Friday, July 3, 2015

52 Ancestors – no. 43: Samuel Jackson Holland (week 27)

Samuel Jackson Holland
This blog post is about my Grandfather, or rather “Granddaddy,” and is a compilation of my own research and personal memories, as well as memories of two of his daughters—Fay and Barbara. Time passes, we grow older, and our memories fade. Speaking for myself, sadly I have large gaps in what I remember about of my childhood. Someday I’m going to start writing down what I do remember and maybe I’ll find a story there. Meanwhile, in the spirit of keeping memories alive—which is the point of 52 Ancestors—I offer his story instead. Scattered throughout this blog post are a few memories shared by my Aunt Barbara. I’ve placed quotes around her words to distinguish her memories vs. my ramblings. I thank Aunt Barbara for sharing these memories with me. Granddaddy was interested in his family history and attempted to document some of it himself. I wish I could share with him what I’ve learned about the Holland family, which is quite a bit since I started down my genealogical path. I hope I’ve done him proud!

Samuel Jackson Holland, son of Elijah Jeffers Holland and Cornelia Jane (Janie) Dove, was born at home in Whitfield County on October 13, 1904. He was the youngest of three children—Roy Holland, Nellie Holland, and Samuel Jackson Holland. A fourth child did not survive. He went by Sam.
House that Sam was born in
On May 4, 1910, Elijah, Janie, Roy, Nellie, and Sam lived in Whitfield County. Elijah was a farmer on a general farm. Janie, Roy, and Nellie helped out as farm laborers. Five year old Sam rounded out the family. His Aunt Sallie Dove Bowers lived four houses away with her family—husband Boone and children Ursula (Lula), Miriam, and Alec. Sam loved his Aunt Sallie. He remained close to her years later after the loss of his Mother. I imagine she became the Mother figure in his life. Sam was also close to his cousin Alec, who was just two years younger than him. I imagine they were almost like brothers what with living so close to each other and being so close in age. On August 19, 1920, the North Georgia Citizen reported that ‘Mr. Sam Holland, of Varnells Rt. 1, was calling on Mr. Alex Bowers one day last week.’ Barbara remembers “a story that Daddy used to tell about slipping a girl out of her parent’s house so the other guy with him and the girl could elope. I’ve always wondered if that could have been Alec and Myrtle Bowers.”

Sadly, young Sam lost his father Elijah who was 42 years old when he died in Dalton, Whitfield County, Georgia on March 4, 1915. Elijah was buried at Deep Springs Baptist Church Cemetery in Dalton. His death was reported in the North Georgia Citizen on March 11, 1915 as ‘Elijah Holland, a highly respected resident of the Deep Springs section, this county, died last Thursday. Interment was made in Deep Springs cemetery Friday.’ Four years later, the year started off tragically when Sam’s brother Roy died at the age of 21 on January 1, 1919 in Deep Springs. I haven’t found a death record for Roy yet so don’t know what caused his death at such a young age. Roy was buried at Deep Springs Baptist Church Cemetery near his father. At the young age of 14, Sam was now the man of the house.

North Georgia Citizen, August 19, 1920
On January 30, 1920, Sam, his mother Janie, and sister Nellie lived in the Ninth District of Whitfield County. The following year, 20 year old Nellie contracted tuberculosis and died at 7 a.m. at home in Varnell, Whitfield County, Georgia on May 6, 1921. She was buried later that day at Deep Springs Baptist Church Cemetery beside her father Elijah, her brother Roy, and Grandfather Leroy Thomas Holland. Sam was the informant on Nellie’s death certificate, listing his address as was Rt. 1, Varnell, Georgia.

Sam married Mary Opal Stone, daughter of Luther W. Stone and Ella (last name unknown), about 1922. Together they had one child, a son they named William Luther Holland but called W.L., born in Georgia on October 31, 1923.

On April 23, 1930, Sam, Opal, W.L., and his mother Janie lived off Cedar Valley Road in Whitfield County. Their next door neighbors were Milas and Effie Shields. That would be the last time Janie would be recorded in a census as she died in Varnell on September 19, 1930 at the age of 58. Janie was buried at Deep Springs Baptist Church Cemetery in Dalton. Sam, the informant on his mother’s death certificate, was now the sole surviving member of his family.

