Horace Benton Holdridge (1874-1958) and
Mary Ophelia Morgan (1875-1953)
8. HORACE BENTON HOLDRIDGE, son of John Henry7 and Martha Adlade (Jackson) Holdridge, was born 2 May 1874 in Red Bud, White County, Arkansas, and died 31 October 1958 in De Leon, Comanche County, Texas. He married in Langston, Jackson County, Alabama, 8 April 1894, MARY OPHELIA MORGAN, who was born 14 October 1875, Langston, Jackson County, Alabama, and died 2 June 1953, in De Leon, Comanche County, Texas, daughter of James Adkins2 Morgan and Ann Elizabeth Caver.
The marriage of Horace Benton Holdridge and Mary Ophelia Morgan was performed by Rev. Warren D. Nicholson, of the Nicholson family of early Methodist ministers of South Carolina and Alabama. Mary Ophelia's grandmother was Mary Ann Nicholson, and although her parents have not been identified, other clues point to a relationship to this Nicholson family. Mary Ophelia's brother Thomas Warren Morgan was already married to Horace's sister Lou Ella, and sister Lela Morgan later married William Howard Holdridge, forming the extended family of double cousins that populated De Leon, Texas in the 1900's.
The first home of Horace and Mary Holdridge was in Langston, Alabama. Horace farmed, and Mary bore 3 children. Martha Ann died of chills and fever (probably typhoid) at the age of 2 years. Horace was also a licensed Methodist preacher. He was never a "pastor" but rather a local preacher. There was one time when he looked toward the Nazarene church, and preached for them occasionally. He began to preach about the time he and Mary married.
Believing that a better standard of living by farming could be found in Texas than in Alabama, in 1900 Horace and Mary with sons Melvin and Caver headed for Comanche County along with Will and Arthur Holdridge and the Morgan family. They traveled by covered wagons. It is unclear why Horace and Mary stopped off in Mt. Pleasant and settled there. The others continued on to Comanche County. Eva was born in Mt. Pleasant in 1902.
The family then headed once more for Comanche County, and settled first at Downing. Horace farmed and bought a little grocery store from the Loudermilks at Downing. Marvin and Lee were born during this period.
About 1907, the family moved to Suez to the "Warren place". Lee was born there, and named Lee Warren. There was a gin there, and since there was a need for a country store, Horace opened one.
De Leon Street Scene
The family's next move was to De Leon where Horace worked in the W.C. Streety mercantile store as a dry goods salesman. He also did some "collections" for the company. The family lived in a house at the edge of a big apple orchard (located a bit west of where De Leon High School presently stands). It was here that W.C. was born in 1910, and was named for W.C. Streety.
About 1914, the family moved to the "Strickland place" northwest of De Leon. Horace continued to work for W.C. Streety for several years, but also farmed---the older boys assuming a significant part of the farm work. Coy was born here on Jan. 6, 1916. It was during this period that the family began to attend Sunday School and church at New Hope. Melvin, Caver, Eva, and Marvin went to school there, and Paul and Lee started to school there. John, Myrtle, and Pearl Lightfoot were the teachers. Paul remembers going to school with Melvin in a buggy, and Miss Pearl Lightfoot as his first teacher. Paul also remembers his first suit as being a knicker-type gray flannel that his mother made for him out of one of Melvin's outgrown ones.
The Holdridge family moved next to the "Greenwalt place" north of De Leon for 3 years (during the "war years") and lived there until 1919 when they moved to the "Malonee place". World War I was on, and Melvin and Jim Morgan enlisted (1917)---Jim going into the army, and Melvin into the navy. James Heath went at the same time, but never returned---killed in action in France. It is significant that the oldest, Melvin, and the youngest, Fred (born March 10, 1918) served their country in World Wars I and II, respectively.
Melvin returned from the Navy on June 3, 1919, went by Paris, Texas, married Grace Wilson, and they arrived by train on June 6, 1919. They lived with the family for awhile. Paul remembers the joy the family experienced when Melvin returned home and all the family was reunited again (all 8 children were still at home). It was 11-yr. old Paul's job to deliver milk daily in gallon tin buckets to the Boland family in Humphry town. He was on his way there when the newly-weds came home.
Horace's farm operations during these years were pretty successful. There was cotton, peanuts, corn, and truck farming. W.C. and Paul engaged in "peddling". They harvested watermelons, peas, tomatoes, cantaloupes, and all kinds of vegetables were sold. Also, there were several cows to milk. Paul remembers milking three cows night and morning for several years and delivering milk to regular customers. The older boys, Melvin, Caver, and Marvin worked the farm lands.
