There is no blood relation between my husband and the Holt family. Lewis F. Holt's daughter, Tennessee A. Holt, married John Hall Wilkins, Sr. on 31 January 1867 in Rusk County, Texas. John Hall Wilkins, Sr. was the overseer on the Holt plantation near Brentwood, Tennessee. On 26 February 1869 Tennessee gave birth to twins, John Hall Wilkins, Jr. and Tennessee Holt Wilkins. She died in March 1869 at 26 years of age leaving twins less than two months old. John Hall Wilkins, Sr. married again on 11 August 1870 to Rebecca Jeffries, the widow of a Confederate Civil War soldier. John and Rebecca are Mike's great-great-grandparents. Their oldest son, Dee Jeffries Wilkins, is the father of my husband's grandmother, Nelda Mae Wilkins.
Lewis Francis Holt was born in Williamson County, Tennessee on 9 July 1812. He grew up on the Holt Farm near Brentwood, Williamson County, Tennessee and was known to friends and relatives as "Luke" Holt. The Holt family were pioneers in Williamson County having emigrated there from North Carolina before 1800. Many of the early inhabitants of Williamson County were veterans of the Revolutionary War who had been paid for their service in land grants. In 1835, Thomas Holt built a large house on land originally granted to his grandfather, Christopher Holt, for his service in the Revolutionary War. By 1859, Thomas Holt owned 682 acres and 14 slaves and operated a plantation which grew crops of cotton and soybeans. In the 1850 U.S. Federal Census his real estate was valued at $10,000 - quite a large sum for that period. The land continued as a plantation until the end of the Civil War. According to the history of the Holt House, "After the war, the farm continued to produce crops such as cotton and soybeans, with many of the former slaves and their families staying on as hired farmers and caretakers of the land. The Holts built homes, a school, and a church for the African-American community that worked and lived on the farm, which functioned into the 1980s when nearly 80% of the 1,200-acre farm was sold to develop a residential subdivision." Thomas Holt's great-grandson, Charles Witherspoon III, shuttered the historic home in 1965. In 2016 the house and nine surrounding acres were sold to a local couple, who planned to restore and renovate the home while honoring its historic legacy. The history and photos of Holt House in Brentwood, Tennessee can be found at www.holthousetn.com.
The Civil War severely affected Williamson County, Tennessee. Three battles were fought within the county: the Battle of Brentwood, the Battle of Thompson's Station and the Battle of Franklin which had some of the highest fatalities of the war. The large plantations suffered greatly and the economy was devastated. The worst of the tragedies for the county was the loss of many of the youth who were killed during the war. The McGavock Confederate Cemetery in Franklin, Tennessee contains the bodies of 1,481 soldiers and is the largest private Confederate cemetery in America.
|Marriage Record for Lewis F. Holt and Emily Cummins|
|1843 Land Patent for 477 acres in Caddo Parish|
Over the next 10 years, he had purchased land patents for almost 1,200 acres of land in Caddo Parish. He had a partnership with his brother Thomas who continued to live in Brentwood, Tennessee but they shared two land patents, dated 1 September 1849, in Caddo Parish totaling 160 acres.
Greenwood, Louisiana was established in 1839 after the forced removal of the Caddo Indians to Indian Territory (Oklahoma). In 1840 the small village of Bethany boasted of one log store, a tavern, a grain mill run by water, and a tanning yard. Shreveport was only a day's journey away and had a large cotton and agricultural market due to the navigable Red River by steamboats.
There were a lot of travelers passing through Bethany because it was so near Shreveport and also a stopping point for settlers moving to the Republic of Texas. The Holt plantation bordered Texas and the town of Bethany. The northern part of Bethany is in Caddo Parish, Louisiana and the southern part in northeastern Panola County, Texas - it is an unincorporated community.
According to the 1850 U.S. Federal Census-Slave Schedules, Lewis F. Holt owned 54 slaves. He had built quite a large plantation and his family grew as well. Tragedy visited the Holt family in February of 1850 when Emily Cummins Holt died at the age of 37. The cause of Emily's death is unknown. Luke was left alone with six dependent children age 15 years to 4 years of age. He had many relatives and help on the plantation to take care of everyday tasks but the children needed a mother. On 5 June 1851, he married Laura Peltiahs Beall who was born in Floyd County, Georgia in 1833. She was not yet 18 years old and Luke was 39 years old when they married but this was not uncommon in those times and she did quite well by marrying a wealthy plantation owner. Luke and Laura added three more children to the family, two sons and a daughter.
