Biography of John White Holt of Falls City

The late Hon. John White Holt, former state senator, county treasurer, and president of the First National Bank of Falls City, was born on November 17, 1834, in Boone County, Missouri. Holt moved to Richardson County, Nebraska, in 1857 and became a prominent figure in business and politics. He initially engaged in mercantile business in Salem and later turned to farming and livestock. Elected as state senator and county treasurer, he also co-founded the First National Bank of Falls City, serving as its president until his death on June 16, 1911. Holt was married four times and left behind a legacy of public service and community involvement.

John White Holt
John White Holt

The late Hon. John White Holt, of Falls City, former state senator from this district, former treasurer of Richardson county, former president of the First National Bank of Falls City and for years one of the leading landowners and stockmen of this county, was a native of the neighboring state of Missouri, but had been a resident of this county since pioneer days, having come over here from Holt county, Missouri, in 1857, to engage in business at Salem and while thus engaged erected the first grain elevator at that place. He later engaged in farming and stock raising, was elected state senator and later county treasurer; later became engaged in the banking business, in connection with his other interests, and was for many years president of the First National Bank of Falls City, occupying that position at the time of his death on June 16, 1911.

John White Holt was born in Boone county, Missouri, November 17, 1834, son of the Hon. David R. Holt, a pioneer of that county, after whom Holt county was named, who was born in Tennessee on November 8, 1803, and who died at Jefferson City, Missouri, December 6, 1840, while serving as a member of the Missouri General Assembly. His widow, Isabella (White) Holt, who was born in Washington county, Virginia, November 12, 1806, survived him for many years, her death occurring at the home of her son, the subject of this memorial sketch, at Salem, this county, April 20, 1809, she then being sixty-three years of age.

Reared in Boone county, Missouri, John W. Holt received his schooling in the early subscription schools conducted in the neighborhood of his home and at the age of sixteen, ten years after his father died, the larger part of the responsibility of maintaining the home fell upon his shoulders. At nineteen years of age he became a member of the mercantile firm of Gilmore, Holt & Company at Fillmore, Missouri, and in 1857, when twenty-three tears of age, disposed of his interest there and came over into the then Territory of Nebraska and in association with J. C. Lincoln, a second-cousin of Abraham Lincoln, engaged in the general mercantile business at Salem, this county, under the firm name of Lincoln & Holt, that firm erecting the first grain elevator at Salem and in Richardson county. On account of failing health Mr. Holt disposed of his mercantile interests in 1872 and was thereafter extensively engaged in the live-stock business until his election to the office of county treasurer in 1878, when he moved to Falls City, where he ever afterward made his home. Previously, in 1876 and 1877, he had served that district as a member of the upper house of the Nebraska Legislature and had become recognized during that service as one of the most active members of the Senate. For two terms Mr. Holt served as treasurer of Richardson county and in 1882 was elected vice-president of the First National Bank of Falls City, of which institution he was one of the organizers and leading stockholders; later served for one year as acting cashier of the bank and in 1897 was elected president of the bank, a position he held until his death in 1911. In addition to his other interests Mr. Holt for years was one of the leading breeders of Shorthorn cattle and Berkshire hogs in this part of the state and took an earnest interest in the livestock business. He also was a large landowner and was accounted one of the foremost citizens of Richardson county, ever helpful in promoting such agencies as were designed to advance the common welfare hereabout. He was a Democrat, a member of the Methodist Episcopal church and a Knight Templar Mason, ever taking a warm interest in political, church and lodge affairs.

John W. Holt was four times married. On September 11, 1855, he was united in marriage to Mrs. Caroline Atkins, of Andrew county, Missouri, who died, leaving one child, a daughter, Carrie H., who married Edward B. Loughridge, of Lincoln, this state, and who died on December 20, 1915, at Los Angeles, California, leaving two sons, Ernest F., of Lincoln, and Donald H., who is living with his father at Los Angeles. On August 24, 1839, Mr. Holt married Alvina Spence, also of Andrew county, Missouri, who died not long afterward, without issue, and on May 8, 1863, he married Ellen Oliver, of Salem, this county, who bore him two children, now deceased, and who died on January 15, 1869. On November 8, 1869, Mr. Holt married his deceased wife’s sister, Amanda M. Oliver, also of Salem, who survives him, and to that union four children were born, namely: Amanda M., who was born at Salem, on May 21, 1871, and who died at the age of fifteen years, August 20, 1886; Nellie, July 11, 1872, who died in 1893, at the age of twenty-one years; George Brooke Holt, November 3, 1874, who married Grace Gossett and died at his home in Falls City on May 19, 1912, leaving a widow and one son, John William, now eighteen years of age, and William Robinson Holt, December 7, 1876, now engaged in the mercantile business at Falls City, who married Eva Giannini, of Falls City, and has one child, a daughter, Nellie Lee, now (1917) aged sixteen years.

Mrs. Amanda (Oliver) Holt, who since the death of her husband has continued to make her home at Falls City, where she is very comfortably situated, is a native of the old Hoosier state, born in Miami county, Indiana, January 29, 1847, a daughter of Robert and Ellen (McCoy) Oliver, natives of Virginia, who had settled in Indiana, moving thence, in 1855, to Missouri, and thence, the following year, 1856, to the then Territory of Nebraska, settling on a pioneer farm just west of the village of Salem, in this county, where they remained for a year, at the end of which time they moved into Salem, where Mr. Oliver spent his last days, his death occurring about a year later, July 20, 1858. He was born on February 28, 1806, and was thus fifty-two years of age at the time of his death. His widow survived him for many years and her last days were spent at the home of her daughter, Mrs. Holt, at Falls City, where she died on April 23, 1884. She was born on September 28, 1807, and was thus in her seventy-fourth year at the time of her death. Robert Oliver and Ellen McCoy were married on May 18, 1826, and to that union were born eight children, of whom Mrs.

Holt is now the only survivor, the others having been as follow: John, who died on April 4, 1847; Mrs. Sarah Ann Lyon, who died on April 14, 1848; Jared, who died on June 15, 1850; James, who died on April 19, 1858; Eleazer, who died on July 18, 1858; William R., who died on November 24, 1860, and Mrs. Ellen Holt, who died in 1869, as set out above.


Edwards, Lewis C., History of Richardson County, Nebraska : Its People, Industries and Institutions, Indianapolis : B.F. Bowen, 1917.

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