Marvin, Lee, Paul, and W. C. began attending school in De Leon. Marvin had dropped out of school to help farm for awhile, but decided to go back and finish high school. When this happened, Lee stayed out for a year and worked on the farm to let Marvin go. Then, Paul stayed out one year. Thus it was that the farm operation kept going, uninterrupted, because the boys took turns with school and work. Horace brought in extra income to support his large family by doing carpentry work. These were the "oil boom years"--1920-1922, and "Archie Town" was emerging. Horace worked with J.W. Brown, Richard Bassett, and Mr. Miller, and the Holdridge family did pretty well.
The family's first car was a 1916 Model T Ford (purchased while they lived on the "Strickland place"). Then, when they moved to the Malonee place in 1919, Horace purchased a big Overland with a gearshift. Paul laughs about the time Horace (having been accustomed to driving the Model T) would get into the new car, race the motor, put it in reverse, and come roaring out of the garage. One day, he backed out into the windmill which stood nearby. He was so angry, he put it back in low gear, drove back into the garage, put it in reverse again, and roared back into the windmill a second time---this time breaking one of its legs so that it had to be quickly spliced to prevent its falling.
Grandpa Holdridge (John Henry) lived with the family intermittently during these years, Grandma (Martha Adlade) having died in 1912. They had moved to Comanche County in 1905 along with the other Holdridge/Morgan families from Langston, Ala. Grandpa divided his time between the Horace Holdridge home and the Ella and Tom Morgan home after Mattie died. Marvin remembers how he and grandpa were planting peanuts one day. Always he had done this with a walking planter and a mule or horse. But this year, they were using a brand new riding planter for the first time! Marvin heard grandpa say, "whoa", and he fell dead from the planter---a heart attack March 31, 1921.
The family moved from the "Malonee place" to the home in "Archie town" about 1922 or 1924.
Horace and Sam Short opened a little grocery store---blacksmith shop---and gristmill on the northwest corner in "Archie Town" in 1923. It was a two-room wooden oil field-type "shot-gun" structure. Later, a gas pump was installed. This was the first "Holdridge Store" in that location. Horace operated it, Caver worked some, but never liked it, and Melvin worked there. Lee and Grace Short became active in the business after he got back from business college. Paul worked after school. He remembers that one of his jobs was candling eggs and testing cream.
Horace bought brick from the old refinery, the boys scraped and cleaned them to make them re-usable, and a new store was built on the same corner in 1925 to replace the old wooden building. They had a meat market which was supplied by fresh meat which they butchered themselves.
Holdridge & Son Erecting Brick On ‘Holdridge Corner’
The old structures formerly located on the Holdridge corner in Humphrey Addition, have been moved back and excavation is made for the erection of a modern brick store building and filling station, the latter of the drive-in type. Mr. HOLDRIDGE said he intends building a store 24-40 feet, of brick, and the drive-in station equipment will be outside of and attached to this building. The work is already in progress.
Anticipating the building of a state highway by his place "some of these days", Mr. HOLDRIDGE acted wisely and set his building well back from the road, allowing room for parking on the east and south, besides allowing the State ample room to build all the Highway they might desire.
HOLDRIDGE and Son have been doing a very nice business indeed since they purchased this property, and the new building is evidence of their faith in the continuation of good business. (De Leon Free Press, Comanche County, Texas, Friday, July 18, 1924)
Adding New Machinery At Holdridge & Sons
Workmen are busy at Holdridge Corner, otherwise known as the “Busy Bee Corner”, Humphrey Addition, where H.B. HOLDRIDGE and sons are continuing to add improvements. It is said that as long as a man continues to improve his business he will never go broke. Mr. HOLDRIDGE has erected a new brick building, moved and improved his blacksmith shop, built a thoroughly modern filling station with concrete driveway and modern fixtures, etc., and his last improvement is a big dynamo which will drive their grist mill. The work of installing now in progress.
Holdridge & Sons are doing a mighty good business, and deserve success because they are putting a lot of effort into their rapidly increasing business. (De Leon, Comanche County, Texas, Friday, November 7, 1924)
Burglars Pried Off Heavy Door at Holdridge Store
Burglars, or would be burglars at least, selected Holdridge Store in Humphrey Addition, for the scene of a raid last Saturday night. At some time during the night the store door was pried from its hinges and the lock smashed. It is believed that someone must have frightened the burglars away as nothing was missed. However, minor articles could have been taken from the drygood or grocery stock and not be missed, Mr. HOLDRIDGE stated. (De Leon, Comanche County, Texas, Friday, January 22, 1926)
Holdridge Posts Up Sunday Closing Notices Gas Station
For some months past the Holdridge Filling Station has been operated on Sunday because of the failure of past moves to get a uniform closing agreement among all the gas stations. But Mr. HOLDRIDGE, acting upon his own initiative, some two weeks ago posted notices conspicuously about his station advising the public to buy gas on Saturday and thus avoid the necessity of desecrating the Holy Sabbath. While Mr. HOLDRIDGE appreciates the patronage his station has been drawing, he said he will hereafter forgo all profits that must be earned by trading and bartering on Sunday.
