William Holland—Hero of the American Civil War

Carol Berning, RCHS Frow Chips, January/February, 2021

Kevin Greene portraying Sgt. Holland

Just outside the Hazen Brigade Cemetery wall at Stones River National Battlefield stand two military grave stones. They mark the resting place of William Holland (1834-1909) and William Harlan (1895-1979). William Holland began his life as a slave.

I have created a brief chronology which follows his life as a child and beyond through some of his descendants.

Although no known photographs of William Holland exist, I felt compelled to honor him and his family who lived in the Cemetery Community in Rutherford County. Using a photograph I located of his second great-grandson, as well as my understanding of features of the face, I created an image which I imagine to be William Holland.

I painted his image in pastels on paper on which I printed a copy of his military service record from the War Department, dated April 27, 1891.
The facts I have gleaned about him and his family are from the following sources:

www.nps.gov (Stones River National Battlefield)

Sometime between mid-1820’s and 1834—William is born a slave in Kentucky; becomes the property of Benjamin Harlan in Maury County, TN.

1850—Slave Schedule of the 1850 Federal Census shows Benjamin Harlan owns 32 slaves. William is one of those.

1862—Sometime after Union army enters Tennessee, William escapes from slavery.

March 1, 1864—William Holland joins the Union army as a private in the 111th Regiment of the U.S. Colored Troops.

September 1864—William’s unit is captured by General Nathan Bedford Forrest, where he is assigned to Dr. James Cowan, Forrest’s chief surgeon, and where he remains for three months.

Early 1865—William returns to the Union lines. He helps to create the Stones River National Cemetery where he and fellow black soldiers rebury the remains of thousands of Union soldiers and begin building a stone wall surrounding the cemetery.

1867—William purchases land near the cemetery. William marries Eliza Love according to an Ancestry family record.

1868—Eliza dies according to Ancestry family record.

1870—According to the 1870 Federal Census, William Harlan, 40, is living in District 9 of Rutherford County in the household of S.S. Doolittle, superintendent of the cemetery. William is a farm laborer. David Harlan, 35, is also in the household. The census record tells us that David and William both were born in Kentucky. Is David his brother?

September 9, 1871—William marries Ruth Miller.

January, 1872 or 1873—Josephine, first child of William and Ruth, is born.

August 20, 1874—William Lenard, second child of William and Ruth, is born.

1878—Ruth dies. 1890—William Holland’s name is listed on the Veterans Schedule, a resident of District 9, Rutherford County.

1891—William Holland’s military service record is affirmed.

August 17, 1893—Josephine’s son, Joseph L., is born.

August 10, 1895—Josephine’s son, William Edith, is born.

July 10, 1899—Josephine’s daughter, Marie, is born.

August 14, 1902—Josephine’s daughter, Jimmie Evelyn, is born.

1900—William is a widower, living with his daughter Josephine and son William Lenard; William Lenard’s wife Della; and Josephine’s children, William Edith and Mary (Marie). His daughter Josephine is single, a day laborer, and can read and write.

August 10, 1909—William Harlan/Holland, Sergeant is Capt. James H. Dunn’s Co I, 111th Regiment Colored Infantry, and patriarch of the Harlan family dies. He is buried on his property in the Harlan/Holland Family Cemetery.

June 5, 1917—William Edith registers for the draft. He is medium height, medium build, brown eyes, black hair, and has a tumor on his leg. He enlists for WWI on June 21, 1918 and is released July 25, 1919.

January 15, 1918—Della Harlan, daughter of William and Alice Yeargan Jordan and wife of William Edith, dies of acute gastritis.

September 12, 1918—William Lenard Harlan, son of William and Ruth, registers for the draft. He’s a farmer, and his nearest relative is Marie Harlan, his sister.

1910—The United States Federal Census show William Harlan (Hollands), 36, living with his wife Della; his nieces Marie and Jimmie Evelyn, 11 and 9; and his nephews Joe L, and Will, 17 and 13.

1920—The United States Federal Census shows Joe Harlan, 24, living with his siblings, William, 22, Marie Hall, 20, Jimmie Bass, 18 in District 9, on Dixie Highway, Rutherford County, TN.

1930—The United States Federal Census shows Joe Harlan, 36, living in District 9, Rutherford County, TN, with his wife Mattie and daughter, Helen, an infant.

1940—The United States Federal Census shows Joe Harlan, 46, living with his wife Mattie, daughter Helen, brother Will, and nephew Harris Gaines in Rutherford County, TN.

March 29, 1953—William Lenard Harlan, son of William and Ruth, dies. His death certificate indicates that he is buried in Harlan Cemetery, but no stone exists for him there.

June 26, 1955—Joseph L. Harlan applies for an upright marble headstone for his grandfather William to be placed in the Holland Family Cemetery, adjoining Hazen Brigade Cemetery, Stones River National Military Park. November 18, 1979—William Edith Harlan dies; survived by his brother Joe, and two sisters, Mrs. Marie Thompson of St. Louis, MO, and Mrs. Evelyn Outley of Kansas City, MO. He is buried next to his grandfather in the Harlan/Holland Family Cemetery, adjoining Hazen Brigade Cemetery, Stones River National Battlefield.

July 20, 1990—Joseph L. Harlan, grandson of William Holland/Harlan, dies. He is survived by his daughter, Mrs. Helen Harlan Lee; sister, Mrs. Evelyn Outley of Kansas City, MO; and four grandchildren: Jimmy D. Manson, Elma Atkinson, Robert E. Lee of Nashville, and Tamara Miles of Augusta, Maine.

May 5, 1995—Jimmie Evelyn Harlan Outley dies. I am indebted to the life and service of William Harlan/Holland and his descendants. I am also thankful for the public records which provided me with the information for the chronology of their lives.

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