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Hollis Surname Stories and tales!

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Index Links to Stories

Catherine Stutsman Hollis

Jeremiah Jerry Hollis

Johnny Koonsman

John R. "Jack" Hollis

John R. "Jack" Hollis

John R. "Jack" Hollis

Robert Nelson Hollis

Robert Nelson Hollis

Robert Nelson Hollis

John R. "Jack" Hollis

Hollis Family by Claude Cook

Sterling J. King

Sterling J. King

David Hollis


Jeremiah ( Jerry ) Hollis  was the son of John Durham Hollis and Mary Ann Roberson ( Daughter of Thomas W. Roberson & Margaret Ann Emerson ). George W. and Jesse A. Pate were their sons-in-law.

" For Five Hundred Years, The Shackelford County Courthouse " by Shirley Caldwell; page 55 ":

" Texas Cattle Trail To Dodge City, Kansas and other Northern Points, 1875-1890. At that time, the NEWS remarked that the trail generally was called the Fort Griffin-Dodge City Trail. Today, historians properly refer to it as the Western Cattle Trail. Nearly a half million cattle, jacks, and horses passed over the trail in the period of 1880-1881. Appropriate dedication ceremonies recognized these men listed in the NEWS in addition to Judge Matthews, P.W. Reynolds, Bud Pate, George Pate, Jesse Pate, Charles Kenshalo, Jerry Hollis, Louis Shoffit, Sr., T. J. Matthews and Bill " Tige " Avery, colored...." Submitted by Joe Lee, 4/2005

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Fort Worth Democrat ( newspaper); January 20, 1880:

" Friends of the notorious gunman, Bob Hollis, attempted to rescue him from the S(tephen)ville jail. His stocks were broken, his irons cut, and a hole was burned through the lower jail floor when the rescue was discovered."

Bob Hollis ( Robert Nelson Hollis ) was the son of John Durham Hollis and Mary Roberson Hollis Submitted by Joe Lee, 4/2005

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Erath County Sheriff's Log; Page #51 Robert Hollis age 22 5'9" light hair blue eyes fair complexion American; special remarks say "sent to Comanche June 22 1879 for safe keeping." He was arrested by J.D or C.D. Davis on June 17, 1879 for murder. "returned from Comanche Aug 4 1879.

This is Robert Nelson Hollis, son of John Durham Hollis and Mary Roberson Hollis. Submitted by Joe Lee, 4/2005

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The Waco Examiner; April 12, 1878:

" R. M. ( should be R. N. ) Hollis, who murdered a young man at Duffau two weeks ago was arrested today at Waco.He had with him a letter written in a woman's hand." warning him to be on his guard, for men never run far these days that they are not liable to be caught".

R. N. ( Robert Nelson ) was the son of John Durham Hollis & Mary Roberson Hollis. Submitted by Joe Lee, 4/2005

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Stephenville Empire; # 14; Saturday, December 1, 1883....

"Sam Roberson and Sterling King of Duffau were arrested and jailed last Thursday, one for theft of a yearling, and the other for altering the marks on same" Sterling King was the son - law of John Durham Hollis and Mary Roberson Hollis. Submitted by Joe Lee, 4/2005

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Stephenville Empire Tribune 13 June 1913 (Note: John Roberson "Jack" Hollis AKA Armless Jack Hollis)

Noted Character and Some History of the Old Trails: Old Settler Tells of His Proficiency in Handling Fire Arms, and also Some of his Experience on the Trail

Editor Tribune: In the several articles appearing in The Tribune concerning Armless Jack Hollis, I noticed that a number of interesting incidents of his life have been left out.

About the year 1877 or 1878 he, in company with his brother Bob Hollis who was only a boy at that time, and who afterward killed George Montgomery at Millerville in this county, went west on a buffalo hunt. Jack used a very large needle gun and killed thirty-six buffalo. They were all killed at a distance of from three to nine hundred yards. He had a string tied to the trigger of his gun, and pulled this string with his teeth to fire it. The gun was held with the two stubs and cocked with his chin. When possible he would place his gun on a rest. When nothing suitable was found he would sit down and use his knee for a rest.

At the time of this buffalo hunt I was a boy about ten years old. My father's place and Jack's father's joined. I now own the place near Duffau where Jack lived then. They sold the hides and brought back a wagon load of buffalo meat. Jack told about hiring an expert to help Bob Hollis skin the buffaloes, and said that the fellow could skin four or five whil Bob skinned one.

I will also state that Jack could write an excellent hand. The pen was held between his chin and the stub. He could also handle a six shooter almost as well as any man. The handle of it was held against his breast with the left stub, he used his chin to cock it, and pulled the trigger with his right stub. By placing a stone on the toe of his boot he could throw it with almost as much force and accuracy as any man.

I could tell of many more things in which Jack was well skilled. After he and the other fellow broke jail at Stephenville Jack managed to see a friend who gave him a twenty dollar bill. They then made their escape to the Indian territory, where Jack was taken sick. He gave his companion the twenty dollar bill to go out and get medicine for him. The fellow never returned with the medicine nor did Jack ever see his twenty dollar bill again. This money probably aided the fellow in making his escape and I understand that he was never recaptured.--J.C. Laney

John Roberson ( Jack ) Hollis and Bob ( Robert Nelson ) Hollis were the sons of John Durham Hollis and Mary Roberson Hollis. The author of this article, J. C. ( John Calvin ) Laney was the husband of Mary Jane Hollis, daughter of Bluford Luster Hollis and Mary Etta Gillentine Hollis. Submitted by Joe Lee, 4/2005

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Stephenville Tribune 6 June 1913 (John Roberson "Jack" Hollis AKA Armless Jack Hollis)

Reminiscences of Old Days by-W.H. Fooshee

Fort Worth, May 27 1913: Editor Tribune: In reading two articles in the last two issues of the Tribune in regard to The Tearing Down of the Old Jail, I was somewhat interested in that part of it concerning armless Jack Hollis with whom I was, for many years, very intimately acquainted, and I know that none of the incidents mentioned regarding his dexterity with his two short stubs of arms are exaggerated as I have seen him do most all the things mentioned, myself. He was a most wonderful man, and could do many things which would seem unreasonable to those who had never seen him do them. It was wonderful to se how little assistance he needed while eating. All the help he needed was for someone to put the foot on his plate. He did the rest. He would grip the handle of the knife between check and one of his stubs and saw away on tough beef steak until he had cut it up into small bits and then place the fork between his two stubs and convey the food to his mouth. When he drank coffee he would genrally have someone to pour it into the the saucer which was placed close to the edge of the table. He would then bend his head down until his lips touched the saucer which he would tip and drink his coffee.

He was also a good billard player. He would place his hat on the table make a crease in the top for the cue to rest on, then grip the butt end of the cue between his stubs and fire away. It took a good billiard player to beat him.

While I do not wish to detract from the wonderful feats of dexterity attributed to him, I will correct an error made in the Tribune by stating that Jack Hollis did not make his escape from the old jail without assistance. I was district cleark of Erath County at the time, and am quite familiar with the circumstance.

W.B. Slaughter, who was sheriff at that time, had first placed Hollis in one of the cells, but feeling sorry for him on account of his physical condition, took him out of the cell and turned him loose in the corridor or run-around as it was generally called. Mr. Slaughter then thought Jack needed someone to wait on him, to help him dress and undress, etc. At that time there happened to be a half-witted young fellow in one of the cells who had just ben convicted of a felony, and sentenced to two years imprisonment in the State penitentiary, so Mr. Slaughter took him out of the cell and turned him loose in the run-around to wait on Hollis, thinking that Hollis, owing to his condition would not be able to escape, and that the other man would not have sense enough to try to get away. But Mr. Slaughter did not consider that the fact that the clear head of one man combined with the strong arms of aother, even though he be a half idiot, might be able to accomplish wonderful things.

Hollis bossed the job, the other man did that work. The stone in the wall of the jail was removed and both men made their escape. Hollis was afterward recaptured, but the other man was never found. Mr. Bunch was mistaken (honestly, of course) in the statement that Jack Hollis married a widow Yarbrough.

While I was teaching school at Stephenville in the years 1871-2 among my pupils was a girl, then about 13 or 14 years of age, named Ewella Powers, generally known as Sis Powers. There are probably several of my old pupils now living in Stephenville who remember her. When she grew to womanhood she married a man named Shelby, it was this man Shelby who with S.O. Berry and W.M. Barry, were indicted for killing a young man named Yarbrough about the years 1874 near the farm now owned by Dock Wright.

Berry and Barry stood their trial and were exonerated from the charge by a prompt acquital, but I suppose Shelby was afraid of the case and fled from the country soon after the indictment was found. After Shelby left and was never again heard of, his wife secured a divorce from him and afterward married Jack Hollis.

In the year 1890 I learned from a younger sister of Hollis' wife that Jack and his wife both died from the small pox at El Paso, Texas.

Some two or three years after Jack Hollis made his esscape from the Erath county jail I happened to be in Dallas attending the State fair. While walking along a street I observed a man walking in front of me who had no arms, only a couple of short stubs. He was just about the size and shape of Jack Hollis, and as he walked, seemed to have the same gait as that of Hollis. So sure was I that it was he that I accosted him by saying Hello, Jack.

