Otis Cleo Holland, son of Doctor Carroll Holland and Louise Christianna McCoy, was born on April 4, 1885 in Anderson County, South Carolina. He was the 5th of 9 children—Louis Cornelus Holland, Effa Holland, Lilla E. Holland, Joseph Reese Holland, Otis Cleo Holland, Arley Major Holland, Henry Grady Holland, Zadie Elucia Holland, and Laura B. Holland. Otis is my 2nd cousin 2x removed, with our nearest common relatives being John Holland and Elizabeth H. Majors.
On June 5, 1900, Otis and his family lived in the West Centerville Township of Anderson County. His father was a farmer with Reese, Otis, Arley, and Grady all helping as farm laborers. Sisters Zadie, age 9, and Laura, age 6, were the other children living in the home at the time. Otis’ parents had been married for 21 years. His mother was enumerated as having had nine children, with all but one living. With the exception of Otis’ father, everyone was able to read and write. In 1905, Otis worked as a clerk for J. R. Holland in Anderson.
On May 11, 1910, the Holland family lived in the Center Township of Oconee County. At age 25, Otis was still living at home, along with brothers Arley and Grady (enumerated as Henry G.), and sisters Zadie and Laura. Otis, his father, and brother Arley were all farmers on a general farm. Brother Grady worked as a laborer on a home farm. The census record shows that his mother had lost another child and that his father was now able to read and write. On November 16, 1910, Otis married Johnnie Holder, daughter of John Carey Holder and Carrie Louvinia Hutchison. The Greenville News, published in Greenville, South Carolina, carried a marriage notice on November 8, 1910:
Holder-Holland. Cards reading as follows have been issued: Mr. and Mrs. J. C. Holder request the pleasure of your company at the marriage of their daughter, Johnnie Kathleen to Mr. Otis C. Holland on the evening of Wednesday the sixteenth of November, at half-after eight o’clock at their home, 1015 Ella Street, Anderson, South Carolina.
The Greenville News, November 8, 1910
Otis and Johnnie didn’t waste time before starting their family. Their first child, a daughter they named Thelma, was born on October 28, 1911. A second daughter named Cleo, apparently after her father, was born about 1914. Sadly, neither daughter would grow up knowing their father. Otis died at Anderson County Hospital on July 3, 1915 following surgery for appendicitis. His brother Reese was the informant on his death certificate. Otis was buried on July 4 in the Oakwood Section of Silver Brook Cemetery in Anderson. He was 30 years old at the time of his death.
Photo by L N M W H, Find a Grave member 47583636.
His nephew, Frank Dickson (son of Laura B. Holland), wrote a beautiful obituary (full of genealogical information) for Otis that was published in Anderson’s newspaper The Intelligencer on July 9:
Saturday morning, July 3, a little before the clock struck the hour of ten, the noble life of Otis Cleo Holland had ended its earthly pilgrimage. Only a few days before he had undergone an operation for appendicitis. From the start it was feared that he could not live. He was given every attention possible at the Anderson hospital, but for several days nothing could ease his intense pain and dreadful suffering, then “The Great Physician” simply touched him and he was at rest.
Otis Cleo Holland was born near Anderson, April 4, 1885. He was son of Mr. D. C. and Mrs. L. C. Holland, both of whom still survive him. He joined Neal’s Creek church when a boy and had been a consistent member of the Baptist church ever since. At the time of his death he was a member of the First Baptist church at Anderson.
From his youth up he was a good boy, developing into a true manly man. Well did he fulfill that great commandment, “Honor they father and mother.” A truer boy to his mother never lived, our hearts go out today to the “Grand old mother of Israel” with her heart bleeding and aching, she gives up her boy, yet the spirit of God shining in her eyes as she trusts in his goodness and knows ere long she shall again gather her children in those empty arms.
Otis loved all his people, especially his sisters, and his love and care for them was beautiful. To know him was to love him. He was so pure and clean. His language was pure and elevating, never did we hear him utter one word that was wrong. He held himself high above the crowd. Never did he mix with the unclean. Today we find joy in his last words that all was well and that he was ready to go.
November 16, 1910, he was married to Miss Johnnie Holder of Anderson. To them was born two precious little girls, Thelma, age 4 years and little Cleo, age 10 months. Their married life was sweet and beautiful, just one courtship and honey-moon. He devotedly loved his babies and how his heart must have ached as he kissed them goodbye at the hospital. In the last days his wife showed watchless courage and unlimited strength and love as she tenderly watched him. Then when the end came she was heart-broken and her life was crushed.
He leaves besides his own family and his father and mother, three brothers, J. R. Holland, A. M. Holland, H. Grady Holland, all of Anderson; three sisters, Mrs. Lila Carroll of Georgia; Mrs. Zadie McCarley of Anderson and Mrs. Laura Dickson of Townville. A sister and little brother preceded him to the grave.
The funeral was conducted at home in the room where he was married by Rev. John Speake of St. John’s Methodist church. The following acted as pallbearers: L. H. Seel, Dr. Mack Sanders, Dr. Carl Sanders, J. F. Geer, Dr. Atkinson, John Pruitt.
Internment was made at Silver Brook cemetery. The grave was left covered in beautiful flowers.
Frank A. Dickson
Johnnie was pregnant when Otis died and gave birth to a third daughter in Anderson on February 5, 1916. She named her new daughter Otis Louise Holland, apparently a second nod to the husband she loved so dearly.
- Anderson, South Carolina, City Directory, 1905.
- Find a Grave, database and images (www.findagrave.com/memorial/100198117/otis-c.-holland: accessed 12 June 2021), memorial page for Otis C. Holland (4 Apr 1885–3 Jul 1915), Find a Grave Memorial ID 100198117, citing Silver Brook Cemetery, Anderson, Anderson County, South Carolina, USA; maintained by Clagett Girl (contributor 50087197).
- O. C. Holland, Certificate of Death no. 12815, State of South Carolina, Bureau of Vital Statistics, State Board of Health, South Carolina Death Records, 1821-1955, ancestry.com.
- Otis C. Holland – Life was Very Beautiful and He Was One Among Many, The Intelligencer, Anderson, South Carolina, July 9, 1915.
- Otis Louisa Holland, Certificate of Birth no. 47909, State of South Carolina, Bureau of Vital Statistics, State Board of Health.
- U.S. Federal Census, Center, Oconee County, South Carolina, 1910.
- U.S. Federal Census, Centerville, Anderson County, South Carolina, 1900.