We in this Holland family are fortunate to have had an early genealogist/historian in our family.  Nellie Holland Russell, born in 1886, recorded stories told to her by her grandfather West Holland during summer visits to her grandparents' home in Hackney, Kansas.  The stories her grandfather West told were stories about his grandfather Jimmie Holland coming to America and the adventures he had.  She wrote the stories down for her nieces and nephews and eventually published them in the form of an historical fictional account called The Bonnie New World.  This work can still be found in the children's section of some libraries today, including the state library of Alabama.

In 1947 she began collecting her Holland family genealogy.  She filed her work in the state Archives in Raleigh, North Carolina; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; and San Francisco, California.  She also filed work with the Genealogical Department of the DAR in Washington, DC and the North Carolina Historical Society in Raleigh, North Carolina.  

When I was a teenager my father became interested in his family history and found out about Nellie's genealogy.  She lived on Long Island, New York, and after some correspondence with her,  my dad planned a trip to take our family to New York for Thanksgiving.  It was 1957 and I would guess Nellie was about an energetic 70 at that time.  She met us at our hotel on Broadway at Times Square and was our guide on a tour of New York City that stretched from 190th Street to the Bowery and included a tour of The Cloisters.  She knew the New York subway system like a mole knows its way around underground.  To this day, when I think about that trip, what stands out most in my memory is Nellie's energy and us trying to keep up with her.   

In another part of the family, Zachary Grantham Holland, Jr. became very interested in knowing his family history and was fortunate enough to have a wife Ketus who shared his interest.  They also learned about Nellie's work and contacted her in 1964.  After working together for awhile, Nellie asked Mary Ketus Deen Holland if she would take all her work and organize it for publication.  Ketus took Nellie's genealogy, organized it, added it to her own work, and published Our Heritage Volume II Holland Genealogy in 1966.  In 1996 I published the Holland genealogy I inherited from my dad on the Internet.  As a result, I heard about Ketus Holland's work and contacted her.  She sent me a copy and has become a friend.   She later gave me all of her correspondence with Nellie.  I added her work to what I already had of Nellie's genealogy and my own, and I began hearing from Hollands all over the country who have generously contributed their family data to this genealogy.  

The following excerpt is from Ketus Holland's book Our Heritage Volume II Holland Genealogy describing Nellie's book:

Before you begin the statistical portion of this book and in case you are interested in some of the escapades of JAMES HOLLAND, the patriarch of the hundreds of descendants contained herein, told in story may I recommend you read The Bonnie New World, The Adventures of Jimmie Holland of the Carolina Colony, by Nellie Holland Russell.

The synopsis on the flyleaf of the book states as follows:  "Jimmie Holland was a braw young Scottish Highlander who came to the New World in the mid-1700's and became embroiled in a turbulent series of exploits which included fighting pirates, Indians and -- as a stalwart in the American Revolution-the British. Jimmie's king-sized adventures have been chronicled with gusto and flavor in this fictionalized biography by his great-great-grand-daughter, Nellie Holland Russell.

"When he donned his Highland bonnet," she writes, "adjusted it at a jaunty angle, threw his plaid around his shoulders so that it fell in folds of just the right length, and rested his hand carelessly on the dirk in his belt-well, even some of the neighbors who didn't like the Holland family too well had to admit he was a 'handsome bit of a lad.' They would hasten to add, 'But he will never bring honor to the Clan by hard work or thrift. A reckless, careless lad -- that's what he is!'

Aye, reckless and careless he was but with a keen mind and the heart of a lion. The heart he gave to the fiery Scottish lass, Jerutha, whom he took with him to the New World, and the excitement of their lives together was presaged by their voyage on the hell-ship Bonnie Seagull. Then came adventures and misadventures in Virginia and North Carolina, culminating in Jimmie's serving with a group of patriotic swamp fighters against the British in the Revolution.

Although dominated by the lusty Jimmie and his hot-tempered Jerutha, The Bonnie New World offers a gallery of other well-drawn and picturesque characters and captures the wild and colorful atmosphere of life in America before the Declaration of Independence.

Originally written for the teenagers in Nellie Russell's family, the book will be a find for the young-in-heart of all ages, particularly for those with a taste for headlong tales of high adventure based on historical fact."

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

"Nellie Holland Russell came from 'a long line of Americans who were patriots and rebels alike,' including Matthew Fuller, a signer of the Mayflower Compact.

Her father was a Connecticut Yankee and her mother a North Carolinian; their families fought on opposite sides during the Civil War.

"They met," she writes, "and were married in South Dakota. I remember going from South Dakota to Kansas in a covered wagon. In Kansas, we spent a few years with my grandfather, West Holland, who often talked about Jimmie Holland's adventures as if they had occurred just a few years previously. As a child I was not much impressed with Jimmie's adventures, as all the members of my family seemed to have had exciting and harrowing experiences.

"It wasn't until I had exhausted my store of bedtime ghost stories that I turned to the adventures of Jimmie. The children asked me to write a book about his colorful life so that their children also could hear about his hair-raising exploits."