He quickly turned around and when I saw his face I discovered that I was mistaken.

He appeared to be very angry and said to me, you took me for Jack Hollis and I am getting d--m tired of it. I was arrested and thrown in the Fort Worth jail for Jack Hollis, and had to stay there three or four days be the one day of rest, that they would wrong man [sic], and it makes me mad everytime anyone takes me for Jack Hollis. I tried to apologize but the more I tried to pacify him the more angry he seemed to get.

Finally he calmed down a little and said, well, if you will set up the drinks, we will call it square. I set them up, being glad to get off so easy. While I did not doubt that he had been taken for Jack Hollis before, and while he may have lain in the Fort Worth jail for Jack Hollis, yet I will always believe that his answer was only assumed in order to scare me into setting up the drinks. No doubt he had played the same game successfully on others who had taken him for Jack Hollis. Return to Stories Index

John Roberson ( Jack ) Hollis and Bob ( Robert Nelson ) Hollis were the sons of John Durham Hollis and Mary Roberson Hollis.

Submitted by Joe Lee, 4/2005

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Stehenville Tribune 30 May 1913 More About Armless Jack Hollis' Skill: Tied Rock to Handless Stub and Whipped Four Men

Wichita Falls, May 23rd-Ed. Tribune: In the last issue of the Tribune I notice an article headed Tearing Down the Old Erath County jail, wherein you mentioned many of the wonderful feats of armless Jack Hollis, and in which you made mention of he and I having a friendly bout in which he knocked me down three times. I want to say you have been misinformed.

Jack and I never had a bout of any kind, friendly or otherwise. However, we were personal friends, and have had some great times together. While Jack had his faults he had a big heart in him.

In speaking of his fighting qualities I can recall to memory on one occasion where Jack was champion and four men took the count.

It was I believe in 1886, on Christmas eve night when Duffau had saloons. Just outside the saloon there was a free for all fight under pretty good headway in which Jack was a participant. During the fight Jack came running in the house with a stout string in his mouth and a large rock in one of those stub arms. He had me slip the rock in his coat sleeve (he always wore a coat with long sleeves) then tie the string tight and fast around the end of his sleeve. He then went out and resumed the fight. The result was he had four down and out in half the time it has taken me to write this article. They cound not parry his blows. In ten minutes Jack was the only one standing on the battle field. He was any man's equal when he had a rock in his sleeve. - J.A. Fooshee

John Roberson ( Jack ) Hollis was the son of John Durham Hollis and Mary Roberson Hollis. Submitted by Joe Lee, 4/2005

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Stephenville Empire Tribune; Nov 20, 1983; Reproduction of original 1883 article. 17 Nov 1883 (no title)

Jack Hollis, well known in this county as an expert billiard player, horse breaker, etc., and as an expert butcher at Duffau, was arrested at El Paso, Texas, and brought to Stephenville, for cattle crookedness while at Duffau.

The officer landed his prisoner at Sol Slaughter's saloon, and set out after the sheriff. Jack was walking around shaking hands with his numerous friends, and had gotten quite a distance from the officer. The back door was open, and he made a dart for liberty. He ran several blocks, the officer in hot pursuit, and would have made good his escape had he not stumbled and fell. The officer covered him with his pistol, and, with the assistance of sheriff Gilbreath, who arrived at the time, Jack submitted to being escorted to the county boarding house.

Jack has no arms only stubs about five or six inches long. He once escaped from our jail, although his friends say he had no hand in the transaction. They also say he had no "hand" in this cattle crookedness, for which he has just been arrested. We can't say whether or not the fact that he is destitute of hands or arms will be sufficient cause for non prosecution, as he has had no "hand" in any of the crookedness with which he is charged. Submitted by Joe Lee, 4/2005

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Sterling/ S.J. King was convicted of murdering Dr. William H. Kinningham.

Although both men were relative newcomers to the town Duffau they were probably well known to one another. Kinningham's first wife (Mary Ann McCarty) and King's wife( Mary Ellen Hollis) were related by marriage and King, reportedly, owed Kinningham a significant amount of money for medical services.

Kinningham arrived in town (probably 1882) recently widowed with five young children in order to be near his sister, the wife of J.P.W. McCarty. He bought a couple of lots in town and married Georgia Ann Hungate. The couple had a daughter about 1883.

Today we would call the life of Sterling King "troubled." His father died when he and his brother, Fletcher A. King, were very young. His mother's second husband was J.M. Pitt. They had several children and he died leaving her widowed for a second time with many children prior to the 1880 census. At the time of that census, Sterling was living with the John Durham Hollis family in Duffau. The Hollis' oldest(?) son Robert was listed on the census as "in jail" but that line was crossed out later. I have discovered that Robert had been held in jail since at least June 1879 for a murder (in fact, the jail log indicates that he was moved to other locations for "safekeeping.") The M.E. Hollis that Sterling King married was the daughter of John D. Hollis and Mary Ann Roberson, daughter of Thomas W. Roberson and Margaret Ann Emerson ). .

Based on a variety of newspapers, court records, deed records, and the oral tradition from the Kinningham family this is basically what happened:

King rode to town to get the doctor to come out and take a look at his son. According to the paper, they had dinner together in town before riding out to the ranch where King lived. After checking the child, the doctor was visiting with the family in the yard. King pulled a gun on him and shot him twice. King then ran around the house several times; one account claimed each time he passed the front door that he aimed the gun at his wife. Another account said that he ran in and kissed his wife and child. There were at least two witnesses to the crime: his sister-in-law and a his brother-in-law Joh Roberson ( Jack ) Hollis. King rode off and apparently evaded justice from March 31, 1885 (the day of the murder) until about June of 1889. Hollis claimed that he chased King down to find out why he had shot Kinningham. The paper quoted King as saying "because he (the doctor) had ruined my happy home." [I have discovered he was in Williamson County in June/July of 1885--perhaps being helped by some King family members.]

What happens next is pretty sad. Kinningham left a wife and six children. His estate was largely uncollected accounts. The widow remarried a few years later. Kinningham's sister and her husband took the five oldest children, eventually adopting and changing the name of the youngest boy. Descendents of this boy, William Ira Kinningham McCarty, have an oral tradition about the doctor's death. They were told that Kinningham, on his ranch, was gotten up in the middle of the night by a gang of cattle rustlers. After he patched up the wounded gang member he was shot (so he wouldn't be able to identify anyone.) I'm sure that Dr. Kinningham had experienced incidents like the one described; Duffau was in a geographic band of territory traveled by several gangs of cattle rustlers, thiefs, and "bad guys."

King, apparently on the run since the 1885 murder, was jailed in Erath County TX on July 1, 1889 and held until his late October trial. Although charged with murder the jury found King guilty of manslaughter and sentenced him to three years in the penitentiary (I assume Huntsville.). Following his release from prison, King married a Ewella Hollis ( his sister in law and widow of Jack Hollis who had died ca. 1890 of small pox ) in Shackelford County, Texas in 1893. King then deserted Sis and removed to Little River County, Arkansas. He remarried a lady by the name of Emma Wheeler, worked as a LAWMAN and for the railroad. King died October 18 1940 in Mena, Polk County, Arkansa and was buried in Marvin Cemetery, Little River County, Arkansas. Submitted by Joe Lee, and Cindy Shipman 4/2005

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Hollis story, Johnnie Koonsman

Johnnie Koonsman was the son of James Patrick Koonsman & Nancy Harriett ( Nanny ) Hollis Koonsman.

Written by Ann-Worley Shrimpton, appeared in issue of February 23, 1989, of The Texas Spur, weekly newspaper, and is used with expressed permission of the publishers.

Former Dickens County Sheriff Recalls How It Was In Old Days

Former Dickens County Sheriff, Johnnie Koonsman, was born in Erath County. He lived in Hale County before moving to Dickens in 1912. "I remember when 'Dickens Hill' was too narrow to allow wagons to pass; somebody would have to wait," he reminisced. He attended Croton and Dickens schools, but had to quit to help out on the farm.

Though it has been said that no one is "born a cop" , Johnnie Koonsman feels otherwise. "It's in the blood, alright," he said. His older brother, Martin, rode with the Texas Rangers resigning in 1920 because 'Ma' Ferguson, then Governor, was "turning 'em out faster than they (violators) were going in."

The world has changed drastically since the thirties and forties. Officers in the past have been "true believers" and upholders of the status quo; believed in authority, right and wrong, law and order, and a black-and-white moral code. A lot of "old truths" have been discarded. Young law enforcement officers now bring with them their historical times, shaped in the revolutionary sixties, seventies, and even eighties."

By the time he becomes a law enforcement officer, an individual brings a minimum of 21 years of individual history, view-point, self-image, and philosophy; which includes exposure not only to family and friends but to the influences of his immediate and extended society.

In 1936 young Koonsman decided to try an old family tradition of law enforcement for himself. He informed his wife of his plan to run for sheriff. (Against her better judgment, of course. Why,  he'd be away from home a lot and cause her to worry for his safety!)

