William Hollingsworth


by Douglas Hollingsworth


William Hollingsworth, son of Elias of Elias of Jacob of Thomas of Valentine, is a relatively unstudied member of our family.


The March, 1972, issue of the Hollingsworth Register contains a significant article on Elias based upon research done by Harry Hollingsworth, Ruby Oddone, and others. Toward the end of the article, Harry states that Elias Hollingsworth, Jr. had at least 2 sons, one of who was “ William Hollingsworth; b. c1797, Pendleton District. Living in Pickens District near his brother Elias, 1850…unmarried. Served with his brother in War of 1812.”


Recent research done on my behalf by Rachal Lennon, a professional genealogical researcher, has fleshed out our picture of William’s life significantly.


She found documents indicating that in January of 1814 William Hollingsworth joined Capt. Andrew Hamilton’s militia company for six months service in the War of 1812. William’s April, 1855, application for military bounty land based upon his service during the War of 1812 turned out to be a critical document in the search for information about his life, as he listed Nancy Wimpey as his wife on it. I note that William first listed himself as a widower and then modified the description to include Nancy as his wife. Because of this and because William and Nancy are listed in different households in both the 1850 and the 1860 Censuses, it seems clear that their marriage was a troubled one.


Ms. Lennon was able to locate William in the1820 Pendleton District, SC census in a household consisting of:


I male 18-26    1 female 16-26

2 males 0-10    1 female 0-10


She noted that there is no record that William owned land in 1820 and that he lived next to the family of a John Hollingsworth, age 26-45, who was a landowner. Ms Lennon speculated that William was a close relative (brother?) of John’s, and that he was then living on the property of his relative.


By the time of the 1830 Census, William and his family were living in Anderson District, SC and are still there at the time of the 1840 Census. Although William still does not own land, Ms Lennon notes that in both Censuses he was enumerated among members of the Durham, Gambrell, and Elrod families, all of whom lived along Cravens Creek, indicating that William was living near Cravens Creek as well.


At the time of the 1850 Census, William is back in Pickens District, where he is listed as a 53 year old farmer with $0 of property. His wife Nancy and their children were living in Greenville District, SC and are enumerated as follows:


Greenville District, Page 318, lines 15-19


J.W. Hollingsworth 22 farmer born Anderson District

Nancy    47    born Anderson District

Caroline 23    born Anderson District

Eliza      16    born Anderson District

Aaron    11    born Anderson District


Ms Lennon speculates that the landless William was then living with a Clarissa Durham who is enumerated near him.


In the 1860.Census William is still in Pickens County and is enumerated as part of the household of Berry and Jane Durham and their children Clary, Jessee, Eliza, and Nancy. Enumerated immediately after that entry are William’s brother Elias, his cousin Benjamin Hollingsworth, and his nephew Thomas’ widow, Eveline Hollingsworth.


The 1860 Census shows that Nancy and her children had re-settled in Saline County, Arkansas.


William’s son James Wesley married Pamelia Caroline Watson and had children named Robert Jefferson, John Watson, Thomas Jefferson, Mary E., and Emma. Comparing the 1850 and 1860 Censuses, it would appear that the Caroline Hollingsworth listed in the 1850 Census was James’ wife rather than William and Nancy’s daughter.


Unsubstantiated sources indicate that William’s daughter Elizabeth married James Peary Owens and was the mother of Mary Jane, Sarah Elizabeth, Frances B., Lucretia, and Martha.


Similarly unverified information indicates William’s son Aaron married Alsa Jane Freeman and had a son probably named General James.


The last mention of William is in 1872 and I presume he died shortly afterwards.


As is often the case, more genealogical data raises new questions. Ms. Lennon noted that Eliza Durham’s death certificate states that she was the daughter of Berry Durham and Jane Hollingsworth. It is likely but not proven that Jane Hollingsworth Durham was the elder daughter of William and Nancy.


An unsubstantiated on-line family tree indicates that Berry Durham was the son of the Clarissa Durham, who is enumerated near William Hollingsworth in the 1850 Census.


Finally, there is the question of the identity of the John Hollingsworth enumerated next to William in the 1820 Census. This John Hollingsworth had a large family and ultimately settled in Benton (later Calhoun) County, Alabama. DNA testing of John’s descendants indicates that John is not a genetic Hollingsworth but instead is the descendant of John Hampton a Quaker who emigrated from Scotland to New Jersey in the mid-1600s.


It is increasingly clear that there are gaps in our knowledge of the life of Elias Hollingsworth, Sr., which warrant more research. It is likely that he was married at least thrice and that the above John Hollingsworth is his step-son. Elias may have had other children and step-children as well.