Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Transgressions of Charity and John Hollon/Holland


Before I start filling you in on Charity Brewer and John Holland, my 4th Great Grandparents, I would like to remind you about my background and upbringing.

My Grandmother was Stella Holland Smith.  Grandma was very strict with the girls.  She didn't want our hair cut, we weren't allowed to wear shorts, and we weren't supposed to notice if a woman was pregnant and if we did, we weren't supposed to mention it or even know what it meant.  Grandma wouldn't even wear a dress with any red in it, when I was growing up, because only women of the night wore red.  She relaxed a little later in life and started wearing more colorful clothing.

Grandma came from a large family.  Two of her sisters had their own churches.  Aunt Rosie had a church in Stockton, CA, and Aunt Nellie had a church in Poplar, CA, (my home town). 

I attended Baptist and Pentecostal Churches.  My Grandpa Smith's family were mostly Baptist, but Grandpa didn't go to Church.  My Grandma's family were Pentecostal.  I was raised more in the Pentecostal faith.   Although, if you ask me, I can't see a big difference.  But then again, I'm not a religious scholar. 

Anyway, we weren't supposed to do anything that was fun, like going to dances, movies, etc.  Women weren't supposed to wear pants or makeup.  Women weren't supposed to do anything that might make themselves more attractive to the opposite sex either. 

I think you all might be getting the picture.   But, I had a little Mama, that liked to break the rules, so she didn't enforce any of that.  I guess you could say, Rosie Mae Smith Johnson was a little Hell Raisin' Holy Roller.

Even with being brought up in such a rigid religious environment, I still have a very strong faith that has helped me through many bad situations throughout my life.

I also must tell you that I had the best Grandparents ever.  They gave my sister and me so much love, I don't know where I would be today if I had not had them in my life.

Speaking of Hell Raisers.  Since John and Charity were my 4th Great Grandparents, they were my Mom's 3rd Great Grandparents.   Oh and here is the good part!  They were my Grandma Stella Holland Smith's, Aunt (Reverend) Rosille Holland Snow's, and Aunt (Reverend) Nellie Holland Snow Ozner's 2nd Great Grandparents.

Oh, I almost forgot.  Their other sister, Argie Alice Holland Simpson Robinson, used to tell me all the time when I was growing up, that the devil was going to get me.  I don't know why she would tell me that.  I might be playing outside or going around in circles getting dizzy, and all of a sudden, Aunt Argie would be telling me that the devil was going to get me. She may be right about that since I can't help but enjoy the story I'm about to tell you.

Below are two photos.  The first photo is of Aunt Nellie and my Grandma.  I did think that the other person was Aunt Argie but it isn't. I think the other woman is their sister in law. 
Nellie Holland, Stella Holland, and Sister in law, I think.

The next photo is of my Grandmother, her Father, John Wesley Holland who is sitting in the middle, and her siblings. 

Back row, left to right.  Rosie, Argie, Nellie, Stella.  Sitting in the middle is John Wesley Holland, their Father.
In the front are the brothers.  One of them is probably Clift and she had another brother named Claud Orville.  I'm not sure who the extra guy is.  To the left in the background, it looks like it is either Jr. or Don.  One of my Grandma's sons.

The photo above was taken after they came to California from Arkansas and Oklahoma, I think.

S  C A  N  D  A L 

There are many tales, and family legend surrounding Charity Brewer and John Hollon.  If you google their names, you will come up with tons of info.  Not all of it is true, however, some of it is.  Several book articles and newspapers articles have been written about them.

Lets get started.  First let me tell you a little about John Hollon and Charity Brewer each.

John's surname is found on records spelled as Holland, Hollon, and Hollin. John Hollon, my 4th Great Grandpa, was born April 24, 1777 in Montgomery County, VA.  That part of the county is now Grayson. 

There are several different versions, according to family legend, John was betrothed to Charity Brewer, who was born September 26, 1777, in what is now Ashe County, North Carolina.  It is just across the border from Grayson County. 

It is believed that Charity was the daughter of Ambrose Brewer, (she named a son Ambrose, so I believe this to be true) who was the brother of Lewis Brewer of Grayson County.  John Holland's aunt Agatha married Lewis Brewer.  There is a good chance that John and Charity knew one another as children.