The election wasn't much of a contest with Koonsman’s votes outnumbering his opponents many times. It was required of the Sheriff to live close to his work; very close. He and his wife moved into the sheriff's living quarters in the basement of the county jail where Mrs. Koonsman would cook and serve the prisoners' meals three times a day.

Koonsman's first day on the job made an impression on a few folks; one in particular. The wife of a convicted-armed robber had smuggled a 45-caliber Sunbuster in to her husband only weeks before Koonsman took office. They hid the weapon in a stovepipe.

"I had known for weeks that she'd smuggled that gun in and where it was hidden. He'd (the robber) planned his escape with a cellmate who was being held for murder. I got a warrant for her arrest and she spent several months in jail, pending a Grand Jury indictment." The woman received two years in prison for her efforts in aiding an escape.

In those days, information so readily available, could be followed up without delay. Since the officers kept a warrant 'handy', it was only a matter of obtaining the County Attorney's signature to take a known violator into custody.

The law—and its enforcement procedures—have changed, been redefined, as have the police and sheriff departments. As has society.

Today law enforcement agencies across the country are equipped with high-tech instruments to aid them in all phases of criminology. Electronic equipment such as computers, teletype, polygraph, special surveillance devices, radios, and "bugs" help officers identify criminals and their activity, alert the officer within minutes of a violator's criminal history and what necessary precautions to take with particular offenders, especially known felons. His vehicle is equipped to keep him in constant contact with headquarters and other units in his area. An inner-city frequency puts him in touch with fellow officers outside his jurisdiction while in pursuit. Patrol cars are equipped with special 'police package' engines to aid officers in high-speed chases.

Armed with a .45, (six-shooter) dressed in plain clothes, and a Model-A Ford as his cruiser, Koonsman and his deputy, Hub Swann, set out to enforce the law in Dickens County. He had a telephone but usually their plans to "set-up" on somebody was discussed in private. They had to work hand-in-glove because if something went down, there were no signals, no way to get back-up. They had to get in right the first time.

Most violations during Koonsman's administration consisted of theft, DWI, bootlegging, and murder. Bootlegging topped the list. Koonsman exhausted all means to get his man.

"Once I disguised myself as my father, went to the "flats" and bought a half-pint of whiskey from a bootlegger. By the time he figured out it was me, it was too late!"

Dickens County jail has eight cells and a run-around for exercising. It also has a trap on the top floor originally designed for "hanging". Not attractively furnished as are jail cells today, there wasn't much a prisoner could entertain himself with. So, much of the time was spent contemplating an escape. The trap served as an escape hatch on four separate occasions while Koonsman was in office. However, each time, their 'freedom' was short lived.

Despite the fact that Koonsman was short on police technology, escapees were captured within a brief period and returned to stand trial. The sentence received, in addition to prior criminal charges, could net a prisoner 99-years to life in the pen.

Koonsman put an end to anyone ever escaping through the trap door again. Since it wasn't likely a hanging would be taking place anytime in the near future, Koonsman welded the trap door closed. It remains so today.

Any law enforcement officer worth his salt is not familiar with the stereotyped 40-hour workweek. He'll be the first to say he's on call 24 hours a day, everyday. His eyes and ears are constant antennas preserving his oath, "To serve and to protect." Many times his family does not understand why he would rather be patrolling the streets than attending a social get-together.

Personal experiences of officers have not changed so much in areas. Disappointment in a foiled bust, the criminal who gets away, the thrill of a high speed chase, and the role he plays in bringing a criminal to justice are the same today as they were 50 years ago.

Do law enforcement officers have a sixth sense? Is there some truth to the cliché –'To catch a crook, think like one?' No matter. Johnnie Koonsman always got his man and his method of investigation was as exceptional for the era as are techniques of today.

His investigation into a crime of passion in McAdoo sent a man to prison for murdering his wife. And, yes—he and Deputy Swann experienced the thrill of the chase. "Two bandits had stolen a car in Abilene. We got a call that they might be headed our way. Sure enough! Hub and I chased them clear to Paducah where they shot up my car. We were not injured and the bandits were caught the next day in Houston."

Pleading the 'fifth' was unheard of in those days. Severity of the crime was determined and consideration of punishment was cut-and-dried. Drunks were jailed until sober; fined, then released. A theft violator was arraigned before the District Judge with the possibility of bonding out. Punishment for bootleggers and murders was usually an indefinite period, and sometimes life, in prison.

Once in awhile it’s necessary for a peace officer to use a little 'gentle persuasion' when the violator resists arrest. During an investigation of domestic violence, Koonsman managed to handcuff the intoxicated man and turned his back only for a moment to gather more information. Enraged, the prisoner raised his arms in an attempt to strike Koonsman on his head with the handcuffs. Koonsman's quick reaction left him with a slight injury to the knuckles of his right hand resulting in temporary paralysis; the only injury he sustained while in office. "I won't say how I got him to come along without further incident," he grinned sheepishly.

After his retirement as Dickens County Sheriff, Koonsman said he missed being a lawman for some time." Times are different now. More crime, more criminals. Due to population increase and poverty. Criminals today 'shoot first' ; back then there wasn't much trouble in getting the criminal off the street."

When asked what changes he would initiate if he were sheriff today, Koonsman said, " I would do my best under the circumstances. Law officers are handicapped, still, when it comes to organized crime. The officer's job is better in some ways; for instance the pay and the agency benefits."

Koonsman's administration lasted from 1936 to 1942. Fifty-three years of ideals can still be applied today though some procedures have changed. He can truly empathize with lawmen and encourages them to "keep going" — "Treat everyone the same."

EDITOR’S NOTES: Johnnie Koonsman was born 22 September 1901 near Duffau and would have been 87 years old at the time of the newspaper interview. Both sets of his grandparents are buried at Duffau Cemetery. Jacob Koonsman (1835-1909) and Sophia Hyte Koonsman (1836-1920) were both natives of Pennsylvania and lived for several years in West Virginia before coming to Texas. Bluford Hollis (1846-1924) and Mary Etta Gillentine (1850-1936) were his maternal grandparents.

Johnnie Luster Koonsman married Jimmie Parthenia Beebe (1903-1979). He died 26 February 1993 and the couple is buried at Dickens Cemetery just east of the town of Dickens. His parents and many of his siblings are also buried at Dickens; many of his Koonsman cousins still live in and around Erath County nearly 100 years after his parents left the area for west Texas.

Special thanks to the publishers of "The Texas Spur", Cindi and Gregg Taylor. The email address for that newspaper is Submitted by Joe Lee, 4/2005

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Fascinating story of growing up in 1842 Indiana and what life was like. This is a letter written by Rev CP Hollis' 3rd wife to her children in 1909. Her recollection of times, family history and the like is extrodinary! Even if this is not your family, it is a peek into life in the 1850's, 60's and 70's.


This is a letter written by Catherine Stutsman Hollis (Kate) step-grandmother to Levi Merle Davis. It was written to her daughter Harriet who was best known in the family as “Aunt Hat.” Her husband, Craven P. Hollis was the father of Merle’s mother, Mary Ann. No one knows who Mary Ann’s mother was. She was never spoken of or named according to anyone’s recollection.



My dear Harriet, my dear girlie;

You want to know something or all of my life and more especially of my girlhood. Before I begin, I will tell you what I remember of my father’s and mother’s people. My mother was Eleanor Harrell and her mother was Catherine Thomson and her mother, my great grandmother, was Elizabeth Baker who emigrated from Ireland and the short tradition is that she spun the linen thread that she wove into her wedding dress. Of my mother’s paternal family not much is known, only that the Harrell’s were of English descent and “Old Granddaddy” Isaac Harrell’s first wife was a Cotton and the mother of my grandfather whose name was John and a rather dear old peculiar man he was; he was very decided in disposition and when crossed his thin Roman nose and pale blue eyes and thin lipped mouth would instantly take on an expression of contempt. Nearly all of my mother’s paternal uncles were red-haired, of whom there were quite a number.

My mother’s mother, Catherine Thomson showed her Irish blood by her grey eyes and black hair. She had several sisters and at least one brother for I remember of Mother’s cousin, Turner Thomson. Her aunts were Nellie Graham for whom she was named and Betsy Holmes, Susie Newland and there must have been another sister for I know that Mother had a cousin, Pascal Leonard, for whom she had but little respect for she said he was “trifling” and when that was the case the back of her hand was always toward them. If there were others I do not remember them.

(She means that the aunts are Eleanor Harrell’s not Catherine Thomson’s. Eleanor Harrell is her mother.)

Mother was the oldest child of John Harrell and Catherine Thomson, was born February 7th, 1821; born, raised and married in Jackson County, Indiana. She and my Father, John Berkey Stutesman, were married August 15, 1839 and as usual in those days it was a big wedding, a whole roast pig with a red apple in its mouth with other good things for dinner; then a race between two young men for a bottle of whiskey was a part of the program for the day.

I have seen Mother’s wedding dress and an one time had a piece of it; it was some thin white goods, made short waisted, mutton leg sleeves, the skirt was short, did not reach the top of her slippers which were of purple cloth and tied with ribbon which lapped round the ankle and tied in a bow in front. Her hair was red and curly and with her blue eyes she was her father’s daughter.

