Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal, Volume 6, Number 3, September, 1996 Page: 151
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Documents, Letters, Reminiscences, Etc.
Reminiscences of James Williams Holt
James Williams Holt died on February 8,
1922, at the age of 81. He had been born in
Georgia, but came to Colorado County with his
family in 1849, and ever afterward regarded it
as his home. As part of his legacy, he left a
narrative of his early life, which internal evi-
dence suggests that he wrote in 1880. Unhap-
pily, only the beginning of the narrative, ten
handwritten pages, now seems to be extant. The
transcription below is based on a xerographic
copy of those ten pages that is in the possession
of the Nesbitt Memorial Library. That more
pages once existed is certain; for Dewey Homer
Brown, in his thesis "The History of Education
in Columbus, Colorado County, Texas" (Sul
Ross State Teachers College, 1942, pp. 31-33),
quoted a lengthy passage from the Holt manu-
script that extends beyond the point at which the
handwritten pages that are now in possession of
the library ends. Brown begins his quote a few
paragraphs from the end of the handwritten
version. Alarmingly, though the story is sub-
stantially the same, Brown's text is markedly
different from the text in the handwritten ver-
sion. Nonetheless, Brown's quotation, the
source of which he cites as "Holt, James (Jim).
'My School Days,' Notebook, Written for his
two children.", has also been transcribed be-
In 1909, Holt again apparently wrote about
his past. On May 11 and May 19, 1909, a man
who identified himself as "49er" wrote letters to
the Colorado Citizen. The newspaper printed
the letters in its May 14 and May 21, 1909
issues. That Holt was the writer can be deduced
from internal evidence. In the first, the writer
states that he first saw Columbus in December
1849 and that his step-father was John Tooke,
the same time that Holt reports he came to Texas
and the very man he names as his step-father in
his 1880 narrative. However, in the second
letter, the writer states that he was appointed
deputy district clerk in the summer of 1860.
This statement leads us to another suspect,
Robert H. Joiner, who was appointed deputy
district clerk on August 29, 1860 (see Colorado
County Bond and Mortgage Records, Book E,
p. 492). It is conceivable, though very unlikely,
that the letters had different authors, each of
whom used the same pseudonym. However, it
is more likely that the district clerk hired more
than one deputy in 1860, or that the author of the
second letter filled a position of less stature in
the district clerk's office, one of which no
record has been kept. It seems reasonable to
conclude that both letters were written by Holt.
Both are also reproduced below.
Holt wrote one more reminiscence, for the
Weimar Mercury as part of a contest in 1915.
That reminiscence was printed, along with the
other entries in the contest, in the January 1996
(vol. 6, no. 1) issue of the Nesbitt Memorial
1. Narrative of James Williams Holt, tran-
scribedfrom a xerographic copy of handwritten
Written by James W. Holt, my father
Bettie Holt Hurr
I read in the fly leaf of an old copy of Watts
Biblical Dictionary in my uncle's hand, that I
"was born on the 18th of September A. D. 1840
in Baker county Ga. " I presume there can be no
doubt as to the correctness of this record, as this
same historic leaf contains the births of my four
sisters Mary F. Susan C. Emily and Martha Ann
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Nesbitt Memorial Library. Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal, Volume 6, Number 3, September, 1996, periodical, September 1996; Columbus, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth151398/m1/39/?q=nesbitt%20memorial%20library%20journal: accessed April 28, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Nesbitt Memorial Library.