(The Free Press commends Mr. HOLDRIDGE for this move. The editor of this paper does not believe that Sunday was designated by the Almighty as a day to buy and sell and get gain. We may be just a bit old foggy, but somehow we have never been able to harmonize the sacredness of the Sabbath with Sunday baseball games, or many other things our high-powered, modern ways have accustomed us to see. It would be a fine thing if all the Filling Stations in De Leon and in Texas would follow the lead of Mr. HOLDRIDGE.) (De Leon, Comanche County, Texas, Friday, April 16, 1926)
Holdridge Bros. Buy Filling Station
Melvin and Caver HOLDRIDGE, sons of H.B. HOLDRIDGE, this week purchased the filling station business of Grisham & Cozby, operated at Swaggerty building. The change was made on Monday this week, and HOLDRIDGE Bros. have the business well in hand and bid fair to develop a good business. They invite the patronage of the community. (De Leon, Comanche County, Texas, Friday, September 10, 1926)
Holdridge & Sons Erecting A Brick Building For Mill
This city is to have a modern feed mill, operation to commence shortly after the first of May. Holdridge and Sons are having a brick building erected for the purpose. It is size 52 x 52 feet and will have concrete floor and opening for trucks to drive in to unload. The plant will be operated on custom basis and Mr. HOLDRIDGE stated that he would also grind and mix feeds for sale.
The mill, a J.B. Sedberry mixed feed mill, has arrived already. It will handle peanut hay and other hay as well as grain. This is an industry this city has been needing for a long time. (De Leon, Comanche County, Texas, Friday, April 20, 1928)
Lee Holdridge Takes Lease on Filling Station
Lee HOLDRIDGE recently leased the W.P. WHITLOW Filling Station, located on the Comanche highway, midway between De Leon and Comanche. He is to take charge of the business immediately and will occupy the WHITLOW home immediately adjoining the business. Mr. HOLDRIDGE recently married Miss Mildred WHITLOW, a daughter of the family.
Mr. and Mrs. WHITLOW will move to this city and make their home here. They formerly lived here. Friends will welcome them back. (De Leon, Comanche County, Texas, Friday, August 3, 1928)
A second store was opened "up-town" in De Leon (located where D-Bell store presently  is located).
Holdridge & Sons Open New Store In Holden Building
The enterprising firm of HOLDRIDGE and Sons has opened another store. It is in the Holden Garage Building, two blocks west of the “main drag.” They will do a general feed and filling station business offering the usual line of gas, oils, tires, tubes, etc. car washing and everything that goes with a first class filling station.
The immense building will also be used for a warehouse for the Holdridge Feed Mill. A retail feed and flour store will be operated here. Melvin W. HOLDRIDGE, eldest son of H.B. HOLDRIDGE has charge of the new business, which is already open. (De Leon, Comanche County, Texas, Friday, November 9, 1928)
Later it was moved to the corner location presently occupied by the Auto store. Melvin and Caver were active in the operation of these stores.
Holdridge Chain Store to Open in Downtown Bldg.
There are five links in the “Holdridge Chain,” and the second Holdridge store is being opened. The links are Melvin, Caver, Marvin, Lee and W.C., all “sons of their father,” and all associated with the HOLDRIDGE business. Paul, the sixth son, is now teaching school and is not connected with the business.
H.B. HOLDRIDGE opened his suburban store, opposite the Humphrey addition 6 years ago. The business has enjoyed a healthy growth. Departments have been added. Today, they handle groceries, work clothes, feed, flour, automobile necessities, and do blacksmithing.
The Holdridge Feed mill has become a fixture and a community asset. It is a well known fact that feed produced on the farm has several times the nutritive value if it is properly ground and blended into mixed feeds. And that’s just how HOLDRIDGE & Sons are serving the community.
By the end of the week the new Holdridge Chain store will be opened in the building formerly occupied by the Davis Motor Co., across the street south from Higginbotham Bros. & Co. Drygoods. A stock of groceries will be carried, also a big stock of feed and flour. Melvin and Lee will be in charge of the downtown store, while Caver, Marvin and W.C. will continue at the No. 1 store and feed mill in Humphrey addition. (De Leon, Comanche County, Texas, Friday, May 10, 1929)
Business flourished, but then the "depression years" took their toll. Horace, having his compassionate nature, would let anyone have groceries on a promise---credit---take a cow, chickens, eggs, or whatever. He literally went broke. Two wholesale companies, Radford and Walker Smith were ready to foreclose, and actually sent the sheriff out with authority to close him out. However, it was agreed to let the store stay open. Marvin and W.C. took the store when it was less than anything (bankrupt) and pulled it out. The "up-town" store was closed about 1932, and all the stock was moved to the original store. Melvin and Caver opened a Magnolia station downtown. Coy and Fred, by this time, were old enough to work in the store, and did.