Her sisters were Elizabeth, Mary, Susan Kate, and Celestis. Her brothers were Alexander, Jacob Wright and James Mathes, all dead but one sister, Celestis.

My father was born in Washington County, Indiana not far from the banks of the Muscacituck River which divided the two counties, Washington and Jackson. The place where he was born was at that time called “No Business.” I do not know what year Abram Stutesman and Barbara Berkey were married but of this union my father was born July 6, 1814. The farm which Grandfather Berkey owned fell into stranger’s hands and one time when I was a small girl, myself and sister Ann were dropping corn in the field of this farm and we went into the old house which was in very good repair. Just one room with a big brick fireplace, with a winding staircase in the corner. The room was ceiled and had never been painted so it was a brown as a nut. We went upstairs and looked around, went down and out and left the house that held so many memories of Christian Berkey and Fanny Bienicia, his wife, where they both died perhaps before I was born.

There was a large family of the Berkey’s, my father’s uncles were Jacob, Henry, Jonas Michael, and William; his aunts were Elizabeth and Fanny Catherine. As long as my father lived his mother’s people were a sacred memory to him for they were a quiet, religious, refined family and he entertained the idea they were just a little superior to the other families and if you could have known them Harriet dear, you would not have him say nay. The feeling was always with him to reach up for the best in people, politics, religion, books, anything that or with whom he had to do and he was fairly successful in transmitting to his children.

When my father and mother were married, they began housekeeping in a small log cabin not far from Grandfather Harrell, which indeed he owned and afterward made a stable of. A man by the name Shoemaker made their home outfit which consisted of bedsteads, bureau, table and large stand table that I remember so well because it had two drawers and also was where my father used to sit and read or write his letters with his goose quill pen which would have to be sharpened once in a while. These pieces were all made of cherry wood; a cupboard of some other kind was painted red. In this little cabin I was born September 1, 1840 and then a cradle large enough for three babies was brought in with a laugh and a joke that Mother did not very well relish, but all the same that old cradle stayed in the family till ten babies had been rocked to sleep. The cradle and the little spinning wheel were kept in the close company; what a sweet memory those old pieces of furniture brings to me. The chairs were made of hickory and almost as white as cotton, and how clean they and the ash churn were kept by the willing, industrious hands of Mother. Those weekly scourings and rubbings of home made soap and lye made of wood ashes are among my earliest recollections, how sweet and clean things smelt when cleaning day was over. Everything not painted had to have its bath and a rub.

I rather suspect I was a cross, crying baby, for Mother told me that when she was nearly worn out with my baby infirmities, she was tempted to throw me out of doors, but I got over it and won my way into their affections for Father always said Kate was their prettiest baby. I know he was proud of me-took infinite pains to teach me the alphabet which I knew before I can remember very distinctly. He had a large family Bible and he taught me the large letters that began the chapters but the dear old gentleman, for he had no peer, never knew what a numbskull his firstborn was. We were always, as long as he lived, on the very best of terms so he was always blind to my deficiencies—he did not seem to know that I could not do a problem in fractions.

With all my mental weakness my memory dates back to the very early forties. The earliest incident is that my father was riding a large black horse named Brookens and I suppose he was holding me in his arms. The horse became unruly so he held me by one arm and dropped me outside the road in a snow bank. It is all like a cloud passing over the sun, a fleeting bit of memory for that is all I remember. I don not know where we were or where we were going; the horse and the snow bank are with me today.

I remember also being lifted from a wagon and placed in the open door of my father’s house and I ran across the floor to where mother was sitting on the side of her bed. She told me long afterward that I had been staying at Grandfather’s and it was he that lifted me to the door.

The community where my father lived in those days did not have a house of worship so our brethren preached from house to house and when Grandfather lifted me to the door, he and his family had come to Father’s to hear a brother T. J. Edmonson preach. Other neighbors were there also to hear him. But before very long our brethren had a house of worship—it has been for over sixty years but it still stands a monument to the labors of the self-denying brethren and preachers of those days.

I wish, my dear Harriet, I could describe the people and the meetings that have been held in that house. What sweet singers in Israel we had, chief of whom were Uncle Jonas Berkey and Brother Jacob Wright. How we children did love those old men. But there were others that made the congregation of old Driftwood a fountain of June Joy. Before the house there was a protracted meeting held in the yard of Uncle Jacob Berkey. It was covered with an awning made of beech limbs and other kinds that made a bower and a leafy sanctum in which to preach the Gospel.

There was in the congregation a colored family who were faithful, zealous in the Cause. The old man we called “Uncle Bach,” a little, short, fat man but good and black while Aunt Polly was a yellow woman. While the services were going on one day, I slipped around where Uncle Bach was, picked up his stovepipe hat and put it and walked back and sat down by the side of Cousin Wright Holmes. This I do not remember but Mother told me the old man could hardly contain himself, he was so tickled.

Before I was two years old, Father had bought a small farm a mile or so from Grandfather’s which was still in his possession until within a few years of my marriage.

On it was a hewed log house, it had a brick chimney and nice fireplace; locust trees were west, north and south, the yard sloped east and west and down the western, perhaps a hundred feet, was the well. I remember that Mother had a kind of shed over it; it seems to me now that it was a kind of lattice work covered with vines and I remember that mother did her washing here in the summer time.

It was in this home that I remember seeing Grandfather Stutesman. He tried to take me in his arms but I would not have it so and I went out to where mother was doing what she called “hackling flax.” I remember Grandfather wanted to help her—this too is just a flash of memory but vivid all the same.

In this house my sister Ann was born the 28th of March 1843 and here I tried to make her take a drink of water one day when Father and Mother had stepped out to the house. A minute longer and I would have silenced her forever. Father came in just in time to save her. I do not remember this but I do remember climbing on a chair beside the bureau and standing on it until I had torn the pictures, or some of them, from a schoolbook, a reader, I think, of Mother’s. When Father questioned me I remember I told him a lie, it never entered my mind there was no one else to do it. I know that nothing but my infancy kept me from punishment, for a lie with Father was something not to be tolerated for an instant.

For some cause, that I do not know, Father rented the home place and moved across the river call Driftwood. This river and Muscacituck joined and make the White River. Father rented and afterward bought a little farm close to Clearspring, a small place containing a store, a post office, and a few dwelling houses. The little house of one room with one door and one window was surrounded with beech and oak trees and right in the woods are some of my sweetest memories. I do not remember when we moved or how but my sweet, dearly beloved sister Elizabeth was born January 15, 1846. She was born in a little house that Father rented until he could finish the one he was building. I suppose we moved in the early spring of 1846 for I remember Mother pointing to the freckles on my nose and laughingly told me of them one day when we had been playing out in the yard. Father had finished the house, all but the hearth. The window was a six paned one and the door was made with a latchstring that hung outside; everything but the string made of wood. The chimney was stick and mud that was built to just come above the comb of the house. The first time you went into housekeeping Harriet your outfit would have been very much out of place. Oh how well I remember it all. The little house was built on the side of a gently sloping hill that was covered with forest trees. On the same incline, Father graded out a path to the spring, which gushed out from under some trees. He also dug into the side of the hill and made a kind of cave or springhouse where Mother kept her milk and butter. She kept two cows, “Cherry” and “Plum.” Cherry was the one that kicked Father over once when he tried to milk her. Sometime that summer Mother finished the house by laying the hearth. The spring furnished water enough to make quite a spring branch—it flowed through quite a rocky place at the foot of the sloping ground and there we children helped Mother get the stones to lay the hearth. We carried sand and gravel and small rock to fill up the hole left in the floor for the hearth—filled it up level with the floor then we carried large, flat, smooth stones in and Mother fitted them together, filled the crevices with sand and ashes and poured water on them and when it settled more sand and sashes was put in and then more water and so on until all was as level as the stones would permit. We were quite proud of our work.

I had never seen a cook stove; all our cooking was done on the hearth. Mother’s cooking vessels were skillet and lid, a small oven, and iron teakettle, a little round iron pot, a tin coffee pot and a wooden “poking” stick. The iron pot was used to boil meat and vegetables and was set on the fire or close up against it. The skillet or oven stood on the hearth with live coals under them and when bread, biscuit, cake pie or anything else the lid was placed on, and then a shovel full of coals was put on. I go back to those days and I wonder if I have ever eaten anything so good since!

On that hearth I made and baked my first bread with I was seven years old. I pushed a chair close to Mother, who was sitting close to the door, spinning at the little wheel. I made corn bread I suppose, as that was the easiest made. I put the pan on the chair and sifted some meal, broke an egg in it, then Mother showed me how much milk and salaratus (we did not have soda) and salt to use. I stirred and beat it, but I remember what a time I had getting the skillet and lid ready. The open fire burned my face and hands and everything was heavy. But the bread baked, Mother had her spool full by that time so she finished the dinner. As a general thing when I set the table I had to stand on a chair, set what things I wanted on the shelf below them, step down and carry them to the table. I also learned to sweep; that is the one thing I learned to perfection. I have never seen one who could beat me. By the time I was eight years old, I did all the sweeping. Father made me a long whiskbroom which I used to sweep under the beds by getting down on my knees and crawling and sweeping with one hand. When you know, my dear child, that our bedsteads were nearly as heavy as a small threshing machine and no rollers, you will not wonder at my maneuvers to be clean.

