|(Source for Mr. Holland’s Bio; History of Wayne County, Indiana; Vol. 1; Interstate Publishing; 1884)
Hon. George Holland, an eminent lawyer and jurist, was born in Westmoreland County, Pa., in 1811, and died in Richmond, Ind., Nov. 30, 1875. (Died suddenly, at age 64) His parents removed to Franklin County, Ind., in 1817, and both died there of malarial fever the following year. George grew to manhood under the care of his godfather, Robert John, of Brookville, working for him in a printing office and afterward serving under him as Deputy Sheriff and Deputy Clerk of the Circuit Court.
While serving in the latter capacity he began the study of law, and shortly before reaching his majority, was examined and licensed to practice. Soon after opening an office at Brookville he was appointed County Assessor. At the age of twenty-three he married Elizabeth John, daughter of his benefactor. She survives him. Their only child is the wife of C. C. Binkley, Esq., of Richmond. (Other connections? The Richmond Palladium reported the death of an Elizabeth Holland on December 16, 1904; “Widow of Judge John Holland, Died in Indianapolis”; Pg. 5; Col. 3. Also of interest; Bertha Line Binkley; Death; (Mrs. George Holland); "Former Richmond resident dies in Oakland, California;" Richmond Item; May 2, 1918; Pg. 8, Col. 7.) Actually, Bertha Line Binkley was married to a son of Charles C. Binkley, George H. Binkley.
In 1835 Mr. Holland was admitted to the bar of the Supreme Court of the State, and thereafter rose rapidly in his profession. In 1860 he was a delegate to the Chicago Convention that nominated Lincoln for the Presidency. In 1862 he moved with his family to Richmond. He had practiced at the Wayne bar a year previously. On the death of the then Criminal Judge, Hon. Nimrod H. Johnson, he was appointed to fill the vacancy, and served in that position almost uninterruptedly until the court was abolished. Judge Holland was a man of the most exemplary habits and Christian character. As lawyer and judge his attainments and abilities won for him high commendation.
(Source for the following biography; Biographical and Genealogical History of Wayne, Fayette, Union and Franklin Counties; Vol. 1; Lewis Publishing Company; 1899)
No compendium such as the province of this work defines in its essential limitations will serve to offer fit memorial to the life and accomplishments of the honored subject of this review, a man remarkable in the breadth of his wisdom, in his indomitable perseverance, his strong individuality, and yet one whose entire life had not one esoteric phase, being able to bear the closest scrutiny. True, his were ” massive deeds and great” in one sense, and yet his entire accomplishment but represented the result of the fit utilization of the innate talent which was his, and the directing of his efforts along those lines where mature judgment and rare discrimination led the way. There was in George Holland a weight of character, a native sagacity, a far-seeing judgment and a fidelity of purpose that commanded the respect of all, but greater than these was his absolute honesty, and "an honest man is the noblest work of God."
George Holland spent almost his entire life in eastern Indiana. He was born in Westmoreland county, Pennsylvania, September 28, 1811. There, nine years before, his parents, John and Ann (Henderson) Holland, had taken up their abode. They were poor Protestant peasants from the north of Ireland, and after their marriage and the birth of two of their children they crossed the Atlantic, in 1802. Not long after the birth of their son George they removed to Ohio, and made their home near Zanesville until 1817 when they became residents of Franklin county, Indiana. The father purchased a farm upon the west bank of Whitewater river, about five miles from Brookville, the county seat, making a partial payment upon the place, expecting soon, as the result of his labors, to have the money to discharge the remaining obligation. Death, however, set aside his plans, for in the autumn of 1818 both the father and mother were stricken with a malignant fever, and while their bodies were interred in a cemetery of their adopted land by the hands of strangers, their seven children, all yet in their minority, were ill at home, unable to attend the funeral.
There were six sons and a daughter, and on this side of the Atlantic they had no relative. It was a sad fate, made still harder by cruel treatment which was meted out to them, and of which George Holland wrote in an autobiography found among his papers after his death: "We now first began to learn something of the great world around us. Its rush and roar we had before heard only in the distance; but those being gone who had kindly preserved us from exposure and had borne for us all the cares of life, we found ourselves, helpless and unprotected, afloat upon the current. We tasted, too, for the first time, the bitter falsehood of human nature. The man of whom my father had bought his land came forward in the exigency and charitably administered the estate. His benevolence was peculiar. It resulted in appropriating to himself the real and personal property, and turning us, the children, as paupers, over to the bleak hospitalities of the world."
