|Lawrence Lafayette Holland|
Lawrence was almost one year old when he first experienced death, although he was too young to realize what had happened to his family. Eliza, his oldest sister, died at the age of 27 on September 10, 1883. She was buried at Neal’s Creek Baptist Church Cemetery in Anderson. In the spring of 1890, he lost two older brothers when he was seven years old. By then, I’m sure he felt the pain of losing his brothers whom he probably looked up to. His brother, William Harrison Holland, just 24 years old, died in March 1890. Shortly after Harrison’s death, another brother, Brown Lee Holland died in April after being stricken down with pneumonia from taking care of Harrison. Brown was just 21 years old when he died. Harrison and Brown were laid to rest together in Neal’s Creek Baptist Church Cemetery.
The early 1890s were hard on the Holland family. In addition to the death of two brothers, Lawrence’s father Leroy was struggling to support his family. In an attempt to make a better life for them, Leroy bought land in Dalton, Whitfield County, Georgia and around January 1891 moved the family there. They took a train to Atlanta, Fulton County, Georgia, spent the night there, and then headed for Dalton the next morning. George Brownlee, a friend Leroy bought the land from, met them in Dalton and invited them to stay at his home in Deep Springs for the 15 days it took their household goods to arrive. The first year in Dalton was a good one and his father worked hard. Leroy already had plenty of good farming land in cultivation but wanted to clear more land. He literally ended up working himself to death (or so Lawrence’s brother Aaron thought) and died of pneumonia on May 4, 1892 in Beaverdale, Whitfield County, Georgia. Leroy was buried at Deep Springs Baptist Church Cemetery there in Whitfield County.
If the family thought life was hard before, it was much worse now. On or about December 5, 1893, Brownlee ordered them off his land so they moved to 80 acres purchased by Leroy before he died. (In an earlier blog post I stated 1894 based on the recollections of Aaron Hall Holland, but recently found a news article from 1893 that proved he was a year off in his recollections.) The Hollands 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, her son Edwin Parker Welch, and good neighbors Mr. and Mrs. Patterson that they survived.
Lawrence’s mother Amanda would not give up. She and the boys were encouraged by everyone, especially her brother Lawrence Peak Hall of Italy, Ellis County, Texas. Peak offered to furnish all of their food, free of charge, as well as a house and half of what they produced, if they moved to Texas. Amanda felt that was a deal she couldn’t refuse and accepted the offer. She sold everything the family had for cash, except the 80 acres of land which she sold for $100 on credit. They left for Texas, arriving on January 8, 1895 with $45 in cash and practically nothing else. They lived with Peak’s family for a couple of weeks and then moved into a four room house. They rented 30 acres of land from Peak and worked hard to produce a good crop of corn and cotton. Unfortunately, they lost money when they were unable to pick all of the cotton they had grown. This snowballed into the next year as they were refused the right to rent the land since they were unable to gather all of the crops. They looked for land elsewhere, ending up on a flag stop at Dairy Station in Alief, Harris County, Texas, 15 miles west of Houston, Harris County, Texas. The Hollands worked hard again and built a small house and fences. But there was no rest for the weary—they also had to prepare the land for crops. Once they completed that task, they headed back to Italy to harvest the corn there. After the crops were harvested, they loaded their mules, cows, shelled corn, baled oats, and furniture and took the train back to Dairy Station, arriving on January 8, 1899. They put Aaron in the box car to watch the stock on the trip. Once back in Alief, 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 lumber to build a small barn to protect the mules and cows from the cold rains and then planted cotton. The first crop was a good one and they made enough money to meet their payments.
|Aaron Hall Holland, Joseph Norris Holland |
(in chair), Lawrence Lafayette Holland
(standing), William Charles Holland (in front of Lawrence).
Of all the bad things that had happened to Lawrence and his family—they hadn’t seen anything yet. At dinner time on the night of September 8, 1900, the wind started blowing hard from the north. The house eased off the foundation and a plank came loose, flapping against the wall. It continued until 11:30 that night when it changed to the East and then dropped to the Southeast at an increased speed. The 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 decided they might as well go outside. Aaron was the strongest so took Joe by the hand. Lawrence took his mother’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 his mother 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. It turns out they were in the midst of the historical 1900 Galveston hurricane which killed thousands of people and destroyed many homes. They were lucky—their house stood and they survived.
Things settled down and got back to normal. The rains stopped and the next year was dry. They were able to make enough money over time to meet their payments. Aaron left home for a while to work but was forced to return home to help their mother and Joe gather the crops when Lawrence left home. Lawrence eventually returned home and they bought more farm land, a barn, and firewood. By 1908, they held 205 acres and had most of it paid off.