At this little home Mother had quite a sugar orchard and, when the spring opened, the big kettle was carried down and hung on a pole that was held up by two posts driven into the ground. The sap or sugar water was caught in pans or buckets and carried to the kettle where it boiled until it was thick enough for syrup or thicker when it turned to sugar.

At this time I was a little, slender, spindle-legged girl and lived most of the time in Dreamland or had my head in the clouds so much so that things earthly did not appeal to me and as a matter of course was imaginary so I edited and published my own novels and kept the proceeds. Young as I was, I kept sister Ann and the neighbors children surprised by my outlandish tales and they all got the benefit of some of them for I did not scruple to enlighten their benighted minds how or where I got them. I was well enough acquainted with geography to know there was a Pennsylvania; to me the name suggested fairyland, something so beautiful that I told Maria Lindly that the sunshine always reflected colors on the ground, that if it shone on something green or red that would be the color on the ground. She hooted at the idea but told her if she didn’t believe it just go to Pennsylvania and see. As she could not go it was not settled.

In my thoughts and imaginations, I clothed myself in textures and colors something vivid and beautiful—the rainbow was nothing to be compared. Not for a minute did I expect them to materialize, but the delusion was enough to make me happy. I was not dissatisfied with home or anything. Perhaps where we lived excited my fancy. It seems to me now that the place was beautiful, right in the forest. We lived on the slope of a hill at the foot of which Father plowed the ground and planted potatoes and corn and Mother made her garden close to the house, peas and beans, lettuce, radishes, beets, onions; where around the beds of vegetables were “touch-me-nots,” marigolds, four o’clocks, bachelor buttons and princess feathers—old flowers we do not see nowadays.

Across the spring branch was a foot log and then up another hill where Father cleared a field for corn. When he got it ready he had a log rolling. The neighbors came and put the logs together and they were burnt. It was an exciting time for us children. In the woods were oaks, beeches, poplars, maples, persimmons, papaws, wild grapes, spice wood and sassafras and other kinds, yes, hickory and walnut trees. In the summertime Father would cut down large trees for firewood. In the winter, once or twice a week, a fire was made and the irons were removed, the ashes were taken up and a large back log was brought in. Then us children had to get out of the way, the log was rolled in and into the fireplace, and the fire was made which would last the best part of a week. The fire was bright and we could read or play and if Mother sewed, which she usually did after supper, I sometimes held the lamp at her knee. You would, my daughter, be thoroughly disgusted with lamp my mother sewed by. It was a greasy affair, a little oblong shaped cup that would hold perhaps two tablespoons of grease. A wick was laid in it, one end in a lip and the grease was poured on it, then a splinter was lighted at the fire and it lit the lamp. Far, far above it are our lights nowadays.

For two succeeding summers Father taught school. One of the schoolhouses stood on the banks of a creek. The bottom was covered with broad, smooth stones and the large trees covered the bank. It is queer to me that I do not remember but one scholar and that was Dan Sutfin who stole Father’s pocketknife. He would not tell where he hid it until his father compelled him to show where he had driven it down into a hollow stump.

The other schoolhouse I do not remember so well. I now that one day I was guilty of something Father did not like, so he had me cross the room and sit beside a boy; this boy in particular always had a dirty nose. I would rather Father had whipped me and that is what he finally had to do.

Once again Father caught me in a lie. Mother had been called to the bedside of a sick woman during the night and she did not get home until after breakfast. Father sent me to the springhouse for some cream and when I got back to the house he asked me if I had washed. I said yes. He knew at a glance that I had not. I forget my punishment but it was enough. I was surprised into it for I was not thinking of breakfast nor of my morning ablutions either. I do not remember of telling Father another lie as long as he lived.

Here in the woods my first brother was born July 3, 1848 and Father named him William Graham for an old friend that he loved like a father.

One summer Mother made the whole family ready to go to what was called “The Annual Meeting.” It was generally held someplace where we had a large meetinghouse. There the congregations from three or four counties would come together. They would come prepared to camp, live, sleep and eat, and hear the Gospel preached within the radius of perhaps two or three hundred feet. This meeting was held at Leatherwood, Lawrence County, Indiana.

One day Father wanted to have old Brother Wright hear sister and Ann and I sing some hymns he had taught us. I suppose we did well for the old Brother asked us to sing some more and if we knew and more. Sister Ann said, “Yes, we know lots of ‘em” and she started off on “Old Dan Tucker.” Father laughed and blushed but made the best of it.

Once I remember going to Grandfather's—I do not know who took us as far as the river, but when we got there we waited until Uncle Jimmie Harrell came across in his canoe for us. I remember Mother telling us we would wait for him. We all got in and he paddled us across. He told us to be still. I was awful glad when we touched the shore for I was afraid the canoe would turn over and spill us out in the water and the Driftwood was no little river. When I think of it, it seems to me like it was as wide as the Columbia. Then we walked to Grandfather’s and Father came. I do not know where he had been for he had not come with us. He must have been at Valonia, perhaps teaching or clerking for Uncle William Berkey. Anyhow, while there Father pulled my first tooth. It did not come out as Father expected so I cried for it hurt. Oh how dear is that memory—Father put his arms around me, drawed me up close to his breast and held me tight and talked and pitied me. I can feel those dear arms yet. My father was always the one I went to for comfort or advice; he was a man of good taste, good judgment, and had a fairly good education which was eked out by his insatiable love for books and papers which he always had ever since I can remember anything.

Mother often said to him when he was reading, “Here you sit with your toes in the ashes and let the fire go out,” a thing he always did if the weather was not very cold, for he was oblivious to everything earthly. He would always laugh and get up and fix the fire when Mother brought him down to things mundane.

He was the one man I loved with all my heart. He was perfect in my eyes, and he never did or said anything that I could not give a ready assent.

When I was perhaps nine or ten years old, Father sold our home in the woods and moved back to our home in the “Forks” which was between the two rivers before mentioned and close to the old Driftwood meeting house. The township was also of that name. We moved into the house that we had moved out of and then another brother was born and he was named John Harrell for Grandfather. The dear sweet little baby came to us on December 28, 1850 and then another sister was born September 21, 1853 whom Father named for Mother except he shortened it to Ella. In February of 1854 Harrell died of membranous croup; then another brother was born, Alexander Berkey, on April 3, 1856.

Then another brother, Clinton Thomson, was born April 12, 1859. All this time my daughter, your mother was growing to womanhood and the darkness of the Civil War was gathering over us and finally culminating in spilling the hearts blood of our finest and bravest countrymen, both North and South. O the dark day that followed for both sides; starvation, sickness and death, sorrow and tears reigned supreme.

October 26, 1858 I was married to you father and you don’t know Harriet how little prepared I was for the change. When Father was approached and asked “May I have her,” he gave his consent rather reluctantly your father thought, but it came with this request; “Remember Brother Hollis that Kate is not strong and maybe she won’t fill your expectations and you will be disappointed,” And your father made answer, “I’ll take care of her,” and my child, not many poor women have had the husbandly care that I had as long as your father lived. He shielded me from all care and hard work. As long as he had a cent I got the benefit of it if I needed it and he saw to it that I received the best of everything in the house and the house was empty to him if I was out and all of this time I was not worth the salt I put in the bread as far as work was concerned.

When we start to housekeeping you would have laughed to have seen and tasted my first batch of bread. Yellow? Yellow was no name for it, too much soda! Did your father say anything? Not he, he said they were fine. I worried along until your father praised and said I was a fine cook, but oh dear, what a miserable housekeeper I was. Not because I did not know, but for want of will power. If I had been stout perhaps it would have been different. I was physically unable to do much and therefore thought it was not really essential to the happiness of husband or children to have things in their places so most of the time things were hung up on the floor. To make the most of a bad bargain, your father never said much, but most of the time he came home in the house he would kick the papers and playthings and other things that might be in his way to one side, make a path to a chair so he could sit down and then if I were near him he would pull me to his knee and give a caress I was not worthy of—he kept his vow inviolate.

The first house we lived in was close to Leesville, Indiana. Here I lived neighbor to your father’s half brothers and sisters, Gabriel and Joseph Robinson, Ann Wilson, Harriet Broyles, and America Pate. Harriet was you father’s favorite and he loved her as well or better than his own sister, Lavisia Hollis Brawner.

Here also our first baby boy was born Sunday morning April 29, 1860. We disagreed about the name; I would have liked to name him for my father, but no, not so. Finally, we named him Quincy and a lovely baby he proved to be.

Sometime in 1861 or about the time President Lincoln called for the first 75,000 soldiers to put down the southern rebellion, we stayed there ten days or two weeks and lived neighbor to your father’s Aunt Becca Cornwall. She was noted among her sisters for saying, “Things were just as well off the way they were as the way they was not.”