In Indiana, at that time, it was the custom, on the first Monday in April, to gather the poor of a county at the court-house and hire them out to such persons as would engage to maintain them at the lowest price. The winter being passed in the cabin of a neighbor, Mr. Holland and his four brothers were conveyed by the overseers of the poor to Brookville, on the first Monday in April, 1819, to be thus placed in the care of the lowest bidder. Although but seven years of age, Mr. Holland deeply felt the humiliation of the position, but kind hearted people of Brookville interposed in behalf of himself and his brothers, and found permanent homes for them as apprentices until twenty one years of age.
Thus it was that he became an inmate of the home and a member of the family of Robert John, a man who had no property but was possessed of a kind heart and proved a benefactor to the boy. In return, however, Mr. Holland was most faithful to Mr. John, and for many years was his active assistant in whatever work he engaged. When he was about thirteen Mr. John purchased an interest in a printing office, and Mr. Holland began work at the case and press, soon gaining a practical knowledge of the business and becoming a good workman. When Mr. John became sheriff he served as deputy, and on retiring from office he worked in a woolen factory which his employer rented, having charge of a set of wool carding machines for two seasons. In the summer of 1830 Mr. John was elected clerk of the circuit court, and took charge of the office in February, 1831, Mr. Holland again becoming his deputy.
This was a year and a half before he attained his majority. His experience in the office had determined him to make the practice of law his life-work, and on coming of age he began reading without the aid of a teacher. The county clerk, John M. Johnson, witnessing his ambitious efforts, permitted him to use his law library, and at the same time he read all the miscellaneous volumes he could procure, thus daily broadening his general as well as professional knowledge. He was always a man of scholarly tastes, and throughout life found one of his chief sources of pleasure among his books. A short time before attaining his majority he successfully passed an examination, and was admitted to the bar. One who knew him well, in referring to his early life, said: "As a boy and youth he was gentle, kind and considerate, full of energy, and possessed of the most indomitable perseverance. His vigorous and unremitting efforts to educate and prepare himself for the profession of his choice in the midst of irksome and exacting duties, and his early struggles in the profession, in the face of poverty and ill health, indicate the heroic spirit and fixedness of purpose which even then distinguished him, and which he afterward so conspicuously displayed under such trying circumstances."
Mr. Holland had not a dollar at the time of his admission to the bar. He, however, borrowed fifty dollars, purchased a small law library at auction and opened an office in Brookville. About this time he secured the office of county assessor and the outdoor exercise proved very beneficial to his undermined health, while the nature of his business made him acquainted with many people and thus paved the way for future law practice. He received seventy five dollars for his official services, which enabled him to repay the borrowed money. He was not only well equipped for his professional career by a comprehensive knowledge of the principles of jurisprudence, but his experience in the clerk’s office had given him a thorough and practical knowledge of forms and practice. One from whom we have before quoted, said of him:
"His early success at the bar was marvelous, and may be attributed mainly to the thorough knowledge of his profession, which he acquired by the most indefatigable reading and study. He read everything he could get hold of in the way of general and professional literature. Few lawyers of the day, at the Indiana bar, were as thoroughly grounded in the principles of law and as familiar with the English and early American reports as he was. His range of professional reading was most extensive and included most of the rare works in black letter lore that could then be procured. At the same time, and in fact almost during his entire life, even when in later years he was almost overwhelmed with financial cares and responsibilities, his delight was in general literature, it was his rest and recreation, and in historical, political, scientific and religious learning his mind was a encyclopedia of facts. While he had none of the elements of a popular speaker, and, consequently, made no mark as an orator, he was a logical and persuasive reasoner before a jury, and had great force in presenting an argument to a court. The care with which he prepared his cases, the skill and shrewdness he displayed in their management, his unrivaled power in dealing with a complicated and tangled chain of issues and circumstances, together with his extensive professional knowledge, made him a most formidable opponent in the lower courts, and gave him an excellent reputation at the bar of the supreme court, where he was admitted to practice in May, 1835, when twenty four years of age."
Prosperity attended his efforts for many years. The important litigated interests entrusted to his care brought him handsome financial returns, and much of his capital he judiciously invested in property and added not a little to his income through wise speculations.
