and William Charles Holland. Amanda and Leroy had three children of their own—Aaron Hall, Lawrence Lafayette, and Joe Norris Holland.
|The Anderson Intelligencer, August 7, 1879|
Amanda’s father, Aaron Hall, died in South Carolina on February 5, 1883. He was buried at Flat Rock Baptist Church Cemetery in Anderson.
Leroy and his first wife, Amanda Elizabeth Scott, had 11 children, many of which did not survive childhood or early adulthood. On September 10, 1883, Leroy’s oldest child, Eliza Ann Holland, died at the age of 27. She was buried at Neal’s Creek Baptist Church Cemetery in Anderson. On March 26, 1890, William Harrison Holland (age 24) died. His brother, Brown Lee Holland (age 21), died on April 5, 1890. Both died in Broadway, Anderson County. The Anderson Intelligencer published an article on April 10, 1890 stating that Harrison had been ill and was closely tended by Brown. Harrison died and shortly after his death, Brown was stricken with pneumonia and died. Both were buried at Neal’s Creek Baptist Church Cemetery in Anderson.
In the early 1890s, Amanda and Leroy moved to Whitfield County, Georgia seeking a better life for the family. Leroy bought a tract of land with the agreement of making payments. He also paid cash for 80 acres of adjoining land owned by his friend George Brownlee. Leroy’s son Andrew was unhappy in Georgia and returned to South Carolina shortly after the move—one less mouth to feed, but also one less son to help farm the land.
The Holland’s did well the first year in Dalton. Leroy wanted to clear more land and would cut the finest trees, even though they had plenty of good farming land already in cultivation. Leroy came down with pneumonia and after only 14 years of marriage, died on May 4, 1892 in Beaverdale, Whitfield County, Georgia. He was buried at Deep Springs Baptist Church Cemetery in Whitfield County. His son Aaron felt that Leroy had worked himself to death.
On or about December 5, 1894, Brownlee ordered the Holland family off his land so they moved to the 80 acres purchased earlier by Leroy. They had just spent the night there when they were awakened and informed that the barn on the Brownlee place had burned to the ground. Amanda and the boys lost all of their corn, cotton seed, and fodder, leaving them with nothing. It was only with the help of Amanda’s sister, Permelia Ann Harriett (Hattie) Hall Welch, Hattie’s son Edwin Parker Welch, and good neighbors Mr. and Mrs. Patterson that they survived. Amanda would not give up and they made a very good crop on the 80 acres. She and the boys were encouraged by everyone, especially her brother Lawrence Peak Hall of Italy, Ellis County, Texas. Peak wrote to Amanda and told her if they moved to Texas he would furnish all of their food, free of charge, as well as a house and half of what they produced. This was a deal Amanda couldn’t refuse so she took Peak up on the offer. Amanda sold everything the family had for cash, except the 80 acres of land. She sold the land for $100 on credit, although in Aaron’s 1964 letter he stated that he thought all they ever received was $80.
Amanda’s brother John Hall took Amanda, Aaron, Lawrence, and Joe to the station for the trip to Texas. They arrived on January 8, 1895 with $45 in cash and practically nothing else. They lived a week or two with Peak’s family and then moved into a nice little four room house and began their Texas career of farming. Peak rented 30 acres of land for Amanda. They worked hard and made a very good crop of which they gave Peak half. Aaron, the oldest, had to work every day he was not needed to work on their crop. He repaired fences, cut wood, and helped his cousin Britain Hall build a barn. For three years—1895, 1896, and 1897—Aaron said he was never offered a cent for his work.
Amanda’s mother died in Anderson on October 1, 1897. Her obituary stated that she was a “gentle and faithful mother.” Clementine was buried at Flat Rock Baptist Church Cemetery in Anderson. Hattie had lived with her mother for several years so she could take care of her. After Clementine’s death, Amanda’s brother, Postel Cator (Dock) Hall, settled the estate with each heir receiving around $650. In the final settlement, Hattie demanded that Amanda be paid an extra $150 for helping to care for her parents before she was married. Aaron and Clementine Hall had been through a lot—robbed by Civil War soldiers, the death of son Andrew, and the death of son-in-law Berry Arnold who was killed in the war, leaving their daughter Florilla alone with four children. Amanda stayed home and took care of all of them the best she could. Peak blew his top when he found out that Amanda had received $150 more than he had. He tried to force her to buy two old mules, some farming tools, and rent more land on a third and fourth basis. He wanted too much for these items so Amanda refused and moved off Peak’s land to Jonny Couch’s land in the Hard Neck neighborhood on January 8, 1898.