The Holt family carried on and I found very little information until 12 March 1856 when a notice was placed in the newspaper announcing the "closing up immediately all the outstanding affairs of the late firms of T. & L. F. Holt, Holt & Moore, Holt & Hall, and of L. F. Holt". There is no more information regarding this announcement but he did not sale his home or land at this time.
Unfortunately, the life of Lewis Francis Holt ended tragically on the 27 May 1859. According to an article in the newspaper, Daily True Delta, dated 10 June 1859, "On the 27th ult., near Bethany, in Caddo parish, Mr. L.F. Holt, a respectable planter of this parish, was shot by Shed Boren. After Mr. Holt was shot, Mr. J. F. Camp struck him two or three times. Mr. Holt expired in a few minutes. The perpetrators of this outrageous deed immediately made their escape. Should they be taken, a legal investigation will take place, as the coroner's inquest found a true bill."
|Murder of Mr. L. F. Holt of Caddo Parish|
It is unknown who took over the plantation following the death of Luke Holt. On the 1860 U. S. Federal Census-Slave Schedule there is no Holt surname listed as a slave owner. The house and land remained the property of the Holt family as proven by the succession sale mentioned below. The Civil War started two years after Luke Holt's death so whoever maintained it after his death probably had a difficult time once war broke out. The next news regarding the estate was the sale of the property.
A surprising statistic: In 1860 the state of Louisiana's slave population made up 47% of the total population and in Caddo Parish, the slave population was 60.8 % of the total population.
|Probate Sale of the Lewis F. Holt Plantation|
Children of Lewis F. Holt & Emily Cummins:
1. Mary Perkins Holt (1835-1858), married William Culp Agurs (1822-1878) on 23 February 1855.
2. Rachel C. Holt (1837-1879), married James Thaddeus Beall (1833-1872) on 23 February 1855.
3. Isabella R. Holt (1841-1870), married James Christopher Hudson (1826-1863) on 17 Dec 1859.
4. Tennessee A. Holt (1843-1869), married John Hall Wilkins (1829-1899) on 31 Jan 1867.
5. John Thomas "Clay" Holt (1844-1879), married Lavinia Waty Cunyus (1847-1914) on 16 Mar 1861.
6. Caroline Emily "Emma" Holt (1846-1924), married John Martin Thompson (1829-1907) on 18 Jul 1871.
I haven't spent a lot of time researching the lives of Lewis F. Holt's children after his death but a few bits of information were easily found. The records indicate that all of the Holt children and their families migrated to East Texas by mid-1860s. The earliest record of the Holts in East Texas is the marriage record of Tennessee A. Holt and John Hall Wilkins in 1867 in Rusk County, Texas. Rachel Holt and James Beall are in the 1870 U. S. Federal Census living in Henderson, Rusk County, Texas. Living with them are their five children, Rachel's sister Isabella Holt Hudson and her son Cuthbert, age 9, John T. Holt (Rachel and Isabella's brother), Romaldus Holt (Rachel, Isabella, and John's half-brother), John Hall Wilkins, Jr. and Tennessee Wilkins, 1 year old twins who are the children of her late sister Tennessee A. Holt and John Hall Wilkins, Sr. I have not found John Hall Wilkins, Sr. on the 1870 census but he married Rebecca Jeffries about two weeks after the census was taken and probably the twins were reunited with their father at that time. Isabella's husband, James C. Hudson, was a Confederate soldier who died at the Battle of Chickamauga, 20 January 1863 leaving behind a wife and 2-year-old son. Caroline Emily "Emma" was the only child I could not find on the 1870 census. Most likely she was living in Rusk County at the time because she married there in July of 1871 and all of her family was there. It's possible she was living with another family or that the census taker just missed her.
That is all I have on the Holt family but I hope to follow-up soon with the story of the Wilkins family and the ancestry of my husband's maternal grandmother.
John William Wilkins (1928-2010), Wilkins Family historian, researcher, and genealogist. Articles located at the Longview Public Library, Genealogy & Local History Department, Longview, Texas.
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Handbook of Texas Online, Christopher Long, "BETHANY, TX (PANOLA COUNTY), accessed November 5, 2018, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hrb27.