When Alma Jackson Holder Died – A Letter and an Obituary


Painting by Eugene CarriereAlma Josephine JACKSON HOLDER was born in 1882, married very young and had four children before she died in 1906.  Her obituary is the basis for the letter below.

Dear Alma, 

You were so young when you left your babies. . .  married with four children when you were barely 24 years old. What did you look like?  I’ve never seen a picture of you.  I wonder what your life would have been like had you lived longer?  You had already done so much.  Maturity and responsibility were upon you but illness stepped in your path and changed your direction. Beloved by those who knew you both in and out of your family, I wish I had known more about you.  Thank you for living and birthing my grandmother even though she only had 6 short years with you . . . I think you would have been proud of her.

Sincerely, Your Great Grand Daughter


Alma’s obituary gives the details for the letter written above.  From the Henry County, GA Obituaries 1900-1907 we read:

“Mrs. Jim Holder died at her home near this place on the 30th ult* after a painful illness of several weeks’ duration.  She was the wife of our clever blacksmith Jim Holder who is left with several small children to mourn her loss.  The broken-hearted husband has the heartfelt sympathy of the entire community in his sad bereavement.”

*’ult’ is a typing error for ‘July’

1900 U.S. Census of Henry County GA

1900 U.S. Census of Henry County GA





Mary ‘Mollie’ Jane COKER

Mary 'Mollie' J. COKER

Mary COKER was born the 4th of April 1857* in Henry County, GA.  She was a child during the Civil War and evidence indicates that her family was needy during those years.   At the age of 22 she married Elsberry B. JACKSON on Christmas day 1879.  Together they had 4 children:

1. Manson 2. Alma Josephine 3. William Grady 4. Lillian

Marriage certificate of Mary "Mollie" J. COKER and Elsberry B. JACKSON

She died within the year of Lillian’s birth in 1891 or 1892.  She was young.

Daughter Alma Josephine was mother to Eula Mae HOLDER

*The 1900 U.S. Census of Henry County GA records Mary’s birth as Mar 1870 but a family bible records her birth as 4 April 1857.


Alethia Jane DICKERSON lived her life within a 30 mile radius in middle Georgia. She was born in an area called ‘Crowders’ in Monroe County. If you’ve ever eaten or heard of the Crowder pea, it was developed by John Crowder  of the same county. When ‘peas’ are on the menu of a family reunion of southerners, they aren’t talking about the green, English variety.  They’re talking about a field pea, such as ‘Crowder’ or ‘Purple Hull’ that make their own gravy color.

Alethia had almost as many versions of her name as there are field peas.  Her various names appear on documents throughout her life, ‘Letha’, ‘Leitha’,  ‘Lethy’ and ‘Aletha’.  They are all the same person.  She was so named by her parents Continue reading

James Solomon HOLDER

James Solomon was the 2nd child of Thomas Jefferson HOLDER and Alethia ‘Letha’ DICKERSON, born on March 6th, 1871 probably in Henry County, GA.  Sometime in his 14th year, his father died at the age of 44, leaving him the oldest male in the family.

Yes, he’s the one who eloped with his bride Alma Josephine JACKSON in 1897.  The 1900 census reveals that he was farming next door to his brother John where his mother and two younger siblings lived.

He had been married three years by 1900, had 2 children and a house boarder by the name of Madison P. HOLDER age 53.  There is probably a familial relationship with the boarder but it has yet to be determined. Any educated guesses?

Like his father, J.S. found a career working with his hands.  He was a Blacksmith with his own shop by 1910, a career path he would follow the rest of his life.  He had suffered the death of Alma just 4 years earlier.  His daughter Eula recalled that he employed a black ‘Mammie’ to help care for and raise his 3 little daughters until he remarried in 1909.

Delia or ‘Della’ Odessa HARKNESS would be his 2nd wife.  They lived in McDonough, Henry county, GA.  Della began her married life by becoming an instant mother to James’ girls.  That first year of marriage she also shared her home with with a niece, Sallie McDaniel, age 71 (old niece, huh?) and 4 lodgers.

At age 48, James and Della were living in a rented home in Griffin, Spalding county, still working as a blacksmith.  They resided in Griffin until James’ death in 1939. He is buried at New Hope Methodist Church Cemetery in Locust Grove, Henry county GA.



She was only 15 when she married.  Without her father’s knowledge or approval, she climbed out the window to elope with James, age 26.  He was waiting outside her window.  That was September 30th, 1897. . .

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It appears that Alma Josephine’s mother died when she was 9 years old leaving her father Elsberry JACKSON a widow at age 46.

About 9 months after Alma and James married, their first child Bertha Lane was born on July 1st 1898.

The following year in 1899, a son, Lindon C. was born. She was 17 years old and Bertha was 14 months old.

Another 14 months later, in Dec of 1900, Alma Josephine JACKSON delivered her 3rd baby, Eula Mae when she was 18 years old.  Eula was 8 days old when little Lindon died.

Three years later Mamie Lee was born in 1903.

It’s not hard to imagine how Alma filled her days with 3 little children to care for.

Alma’s father, Elsberry JACKSON never forgave James Solomon HOLDER for taking and marrying his young daughter.  He threatened to kill him if he ever saw him and would sit on his porch with a shotgun in his lap.  Apparently James wasn’t fond of his father-in-law either because it was remembered that Alma would sneak out with her girls to visit their dad and grandfather.

Alma died in 1906 at the age of 24.  The cause of death has not been discovered.

It all happened in Henry County, Georgia.  Mostly in Locust Grove, a town named after a grove of locust trees seen from the town.  The railroad was key to the town and its economy, carrying cotton, peaches and other produce  from the farming area.  In 1900, the town itself had a population of 254.  Alma, James and the children all lived there.  Alma and James were eventually buried there.