John ordered a survey of land in Grayson County in October, 1799, on Middle Fork Creek, but withdrew the survey.  Instead, he went to the Kentucky wilderness to stake a claim.  He planned to return and marry Charity. 

When John did not return at the appointed time, family convinced Charity that he was dead.  She married another man, with the surname of Maynard.  They were married long enough for Charity to give birth to a child.  When John Hollon returned alive and well, she left her child and husband behind to go to Kentucky with him.

Their home site was in present day Wolfe County, Kentucky.  Charity gave birth to the first white child in the region about 1804.  One of the family legends says that Rebecca was born in the cave on Holly Creek, since their cabin was not finished yet.  Please see photo of the Cave below.

Cave where John and Charity lived while cabin was being built and where their first child was born

John and Charity had 9 children and over 100 grandchildren. Their children were Rebecca, William, Fannie, Ambrose, Lucinda, Phoebe, Andrew Jackson "Jack" (my 3rd great grandpa), Hiram and John Jr.  Many of their descendants hold reunions each year in Arkansas, Oklahoma, Kentucky and Texas.  At one point, over 3,000 descendants had been identified.  I don't know what the count is up to now.  I'm sure Timothy J Barron has a better idea than I do what it is.  He is a distance cousin of mine from the Holland line.  He is also the source for much of the information in this article.  

Here is the Scandalous Part


A marriage record from Floyd County, Kentucky, shows that John Hollon and Charity Mains (should have been Maynard) were married May 21, 1820, by Daniel Williams.  This means that their first eight children were born out of wedlock.  Charity may have still been married to her first husband.  Furthermore, she was about seven months pregnant with their ninth child, John Jr., at the time of their marriage.  

John and Charity are honored as the founders of Wolfe County in the County Historical Society in Campton, Wolfe County, Kentucky.

    John and Charity are buried together in the Hollon Cemetery on top of a hill in Hollonville, Wolfe County, Kentucky.  They are buried in cairns which is an unusual design in Kentucky. 


Story about Charity's First Child

Timothy J Barron proved that the legend of Charity having another child that she left behind is true.  His DNA matched with a descendant of Mahalia Maynard Brewer, Charity's first born that she had with her first husband, Shadrack Maynard. My DNA also matched with a descendant of Mahalia's at a later time.

The articles written to date....

1958 Book article about John Hollon & Charity:  "Hollon and Related Families in Wolfe County" written by Clay Hollon, appeared in "Early and Modern History of Wolfe County" pages 115-116

1958 Book article about John Hollon & Charity:  "The First Hollon to Settle in Wolfe County" written by Capt. James I. Hollon, appeared in "Early and Modern History of Wolfe County", page 128

1961 Book article about John Hollon & Charity: written by Clay Hollon, appeared in "Fragments of Knowlege from Around the Globe"

1967 Newspaper Article about John Hollon & Charity: "Cave House on Holly Creek Birthplace of First white Child Born in Wolfe County" written by Steve Swango, appeared in unconfirmed newspaper.

1979 Book article about John Hollon & Charity:  appeared in "The Pence Genealogy: Early Pioneers of Wolfe County, Kentucky including Pences, Hollons, Brewers, Banks, Tomlinsons and many others and who was who," by Sally Singleton page 15

1989 Newspaper article about John Hollon & Charity: "The Saga of Charity Brewer"  written by Athelene (Jackie) Genge of Spooner, Wisconsin appeared on March 3, 1989 in the Wolfe County News from Wolfe County, Kentucky. 

1995 Book article about John Hollon & Charity:  "John Hollon and Charity Brewer" written by Sandra Lake Lassen, appeared in "Bicentennial Heritage Grayson County, Virginia" page 246

So there you have it.  Charity and John created quite a stir, and were a scandalous couple.  I'm not exactly sure when the Hollands got religion.  Maybe John and Charity had religion but I haven't read anything about it, if they did.


  1. I loved this story and, as my husband had ancestors in Grayson County, VA and Ashe County, NC at the same time, it's possible that some of them knew John and Charity Hollon.

  2. What is Tom Jones to you? I loved your family history genealogy