HOLMAN FAMILY STORY
James Sawyer Holman
The first of the Holman ancestors to come to America was William Holman and his wife, Winifred. They had with them a servant girl, Alice Abby, age 20 and five children ranging in age from ten to one year. William was born in Northampton, England in 1594 and died in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1653. Winifred was born in 1597 and died on October 16, 1671.
They crossed the Atlantic on the ship Defense in 1635. Their first house was at Cambridge, Massachusetts where three more children were born, making a total of eight—five girls and three boys. The last child, a girl born in 1644, died young. Indians killed the next to last child on August 5, 1695 at Billerica, Massachusetts where she lived and had raised her own family. The Holman family moved from Cambridge to Boston where they built a nice home on the corner now occupied by the famous Botanical Gardens.
After the death of William Holman in 1653, the care of the family was left to his wife, who must earn the living. She did this by helping in the neighborhood at whatever she could find to do. She was especially apt in caring for the sick. She bathed and massaged, used roots and herbs, and invoked the blessings of the Lord on her patients.
Across the street from the Holman house lived a man by the name of John Gibson. Mr. Gibson had a daughter who had some strange fits that the doctor could do nothing for. The Holman family suggested that he let Mrs. Holman try to do something for his daughter through the blessings of God. This embittered Mr. Gibson who swore out a complaint against Widow Holman and her daughter May. They were arrested and put in prison on the charge of witchcraft. They were taken to Charleston, the county seat, for trial. This was a most serious charge in those days. After many long trials, they were acquitted and Mr. Gibbons was convicted of slanderous speech and forced to beg forgiveness for the evil he had committed against God. And the wrong he had done to the Holman family. Mrs. Holman is known in history as the first Christian Scientist in America.
Our line comes down through Jeremiah, the oldest son of William and Winifred. He was six years old when they came to America. He was born in 1628 and died in 1709. He married twice, Mary (Mercy) and Susanna.
The next in line is Abraham son of Jeremiah and Mary. He was born about 1673 and died in 1726. He married Susanna Tarbell. They had three children; the youngest of them was Nathaniel. He married Elizabeth Knight and they had Johnathan Holman on October 9, 1735. Johnathan married Olive Farr. They were the parents of Johnathan Jr. born 26 February 1765. He married Zilpha Sawyer.
The Holmans had settled in various parts of the state of Massachusetts with the tendency to move west for better opportunities. Each generation accomplished work within their town and county and within their church. They held offices in town and county and were prominent in church affairs. There were soldiers among them. They were industrious, thrifty people. Each generation increased its holdings until many of them became financially well off those early days. Johnathan Sr. was born in Boston, Massachusetts. When he was 23 he served in the conquest of Canada. He moved to Stowe, where he married Olive Farr. By the time Johnathan Jr. was born they had made their way into Genesee County, New York. Johnathan Jr. returned to Massachusetts to Templeton to claim his bride, Zilpha Sawyer. She was born 9 March 1765 and died 5 Dec 1818 at Stafford, Genesee, New York.
There were fifteen children born in the family of Johnathan and Zilpha. Here our lines separate. Among the children of this family was Joshua Sawyer Holman, the fifth child born 12 April 1794 and died 1 November 1846 and David Holman (the youngest). Joshua married Rebecca W. Greenleaf and David married Eliza Coffman in the Nauvoo Temple. The ancestor on our line is James Sawyer Holman, born 17 September 1805 and died 21 June 1873. He married Naomi Roxanna LeBaron.
James Sawyer was born less then three months before the prophet Joseph Smith, in a little town only a short distance from the prophets birth place. James Sawyer Holman stands out as one of the stalwarts of early church history. His entire life, after he became a convert to Mormonism, was marked with sacrifice for his religion and his church.