|Elizabeth Walker Holland, date unknown,|
my 5th great grandmother
I'm a southern born & bred & a proud sixth generation Texan. While most of my ancestors were not slave owners, a couple of my ancestors, mainly the Turnipseeds & Hollands of AL & GA, did hold slaves. (Turnipseed family history claims that the Turnipseed family were such good masters to their slaves that they took our surname for their own after their emancipation & the Civil War ended. A maternal aunt of mine claims they were "servants", but I have never bought into that line of reasoning. I won't sugarcoat what they were, i.e., slaves, & I won't accept as gospel at simple face value that we were such good masters to the people we held in bondage per se). Of all the periods of history I have ever studied, the 1800's & the Civil War period has been the most interesting to me. All that said, I have never been a proponent of slavery or racism or felt that either were right or justified.
My husband Chris & I don't make mad dashes to the theater every time there is a new release & it is often months or years before we see something that was mentioned in the headlines usually. This week, we watched "Twelve Years a Slave" which chronicles the story of Solomon Northup of Hebron, NY. There is a Holland family story concerning the death/murder of my fifth great grandmother, Elizabeth Walker Holland that I have always found a little amusing because I read into it what she must have been like as a person.
Elizabeth Walker was born on Christmas Day 1790 in Putnam Co., GA to Thomas Walker & Mary Burns. She was one of five children. On 16 Jan 1812, at the age of 21, she married John Rickman Holland, son of Thomas & Pheobe Rickman Holland in Putnam Co., GA. Together, she & John had nine children: five girls (Mary, Nancy, Martha, Sarah & Simruda) & four sons (Thomas, William, John & Samuel). They started family life in Putnam Co., GA & later moved to Troup Co., GA where their last two children were born.
|Marriage record of John Rickman Holland & Elizabeth Walker, Putnam Co., GA|
Here is where the story of Elizabeth takes a turn of for the worse. Elizabeth lived on a plantation in Chatooga Co., GA with her daughter & son-in-law/nephew. She had a maid (who was for all intents & purposes a slave) to wait on her named Julian or Julia Ann whom she had promised her freedom upon her (Elizabeth's) death. On 4 July 1861, when the maid & Elizabeth were alone, the maid struck Elizabeth on the head with a rolling pin, killing her, & dumped her body down a well. The neighbors came out to look for Elizabeth & upon discovering her body, the maid admitted to doing the deed, saying that "she was tired of waiting upon ole miss & never being able to please her". The girl was lynched on 12 July 1861. Elizabeth was buried at Ebenezer Cemetery in Chattooga Co., GA.
|Gravesite of Elizabeth Walker Holland |
at Ebenezer Cemetery, Chattooga Co., GA
It wasn't just this female character named Patsy who came in line for abuse either. Solomon, who had been renamed Platte when he was sold into slavery, was beaten & ridiculed & his master went after him with a knife at one point, trying to kill him, even when he had tried to do as he had been instructed to do. The tale of Solomon at least had a happy ending. Towards the end of the movie, a man who was from up north was hired to do some carpentry work on the plantation & he & Solomon struck up a conversation & a friendship of sorts. Solomon told the man his tale & begged him to get word to his friends & family up north. In time, several men came to the plantation to establish his identity. They threatened the plantation owner with lawsuits & took Solomon back up north where he was reunited with his family. After his experiences, Solomon later became active in the abolitionist movement & the Underground Railroad. The movie was good, thought provoking & well deserving of its 2013 awards.
"Georgia, County Marriages, 1785-1950," index and images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/KXVH-DMW : accessed 10 Apr 2014), John Holland and Elizabeth Walker, 16 Jan 1812; citing Putnam, Georgia, United States; FHL microfilm 394053.