Holland family proud of heritage in the county

Published 12:00 am Saturday, January 1, 2011

The Holland family of Covington County was reviewed in depth some time earlier, but an available feature story printed in The Opp News on Thurs., Aug. 2, 1984, lends itself to an update on an area Holland family. This writer does not how this particular family is related to the lineage of Daniel Holland, native of Virginia, who was the ancestor of the descendants covered in the earlier columns.

The family to be featured today is that of Charles Edward “Charley” Holland and his wife, Annie Laurie (Floyd). Charles was 29 years of age and Annie Laurie was 14 and a half when they were married on June 11, 1920. The ceremony was conducted at 2:30 p.m. on the front porch of Annie Laurie’s home, which was located on the road between Gantt and Straughn.

Charles worked at several jobs and then became a farmer, so the young couple started out basically as “share-croppers” until they were able to purchase their own little farm some years later. For them, 1935 was a memorable year, because they were able to buy their very own 40-acre farm in the Gantt community. This was following about 15 years of living on rented farm sites. The new home place was located on the Point A Dam Road and in the same area of Annie Laurie’s Floyd parents.

The challenges of a family living through the depression years and eventually rearing a family of 11 children with the livelihood of only a small farm hold enduring memories for many rural families of this area. The trying experiences of this Holland family are representative of those endured by so many others.

About 15 months after the marriage of Charles and Annie Laurie, their first son, James, was born on Sept. 10, 1921. The other 10 were born fairly regularly in the succeeding years. A real surprise appeared in 1934 when the first and only daughter, Thelia, was born as the sixth child in the family. Another happy surprise occurred in 1939 with the birth of twin boys, Curtis and Vertis.

Charley and Annie Laurie reared the following children: James Edward, b. 1921, m. Evelyn Nielson; Leroy, b. ca 1923; Carlton Quinton, b. 1926, m. Dorothy Wells; Charley Clyde, b. ca 1928, m. Patricia May; Jack, b. 1931, m. Hattye Duggan; Thelia Ann, b. 1934, m. Donald Bryant; Bobby Ray, b. 1936, m. Carolyn Skinner; Curtis, b. 1939, m. Bettye Heath;  (twin) Vertis, b. 1939, m. Charlene Stevens; Robert Reese, b. 1941, m. Barbara Page; and Gene Randall, b. 1948, m. Voncile Thomas. Charley and Annie Laurie also helped rear two of their grandsons, Eddie Ray and Michael Leroy, the children of Leroy.

Charley is remembered for having the philosophical saying that “there’s always room for one more” as each child was born. There is no question that each one was welcomed into a warm and loving family. Needless to say, a lot of care and training went into rearing this many children. Certainly, Annie Laurie taught her only daughter to perform housekeeping tasks, but she also taught her sons as well. There were all able to carry their weight in cooking, washing clothes and cleaning the house.

Some of the hardships experienced included not having electricity until 1948 or running water until 1959. By this date, most of the children were grown and had moved from home. During the earlier years, when they needed water, they went to the well and drew it up in a bucket. When they needed light, they lighted an oil-burning lamp. For bathing, a large tub was filled with water and allowed to set in the sun to be warmed. Then it was placed on the porch for every child to bath in the same tub of water. For clean clothes each week, they boiled them in a big black iron pot over a fire and then put them through three tubs of rinse water. Of course, the whitest ones were washed first and on through the colored items to the last dirtiest ones. Once rinsed, they were wrung out and hung on a clothesline to dry.

A major obstacle for the family was not having any money with which to buy basic essentials. However, they were able to trade for staples and to raise the rest on their farm. They raised chickens and hogs for meat and cultivated gardens and crops for other foods with a mule or horse. They never owned a tractor or a car until after Charley’s death.

It has been reported that at one time Annie Laurie made 40 biscuits and a gallon of milk gravy to be served with a pound of cow butter and a gallon of homemade syrup for one breakfast. The children remembered that at times a quart of tomatoes would be added to the gravy for added taste. They would consume two to three gallons of milk each day. They recalled how they enjoyed what they had and that they never went hungry.

There was always a sense of cooperation and sharing among the members of the Holland family. They recalled how much they looked forward to spring and the early summer when the entire family would pick blackberries, which they sold for 10-cents a gallon. The boys would take their share and buy little luxuries or treats such as oatmeal that they would not normally have at home.

The children recalled one year that they all pooled their money earned from picking blackberries to buy fabric for their mother to make a shirt for their father. They were all so thrilled with that shirt because he would not spend the money on himself. Usually, any money earned was used to provide clothing for which every child needed it at the time. They did save the money they earned from picking cotton to apply toward school expenses.

When there was time for play, the Holland children created their own toys from materials available to them because there was no money available for store-bought ones. The battling stick used for beating the dirt out of clothes make for a great ball bat. The same would also be good for pushing a metal ring, which came from a wagon wheel hub. By nailing a Prince Albert tobacco can to the stick, one could use it to push the ring for miles. Another popular toy was “tom walkers” or stilts as they were sometimes called.

It is remarkable that most of the children continued their education beyond high school. James and Carlton earned degrees from Auburn University; Jack attended Troy State University and Emory University; Thelia earned a degree from Troy State University; Bobby Ray was graduated from Troy State University and earned a masters degree from Florida State University; Curtis was graduated from Baylor University; Reece attended Troy State University; and Randall attended MacArthur State Technical College. When the two grandsons, Eddie Ray and Michael Leroy, finished high school Annie Laurie is reported to have claimed she had been educating children for 49 years! At one time, they had six children in college.

On June 16, 1984, all 11 children and their mother were together for the first time in 27 years. The last time they had been together was when their dad died in 1957. One can only imagine the joy Annie Laurie felt in having all her children home at the same time. Surely there was considerable visiting and reminiscing among the many family members.

The source for this writing was the feature story written by Jean Rausch and published in The Opp News on Thurs., Aug. 2, 1984.

Anyone who might have any corrections to the above or additional information on the Holland family is requested to contact Curtis Thomasson at 20357 Blake Pruitt Road, Andalusia, AL 36420; 334-222-6467; or e-mail: cthomasson@centurytel.net.