James A., the oldest son of James Sawyer Holman was born 1 September 1835, probably at Beaver, Crawford, Pennsylvania. He was the second child in a family of twelve, six boys and six girls. Being the oldest boy in the family, he developed at an early age a sense of responsibility in helping to care for his father’s family. James A. moved with the family to Payson in 1853.
He became identified with Indian troubles, being a minuteman and a member of the Calvary. During the most strenuous of these times, horses were kept saddled ready for the men to go at a minutes notice to the rescue of the settlers. James A. did not move to Fountain Green with his father’s family, but in November of that year married Sarah Ann Mathis. He remained with the army until 1867, taking part in all the Indian troubles. The Indians at last became more friendly and peaceable through these valleys, but in the outlying country, they remained hostile and treacherous. The mail those days was carried on horseback or by stage. He was called to go with the New York Company to Wyoming to guard the mail routs and was gone nearly on year.
Not only were they called to fight the Indians and guard the settlement but also in 1858 when Johnson’s Army, a Division of the U.S. Army came to Utah to kill off the Mormon people, the militia hastened to meet them in Echo Canyon. It has been said that they stationed themselves on a knoll in the canyon, built bonfires and then spent the night marching about these fires. Their numbers were so few in comparison with the U.S. Army; they knew they must resort to some kind of strategy to frighten the soldiers. The soldiers watched the militia marching past the fires during the night never dreaming that it was the same men who marched past again and again in that weird light. Thinking the mountains were full of Mormons, they became very much alarmed and worried. Early the following morning, the officers of the militia appeared at the camp of the commander of the army and demanded that a certain amount of arms, ammunition, and provisions be delivered to them. This the soldiers very reluctantly did, not knowing what else to do to save their quarters far beyond the borders of the city. Once more the Saints were preserved by the hand of God and their enemies delivered into their hand.
James A. engaged in various enterprises. He took contracts for grading and building railroads, building and running sawmills, and many other things that tended toward growth and development of resources in this new country. When the railroad was being built across this state, he was actively engaged, at one time, making a trip to Helena, Montana with four double teams to bring back powder that was used in the construction of the tunnels through Weber Canyon, which was considered a wonder in railroad construction. He worked until the Union Pacific and Southern Pacific Railroads united. He was present when the golden spike was driven. He spent much of his time freighting. Later he moved his family to Fountain Green, where he engaged in farming and later in prospecting.
In 1902, he moved with some of his younger sons to Box Elder County where land could be obtained more readily. He made a new home again and remained there until 1910 when he moved to Lindon where he spent most of the remaining years of his life in the home of his daughter, Mrs. Jane Walker.
He was always thoughtful considerate of others, being generous to a fault. He remained ambitious and enterprising and his mind was clear and active. He was a great reader and was well informed. He was a High Priest at the time of his death. He died as he had lived, full of faith in the gospel and in a glorious resurrection.
He died on 24th of September 1920 at the age of 85 years. He was the father of thirteen children, ten of which are living with a host of grandchildren, great grandchildren, and great-great grandchildren.
(from the files of Mary Jean Caldwell)