Amanda and the boys made a fine crop of corn and cotton, but were unable to pick the cotton for lack of help. Because of this, they lost a lot of money—the price of cotton was about 4 cents a pound and corn 18 cents a bushel. Mr. Couch refused to rent the land to them the next year since they were unable to gather all of the crops. Land there was rented in the middle of the summer for the next year so they began to look for land for 1899. Peak, considered one of the wealthiest in the Flat Rock School neighborhood, wanted more land so he contacted Daugherty and Schmitz of Houston, Texas. Peak made a deal to buy 80 acres at $25 an acre. At the time, the country was unsettled. There were no roads and the land had no house or fences. It was nothing but grass and level as a floor. There was plenty of water and mosquitoes however. The land was one mile south of the San Antonio and Aransas Pass Railroad, on a flag stop at Dairy Station in Alief, Harris County, Texas, and 15 miles west of Houston. At that time, Houston had a population of about 45,000. The deal didn’t suit Peak, so he turned it over to Amanda and her boys. Since they needed a house and fences, they got busy so they could move. Peak arranged for his son Britain and Aaron to each take a wagon and drive to the land, 250 miles each way with no roads, down along the Houston and Texas Central Railroad. Britain attempted to plow the ground but it was so dry and hard he was only able to break 10 acres. While Britain plowed the land, Aaron worked with a carpenter named Daniel Davis to build a 10 by 20 feet square, one and a half story house. Once they finished, they headed back to Italy to harvest the crops. The corn was harvested and one third paid to Mr. Couch. They picked cotton, doing the best they could for a widow woman and three children, the oldest only 18 years old.
They were on their own and owed $700 on the 80 acres so it was up to them to get busy or else. They went to work and proceeded to move, loading two mules, two cows, about 200 bushels of shelled corn, some baled oats, and what furniture they had. They put Aaron in the box car to watch the stock on the trip, while Amanda, Joe, and Lawrence took the passenger train for Dairy Station, arriving on January 8, 1899. They stored the corn and baled oats in one end of the small house, cooked and ate in the other end, and slept upstairs where there was only one entrance and no windows. They managed to gather enough old lumber to build a small barn to protect the mules and cows from the cold rains, which at that time was about 72 to 80 inches. They planted cotton on the 10 acres Britain plowed, some land they rented from Mr. Briles, and on 10 acres from Mr. Penrod. They made a very good crop the first year, making enough to meet the payments.
The census enumerator found Amanda, Aaron, Lawrence, and Joe in Justice Precinct 8 of Harris County, Texas on June 15, 1900. Amanda was head of the household, a farmer, and able to read and write. She owned her home, classified as a farm, free and clear.
Then life took a serious turn. It started raining and rained for months, until the first week in September 1900. During this time, it was so wet they couldn’t farm—they just sat around and watched it rain. The boys contracted malaria, with Lawrence being the most sick. The night of September 8, 1900, Amanda and the boys were eating supper when the wind grew harder from the north. The house eased off the foundation and a plank came loose, flapping against the wall. They sat in the house wondering if the wind would stop. It finally did at 11:30 p.m., changing to the East and then dropped to the Southeast at an increased speed. Their house began to rise up and drop down. They were frightened, fearing the house would collapse any minute. The house had two doors—one on the East end that faced the wind and one on the South end. They thought the storm was nearing the end and felt lucky the house was still standing. Not knowing what to do, they thought they might as well get outside. Aaron was the strongest so took Joe by the hand. Lawrence took Amanda’s hand and they made a run for it. The run didn’t amount to much because as soon as Aaron hit the South door, the wind was so strong it tore him loose from Joe and sucked him in the back. The same thing happened to Joe and Lawrence. As Amanda came out, the wind had such force that it blew her past the boys behind the wall into the water, which was a foot deep by that time. Thankfully, the house stood. If it had gone down, they would have been buried in the water underneath the house.
It turns out that Amanda and the boys had just survived the historical 1900 Galveston hurricane that killed thousands of people. Hundreds of houses were blown down. Fortunately, their house was not damaged much. Lots of help came in. They were given beans and pork for food. When that was gone, they applied for more but were refused by the committee. It was their good luck that there was a man, George Baseman, standing by and heard the refusal. So this good man said to Amanda “Mrs. Holland, give me the sack you have and I will see that you get help.” True to his word, George helped Amanda and the boys. Amanda’s brother Peak sent them $5 and offered to let them come help gather his crop. Amanda’s sister Hattie and her son Edwin helped out. Mr. and Mrs. Patterson sent clothing. Tom Dunn, a good friend of Amanda’s, came by. He gave her $50 after seeing the condition they were in. Tom Amos, who worked in a sugar mill at Sugar Land, Texas, helped them as much as he was able. It was through his kindness that they were able to buy a much needed mule from a man on credit without Amanda having to make a down payment. This helped them greatly as one of their mules had a large sore on its shoulder.