All the boys, Marvin, Lee, Paul, W.C., Coy, and Fred, graduated from De Leon High School. Marvin went to SMU to study voice. Lee went to Abilene Business College and took a business course there. Paul went to Tarleton, married Ersel Coley, and taught school for 5 years before going on to SMU.
By 1936 the tide had turned and a new building was built on the opposite southeast corner for the "Holdridge Store". It remained there until 1948 when a more modern store was built at the corner of Highway 587 and 16 and Texas Avenue, and remained under the ownership/management of Marvin and W.C. until their retirement in 1969.
Horace retired from active participation in the store about 1936 and turned his attention back to preaching. He hadn't done a lot of preaching---just occasionally when he was invited to come and fill a pulpit at a time when a minister was going to be away. And there was a period of time when he didn't do any preaching at all. Actually, there was a period of time when he pretty well "backslid". He grew cold, and really was not active in the church at all. He had become so heavily involved in the store, farm work (especially when he was doing carpentry and bridge work, and during the Streety years.) What he was trying to do was to make a living for his very large family, and he tried to employ the boys on the farm while he worked elsewhere. This gave him two sources of income.
When Paul was in school in SMU, he and Ersel began to attend the Assembly of God church. They invited Horace to come and attend a "General Council" in the early 1930's. It was a big biannual meeting, and Paul and Horace went together to the sessions. While he was there, he had to go outside to have a chew of tobacco. When he got outside, he looked around and saw that no one else in that vast gathering of people seemed to have such an "evil habit" as smoking or chewing with the exception of two persons. One was the custodian, and the other looked like a "bum". So he determined to give it up. They were having a prayer service for anyone who wanted to be prayed for. Horace went down and said, "I want to be prayed for--for my tobacco habit". They anointed him, and prayed for him, and he was delivered. He carried that plug of Tinsley in his pocket for about 10 days, standing on the scripture, "Prove me now, herewith, sayeth the Lord". And then, one day when he was out in the back yard, he threw it out into the garden and never chewed tobacco anymore after that. In the past he had smoked a cigar occasionally, and there was a time when he smoked a pipe. But he had chewed tobacco since he was a boy. This was the incident, and atmosphere into which he re-committed himself to the Lord, and became an Assembly of God minister. He was ordained as a minister by the General Council of Assemblies of God, Springfield, Mo., when they met in Dallas on October 15, 1936. Horace was committed to his ministry, serving the Lord in his own special way until his death.
He and Mary pastored a small church in Santa Anna during 1939-1940, but more and more Horace devoted his time to the care of Mary, for her health was failing. Mary had her first little stroke in 1938. Paul and Ersel were visiting and had persuaded Horace and Mary to go home with them for a visit. (They were pastoring a church in McKamey at that time). The stroke left Mary speechless for awhile, and she couldn't remember what had happened to her. She and Horace went home with Paul and Ersel anyway, and she seemed to suffer no ill effects from the trip. This was the beginning of her health failure. Her memory became affected to the extent that Horace took over the main household duties and her personal care. There were times when she failed to recognize her own children as they visited. Mary died in her sleep on June 2, 1953 at the age of 78.
Horace was very lonely after Mary's death. Paul was a District Superintendent in New Mexico, living in Albuquerque. While visiting there that same summer, he met Grace Franklin whose husband had recently died. They were married that December (1953). She came to De Leon and they were married in the Assembly of God church. This marriage was viewed by the family with many misgivings and apprehensions, not the least of which was the fact that it had happened so quickly after the death of Mary. But Horace was a determined, headstrong man, and, despite the resistance of the boys, they were married.
Horace and Grace lived in Horace and Mary's home, 300 S. Bowie until his death. Grace had children in Albuquerque whom she visited periodically. Horace preached occasionally, and he and Grace pastored a little church in Hamilton for a short time. Income was a problem. Horace and Grace both spoke on a radio program for several months. Then they returned to De Leon. Horace died on October 3, 1958 at the age of 84. Grace returned to Albuquerque and lived with her children until her death in the late 1970's.
The lives and teachings of Horace and Mary live on in their children and their families. Eight sons and one daughter have established Christian families, serving the Church, their Lord, and their fellow man in significant---yet a variety of ways.At this point in time, (August 1985) their descendents number:
8 sons; 2 deceased
13 grandsons (8 continuing the Holdridge name)
4 great-grandsons (continuing the Holdridge name)
7 great-great granddaughters
6 great-great grandsons (none with the Holdridge name)
Total Descendants: 67
Children of Horace Benton Holdridge and Mary Ophelia Morgan:
Story by James Rector Holdridge, from the Holdridge Family History/Directory, August 1985, with later additions by his daughter, Cynthia Ann Holdridge Smith.