We left there and moved to Valonia, my father’s post office for more than thirty years. This is in Jackson County, Indiana. We lived in a little one-room house for which we paid two dollars a month. While we lived there, one morning we went to the station and saw the first company raised in Jackson County leave for headquarters in Seymour, Indiana. As the train began to move the bugles and drums began to play “The Girl I Left Behind Me.” Never, never again do I want to experience the feelings that swept over me then—tears and cries from the women and shouts with waving hats from the men. How little we thought of the long agony of distress waiting for us.

Old Brother Mead’s son went to the war later on and never returned; shot through the heart. The dear old man lived close to Valonia and now I know what he suffered in loss of his bright boy.

While we lived here another son was born to my father and mother, Virgil Eggleston, February 17, 1862. In the spring of this year we left Valonia and moved close to Jonesville, Bartholomew County and the 12th of August 1862 another son was born unto us and then we had two boys and how proud you father was of them. (And then without a word he was named John Stutesman.)

In the late fall a train came through Jonesville with our War Governor O.P. Morton and a number of doctors and everything to make wounded soldiers comfortable. They were going to Kentucky where a battle had been fought. A telegram came to Jonesville for the best doctor and Dr. Price had but ten minutes to run to his boarding hour for what he wanted and back to the depot, but he went. It has always seemed to me I would have felt like a dog had I been in his place for he was anything else but a Union soldier—but he accepted the honor the Governor’s demand gave him and a free trip into the bargain for both train and doctors were pressed into the service without charge or price.

We also experienced the fright that John Morgan’s raid produced when he crossed the Ohio River from Kentucky into Indiana. At that time your father was holding a meeting in Madison, a city on the Ohio River but east of where Morgan crossed. When the news reached them the meeting came to a close and every man turned soldier, But Morgan did not pass that way. He went farther north as far as Salem and walked into Uncle Jonas Berkey’s store and he and his men nearly emptied it and obliged Uncle Jonas to pay him a thousand dollars as his part to save a large woolen mill from burning. All roads leading to Indianapolis were patrolled and guarded until the crisis was passed. There was not a man in southern Indiana had a wink of sleep till it was known that Morgan was out of danger (she means until they were out of danger) but he was caught all the same.

The summer that Johnnie was born your father worked in the harvest. He would quit work Saturday at noon, come home, wash, shave, and change clothes, saddle Nellie Grey, and ride to his appointment, preach Saturday night, Sunday, Sunday night, and then ride home, arriving close to Monday morning.

Men were scarce and old Brother John Barnes told him hat if he could help him and keep up with the work he would give him three dollars a day. You father said, “I’ll do it,” and he did, doing two kinds of work—while his hands were busy with the heavy wheat, his mind was busy with the Holy Writ and, he said, moving like the cylinder wheel of the thrashing machine.

The winter of the year ’64-’65 was noted for the cold weather, the first day of ’65 was the coldest day. It was something terrible.

Early in the spring, we moved to Queensville and your father took up the work for the district, that is he had to preach in two or three counties. In the fall, someone, I know not who, wanted him to sit as one of the judges, I believe on some political work and intimated to “save the day” there must be a little chicanery in it. Your father told him he would see him in____, and then pointed downward, you know what that meant. /so he pulled out and then we moved to Elizabethtown of Bartholomew County, Indiana. We moved in the fall and you were born December 26, 1864. In the spring of ’65 we moved out to a little farm and between the Sundays your father put in a little field of corn and cultivated it, also a patch of potatoes.

One morning as I was helping him plant and cover the potatoes, Brother Herard came walking down the lane and climbed up on the fence and said, “Brother Hollis, President Lincoln was shot last night. “ We did not know the particulars till someone went to Columbus which was 6 or 8 miles and learned of the Tragedy. And then our beloved Nation was once more baptized in an ocean of sorrow and grief.

The Nation’s distress had hardly eased up when your father had gone to Elizabethtown to hold a meeting Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. Quincy was ailing; his throat was sore and feverish. Saturday evening, no, it was Sunday evening; your father came home and brought Grandmother Hollis home with him. I told him how Quincy was and at supper he asked him something about his supper and he (Quincy) could not answer him. Your father did not finish but got up and found someone to go for a doctor. I had applied and given him all the remedies that I knew but when the doctor came he sad he had membranous croup. He lived until Tuesday morning, September 12, 1865. We buried him in Burnsville within 50 feet of the Christian meetinghouse.

Father had planned to move to Missouri if he could sell his farm so he wrote us to come and stay with them during the winter. As there was nothing to prevent, we went. It was a cold winter and one day the cold turned to a blizzard and Clinton, who was a small boy, came very nearly being frozen coming home from school. He wanted to lie down and go to sleep but Alex the older brother told him to run and if he did not he would whip him. That was what saved him but the exposure brought on the flux that almost finished him.

He had hardly got well when the baby Ulysses Morton, who was born Sept 11, 111, 1864, took it and died. In the meantime, Father had sold his farm and began to pack up. We had stayed with them all winter—in moving Mother could no sell some of her furniture so she gave me a part of her first outfit; the bedstead, table, stand table, and breakfast table and I had the pleasure of having them in my own possession for a while. They started their things to LaClede, Missouri and intended to stay with sister Ann (who was now Mrs. A. J. Plummer) and while there Mother and sister Ella, who was about 14, took down with the flux. Ella died and brother Will and sister Lizzie brought her back to the old Driftwood cemetery and buried her there by the side of little Harrell and Morton. Mother was very low and Father would not leave her to come himself. In time they started and left the old Hoosier state behind and found a home in Chariton County Missouri.

Perhaps less than a year later we received word that Grandfather Harrell was dead. We went to his house and from there we followed him to the cemetery where he had buried his two wives—my grandmother died when I was a wee little girl. I remember her in her narrow coffin resting on two chairs. I put my hand on her cold forehead. I remember how black her hair was and how close and narrow her coffin, but in those days they did not waste material. It was lowered into the grave without a box to protect it—there was a vault dug in the bottom of the grave that the coffin fitted into, then it was covered with boards and you may imagine what a sound the falling clods made. How many, many times have I heard it! The Driftwood graveyard contains nearly all of my relatives who died within the last sixty years.

In 1866, sometime in May, we packed and boxed everything we had in one box and started for Missouri. I think and wonder and I almost know it would have been better if we had stayed where we were. I know that a great fewer many tears and sorrows and perhaps fewer sacrifices would have lightened my life’s labor. When we started we went to St. Louis by the Mississippi and Ohio railroad. We left Valonia in the evening—I sat at the car window and looked and strained my eyes over the well beloved places and objects that forever passed out of my sight.

In the early morning we arrived in East St. Louis, took a cab which rolled on a steam ferryboat and so crossed “The Father of Waters,” went to the Planter’s hotel, ate our breakfast and at nine or ten o’clock took a train for LaClede and soon arrived.

Father met us and took us to his home in Chariton County, a double log house with an entry between with two rows of locust trees in front, but miles and miles of prairie greeted us. To a person raised in a wooded country it is a novel sight.

We occupied a part of Father’s house until we could build a house on an eighty-acre farm we bargained for. Late in November we moved. It was a little two-roomed house a frame and plastered, but it was new and clean and there we lived and there I went though some of my deepest sorrows, but I also had some sweet pleasures.

While we living in Father’s house, sister Lizzie was married to William Empson. She lived to have one daughter whom she named Ola. She was perhaps two years old when sister Lizzie died of consumption in Father’s house—aged about 25 years. In March another sister was born and Father named her Fanny, a very much-loved name, but the little girl was weak-minded and was a terrible case.

August 2, 1868 your sister Eleanor was born and in 1871, April 3rd, your sister Jessie was born and your half-sister Mora was married to Sylvester Eitel. Then another great sorrow overtook us October 19, 1869. Johnnie, our last and only boy died and we buried him in Father’s orchard.

The fall of 1873 we left the farm in the care of Mora’s husband and moved to Huntsville. Nothing of note happened there except your father and myself went one night to hear a Miss Phoebe Cozens lecture. She was a Woman’s Rights believer and a very fascinating speaker and every inch a woman.

In 1877 we moved to Kirksville, Missouri and there we lived about 14 years. We had been there perhaps two years when your father traded the farm for quite a nice property into which we moved with great pleasure. Also, your father with his iron will and true courage, was instrumental in organizing a large congregation and building a large house of worship, built of brick. Kirksville, Missouri is a loved place for me. It contains many of my friends and it is also the place where many sad and vexatious things occurred.

January 21, 1875 your sister Kate was born, a little, soft, round baby. February 11, 1877 your sister Ann-another half-sister-was married to S.S Davis (Samuel Stephen) and on November 21,1877 your brother Dick was born. God bless his dear ashes and may God remember him. July 28, 1880 the dear little baby Maude was born and 1882 she died aged eighteen months of bowel consumption and we buried her in the Kirksville cemetery and about three years afterward your Uncle Clinton brought the little coffin containing the little body of your brother John and laid him beside little Maude. Your father put tombstones at their graves—there is also one at Quincy’s grave.

I forget when Laura, your last half-sister, was married to James Van Horn but I think when Dick was a baby. She moved with her husband to Colorado. She had been married perhaps 12 years when she died in a Denver hospital leaving a daughter Mary and a son James.