 

Nellie Holland Russell was a granddaughter of West Holland, who was one of Elisha (son of Jimmie) Holland's 17 children.  West Holland was born to Elisha's second wife, Patia Peacock June 7, 1820 in Wayne County, North Carolina.  He was Patie Peacock's  6th child and was Elisha's 14th child.  He married Sallie Grice in 1844.  Inspired by his name, perhaps, he was the only one of Elisha's 17 children that we know of who headed West, but not until after his 13 children were born on the Holland Plantation some 10 miles from Goldsboro, according to Nellie.  Their 5th child, Martha ("Mattie") Jane Holland was Nellie Holland Russell's mother.  Nellie did not include any information about herself or her immediate family in the Genealogy she filed at the North Carolina Archives, and remained much of a mystery as far as her personal life was concerned.  In 2001, I found in the New York City library a Genealogy she filed in1949 on her Russell family.  It is titled, "Stephen Russell of East Hampton L. I. and Haddam, Conn. and some of his descendants" by Nellie L. Russell, 153 N. Pentaquint Avenue, Bay Shore, New York.  The following information is from that work:

Joseph Russell, the son of John Chatfield Russell and Claressa Tyler, was born in 1843 in Portland, Connecticut.  He married first in China; the name of wife is unknown.  They had a son Joseph born in China and educated in Mystic Valley Institute, Mystic Connecticut.  He was last heard from, Nellie wrote, in Butte, Montana about 1890.  Joseph Russell married second Mattie Holland.

In 1862, Joseph Russell went to sea on a government transport for the Engineering Department.  He went to China on merchant S. S. in 1865, and returned to the U. S. in 1870.  He went to the Orient in 1872, and returned to the U. S. in 1882.  In 1883, he went to Brown County, South Dakota.  He married Mattie Holland  in Frederick, South Dakota, on 3 March 1885. 

  

Ketus Holland found in Biography of Early Oklahoma a statement that this family came to Kansas from Wayne County, North Carolina in 1869.  Railroad fare was $606 for a family of 15 and one stranger.  They settled near Hackney in 1871.  West Holland gave a plot of ground for a cemetery near Hackney, Kansas on condition that there was to be no charge for burial plots in the cemetery.  He also gave ground for Holland School and United Brethren Church near Hackney.  

The following is an excerpt reprinted from the original manuscript, "James (Jimmie) Holland of Wayne Co. N. C. and some of his descendants" which is on file in the North Carolina State Archives in Raleigh, North Carolina.  It was filed there by the author, Miss Nellie H. Russell, Bay Shore, Long Island, N. Y., and describes the beginning of this Holland family's genealogy.  

In the summer of 1893 the family of West Holland gathered at his farm at Hackney, Kansas, for a "get-together" and barbecue. Mrs. West Bob Holland, who was interested in the genealogy of the family, wrote out the information Mr. West Holland and the various members of the family gave her. My parents were living with my grandfather at that time, and I remember the gathering. The information my Aunt collected was of great help to me when in 1947 I started working on the family genealogy.

James (Jimmie) Holland was the first of the family to come to America. Apparently he was married before he left England. His wife Jerutha White who was called Ruthie, my Grandfather said that James Holland came from Irish-English stock and his wife was from a Scotch-Irish family. They settled in Gates Co. Va., and went from there to Dobbs Co., N.C. and bought pine land. They had two sons, Elisha and Absolem. Elisha married twice and had 17 children, none of whom died under 50 years of age. Absolem died a bachelor in Wayne Co. in Dec. 1799. Jimmie Holland fought in the Battle of Widow Moore's Creek Bridge; also engaged in swamp fighting.

 

Conclusions

Take family oral history at face value and use it as a jumping-off point for your research, but don't count on it to be factual.  The same can be said of 'genealogies' and I specifically refer to those that placed Jimmie Holland in the family of Joseph Holland of Virginia.  The truth is, we don't know where Jimmie Holland or Jerutha were born.  There is no evidence of which I am aware that he was born in Virginia.  There were Hollands in Virginia in the mid-1700's but there is no reason to think that no other Hollands came over.  Because Jimmie showed up in Virginia and there were Hollands living there at the time is not reason enough to place him into a family there, yet I believe this is what has been done.  This error has been published on the Internet and perpetuated  over and over until it is taken as fact by the unknowing.   It has even been fed into the Mormon Family History Center database and needs to be refuted there.  

The account that Jimmie told his grandchildren is good enough for me until proof of his birthplace is found, and that account has Jimmie being born in Scotland  and Ruthie born just on the other side of the border in England.  The family legend says they first lived along the coast in North Carolina for a few months, moved to Holland Corners, Virginia for a few months, went to Gates County, then bought land and settled down in what is now Wayne County, North Carolina (then Dobbs County).  This sounds plausible to me.  It certainly is as plausible as sticking him into a family of Hollands that was in the area with no evidence whatsoever of his being born into it.  


Nellie Russell: Memories of a neighbor child

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Holland site Published 10 July 1996 This page added 8 October 1999  Last updated 21 January 2011