Genealogical and Family History
STATE OF MAINE
Compiled under the editorial supervision of George Thomas Little, A. M., Litt. D.
LEWIS HISTORICAL PUBLISHING COMPANY
[Please see Index page for full citation.]
[Transcribed by Coralynn Brown]
[Many families included in these genealogical records had their beginnings in Massachusetts.]
It is said by antiquarians and students of the origin and signification of surnames that the family name Holt is derived from "a holt, or grove," at or near which dwelt some remote English ancestor. The progenitor of the American branch of the family was a pioneer settler in two towns and a man of influence among his associates. There is a tradition that the dwelling of Nicholas Holt, the immigrant, is one which still stands on Holt's Hill, sometimes called Prospect Hill, in Andover, Mass. The descendants of the immigrant in Andover have been noticeable for their attention to learning. The Holt family in that town included four college graduates previous to 1800. The family in this country in all its branches is very large and includes many names of considerable prominence in the town of Andover and elsewhere.
Nicholas Holt was a passenger in the ship "James," of London, William Corper, master, which sailed from Southampton, England about April 16, 1635, and arrived at Boston, June 3 following, after a voyage of forty-eight days. The names of forty-three male persons are found as passengers on this ship's roll, "besides the wives and children of Dyvers of them." Among the former occurs the name of Nicholas Holte, of Romsey (county of Hants), England, "Tanner." Undoubtedly he was accompanied by a wife and at least one child. He proceeded the same year to Newbury, where he was one of the first settlers and resided there some ten years. There he received his proportionate share of the lands allotted to each proprietor. In 1637 his name appears as one of the ten persons who in order to prevent the re-election of Sir Henry Vane to the office of governor, and to strengthen the friends of Governor Winthrop, went from Newbury to Cambridge on foot, forty miles, and qualified themselves to vote by taking the freeman's oath May 17, 1637. This defeat was a severe blow to the pride of Sir Henry Vane.
April 19, 1638, Nicholas Holt was chosen one of the surveyors of highways "for one whole yeare & till new be chosen." Feb. 24, 1637, it was agreed that William Moody, James Browne, Nic. Holt, Francis Plummer, Na Noyse, shall lay out all the general fences in the towne, that are to be made, as likewise tenn rod between man & man for garden plotts this is to be done by the 5th of March on the penalty of 5s apiece." In June, 1638, all the able-bodied men of Newbury were enrolled and formed into four companies under the command of John Pike, Nicholas Holt, John Baker and Edmund Greenleafe. They were required to "bring their arms compleat on Sabbath day in a month and the lecture day following." and "stand sentinell at the doors all the time of the publick meeting."
The first church records of Newbury prior to 1674 are lost, and consequently the name of Nicholas Holt is not found, but it appears in the following order of the town records: "Jan. 18, 1638. It is ordered that Richard Knight, James Brown & Nicholas Holt shall gather up the first payment of the meeting house rate, & the town within one fourteen-night on the penalty of 6s 8d apiece."
In 1644 Nicholas Holt was one of the ten original settlers who removed their families from Newbury and accompanied their pastor, the Rev. John Woodbridge, to "Chochichawicke," now Andover. On a leaf in the town records containing the list of householders in order as they came to the town his name is sixth. He was one of the ten male members, including the pastor-elect, who composed the church at the ordination of Mr. John Woodbridge, Oct. 24, 1645. May 26, 1647, he was appointed in connection with Sergeant Marshall "to lay out the highway between Reading and Andover, and with Lieut. Sprague and Sergeant Marshall to view the river (Ipswich River) and make return to the court of the necessity and charge of a bridge and make return to the next session of this court." At a general court held May 2, 1652, he was appointed with Captain Johnson, of Woburn, and Thomas Danforth, of Cambridge, "to lay the bounds of Andover," and May 18, 1653, he was appointed with Captain Richard Walker and Lieut. Thomas Marshall to lay out the highway betwixt Andover and Reading and at the same term of court, Sept. 20, 1655, the committee made a report of said survey.
Nicholas Holt died at Andover, Jan. 30, 1685, aged one hundred and four years, says the record, but Coffin, with more probability, says eighty-three.
In his early life he carried on the business of manufacturer of wooden-ware. A few years before his death, in distributing his property among his children, he styles himself "dish-turner." The word "tanner" on the roll of the ship "James" is probably an error of the recording official who mistook the word turner for tanner.
There is no doubt but that the same motives that actuated the other early settlers of New England in leaving their pleasant homes in England and emigrating to this county had their due influence on him. That he was a religious man is made evident by the fact that he was one of the original members of the Andover church, and by his forsaking his native home in England to encounter the privations and difficulties of the wilderness in order that he might enjoy the privileges of worshipping God according to the convictions of his own mind and his understanding of God's word. While honestly and conscientiously discharging his duties in this regard he took an active part in public affairs of the town and his appointment on important committees in laying out roads and other improvements indicates that his services were valuable and appreciated.
Nicholas Holt was married in England a few years before he came to Massachusetts. The name of his wife was Elizabeth Short, of whom nothing more in known except that she died at Andover, Nov. 9, 1656. He married (second) June 20, 1658, Hannah, widow of Daniel Rolfe, and daughter of Humphrey Bradstreet. She died June 20, 1665, at Andover, and he married (third) May 21, 1666, