John Holladay

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John Holladay (March 10, 1798 – December 31, 1861) was a founder and namesake of the settlement of Holladay's Burg, Utah Territory, which became Holladay, Utah. He was an early pioneer in Colorado, Utah, and California.

John Holladay


Holladay was born in Camden District, Kershaw County, South Carolina. A few descendants insist on calling him "John Daniel", though published historical accounts agree his given name was only "John".[1]

Holladay married Catherine Beasley Higgins, also Camden born, in South Carolina in 1822. They had 10 children, nine of whom survived early childhood. Holladay's earliest known forbearer in the New World, his great-grandfather, is John "The Ranger" Holladay of Belfonte, Virginia. "The Ranger" is also an ancestor of Ben Holladay, "The Stagecoach King".[2]

After John "The Ranger" died in 1742, Holladay's father, Daniel Holladay, and his grandfather, Daniel Holladay, moved to South Carolina. Both Daniels were signers of the South Carolina Declaration of Independence. While residing in the High Hills of the Santee, Daniel the younger enlisted when South Carolina’s troops were first organized on November 4, 1775, as an orderly-sergeant in Col. William Moultrie's 2 South Carolina Regiment. He served under Captain James McDonald in the battle of Fort Sullivan on June 28, 1776. On August 8, 1777, he was reprimanded for gambling. He was reprimanded on April 3, 1778, for neglect of duty. He was discharged on April 6, 1778. Following his father's death In 1826, the younger Daniel moved from South Carolina with son John and his young family, to join another son, William Daniel, at Moscow, Marengo County, Alabama [Not Marengo, an older town, Moscow, in Marion County, near current day Sulligent, Lamar County Alabama]. Daniel subsequently applied for and was adjudicated a Revolutionary War veteran pension and land grant in Alabama. He died on February 4, 1837, and is buried at Mulberry Cemetery in Moscow.

Mississippi Saints migration[edit]

In 1844, in Alabama, Holladay joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) as his son John Daniel may have already done. In the spring of 1846, at the urging of the church, he joined the so-called "Mississippi Saints" migration west under the leadership of John Brown. He left Alabama with his wife and eight of his nine living children and their respective families. Their expected destination was California. The Mississippi party was supposed to meet the main Mormon migration party led by Brigham Young on the road west. Young postponed the departure until the next year but they were not informed of this change. When the "Mississippi" group did not meet up with the main party after traveling as far as Ft. Laramie, they headed south to Pueblo, Colorado for the winter with the guidance of trapper/guide Jean Reshaw. In Pueblo, the Mississippi Saints party set up a separate camp, including a log chapel, near the trapper settlement on the Arkansas River and prepared for winter. Holladay's eldest son John Daniel returned to Alabama before winter set in. The sick detachments from the U.S. Army Mormon Battalion joined them in Pueblo soon afterward.

Salt Lake City[edit]

In late spring 1847, on receiving word that main party was en route, they retraced their steps to Laramie thence to the Salt Lake City area, arriving on July 29, 1847. From Pueblo they carried a seed supply of Taos wheat, a hard variety grown around Taos, New Mexico. This seed did well in the Salt Lake Valley, becoming a commonly used strain.

In Utah Territory, Holladay eventually settled his family and others of his group on Spring Creek, a tributary of Little Cottonwood Creek at a place which was called Holladay’s Burg after him and which became the present-day town of Holladay, Utah.

In 1851, the Holladay family joined apostle Amasa Lyman's LDS Church-sanctioned purchase and colonization of Rancho San Bernardino, present-day San Bernardino, California. The family returned to Utah Territory in 1857 after Brigham Young dictated the demise of the San Bernardino colony, which he considered a threat to the Utah settlement project. The colonists had secured a mortgage collectively to purchase the Rancho San Bernardino. They were forced to default when it was almost paid off suffering heavy economic loss never compensated by the LDS Church. With the exodus their real estate became worthless. Some Holladays remained in the area and left the LDS Church.

Back in Utah, Holladay settled first at Beaver, Utah, then at Holladay Springs, near present-day Santaquin, Utah, where he remained until his death. He was buried in a field near the home where his wife was also buried when she died on April 19, 1877. Their grave markers were moved in 1960 to the Santaquin City Cemetery. The unmarked graves remain at the original burial place, which is now plowed under.

His children, who pioneered in Utah, Arizona, Idaho, and California, were:

  • Lutisha (Letitia) Hollis Holladay m. Allen Freeman Smithson
  • Catherine Beasely Holladay m. Braxton Acres
  • John Daniel Holladay m. Mahalia Ann Rebecca Matthews, Johanna Blake,

and Sarah Elizabeth Hollis

  • Sarah Ann Holladay m. Absolom Porter Dowdle
  • Karen Happoch Holladay m.Thomas Bingham
  • David Hollis Holladay m.Henrietta Taylor
  • Keziah Donnel Holladay m. Henry Green Boyle
  • Thomas Wiley Middleton Holladay, m. Ann Hotton Mathews
  • Lenora McCray Holladay d.1853


  1. ^ Holladay's 1861 obituary in the Deseret News calls him "John Holladay" as does his original headstone now in Santaquin cemetery. Holladay had a son named "John Daniel" whose own son was named "John Daniel Holladay Jr.")
  2. ^ The Holladay Family, Alvis Milton Holladay Sr. Douglas Printing Company Nashville, Tennessee, 1994.