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 Holman’s 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.  Among the children of this family was Joshua Sawyer Holman, the fifth child born 12 April 1794 and died 1 November 1846.  He married Rebecca W. Greenleaf and their son John Greenleaf settled in Pleasant Grove, Utah after bringing the family onto Utah after his father’s death.  David Holman (the youngest) married Eliza Coffman in the Nauvoo temple and was sent to settle Panacca, Nevada.     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.

James grew up with his brothers and sisters as boys of those days did.  Then when he was thirteen (wrong-Benjamin Franklin was 13 and James was 5 and David was 2 years old.) his mother died.  This was a great trial for him.  Later his father remarried (WHO?).  There were no children from this union.  Some time after this marriage the family moved to Crawford County, Pennsylvania.

James helped his father on the farm.  Later he went back to New York State to start farming for himself.  Here he met Naomi Roxanna LeBaron.  They were married 24 March 1833.  Naomi was the daughter of David LeBaron and Azuba King.  She was born on 7 October 1815 in Leroy, Genesee County, New York.

Soon after their marriage they moved back to Beaver, Crawford County, Pennsylvania, where their first two children were born.  The young couple joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints soon after its organization, on 22 September 1834.

By 1837 they had moved to Kirkland, Ohio where two more children were born.  They moved later to Nauvoo, Illinois and were among the first settlers there.  Two more children were born to them at Nauvoo.  Here they stayed until the martyrdom of the Prophet Joseph Smith.

Their next stop was Mount Pisgah, Iowa (Narrison County).  Here their seventh child was born.  When the call had come to go west the Holman family started with Captain Franklin D. Richard’s company.  But when they reached Mount Pisgah, Brigham Young called James Sawyer to drive the sheep that belonged to the Saints across the plains.  This left Naomi with seven children, the youngest being only a few months old.

He drove the sheep all the way from the Missouri River to Salt Lake.  The family remained behind with others until the following year.  James and the sheep arrived in September 1847.  The family arrived in September 1848.  James started back to meet them and brought them on into the valley.

They spent the winter in the Old Fort and in the spring moved out north of the city, at what is now called Bountiful.  Here they started a new home.  In 1851 the family was called to move south to Santaquin in Utah County.  Here they built the first home in that city.  The Indians became so troublesome that the family was forced to move to Payson in 1853.  There they remained until 1855.

The Indians gradually became more friendly and peaceable in the valley but in the outlying country they remained hostile and treacherous.  Finally a ward was organized in Santaquin on 13 June 1858 with James Sawyer Holman sustained the Bishop. On this same day his granddaughter Sarah Jane was born.

A year later he was called to settle in Sanpete County.  The family began another home in the town to be known as Fountain Green.  It was the second home built in the town and was finished just before Christmas.  Here on 21 December 1859 the twelfth and last child was born, Isaac Lester.  Three of the five children born in Utah died in infancy or childhood because of privations and hardships.

While living in Fountain Green the Black Hawk War broke out, James took his place with settlers to defend his family.  He was exposed to many dangers.  History tells of the Indians killing the herd boys and riding through town with the scalps mounted on top of long poles.

From Sanpete County they moved in Millard County to help colonize the new land.  James Sawyer and Naomi Holman finally settled down at Holden, Millard County where their youngest daughter lived.

On the 21st of June 1872 while working in his garden, James became very tired.  He laid down to rest and quietly passed on.  Although hardly 68 years old his body was worn out from hard work, exposure and the trials and worries of the early pioneer days.  He was laid to rest in the Holden City Cemetery.  History makes him as a pioneer, a colonizer and an Indian War Veteran.

(From the files of Mary Jean Caldwell.)

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