Things settled down and finally got back to normal. Unfortunately, the next year was very dry. They were, however, able to make enough money to pay for the mule, but were unable to meet the payment due on the 80 acres. Mr. Schmidt wanted his money but agreed to carry them for another year. Things started looking up for the family. They got over malaria, had good crops, and were finally able to pay off the 80 acres. Aaron worked at Sugar Hill, then on a rice farm, and then at the San Antonio and Aransas Pass Railroad. From there he left for Sterrett, Texas to work as a telegraph operator on the Missouri Kansas and Texas Railway with his cousin Aaron Carl Hall. Lawrence left home and Aaron was forced to return home to help Amanda and Joe gather the crops. Within a week, they harvested five bales of cotton. With that and the money saved by Aaron, they bought lumber and built a square top house in Alief, Texas. When the hurricane blew through town, it had blown George Baseman’s gin down, scattering the tin it was constructed out of a mile or so up the railroad. Everyone else moved away so George gave Amanda the right to gather the tin and use it if they could. It was no use to anyone unless they straightened it out which Aaron was able to do. They built a badly needed barn from the tin, rejected lumber saved from repairing guards, the cotton platform from working on the railroad, and the goodness of Mr. Bowers, who sold them small pine trees.
Once again, life was improving. Lawrence returned home and needed more land so they bought 80 acres at $25 an acre from John Dockel. They also bought 35 acres at $35 an acre across the road from the square top house and built a barn on it, making a total of 195 acres. They needed firewood so they bought another 10 acres on Buffalo Bayou for $20 an acre making their holdings 205 acres by 1908. They had just about paid for all of the land.
The country around Alief began to improve as well. The land was level and had no drainage so land owners began to push the state legislature to pass laws allowing districts to be organized to issue bonds for the purpose of draining their land. Legislation was passed and 80,000 were incorporated under the name of Harris County Drainage District. Bonds in the amount of $60,000 were issued. F. H. Liestman, John Cook, and Aaron Holland were elected drainage commissioners and given the right to hire a surveyor to lay out the drainage ditches and let the contractors proceed with digging the ditches. The dredge was built near Clodine station at the head of Brays Bayou and work began in the spring of 1909.
Aaron was working for the district and started to do the work for the dredging company as a blacksmith, when they received a telegram stating that Edwin Welch had passed away on November 16, 1909. Aaron quit his job and contacted Aaron Carl Hall of Teague, Texas hoping to get details of Ed’s death. But no one seemed to care. So Aaron boarded the train and arrived in Denver, Colorado on November 25, 1909. When he arrived, he found that his Aunt Hattie was very sick. A second cousin, Linda (Nauldin) Tatum, from Locksburg, Arkansas, had arrived before Aaron. She stayed two days and then said she had to go home. When she left she told Aaron that she would not be coming back to take care of Hattie. So what could Aaron do? Amanda, Joe, and Lawrence were in Texas. He had two jobs and a farm to help run there but his Aunt Hattie had saved their lives and now it was their turn to help her. So he threw up his interest in Texas and stayed in Colorado, leaving his family behind in Texas.
Although Aaron stated in his 1964 letter that he arrived in Denver in November 1909 and stayed to help his Aunt Hattie, census records show that he lived with his mother and brothers in Justice Precinct 8 of Harris County, Texas on May 9, 1910. Amanda was the head of the household. All three sons were still single. Amanda was a farmer on a general farm. Her three sons were listed as farmers on a home farm. It could be that he stayed in Colorado long enough to stabilize Hattie back in November and then went back to Texas to make arrangements for his move to Colorado.
Amanda died on December 20, 1914 in Houston, Harris County, Texas. She was buried at Italy Cemetery in Italy, Ellis County, Texas. Her death was reported in The Anderson Intelligencer on January 3, 1915: Former Resident Dies In Texas—Mrs. Amanda Hall Holland, wife of the late Leeroy T. Holland of Belton township, died at St. Joseph’s infirmary, Houston, Texas, of tumor. She was born June 30, 1844, near Flat Rock church and was the youngest daughter of Aaron Hall. She moved from South Carolina to Georgia and from there to Italy, Ellis County, Texas. She leaves one sister, Mrs. Harriette P. Welch, 1101 Bannock street, Denver, Colo.; one brother Mr. P. C. Hall of Varennes Township; three sons and four step-sons to cherish her memory. The remains were laid to rest beside her brother, Mr. L. P. Hall, at Italy, Texas, Christmas Eve.
Amanda’s tombstone in Italy, Texas records her as the wife of L. T. Holland. The names of her three boys—Lawrence Lafayette, Joe Norris, and Aaron Hall Holland—are also on the stone.
I wish all of my ancestors had taken the time to write their story to share with family members as Aaron did. I'm thankful he did this for his family.
P.S., I’m halfway to 52!!!!!
*Seeking valuables in the wreckage, Galveston, Texas, LC-USZ62-120389; http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Seeking_valuables_in_the_wreckage,_Galveston,_Texas.jpg# (public domain).