Lydia was my 3rd great-grandmother and my interest in her, her family and her descendants will never cease. I've traced as much of her life as I can and I continue to do so. I will never stop. :) I cannot know enough about Lydia. I find her to be nearly the most fascinating of my ancestors. My admiration for her strength and endurance knows no bounds.
I hope I can tell the tale of her life and her ancestors properly. It will take some time, so please settle in. :) I'm going to attempt to take you on a tale of her history and lead you to present. :)
First, let me say, may she Rest in Eternal Peace.
Lydia was born November 23, 1819 in Union Co, Indiana. Her parents were Ezekiel Hollingsworth and (Sarah) Jane Hollingsworth.* (More on (Sarah) Jane Hollingsworth to come.)
She married George Meacham Holaday on November 29, 1838 in Vermilion Co, IN. She gave birth to 11 of George M. Holaday's children; 2 died young.
She died July 8, 1911 in Madison Co, Winterset, IA. She is buried in the Winterset City Cemetery.
Lydia was a Quaker until the time she married "contrary to discipline" (mcd) and her husband was, effectively, "kicked out," or, in Quaker terms, disowned. Her husband did not repent, nor did she as it would seem, so the end of her Quaker life was the civil marriage between she and George Meacham Holaday in 1838. Incidentally, George had also been reported for "attending places of diversion." None the less, he did not attempt to repent for either.
Lydia came from strong Quaker lines, dating back to Valentine Hollingsworth, a founder of the Hollingsworth family in America circa 1682, in the time of William Penn. He was a prominent Quaker.
Not long after, on 29 Nov 1838, George Meacham Holaday and Lydia Hollingworth were wed in a civil ceremony, ending their ties to the Quakers forever.
George and Lydia have their first child, a son, 8 Nov 1839, in Vermilion Co, IN. He is named Samuel Meacham Holaday. (Note the "Meacham") This will be their only child born there. They soon move west, to Iowa, at the same time or near the same time as the rest of the Hollingsworth clan.
George's mother and Lydia's father, now married, are still Quakers and are given a certificate to the Salem Meeting in Iowa:
The Hollingsworths and newly married George & Lydia Holaday and their young child Samuel head for Iowa Territory. The U.S. Congress had only just established the territory of Iowa on 4 Jun 1838. The first American settlers had come to Iowa in 1833. The Hollingsworths/Holadays settled in Keokuk Co. What a life that must have been...!! (Be sure to check out "A Pioneer Story." It is absolutely wonderful; of the same time frame and same area!) (If the website is off-line, you can download a Microsoft Word doc of it from the "Links" page.)
And so now we will get into more of George and Lydia's lives. Hold on, it will be something of a ride. :)
George began buying land in Keokuk Co. He eventually purchased a great deal of land, but never enjoyed the fruits of that ownership and he sold it all before it could substantially appreciate.
One land deed:
George and Lydia continued growing their family with the births of six more children in Keokuk Co: Miles, John Milton, Caroline, Emma, Ellen & William. << George & Lydia's children, pics, info, etc>>
1850 was a very substantial year for George & Lydia. 1850 started George's wanderlust years that would not stop again until 1880. It doesn't end particularly well for Lydia. George seemed to appear only long enough to make more children, and he was off and running again. George must have been a man that exuded some power, charisma, charm. He surely did, for he found himself in positions of power and command in spite of being a disowned Quaker with no formal education.
For a time, I will talk of George and his antics.
I am impressed with George's accomplishments at the same time I am disappointed in his failures; namely the roaming nature of him that surely made life very difficult for his wife Lydia Hollingsworth. George, quite simply, could not seem to sit still. He always had his hand in something, whether it be a land purchase, a saloon or a great many other undertakings.
According to the 1894 Kern Co Voter Registration, George was 76 yrs of age, 5 ft 7.75 inches tall, light complexion, blue eyes, brown hair and blind in the left eye. Another census put him at 5 ft, 10 inches. I would be willing to be he was a handsome man.
From: An Illustrated History of Southern California detailing George's antics from 1850-1853:
It is very difficult to read, but the best I can decipher is this:
George served his jail time and went back to Iowa circa 1853.
He is now found in Jefferson Township, Adair Co, IA. It is unknown when Lydia and family made their way to Adair County.
In April 1854, the first election occurred and George is chosen to be Adair County's first judge. He performs the first marriage of Jefferson Township, Adair County, on 7 May 1854 at the residence of William Alcorn, between William Stinson and Elizabeth F. Crow. George and Lydia’s home was on Section 35 and George was said to have the finest double log cabin in the land.
He is appointed postmaster of Adair County on 23 Mar 1855. Holadays Post Office was discontinued in 1899, but bore that title until then.
George and Lydia's next child was the first birth in Jefferson Township. Thomas Jefferson Holaday was born in the fall of 1854, but unfortunately died the following year, in the autumn of 1855. He is said to be buried in a pasture in Section 26 of Jefferson Township. He was buried with another child, William Alcorn, who was 7 or 8 years old when he died in 1853 of a rattlesnake bite. William was the first death in the county.
