Contributed by Traci Parsons-Holder

August 1, 1999

The Holder family lived on their homestead south of Lipan, just across the county line in Erath County. They had a Lipan mailing address, and the family is an important part of the legacy of Lipan.

Joseph Mitchell Holder was born on August 9, 1838, the son of Mitchell Holder and Nancy Francis, and grew up in Franklin County, Tennessee. Nancy Francis was from Virginia and served as an apprentice tailor before she married Mitchell on September 6, 1834. It is said that Nancy was a great and patient woman who loved the mountains of Tennessee. She always kept her door open so she could see the mountains. Even after she was up in years, she insisted that her bed be put between the doors so she could see the mountains. The cabin built for her still stands on the Holder farm near Winchester, Tennessee. His father, Mitchell Holder, was the son of Joseph Holder Sr., who served in the War of 1812, and Nancy Freeman.

Joseph Mitchell Holder was the third of eight children. He had five brothers and two sisters: Andrew, Sarah, Nancy, William, Daniel, Benjamin, and Nathaniel. Three of the children have been confirmed as serving in the CSA in Tennessee, along with countless other cousins and uncles. Joseph Mitchell Holder enlisted in the Confederacy on April 29, 1861 in Peter Turney’s First Tennessee Regiment at Cowan Station, Tennessee.

Company I was formed at Winchester for a period of 12 months from men in Coffee County. It was enrolled in April 1861 and joined the Regiment shortly thereafter and mustered into Confederate service at Lynchburg, Virginia on May 8, 1861. Its nickname was “The Tullahoma Guards” or “Cowan Guards.” Another nickname was said to be “Jo Lane Company.”

The original organization was:

Captain Joseph Holder (Joseph Mitchell Holder’s Uncle Joe that he writes about in the below letter)

1st Lt. James W. Jackson

2nd Lt. Enoch G. Stewart (related)

3rd Lt. Henry J. Hawkins

1st Sgt. Daniel Crawford Keith

2nd Sgt. Charles Hofman

3rd Sgt. Edward A. Jackson

4th Sgt. Absolom F. Williams (related)

1st Cpl. Joseph M. Hawkins

2nd Cpl. George W. Bowers

3rd Cpl. Joseph M. Holder (who wrote the below letter)

4th Cpl. Francis M. Bowers

After the war, Joseph Mitchell Holder went to Mississippi and met Sally Jane Gregory, who was born in Mississippi April 29, 1850, the daughter of Alfred Gregory. Mr. Gregory was a preacher, some say a farmer, others say he was well to do. The one thing that most agree upon is that Sally never saw her family again after she left Mississippi. Sally had red hair, brown eyes and could dance a jig well past middle age.

After they were married in 1866, Joseph and Sally lived in Stawamble County, Mississippi for ten years. In 1867, J.M. became a Master Mason in Moorsville, Mississippi.

J.M.’s sister, Sarah Holder, married Benjamin E. Harrison in 1859, and his brother, William Wallace Holder, married Louisa Emily Williams in 1867. It is thought that the three couples came to Texas in 1877 at the same time, all of them staying in the Big Valley area of Parker County, Texas. Ben and Sarah settled in Dennis in Parker County. William and Louisa also settled in Parker County near Weatherford.

In 1878, J.M. and Sally moved to Kickapoo Creek in Erath County, Texas. Joseph and Sally had 13 children.

Joseph signed a will on March 5, 1902, and Robert Lee Holder executed the will. He wished his property to be divided among the youngest children and for them to pay the oldest four children the sum of $100 apiece. He wished for the remaining belongings to be divided equally among his children and that his wife be able to live on the homeplace for her remaining years.

Joseph died September 1, 1914 and was buried in Bishop Cemetery, near Lipan off F.M. 1189, in Erath County. Sally died October 24, 1915 and is also buried in Bishop Cemetery, next to her husband.

Many descendants live in Hood County today, and in neighboring counties.

This following letter was written by Joseph Mitchell Holder and was published in the Dallas News Semi-Weekly dated July 16, 1913.~ THE LETTER ~

I am an old confederate soldier and have come to tell you all some of my experience in life. I enlisted in the First Tennessee Regiment. It was commanded by Pete Turney, best known by the soldiers as “Old Pete”.

I was in Company I, my captain was my uncle Joe Holder. We enlisted at Cowan Station and left Winchester on the 1st of May 1861 for Lynchburg, Virginia. We were kept there several weeks before we drew arms. Our first guns were improved muskets. Our first brigade commanders were Gen. Bell and Gen. Archer, Stonewall Jackson’s Division, Lee’s Corp.

I was in many hot places, Bull Rull (second battle of Manassas), Fredericksville and Chancellorsville. At the time my health began to fail and I was assigned to Richmond to help defend the city against raids.

It would take a big book to tell my ups and downs. At one time I was nine weeks without a change of clothing, as I had put my other clothes on my brother, who was shot in the arm at Manassas. Being in bad health, I got leave of absence and was at home at the time of surrender.

After the surrender I made a trip to Mississippi where I married Miss Sallie Gregory. She was the daughter of Alfred Gregory. I was then 30 years old. This was in 1866, and we lived in Stawamble Co. until 1877, when we came to Texas and rented land in Big Valley, Parker County and from there we moved to Erath Co. on Kickapoo Creek where I bought a home.

Then hard times began sure enough. My horses died and for three years I worked oxen. I had to clear my land, as there was not a foot of land in cultivation. We built a little log house without any floors. Then my wife took sick and lay at deaths door for 40 days. But the neighbors were kind and helped up in many ways. We were about 9 years paying for the homestead.

After that I bought 337 acres and settled two of my children on part of it. We had some hard times and lived most of the time on bread and butter and milk. I had to use much economy to keep from being involved in debt. Four of our married children live on the home place, and the rest near by. I lost one son after he was grown and four died in infancy. I feel like my many hard trials are numbered in the past.

I am 78 years old and on account of bad health my life is still full of worry. I haven’t seen a well day since my exposure of the war. I came near losing my eyes soon after the war and was away from home four months, under the care of an acculist at Union City, Tennessee. My afflictions have kept me in hard circumstances.

In 1867 at Moorsville, Mississippi, I was made a Master Mason. I have nine brothers-in-law, all Master Masons.

My mother is still living. She lives in the old home in Franklin Co., Tennessee. Her youngest son cares for her. If she lives until September she will be 95 years old. She has three children living, and four dead. She has 29 grandchildren, 111 great grandchildren alive.

We are having some hot weather now and if the drought continues, I believe the Government will have to give aid. It hasn’t rained since April.

I am fond of reading all letters, especially those of the old veterans. Have read with interest the letters on the coming campaign, and will say with all good feeling that I am a natural born Anti. and hope my country will always have liberty and freedom for which I have helped fight. I have the greatest respect for law and order, and think we should not pass laws that can not be at least partly enforced.

If any of the old boys see this I would be glad to hear from them. With best wishes to the good old news and all its readers, I will close my letter.

J. M. Holder
Lipan, Hood Co. Texas