Sallie (Dove) Bowers and Sam
Seven months later, Opal, Sam’s wife of nine years, died in Whitfield County on April 26, 1931. She was just 26 years old. Now it was just Sam and his young son W.L. Sam never talked much about his family. It must have been hard losing everyone at such a young age. Remember, he lost his father in 1915, his brother in 1919, his sister in 1921 followed by his mother in 1930, and finally his wife in 1931. The emotional stress of losing his entire family in such a short time and at such a young age must have been too much to bear and weighed heavy on his heart.

Two months after Opal’s death, Sam married Daisy Lee Shields, daughter of James Stewart Shields and Hattie Jane Rhinehart. Daisy was the niece of Milas Shields, Sam’s neighbor. He called her Lee while the rest of the family called her Daisy. Sam and Daisy didn’t rush to have children. He had a lot of outstanding funeral expenses for Opal and his mother and all of the financial burdens fell to him. Daisy helped Sam pay off the funeral debts by making quilts. She would drive around town in their old model A or T car selling her quilts.

In 1933, Daisy gave birth to their only child, a daughter they named Juanita Fay, at home in Tunnel Hill, Catoosa County, Georgia. After Daisy went into labor, Sam drove to Ringgold to get the doctor. Unfortunately, they didn’t make it back in time. Instead, a neighbor helped Daisy deliver Fay herself. When Sam returned, Daisy told Sam ‘there won’t be any more children.’ And there weren’t!

In 1938, Sam and Daisy lived at 1101-A E 14th Street in Chattanooga, Hamilton County, Tennessee according to the Chattanooga, Tennessee, City Directory for that year. Sam was a truck driver for Miller Motor Lines.

On April 15, 1940, Sam, Daisy, W.L., and Fay lived on East 14th Street in Chattanooga. Sam was a truck driver for the Motor Express Company. Sometime after this census was taken, Daisy left the family and got a room on her own in Chattanooga. She kept in touch with Fay in 1940 but then had little contact with her from 1941 to 1948.

About 1941, Sam and Daisy divorced leaving Sam alone to take care of W.L. and Fay. After the divorce, Fay remembers that her father often took her to Warner Park in Chattanooga to see the monkeys and ride the swings. In 1942, W.L. turned 18 and was drafted into the Army. Sam and Fay rode the bus to Fort Oglethorpe to see W.L. off to Colorado where he stayed the rest of his duty, guarding prisoners of war. Sam and Fay lived alone in Chattanooga for a few months. Sam had help from Arlie Mack Rhinehart (Hattie [Rhinehart] Shields’ brother) and his wife Martha. After Arlie returned to Catoosa County, Georgia, Sam hired a housekeeper to help out. His route took him from Chattanooga, Tennessee to Murphy, North Carolina so he spent a lot of time on the road and was required to drive the trucks overnight. Fay was too young to be left by herself so she would stay with a neighbor at night.
Patsy and Sam Holland

Sam met Patsy Reba Seibers, daughter of William L. Seibers and Missie Belle Boles, in Rossville Walker County, Georgia where she was a waitress at a truck stop. They married in Rossville on September 18, 1943 and lived in Chattanooga. Together they had four children—Samuel William Holland, Barbara Jane Holland, Brenda Louise Holland, and Charles David Holland.

After Sam and Patsy were married, he decided to move the family to Atlanta so he drove a truck there to look for an apartment for himself, Patsy, and Fay. Daisy accused Sam of taking Fay across state lines (which he had not) and had him arrested. W.L. eventually testified in court that he was with Patsy and Fay at home while Sam went to Atlanta and the case was dropped.

Sometime before 1944, Sam, Patsy, and Fay moved to Atlanta where they rented a house on Washington Street from a man named Mr. Speilberger. The house had two apartments and one bathroom on the first floor. Mr. Speilberger lived in one room in the front of the house. They all shared the bathroom. Another family lived upstairs. They had the whole upstairs, including their own bathroom. Barbara was born in Atlanta at Crawford Long Hospital in 1944 while they were living in the Washington Street house.

