Sunday, April 18, 2010

E. J. Holden

Sarah Cummings received this letter from an E. J. Holden, living in Chicago.  The letter is dated 31 Oct 1903 and starts off with a "Dear Madam" rather than "Dear Cousin".  E. J. Holden had not been contacted by Sarah, instead he had been given her name by C. P. Holden of Chicago.  Of course it would have been nice to have first names instead of initials - but such is my lot in life! 

According to the letter, E. J. Holden had become interested in his family history.  He tells Sarah that he knows very little about his father's family, as his father died in the Civil War when E. J. was a very young child.  He asks Sarah to give him all of his family history, if it isn't too much trouble!  How many times have you had a researcher contact you with the same request? 

So let's see what we can find out about E. J. Holden.  He tells Sarah his father was named Hollis Holden and he died at the battle of Antietam.  He also states his father lived in Shrewsbury, Massachusetts.  He also mentions his grandmother Holden, whom he only vaguely remembered.  He tells Sarah his father had a brother, Alfred who had a Coffee House at Worcester.  Another brother was named Newell (who was also in the Civil War).  A brother named Charles, and a brother named Newton.

His father also had some sisters, Mary who married a Hastings, Sarah who married a Newton and lived in Worcester, and Martha who married the Rev. Edward Pratt and lived in Woodstock, Connecticut.  Evidently, E. J. lived with his uncle Hastings when he was a child. 

One last piece of information E. J. includes is that his father was born some time between 1815 to 1820.  He then finishes his letter with a request for the complete Holden genealogy, if it isn't too much trouble.  And he signs his letter E. J. Holden.  No where in this letter does he say how old he is, or for that matter, what his first name is!

On the back of page three of this letter, there is written in a different hand, Edward Josiah Holden, supposed to be in line of Josiah F. Holden and Mary, Josiah F. Holden and Abigail (Bond) of Barre, Mass.  Not settled, but copied off on slip.  Is this Sarah's note?  Maybe she was writing the results of her research.  So what can we find out about E. J. Holden?

It was pretty easy to locate the birth of Edward Josiah Holden in Shrewsbury, Massachusetts.  He is listed as the son of Hollis Holden and Martha F. Holden.  Edward was born 13 Mar 1860.  I also found the birth of a second child, Hollis Doane Holden in 1862.  Hollis was born 25 April 1862.  I found these records at the New England Historic Genealogical Society.

I also found the death record for Edward's father Hollis.  Remember, Edward told our Sarah Cummings, his father was killed at the battle of Antietam.  His death record is listed in the Shrewsbury, Massachusetts death register.  Think about how this young family, husband and wife with two young boys, would soon be ripped apart by the events unfolding around them.  Hollis dies on 17 Sep 1862 which is known as the bloodiest day in American history.  The registrar writes cause of death as "killed instantly at the battle of Antietam by being shot through the neck".  Just click on the picture to the right and it will take you to the National Park Service website for the Antietam National Battlefield.  23,000 soldiers will killed, wounded or missing on 17 Sep 1862.  Now you know one of the people who died there.  

The death record for Hollis Holden lists his parents as Josiah F. Holden and Martha Taylor.  There is also a marriage record for Hollis Holden.  He married Frances M. Doane on 15 May 1859.  Josiah lists his parents as Josiah F and Patty Holden.  Frances lists her parents as Joel and Olivia Doane.  Both Hollis and Frances were married once before.

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