In 1909, their cousin Edwin Welch died in Denver, Colorado so Lawrence’s brother Aaron quit his job and left for Denver. When he arrived, he found his aunt Hattie Welch (mother of Edwin and sister of their mother Amanda) very sick so Aaron decided to leave his family behind in Texas to stay in Colorado and take care of aunt Hattie. She had saved their lives back in 1893 and now it was his turn to help her.
Aaron must have come back home to gather his belongings because on May 9, 1910, the census enumerator found him living with Lawrence, Joe, and their mother in Justice Precinct 8 of Harris County, Texas. Their mother was the head of the household. All three boys were still single and everyone in the house were farmers. Lawrence was able to read and write.
Lawrence married Thula Williford Maybin, daughter of Matthew Martin Maybin and Martha Jane Gordon, on December 23, 1911 in Harris County, Texas. Together they had nine children—Hattie Leeoma Holland, Eulalia Lynn Holland (twin), Launa Estelle Holland (twin), Margie Myrtle Holland, Leroy Thomas Holland, Arnold Sears Holland, Luetta Amanda Holland, Bessie Mae Holland, and Elnora Lou Bell Holland. Thula had previously been married to Walter Robert Stephenson and had a son named Walter Robert Stephenson Jr.
|Lawrence, Thula, and four of their children|
Lawrence and Thula were married just under three years when they welcomed their first daughter Hattie in October 1914. They lived at 7118 Brownville Street in Houston. The joy of a new child was shattered two months later, however, when Lawrence’s mother died in Houston at the age of 70 on December 20, 1914. Amanda was buried on Christmas Eve beside her brother Peak at Italy Cemetery in Italy, Ellis County, Texas. Her tombstone includes the names of her husband, L. T. Holland, and three sons—Lawrence, Joe, and Aaron. I’m sure Lawrence was devastated by the death of his mother—they had been through a lot together. But things would get worse before they got better. You know they always say deaths come in threes—well that would prove to be true in this case when Lawrence’s brother Elijah died in Dalton on March 4, 1915. He was buried at Deep Springs Baptist Church Cemetery with Lawrence’s grandfather Leroy Holland. Fourteen days after Elijah’s death, his brother Andrew died in Washington, DC on March 18, 1915. Andrew was buried at Congressional Cemetery in DC. I wonder how this effected Lawrence. After all, it had been 20 years since he left Georgia for Texas. Had he ever made the trip back east? Had his brothers ever visited him in Texas? Did they write to each other? Just wondering.
Happy times were just around the corner though when March 1916 saw the birth of twin daughters Eulalia and Launa. They brought their baby girls home to the Brownville Street house in Houston. Daughter Margie was born in February 1918.
Lawrence and Thula’s first son was born on November 25, 1919 in Humble, Harris County, Texas, just in time for Thanksgiving. They honored Lawrence’s father by naming this child Leroy Thomas Holland.
The 1920s saw more changes to the family. On January 25, 1920, Lawrence, Thula, her son from a previous marriage Walter Stephenson, their daughters Hattie, Eulalia, Launa, and Margie, and Leroy lived on Houston Road in Justice Precinct 4 of Harris County, Texas. The census enumerator listed Leroy as “Baby no name” and recorded him as one month old although he was actually two months old. Lawrence was a farmer. A month later, Lawrence’s brother Joseph died in Alief on February 26, 1920 at the age of 31 and was buried at Alief Cemetery. That must have been a shock to Lawrence. This left him alone in Texas now that his mother and Joe were gone and Aaron lived in Colorado. But Lawrence was surrounded by his own family which continued to grow—they added Arnold in September 1921, Luetta in 1923, Bessie in 1928, and Elnora in 1929 with the family back at the Brownville Street house in 1929. I wonder if they really ever left that house.
I’ve struggled with the year 1930—spending a good deal of time searching for Lawrence in census records to no avail. I did, however, find three children on April 12, 1930 living at the Austin State School on Camp Mabry Road in Austin, Travis County, Texas. The school is a state run facility for individuals with developmental disabilities. All three children—Estell Holland (age 14), Margia Holland (age 12), and Leroy Holland (age 10)—were listed as “inmate” in the census record. The names and ages match three of Lawrence’s children. The father for all three children was born in South Carolina which would be correct. The mother was born in North Carolina vs. Texas as Thula was but I still feel like they belong to Lawrence. I’d love to find Lawrence and Thula in this census record to see which children are living in the home with them that year. I’ll keep looking.
|Is this three of the Holland children in the 1930 Austin, Travis County, Texas census|
Lawrence died of an acute heart attack in Alief on August 17, 1934 at the age of 51. He was buried at the Alief Cemetery where his brother Joe was buried. Lawrence’s wife Thula was the informant on his death certificate. She didn’t know the name of Lawrence’s father (Leroy) and inaccurately listed Leroy’s birthplace as Georgia.
Lawrence experienced many hardships during his lifetime. I hope the good times outweighed the bad times for him.