In 1884 or 1885 your Aunt Lavisia Brawner died and was buried in your father’s cemetery lot and years after we left Kirksville her husband, who had wandered around from place to place, for they had no children, finally came back, took sick and died and friends buried him beside his wife Lavisia.

November 6,1882 your baby sister Grace was born—nine children had been born to unto us. December 23, 1887 my father died, the dear voice was hushed; the hands were stilled over the pulse less heart. He died knowing in Whom he believed.

About 11 years after, Mother died while living in Nebraska and is buried there. Father was aged 73 while Mother was 77 when they died. Father, Mother, seven out of eleven children are all gone. Myself and four brothers are all that are living. (She either means six out of eleven children were gone or myself and three brothers or there were 12 children originally.)

Now Harriet, I believe I have written all that will prove of interest to your for besides my own life thus far you have the dates of all the births and deaths that I know anything about.

I will write you all I can remember of your father’s life and his people. Your father, C. P. Hollis, was born August 15, 1819 in Anderson County, Kentucky, which is now 90 years ago. Think my daughter of the changes that have been made in everything material. His father, Robert Hollis, died some months before he was born, leaving a widow and three children; William, Lavisia, and Craven Peyton whose nickname was Dick, given to him by his Grandfather Rice with whom he live during his babyhood.

Of his paternal ancestors he did not know much. He could have known much if he had taken any thought of it so his negligence leaves me ignorant. He knew they were Irish and his grandfather was William Hollis and left several sons. He spoke of an Uncle Jim Hollis and an Uncle George. Whether there were others I do not know.

His Grandmother Hollis, he did not know her family name but I am sure it was of Scottish origin for it began with Kil—whether Kilbuck, Kildare, or Kilburn, I have forgotten. I am not indebted to your father for this but to his mother who told me many years ago. There were some of the Hollis women, one of whom was a Nancy Sill and another who was feeble-minded or nearly so. She at one time let a child get severely burned. When asked why she did it she told that she was tending to her knitting, a thing she was always told to do by the others and all she could do very well but she knew other things or seems she did. One time she was staying with your grandmother who was in a delicate condition. She (Grandmother Hollis) lay down to rest and fell asleep, leaving Betsy awake. She went to the door and opened it and witnessed the “Falling Stars of 1833,” a sight my father also saw when he was about 19 years old. The next morning when asked why she did not wake your grandmother, she replied that she was afraid it would scare her and perhaps she knew what a scare would do for her.

Your father’s mother was a Mary Rice. She once told me she believed her father, Beverly Rice, was English, though no wholly. Grandmother Rice was a Bata whose Mother was a McKinney, all Irish living in the Kentucky woods, while the Indians were prowling around.

Of all these I do not know a thing of their politics or religion. When your father was a small boy, his mother married a Major Gabriel Robinson. He got on very well with his new father for he thought a great deal of the little boy and showed him favors over the other children and lots of times would take the switch from “Polly” and say, “Let the boy alone. What are you whipping him for?” But as your father grew older things did not go on to suit him. The Major drank a great deal too much Kentucky whisky so when he was about 15 he left home and set out to do for himself. He went to his brother William who was a wagon maker. He learned the trade and also the plow stock trade. He learned his business and carried it on in and around Louisville and in the meantime drank whisky and played cards and broke men’s bones with his fist and in time had to have his fist doctored for bones all smashed up.

One night he was sandbagged in Louisville. He did not know how long he lay on the street. He was picked up and cared for but the robbers got nothing if that was their intention, for your father never carried money or anything valuable on the street. If he had any he always put it in the care of his host or in the bank. I have seen the scar on the back of his head hundreds of times and many others.

Your grandmother’s sisters were Susan, Mahala, Rebecca, Letitia, and Melita. (This sentence is sort of out of nowhere and bears little relation to the previous or following ones.)

Your father’s life was a continual struggle between good and evil. He was honest, truthful and conscientious. He had a temper that was something terrible and when he was young he let it have perfect sway; he let nobody dispute his word and those who did felt the weight and strength of his arm. He often said that he did everything but lie and steal. His maxim was that a man that lied would steal and a man that worked not did one of three things, which was beg starve or steal and in either case he never saw it fail. He was cautious in his actions and quick at repartee but he never dealt in insinuations. If he had anything to say he said it in plain terms so anybody could understand it. With him a thing was so or not so, nothing halfway about it. If he was a friend it was to the hilt and he was often deceived on account of this for he would allow no hurt against those whom he considered his friend. He was no reader, never thought of taking a newspaper by the year or buying a magazine for any kind even for me to read.

He took little interest in politics for at least the last half of his life. When he was perhaps 35 he had been drinking and came very near having a spell of first class delirium tremors. He found himself, one morning, nearly naked in the snow. He came to himself sufficiently to know he was quite a way from the house. He staggered back and went in and made a fire and by force of will he stayed there till break of daylight. Then he raised his hand and to himself made and oath never to touch it again as a beverage. At this time he was living in Leesville, Indiana and running a shop for himself. He got up and went to work and as his friends came in, he told them of his resolve and gave warning that the first man that asked him to drink would suffer.

Your half-sister Mora was then a baby and he began to think that it was high time that he prepared himself a decent father for his little daughter. He also began to think of the future and of the future life. He had never been religious, not knowing one religion from another, excepting what was called the Hardshell Baptist, so he bought himself a Bible and began to read; he read and read and read again for he was no visionary to take things for granted.

While he was reading for himself, the ministers of the town invited him to attend their meetings which he cordially accepted, whether it was their regular day of worship or protracted meeting. He listened but had been reading the New Testament Scriptures and somehow when they would ring in their opinions and preach it and expect people to believe it, he was puzzled. He did not remember of reading it and then he would read again and finally he made up his mind that the sectarian religious bodies were not what he wanted and there came to him, “Thou art weighed in the balance and found wanting.” (Daniel, chapter 6, verse 27.) He went to Salem Indiana and implored a minister of the Christian Church to come to Leesburg (Leesville?) and hold a meeting. Young people nowadays have not an idea of how preaching was carried on in those days—any man that could make the assertion that he was “called of God” could go to preaching and more than likely he could not quote two consecutive verses of the Bible, would rant and rave and fume and make war on the “Cambellites” with fiendish delight and all because in those days there was a pocket Testament in every man’s pocket and was read and read till they were ready for any objection or all of them.

While the Christian Church has not made a particle of change in her faith or ordinances and has moved along smoothly but fighting for every inch of territory, there has been quite a change of tactics in the policies of the sectarian churches.

During the meeting held by brother Jacob Wright, the plan of salvation according to the Scriptures was shown him, he confessed his faith before men and was immersed for the remission of sin. He continued his work, went to church and whenever opportunity offered he “talked in meeting.” Finally, Brother John A. Weddell urged him to prepare himself for the ministry and how different he did it from the ways preachers are educated now. He read and read and prayed to God for help and strength. He did not burglarize any man’s work, he paid no attention to any man’s writings or essays or opinions for they were something he had no use for. If they taught Bible truths, all right, when they began to speculate he had no ear for them. With him it was the Bible for and against. Anything else made more infidels that the writings of Tom Paine or Voltaire and indeed Ingesoll was mute evidence for his father was a blue stocking Presbyterian and his hard unbiblical religion upset his brilliant son and threw him into infidelity.

During his ministry he held quite a number of debates with Methodists Baptists Universalists and Spiritualists. From the time he was ordained to preach the Gospel, he did it with all is might in winter’s cold or summer’s heat. He labored and left no stone unturned to further the Master’s Cause.

And after a long life of more than 80 years my daughter, your father died and left his struggles to do right, his temptations and difficulties all behind him. His last year was one of suffering and how often have I waked in the night and heard him praying for help and strength in the struggle he knew so well was coming. He died poor, but not in want, for his brethren ministered to his wants and he was kept comfortable, but when the end came how different it was from what he wanted. He thought and desired to be surrounded by his friends and family, but no, his wife and two children were all that witnessed the difficult breathing till the poor, tired, wearied heart stopped. His work was done—it was finished about 3 o’clock Monday morning, August 28, 1899, aged 80 years and 13 days and he was buried in Hamilton County, Illinois in Oakwood Cemetery just across the river from Keokuk, Iowa.

On the evening of June 20, 1901 little Grace died, nearly 19 years old and oh Harriet, Heaven help me, Dick is gone too, after a life of suffering he died November 4, 1908, aged nearly 31 years and my daughter, we are nearly all gone. A few more days for me and maybe years and all will be well. God love thee,   Your Mother

Submitted by: Rosie Fuller 4/19/2005

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The Hollis Family by Claude D Cook

The Hollis family seemingly is connected with the Cook family in two ways. The maternal grandmother of Register Cook was Anne Hollis Sill, and the mother of Nancy Ellen Steel Cook, the wife of Register Cook, supposedly was Martisha (Martha) Hollis Steel. Both of these women probably trace their ancestry back to John Hollis, a soldier in the Revolution from Pennsylvania. I say probably because despite the fact that John Hollis had a pension and made a will, it is possible to name only two of his children and one grandson. It is my opinion, however, that John Hollis was the father of Anna Hollis Sill. This is based mostly on the closeness that seems to have existed between the two men.