In May 1946, Patsy gave birth to a son they named Samuel William Holland. He died on July 29 at the age of two months and was buried in an unmarked grave at Hillcrest Cemetery in East Point, Fulton County, Georgia. The Hillcrest Cemetery Memorial Association records the grave in section 3, block G, lot 10. Sam bought two plots when his infant son died. Several years ago, the Hillcrest Cemetery Memorial Association set up a Veterans Memorial Brick Program to raise funds for a veteran’s memorial to be constructed alongside the main entrance drive at Hillcrest. In addition to honoring a veteran, you could recognize a loved one buried in an unmarked grave at Hillcrest. It bothered me that young Samuel didn’t have a tombstone so I made a donation for a paver brick to be engraved with his name. The veteran’s wall is finished but I have yet to find out if the brick for Samuel has been placed on the wall.

In 1947, Sam and Patsy lived at 739 Central Avenue SW in Atlanta (near where the Ted Turner stadium stands in 2015) according to the Atlanta, Georgia, City Directory. Sam was a foreman with R. L. Dante Freight Line. They still lived there in 1948 but at some point that year moved down the street into a house across the street from Julia and Jerry Gregory. The Gregory house address was 714 Central Avenue. Later that year, Sam’s daughter Fay married Julia’s nephew, Sam Lankford, at the home of Patsy’s brother, Allen Derod Seibers.

After the Central Avenue home, Barbara remembers that they “apparently moved around several times before settling the first time at a home in Hapeville, Fulton County, Georgia. They were living in a rental house on Windsor Street (she believes) in Atlanta when Brenda was born at Crawford Long Hospital in 1948. After that, they moved to a home off Bankhead Highway. Brenda was still a baby. I started kindergarten there [Fall 1949 to Spring 1950] and half the first grade [Fall 1950 to December 1950]. We then moved to a home at 3791 Highland Avenue in Hapeville. Brenda was still a toddler and no Dave.” If we calculated this correctly, it would have been January 1951.

Sam and Patsy still lived at the Highland Avenue home in 1951 according to the Atlanta, Georgia, City Directory. Sam was a foreman at Dance Freight Lines. They still lived there in 1953 but Sam was now an assistant manager at Rutherford Freight Lines. And they were once again recorded on Highland Avenue when the Atlanta City Directory was published in 1954. Sam was back at Dance Freight Lines as an assistant manager. Patsy was listed as Reba P. Holland.

Sam, two of his kids, and his Lankford grandchilden
David was born in Atlanta in 1954. According to Barbara, “Fay and Bonita [Fay’s daughter] came to stay with us while Mom was in the hospital. Mom evidently had false labor on trip number one to the hospital. Trip number two produced Dave but Mom always said that ‘it took her a week to have Dave.’” After the school year ended, Sam took the family to Gainesville [June 1954]. Brenda started the first grade at Miller Park School in Gainesville. According to Barbara, “he had a customer whose daughter had a house in Gainesville. She and her family wanted to move to Atlanta. For a time, they just traded houses. They lived in our Hapeville house and we lived in her Gainesville house from June until Christmas 1954. After that Mom and the kids moved back to Hapeville to be there for the sale of the house. Brenda finished the 1st grade at Hapeville Elementary School and I finished the 5th [June 1955]. When school was over in 1955, the Hapeville house sold and we moved to Gainesville permanently. I remember that Mom was not a happy camper selling the house and moving back to Gainesville. I guess she mellowed after a time. I think it helped when she learned to drive and could be out and about.”

The Gainesville, Georgia, City Directory recorded Sam and Patsy as living at Atlanta RD 2 in 1957. Sam was a manager at Atlanta-Ashville Motor Express Inc. The 1959 and 1960 Gainesville, Georgia, City Directories recorded Sam and Patsy as living on Tower Heights Road. Sam was a general manager at Atlanta-Asheville Motor Express Inc. Barbara remembers “we lived on Thompson Bridge Road briefly and again Dad had a customer and we moved to his rental house on Atlanta Highway. We lived there about two years and then Dad bought the Tower Heights house … and lived there until 1963 when they moved to the house you remember on Roberta Circle. Dad lived the rest of his life there.” The Tower Heights house was in Murrayville, although it had a Gainesville mailing address. Barbara believes (but can’t be sure) that they lived at the Tower Heights house when a scary event took place. “Dad was either coming or going to work on Myrtle Street near the warehouse. A young child ran out in front of the car and Daddy hit him. However, the child apparently wasn’t hurt too bad because he/she jumped up and ran into a house. Dad left the car and ran behind the child to the house or into the house (not sure). Anyway, it must have scared the daylights out of both Daddy and the child.”