The next child appears to be Orpha Holaday, born about 1856. She appears on the 1856 Iowa Census in Adair Co as being "0" years old. Pauline, the next child, was born on June 19, 1856, so surely Orpha and Pauline were born nearly back to back. I've wondered if perhaps the girls were twins, but Pauline does not appear on the 1856 Census. Pauline appears on the 1860 Federal Census, though her name is partially crossed out and somewhat illegible. It was transcribed as "Palmer," but this is surely Pauline. She is listed as 3 years old and female on the 1860 census. Orpha disappears on the 1860 Census, so she has apparently died by then.
From Lydia's Obituary: "Of the eleven children born to Mrs. Holaday two died in infancy..." These two children are Thomas Jefferson and Orpha.
Sometime also circa 1856, George was off and running again, this time to Ft. Des Moines, IA, supposedly to educate his children. Lydia was said to be agreeable to this. A write up in the History of Guthrie and Adair Counties, IA, 1884, transcribed by Bobbi Pohl, states: "In the fall of 1856 he left here for Des Moines, wither he went to educate his children. He did not turn out well, leaving his wife and children to shift for themselves, and left this country with another woman. He is believed to be in California at the present time....."
George becomes a Justice of the Peace in Des Moines and served a term from 1857-1858:
Meanwhile, circa 1857-58, Lydia gives birth to their daughter, Pauline.
Unforunately, George was very busy between Adair Co and Des Moines, IA.
George met up with his to-be second wife in Des Moines in this time-frame. Her name was Elvira, and this union resulted in a child born in 1859 and he was named George Washington Holaday. His exact birth place is unknown, but is definitely Iowa, and most likely, in Des Moines.
He wasn't finished with Lydia just yet, however, as their last child, Henry Delano, was born in Madison Co, IA 10 Apr 1860. 1860 was the last year Lydia ever saw her husband.
He left in 1860 on a mining expedition to Pike's Peak. He surely took his new wife and child with him. It is said he was involved in running a freight line between Omaha, NE and Denver, CO for a few years. An as yet undetermined possible relative, Ben Holladay, owned "The Western Stage Company" and had a mail contract awarded to him on September 20, 1860 to run mail between Omaha and Ft Kearney, NE and Denver, CO. Passenger service to mining camps was added later. It is very likely George had a tie to Ben Holladay and worked for him. Additionally, Ben Holladay operated several lines that ran to Utah, Montana, Washington and Oregon. Eventually Wells Fargo purchased Ben Holladay's holdings.
Her husband left her just before the Civil War broke out, and it is unimaginable what it must have been like for her, to raise her children with no assistance in the middle of war times. How impossibly difficult it must have been to have no husband and 9 children to raise in the midst of Civil War.
In Madison Co, IA, Lydia is running the St. Nicholas Hotel, with the help of George & Lydia's first-born son, Samuel. The St. Nicholas stood where the present-day fire station is now.
The St. Nicholas Hotel was originally named “The Pitzer House,” named after Judge Pitzer, the man who built it. Lydia's daughter Caroline, in a beautifully written piece, had this to say of the St. Nicholas:
(Click to see the entire writing) (Strongly recommend!)
It is unknown who the man standing in front is in the photo. Could it be George?
George and Lydia's first-born son Samuel is helping run the St Nicholas in 1863: (The other Holaday entry -- "J.M." is Lydia's other son, John Milton.)
The 2nd Mrs. Holaday meets her demise in Arizona Territory in 1864:
Arizona miner (Fort Whipple, Ariz.) 1864-1868, August 10, 1864: (Note spelling error.)
George, however, is moving on. His 2nd wife is dead and there's no time to waste. He makes his way to Precott, AZ Territory.
There is no mention of George having arrived with a child. The child is never mentioned again; however, the child George Washington Holaday, does eventually pop up on censuses.
George is welcomed in Prescott, AZ Territory:
Arizona Miner (Fort Whipple, AZ) 24 Aug 1864
George becomes a member of the House of the First Territorial Legislature of Arizona Territory. He serves on various committees and was the temporary speaker in October 1864.
George was running – and appears to have owned – the Montezuma Saloon on Old Whiskey Row in Prescott, AZ:
Whiskey Row runs north and south on S. Montezuma St. between Gurley and Goodwin St., directly west of the county courthouse. This single city block has been the home of the St. Michael's Hotel and the Palace Hotel since the late 19th century along with other colorful purveyors of night-life.
The Arizona Miner, 24 Jan 1866, Image 3
Ahhhh George. You may recall George, years back, in trouble for the Quakers for "attending places of diversion." ie -- saloons, bars. He and Lydia had run the St Nicholas hotel/bar in Winterset for a time. George likes saloons!
But, even George has his limits! Not long after:
The Arizona Miner, Wednesday, 14 Feb 1866
Not long after, however, his saloon burnt to the ground:
Daily Alta California, Vol 19, Number 6272, 17 May 1867, Pg. 1
When George left Prescott, AZ, he made his way to Sonoma Co, CA. He is found on a Voter Registration as living in Petaluma, CA as of July 29, 1867.