The Hollis family, as did the Sill family, lived early in Chester County, Pennsylvania. John Hollis was born about 1744 and after the Revolution seems to have lived in Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania. The name of his wife is not known, but the 1820 census indicates she was still living at that time, however, she was dead before 1826. Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania was formed from Bedford County in 1773 and at6 that time embraced all of western Pennsylvania. Payette County was formed from Westmoreland in 1783 and Allegheny County in 1788. During the period 1778 to 1783, at some unspecified date, John Hollis served as a Ranger on the Frontiers from Westmoreland County. I failed to find any other record of him in Pennsylvania.

John Hollis first paid taxes in Shelby County, Kentucky in 1799. He lived on Benson Creek as did Register Sill and both usually paid their taxes on the same day. John Hollis is named in both the 1810 and 1820 census of Shelby County and in 1820 is listed next to Register Sill. From those census records, it is evident that he had several children, probably some who were married long before the 1810 census. The 1820 census of Shelby County also names Heritio Hollis and Jozes W Hollis who were possibly sons of John Hollis.

On December 28, 1816 John Hollis, for the consideration of one hundred dollars, sold, conveyed and transferred to Register Sill the following property: one brown mare with star in forehead supposed to be 14 or 15 years old, 7 head of hogs, one bindle heifer calf, one barehoar plough and plough iron and crib of Indian corn supposed to contain one hundred bushel, two pots, the crop of flax which I raised this present year and is unwatered. This was totally a mortgage deed: "But the true intent and (meaning?) of the foregoing conveyance is that whereas I have borrowed of the said Register Sill the sum of fifty dollars which I am to pay in nine months from the date hereof." There were no witnesses to the deed. A note in the margin of the deed book reads: Examined and delivered to Register Sill 5th April 1817".

On July 15, 1822, John Hollis appeared in court in Franklin County, Kentucky to make application for a pension based on his service in the Revolution. He stated his age as 78 years and that he was a resident of Shelby County, Kentucky. He also stated he enlisted for the term of one years in the month of December 1775 in the state of Pennsylvania in the company commanded by Capt Stephen Byard in the second Regiment commanded by Col. Anthony Sinclair in the line of the state of Pennsylvania on the continental establishment, that he continued to serve in said corps until the end of the enlistment and that when he was discharged he immediately after enlisted for during the war in the state of Pennsylvania in the company commanded by Capt Isaac Coren in the Sixth Regiment commanded by Col. Flowers and that he continued to serve in said corps until the close of the war. He also swore that he was in the battle of Brandywine and received a wound in the left leg, was also in the battle of Germantown and was in one skirmish in Canada. Attached was a schedule of property owned by John Hollis at this time. This consisted of one cow and calf worth $12, one sow and eight pigs worth $3., four old chairs worth $2., one old table worth 50 cents, one Dutch oven worth $1., two pots worth $2., one axe worth $1., and one wooding box worth 50 cents for a total of $22 worth of property. He at least could write his name as he signed the application. On June 9, 1823 John Killin of Adams county, Ohio swore that he knew John Hollis to be a regular soldier in the revolutionary army on continental service in the years of 1776 and 1779. On July 14, 1823 John P Hollis of Jefferson county Indiana swore that he "being in conversation with both officers and privates in the old revolutionary war and they stated to him in conversation that John Hollis was a regular soldier in said war and that he enlisted in the year 1775". John Hollis was granted a pension of $8 per month. A letter of inquiry to the National Archived in 1967 resulted in the following reply: John Hollis died on December 27, 1826 and was last paid during the first quarter of 1827. NO additional information was found relating to this payment: In other words, there was no record of payment to his heirs.

John Hollis made his will in Shelby county, Kentucky on July 24, 1825, " Being desirous to settle my worldly affairs and thereby be better prepared to leave this world when it shall please God to call me hence." After first committing his soul into the hands of Almighty God and his body to the earth to be decently buried at the discretion of his executor, after his death and funeral charges were paid, he made the following provisions: His grandson, William Hollis, son of John Hollis Junior was to have "my onster hatt". (This was a beaver hat). The rest of his estate was left to his daughter, Elizabeth Hollis, who was also appointed Executor of his estate. This will was "Signed, sealed, published and delivered by John Hollis, the above named testator, as and for his last will and testament in the presence of us who at his request in his presence and the presence of each other have subscribed our name as witnesses thereof: Henry Roberts and Register Sill." The will was produced in Shelby county court by the above witnesses in April of 1827 when they also swore that said Hollis was of sound mind when he made the oath of Executor of the estate of John Hollis, deceased, and entered into bond with Register Sill for security for the sum of $200. At the same term of court Elizabeth Hollis ordered that Henry Roberts, James Cook, Harvey M Long and John Yount, or any three of them, being first duly sworn, "do appraise the slaves, if any, and personal estate of John Hollis, deceased, and that they make report thereof to the Court and further proceedings are continued for said reports." This report was evidently never made as I failed to find record of it. I think it probable that he had little of no personal estate when he died. His burial place is unknown.

Despite any legal proof, there is considerable evidence that Anna Hollis Sill was a daughter of John Hollis. Register Sill was witness to the will: Witnesses were usually relatives. It is also important to note that Register Sill was security for Elizabeth Hollis when she flied bond as Executor of the estate.

John Hollis Junior, mentioned in the will of John Hollis, is probably the second John Hollis listed in 1810 census of Shelby County, Kentucky, and who removed form that county about 1815. He could be the John P. Hollis of Jefferson County, Indiana in 1623 of the John Hollis who is listed in the 1820 census of Harrison County, Indiana. These were two different men judging from census records.

The Hollis’ as well as the Steel, ancestry of Nancy Ellen Steel Cook has proven impossible for me to trace. I found no record of them in Franklin County, Indiana for the period when Nancy is said to have been born. Mrs. Taflinger, of Mitchell Indiana told me that the mother of Nancy Ellen was named Martisha Steel however, the marriage affidavit by James Cook states that consent for this marriage was given by her mother Martha McDaniel. I failed t find a marriage regarding the change in her name from Steel to McDaniel. The 1860 census of Salem Indiana names the following persons living with Register and Nancy Cook: Martisha McDaniel, age 41, Reene McDaniel, age 34, Eldorn J McDaniel age 8 months. ON March 9th, 1867, Martha C McDaniel of Salem Indiana swore she had been sell acquainted with Elizabeth Cook Spoulding for many years and was the midwife when George W Spoulding was born at Salem in 1864. This is the last record I have found of her.

The Bruce McDaniel listed with Martisha in 1860 was quite a character. He enlisted in the Union army in 1861 and was discharged in 1865. After the war he lived in Clay county Illinois and had a pension for his service in the Civil War and after his died he was there were several confliction claims concerning how many times he was married and to whom. I found no mention of Martisha in the portion of his pension record that I received. The Archives and the cost of obtaining them would be very costly. It is possible that he and Martisha were never married and that after the war he moved away leaving her behind. The census of 1860 indicates that Eldora J McDaniel was their child and I am almost positive that Mrs. Taflinger once told me that her mother had a sister named McDaniel. It is known that Nancy Ellen had at least one sister. The Salem Democrat of November 22, 1899 states: "Mrs. Nancy Montgomery of Campbellsburg passed through Salem last Friday in route to Palmyra where she is visiting her sister whom she had not seen for 29 years."

Written December 1974. Submitted by: Rosie Fuller 4/19/2005

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Indiana Death Row I found this at: Indiana Death Row

Not sure which Hollis family David belonged to but our sincerest condolences go out to them, Bill Cook



DOB: 08-14-1960 DOC#: 13152 White Male

Lake County Superior Court

Judge James L. Clement

Prosecutor: Thomas W. Vanes

Defense: Herbert I. Shaps

Date of Murder: February 27, 1982

Victim(s): Debbie Hollis (wife) W/F/18; Kim Mezei (neighbor) W/F/18; Craig Mezei (neighbor's son) W/M/2

Method of Murder: Strangulation (Debbie, Kim, Craig); Stabbing with knife (Debbie)

Summary: Hollis went looking one night for his estranged wife, Debbie, and found her at an apartment in Hammond in the company of a neighbor, Kim Mezei, and her two year old son. Hollis repeatedly stabbed Debbie and Kim and strangled all three. The following day, Hollis went to the residence of an acquaintance, Donald K. White, in Griffith armed with a shotgun. When White told Hollis that the police suspected him of killing his wife, a neighbor, and a baby, Hollis replied that he did kill them, and he was sorry for killing the neighbor and child, but they just got in the way. Hollis then tied up White and his roommate, and forced White to perform oral sex.

Conviction: Murder, Murder, Murder, CDC (A Felony), Confinement (B Felony); Pled guilty without plea agreement.

Sentencing: November 12, 1982 (Death Sentence, 30 years, 10 years)

Aggravating Circumstances: 3 murders

Mitigating Circumstances: None

Direct Appeal: None (committed suicide by hanging at Indiana State Prison, Michigan City on 02-19-84)

As of July 1, 2004

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