The Roberta Circle house sat on a circular dirt road and was within walking distance of Lake Lanier. I recall visiting often and remember spending at least a week there during one summer. We went fishing on the lake. To get to their house, we had to cross a bridge with no side rails. I hated crossing that bridge. I just knew Mama was going to drive off the bridge into the lake. As we got closer to the bridge, I would cower in the backseat floor until we had safely crossed it. There was also a water fountain as you drove through Gainesville and I remember it was often filled with bubbles, probably from some prankster the night before. And best of all, they had a Coke machine on their carport! The neighbors would come and buy Cokes. I thought that was cool. Barbara remembers that “Mom had a huge bed of beautiful strawberries at the Roberta Circle house. One day he was out cutting grass and cut down the strawberry patch. I can’t imagine him doing that but he did. I remember he told Mom that he did it because he didn’t want to see her working so hard out there. SURE!” I suggested that meant no pie for Granddaddy and Barbara noted “That was kinda cutting off his nose to spite his face as Mama would have said. That man loved to eat and I always loved to watch him eat because he enjoyed it so much. He mixed some of his foods together. Sounds ucky but he enjoyed it. Also, I remember he sometimes drank his coffee from a saucer. I started drinking coffee at a young age because I wanted to be like Daddy.”

At home in Gainesville
Barbara remembers “Dad had a painful ulcer in the mid to late 1950s. He was up a lot at night in pain and I remember that he hung a wet towel across the head of their bed and it left one of those white stains. Apparently, he was trying to ease the pain. Anyway, the doctors finally put him in the hospital and did surgery. He spent 21 days in the Hall County Hospital.”

Sam was a trucker/warehouseman and was the manager of Atlanta-Asheville Freight Lines until his retirement in 1970. Barbara remembers that “he was at Atlanta Asheville from the beginning when the warehouse was in an old, old building on Railroad Avenue with only two boxes of freight on the floor. The freight line was already started in Atlanta. Dad started the branch in Gainesville. He visited businessmen around Gainesville to solicit their business and built up the business over the years. I remember that it seemed that Daddy worked all the time. He spent many long hours at Atlanta Asheville Freight. Gone early morning, and then after coming home for supper, he would go back to the warehouse to ‘finish up’ typing the paperwork. He was a two finger typist but good at it. I think his work at Atlanta Asheville represented a defining moment in his life. He was a farm boy from Whitfield County who only completed the 6th grade and went on to build this business with his hard work. Retirement in 1970 did not come easy for him. It was a difficult transition. He couldn’t sit back and take it easy. He sold Watkins Products and also made what he called a ‘rolling store’ in the back of his truck. He and Mom went round the country neighborhoods selling his wares. In fact, as I remember, he was out doing this when he had his first stroke. Dad had a mischievous streak that sometimes came out. It should have come out a lot more instead of all that working.”

Sam was active in church all of his life. As a young man, he sang at the church, most likely Deep Springs Church in Dalton. Barbara remembers that “Dad and Mom joined Emmanuel Baptist Church and he was active there. When they moved to Murrayville, they changed memberships to Corinth Baptist Church. He was active in church there. I don't recall that he sang in the choir as he did at a church we attended in Atlanta.”

Sam didn’t smoke or drink. He had diabetes and died from a stroke on May 26, 1972 around 9 a.m. at Hall County Hospital in Gainesville. Barbara remembers “Brenda was with him at the hospital. I was at work a few blocks away and Mother was on the way to the hospital. We were all taken to the hospital chapel and didn’t get to see Daddy until later that day at Vickers Funeral Home.” He was 67 years old. His funeral was held at Corinth Baptist Church with the Rev. O’Dean McNeal and the Rev. Willis Moore officiating. He was buried with his infant son Samuel at Hillcrest Cemetery in section 3, block G, lot 10, space 2. Sam was survived by his wife Patsy, three daughters, Fay, Barbara, and Brenda; two sons, W.L. and David; 10 grandchildren, three great-grandchildren, and several nieces and nephews. Vickers Funeral Home of Gainesville handled the arrangements. I don’t remember the day he died or the funeral but I do remember that since my family lived in Atlanta everybody came back to our house after the service for dinner. If my memory serves me correctly, I left after the church service with Daddy so we could get home early enough for him to cook curried chicken for the family.

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