The readers of this blog realize that most of my relatives derived from the states below the Mason Dixon Line. My third great grandfather, Thomas Harrison Holt, was no different. Thomas Harrison Holt was born between 1814-1818 in Campbell County, Virginia. When I started this post, I held the belief that Thomas was a veteran of the War Between the States. However, through further research, the Thomas Holt that I saw in War records was not my Thomas Harrison Holt. I was going to do this post for Decoration Day. Although I know that, he did not actually fight in the War between States, he and his family were impacted by this War. How could any family not be?
When researching an ancestor, I always start with Census records. These records usually give us the best opportunity of learning about the lives of our Ancestors. The early years of the Census were difficult. The main obstacle, trying to determine family members, is not easy with early census records because the US Census did not include names or ages until the 1850 census. They used tic marks and age ranges.
However, if Thomas’s father was William H. Holt, and I believe he was, we can infer some family dynamics by looking at the census records of 1820, 1830, and 1840. Unfortunately, the 1820 census for William H. Holt does not have a readable header as such the only thing I learned is the William H. Holt was living in Campbell County in the Lynchburg District.
In the 1830 Census, we see that Thomas was likely living with his parents and seven siblings. This census shows that the Holt family did not own any slaves.
In the 1840 Census for William H. Holt, it shows a male that was between the ages of 15 and 20. However, if we believe that Thomas was born about 1818, he would have been 22 years old. I looked at the names around Thomas’s father and did not see Thomas’s name. I know Census records are historically inaccurate for a variety of reasons. Therefore, we will conclude that we do not have enough information to determine where Thomas lived in the 1840 Census.
On 2 October 1843, Thomas Harrison Holt married Elvira Hancock in Campbell County, Virginia (Ancestry, 1999).
The US Census changed formats in 1850 and began to show names and ages. We meet Thomas’s family in this census and learn that his job is of an overseer. Thomas is listed to be 31 years old, has zero dollars of real estate. His children are Arvella, Leroy, Laura, and Elvira A D. The family lives in Campbell County, Virginia. He does not show any monetary value in the Real Estate column.
The 1860 Census indicates that Thomas and his wife are living in the Eastern District of Campbell County, Virginia with 7 children, Arvella, Leroy, Laura, Guilford Walker (my second great grandfather), Mary Agnes, Queen and Nannie. We no longer see Elvira A D. Thomas remained an overseer. His real estate is listed at $1100 and his personal estate $432. His eldest daughter, Arvella is 16 years old and is listed as a Domestic. Leroy and Laura are attending school. Guilford, Magdalia, Queen and Nannie are listed as living in the home.
The War Between the States began in April 1861 and did not conclude until four years later. The War profoundly shaped our country and its citizens, our ancestors. For example, Thomas’s son Leroy C Holt would have been 17 years old when the war broke out. We do not see him in any family records after the war. You have to wonder what happened to him.
In the 1870 Census, Thomas is a Farmer living in Campbell County, Virginia. His value of real estate is listed as $600 and his value of his personal estate is $250. His wife is listed as keeping house. His twenty-one year old daughter Laura is working as a Seamstress. His son Guilford Walker is working on the farm with him. The younger four children, Magdalia, Queen, Mary Agnes and Earnest are listed as living at home. There is a sixty-five year old Black Male living in the home that is working on the Farm. His name is Lyman Stern.
I was able to locate the 1870 Non-Population Schedule for Campbell County, in which is shows what type of agriculture my ancestors took part in. These records point toward the type of work he did. According to this document, Thomas had 61 acres of land, 37 acres of which were woodland. The cash value for his farm was $600 and the cash value for his farm implements was $15. Thomas owned one milk cow, one working oxen, 10 sheep and 5 swine. The total value of livestock was $305. His farm produced about 33 bushels of winter wheat, 135 bushels Indian corn, and 50 bushels of Oats. His farm produced approximately 1,800 pounds of tobacco. Since I did not know what this means in terms of wealth, I looked at the other farms on the page. It looks like Thomas had an average sized farm.
The 1880 Census represented a big change for the US Census; there were several more questions on this form. Unfortunately, for some of us, the Census takers did not always complete the records entirely. For example, the 1880 Census had a spot to write down the street and house number for each family. Regrettably, the census taker for my ancestor did not write this down. We do know that Thomas and his family lived in Campbell County, in Falling River District, 041 Enumeration District.
Thomas (62) and his wife, Elvira (52) have four children still living at home. Guilford (28) is a farmer. Queen, Mary Agnes and Earnest are still living with in the home. The census no longer asks about income, but does ask about certain disabilities. The ages documented over the various years varied so much. In some documents, Thomas and Elvira are as close as 5 years in age of each other. This is why you cannot rely just on census records.
The last record I have on him is from the Virginia, Deaths and Burial Index. It indicates that he died on 12 March 1884 in Campbell County, Virginia in the Staunton River District. He was 70 years old (Ancestry, 2011). This would have made his year of birth 1814. However, we might never know.
I have not been able to find a photo of his tombstone. Nor do I have really any photos to share.
So, this weekend as you fire up the grill or you go out on the lake for the first time, remember those ancestors of ours that gave the ultimate sacrifice fighting for something they believed in.
Until later, I will be exploring backwards.
“Virginia Deaths and Burials, 1853–1912.” Index. FamilySearch, Salt Lake City, Utah, 2010. Index entries derived from digital copies of original and compiled records. Retrieved from Ancestry.com.
Virginia, Compiled Marriages, 1740-1850, Dodd, Jordan R., et al.. <i>Early American Marriages: Virginia to 1850</i>. Bountiful, UT, USA: Precision Indexing Publishers. Retrieved from Ancestry.com.