At length, however, disaster overtook him. Honorable himself, he was slow to distrust others, and when those in whose worthiness and friendship he relied implicitly wished him to go security for them he complied. It was in November, 1853, that some of his merchant friends failed, leaving him to pay their indebtedness of fifty thousand dollars. This seemed a great deal, but was as nothing compared to what awaited him. In November, 1854, he awoke to the realization that he was endorser for a broken and bankrupt merchant for one hundred thousand dollars in blank, all due within sixty days and for which he was unmistakably liable. Utterly discouraged and disheartened, in the midst of this gloom and desolation, yet encouraged by his sympathizing wife, he resolved that with the help and blessing of God he would pay the debt, and resolutely set to work to accomplish the task, with an abiding faith that he would live to accomplish it. And he did live to accomplish it after a struggle of twenty one years, paying the last of these debts just fourteen years before his sudden death, and never was a word of suspicion breathed against his fair name.
Anxiety pressed heavily upon him and he suffered a purely nervous fever, from the effects of which he never recovered, but he paid off dollar for dollar. The true character of the man now shone forth; his ideas of commercial honor and integrity were of the highest character and his determination to pay that awful debt, most of it fraudulently put upon him, was inflexibly fixed. The financial skill and business ability he displayed at this critical period in his affairs; the zeal and ingenuity he exhibited in getting extensions of the bank paper upon which he was liable, until he could have time to turn about and handle his property; his unvarying success in disposing of the latter to the best advantage; in making, when necessary, new and advantageous loans, and generally, in meeting his obligations, promptly as they became due, are simply marvelous. When one considers that all this was done in connection with the exacting duties of a large law practice, which he never suffered to be neglected, it indicates more strongly than words can express the strength and fertility of his mind and his great business and professional capacities.
In May, 1869, Judge N. H. Johnson died suddenly, leaving a vacancy on the bench of the criminal court of Wayne county, and to the position Mr. Holland was appointed. Previous to this time, his only child had married C. C. Binkley, a young lawyer, whom Judge Holland admitted into partnership in his business, this connection continuing until his elevation to the bench. In July, 1861, he had determined to remove to Richmond, and in May, 1862, had established his family in the new home. When elevated to the bench he was in very poor health, but after a few months spent at Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, he returned much improved, and with characteristic energy entered upon his judicial labors. He was re-elected to that office, and administered justice without fear or favor until the court was abolished by legislative act.
His professional brethren spoke of him as one of the foremost lawyers of Indiana of his day and his record reflects honor upon the bench and bar of the state. When twenty three years of age Judge Holland was united in marriage to Miss Elizabeth John, daughter of Robert John, in whose family he was reared, and he never lost an opportunity to acknowledge his indebtedness to his wife and her parents for all that they were to him. To her mother, Mrs. Asenath John, he attributed all the ambitious and honorable influences which permeated his youth, and to the assistance and encouragement of his wife he attributed the success which crowned his many years of effort in paying off the debts of another. One daughter, Georgiana, was born of this marriage, and from the time of their removal to Richmond Mr. Holland and his wife and Mr. and Mrs. Binkley with their children lived in one family. Mrs. Holland survives and still resides with her daughter. In 1849, having no son of their own, they adopted Edwin Holland Terrel (sic), then only nine months old. He was left motherless at that age, and his father, Rev. Williamson Terrel, was an itinerant Methodist minister. The boy proved entirely worthy the love and tender care bestowed upon him.
In politics Judge Holland was a stalwart Republican, and in 1860 he was a delegate to the national convention in Chicago, which nominated Abraham Lincoln for the presidency. In the spring of 1842 he acknowledged his belief in the Christ and was ever afterward a follower in His footsteps, having an abiding faith in the Christian religion. He was always at his place in the church, and manifested his belief in that practical spirit of helpfulness of the One who came not to be ministered unto but to minister. Death came to him unexpectedly, November 30, 1875, but his upright life had fully prepared him to meet it, and he passed from earth as "one who wraps the draperies of his couch about him and lies down to pleasant dreams."
No death in Wayne County has ever been more deeply lamented than that of Judge Holland. He was a man who regarded home ties as most sacred and friendship as inviolable. Emerson says “The way to win a friend is to be one,” and no man in the community had more friends than he. He was a man of very sympathetic and generous nature, a pleasant companion, and especially congenial to those who cultivated all that was highest and best in life. Resolutions of the highest respect were passed by the bar of the county and circuit and the bar of Brookville, his old home, and the sympathy of the entire community was with the family. Almost a quarter of a century has passed since Judge Holland was called to the home beyond, but he is well remembered by all who knew him, his memory is cherished in the hearts of his friends, and his influence still remains as a blessed benediction to those among whom he walked daily.