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George Washington Hollis,
(1856-1904)

Founder of Hollis, Harmon Co., Oklahoma

G.W. Hollis Family

Family members of
George Washington and Nancy (Sapp)Hollis


Top row left to right, James Edwin , Alonzo David, Tom, Gertrude.

Second Row, Frances Stroud Sapp (mother of Mrs Hollis) Nancy Jane Sapp Holli (Mrs. Hollis, wife of G.W.), holding daughter Virginia George Washington Hollis, holding daughter Ada, William, Ida (Williams wife) holding son George.

Front row: Artie, Jessie, Cleveland.

George W. Hollis was born January 14, 1856, in north-central Arkansas near Mountain Home. He was the eighth of ten children born to Lewis J. and Susannah Hollis.

His father was a native of Tennessee and had moved to Arkansas at an early age, where he was engaged as a planter before the War Between the States. His mother, Susannah, left widowed by Lewis' death in the service of the Confederacy (Army of Tennessee) took on the burdens of raising her large family.

George W. Hollis remained at home with his mother, sisters and brothers until his marriage to Nancy Jane Sapp. He homesteaded land not far from his family home and set about clearing fields,. He accumulated both land and livestock until he was considered "well-fixed." In 1892, a brother-in-law, William Sapp, suggested that he and George go to Texas to see about the great amount of land open to settlement. William was sure that by selling their land in Arkansas and reinvesting it in Texas "cheap land" they would prosper in the long run.

Upon their return from Texas, both families began making preparations for the move. George Hollis rented his farm, left his stock on it, and purchased two large wagons for family and personal effects. Early in 1893, he and William Sapp moved their families along the Texas Road through the Indian Nations to Ellis County, Texas.

He purchased a farm and after operating it for a year, returned to Arkansas where he sold his home and retrieved his stock. The family continued farming and stock raising on the Texas farm until a decision was made with his brother-in-law to move to land in southwestern Greer County (now Harmon County, Oklahoma), where the grass was rumored to be so tall it reached the stirrups of a saddled horse.

In 1898, after weeks of planning, Mr. Hollis loaded his herd aboard stock cars and accompanied them by railroad to Quannah, Texas.

In the meantime, Mrs. Hollis and her older sons and daughters loaded up the two wagons brought from Arkansas, plus a third wagon and a buckboard and left Montague, Texas where the two families, their household goods and livestock formed a wagon train for the last leg of their trip to Greer, County.

While encamped at Grosbeck Creek, a blizzard blew up. The women and children were hustled back to a wagonyard in Quannah to wait out the storm while the men drove the cattle into the creek bed among the trees and below rock ledges to keep them from freezing. After the storm, the women returned, the cattle were rounded up, and the families continued their trip.

On November 23, 1898 arrived and settled on the hill (now leveled) just southeast of the intersection of Broadway and Second Street.

Work was immediately begun to set up living quarters. They pitched two tents and began digging a half dugout. Wood from one of the wagons was used for the roof of the dugout. Two older sons were sent back to Quannah with the remaining wagons to freight lumber for a house and additional food supplies.

The house was built beside the half dugout and a cistern was dug. The cistern remains to this day below the Spooner building.

William Hollis, eldest son of George, lacked a few months being old enough to file on the quarter section to the north. By gentleman's agreement he was allowed to plow around it to hold it intil he became of age. To satisfy another requirement of the Homestead Act, a 14 ft. x 16 ft. building was erected. It was built just a few feet east of where the Jones-Pendegraft building now stands. To accomodate friends and neighbors, a general merchandise store was established. The business flourished.

In 1901, Mr. Hollis and his son William plotted a portion of their land and sold lots that placed the town fairly on its feet. One acre lots sold for fifteen dollars. The land now occupied by the Nazarene Church was originally set aside for use of circuit riders of any faith to hold camp meetings.

The streets of Hollis were named for the three men who drew up the origihnal platt or map of Hollis.

They were Dr. J.E. Jones, Will Hollis, and DeLamar. Additional streets were named for the original Belles of Hollis, Eula Versa, Dorothy and Vivian.

Mr. Hollis proved to be a good financier, an enterprising citizen, and maintained his character for sociability, kindness and charitableness. He was the ideal man to inspire a new community with enthusiasm and confidence and Hollis undoubtedly owes its firm founding to him.

At the time of his death in 1904, he was a Royal Arch Mason and a firm believer in the Methodist faith. His wife, a native of Arkansas and a daughter of William S. and Frances C. Stroud Sapp, was a charter member of the Methodist Church. Today a stained glass window in that same church is dedicated to her memory.

When building on Broadway required moving the Hollis home, Mrs. Hollis' sons bought the house west of the present day First Baptist Church for her. She lived there until her death in 1911.

George Washington Hollis passed his legacy of pioneering to his children. They continued in their father's footsteps in the city their father helped to establish and for whom it was named.

NOTE: Article courtesy of Neil Barrett Hollis, Grt Grandson of George Washington Hollis.
Reprinted from "Planning The Route", A history of Harmon County, Oklahoma, published in 1980 by the Harmon County Historical Society.
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