George also found himself a new wife, his third, in California. He married Mary Robinson Finley in 1868.
MEANWHILE! :) Back in Iowa in the same year as George is marrying wife #3 .... Lydia has remained her steadfast and apparently cheerful self. She kept her strong sense of self and did not waver.
Daily Iowa State Register 23 August 1868
I am not sure who wrote this column, but her son John Milton was a columnist who went by the name "Ye Local."
Back to George.... A census from 1870 shows George and Mary, along with Mary's children and George's son from his second marriage:
George's name is mis-spelled, but that happened often. George is shown as a farmer from Indiana, Mary a housekeeper from Tennessee. George W is the child of George with 2nd wife. Amanda, Dilla, James and the last George are Mary's children from her prior marriage.
A decade later on the 1880 census, some of the children have apparently moved out:
There is an error here, in that George (jr) is listed as "George W." This is not George W. The young George listed here would be Mary Finley's biological son.
George Meacham Holaday's son with second wife Elvira, George Washington Holaday, remained in California. He married Sarah Isabel Atwood ((b) 2 Mar 1867 in San Bernardino (d) 26 Aug 1954 in Los Angeles, California)) and they had the following children:
The reason I am fairly sure George's second wife's name was "Elvira" (not Almyra or Alvira as some of the spellings indicate) is due to the naming of his first daughter's middle name.
George's life was winding down. He had been a very busy man for a great many years. He'd had three wives and 12 biological children, not to mention step-children. He'd had many titles; Justice of the Peace, Judge, Legislator.
I do not believe George ever "divorced" Lydia. He'd simply left her. One must wonder, what did she think? When George went back and forth from Des Moines to Winterset, with his mistress in Des Moines and his wife in Winterset, what did each woman think was happening? He was clearly involved with each, considering his mistress gave birth in 1859 and his wife gave birth in 1860.
George received a lengthy write-up in: "An illustrated history of Southern California : embracing the counties of San Diego, San Bernardino, Los Angeles and Orange, and the peninsula of Lower California, from the earliest period of occupancy to the present time; together with glimpses of their prospects; also, full-page portraits of some of their eminent men, and biographical mention of many of their pioneers and of prominent citizens of to-day (1890)"
The most interesting part of the article---- (2nd to last paragraph): "He is a member of the Holiness Church and an earnest Christian gentleman. He has been a wanderer for many years, but is now settled in a quiet home, where he expects to spend the evening of life, free from the rush and excitement of a public career, etc."
Earnest Christian gentleman? Hmmm. I'm not so sure of this. I wonder if Lydia, back in Iowa, would think this to be accurate.
Upon George's death, he received a lengthy write-up in the Tulare Daily Register. (Friday, 6 Sept 1895, Page 3.) This was significant, in that not many received so much as a mention, much less multiple paragraphs.
The son mentioned was his son Miles; George & Lydia's second-born son.
So where did Mary end up? What happened to Mary? I have my suspicions, but I'm not sure if the research supports me.
What I can tell you is this: There is a record of a "Mary Halliday" as an inmate of the Santa Clara Insane Asylum in the Federal Census of 1900:
The birth date fits, so to speak, or at least close. The connotation of "married" is a bit odd, as George had died five years prior, but old records are strife with errors. Would it be so suprising she ended up here? I think not.
St Agnew Insane Asylum, Santa Clara, CA. The asylum was nearly destroyed by the San Francisco Quake of 1906. The "inmates" were said to be "running the streets." Many were killed. There is no official list of deaths as a result of the quake. Could Mary have been amongst those in the streets? Had she lived that long? Had she ever been there at all? I've spent years trying to find that information and remain at a dead end.
George and Lydia's daughter Caroline remained in Iowa for many years after Caroline's husband's death in 1890. Once her mother Lydia passed in 1911, she went to California and moved in with her daughter Maud, who was divorced by then. Caroline took care of her mother, living with her for so many years, sharing a home and care-taking her mother in the latter years. Lydia died at Caroline's home and Caroline signed Lydia's death certificate as the provider of the information.
The information on the certificate is of interest. Lydia's mother is named as "Sarah." All records found.. everywhere.. list her as "Jane." Is this mistaken? Was she "Sarah Jane"? Was Caroline incorrect? I tend to doubt it. Lydia and her daughter Caroline lived together for so many years. How could Caroline possibly be mistaken about Lydia's mother's name?
I suppose it may never be known.
I have immense respect for Lydia. She endured great hardships and did so alone for so many of her years.
As I research, Lydia is always on my mind, as is her baby daughter Orpha, in particular. Although she was born more than 150 years before me, she is alive in my heart and soul. This page, really, is more about Lydia than her husband George, in many respects. I want to honor her, her hardships and trials far more than I want to trace George's footsteps.
As I type this now, on my Windows 7 computer and prepare to put it on the Internet in 2013, I think of Caroline's closing comments in her piece....
...and I wish there was a way to say to her -- "Yes, it is difficult, but 105 years later, we are reading your eloquent words and we are exceedingly grateful that you put them to paper and... we... truly and deeply care."
Please check back from time to time for updates. :)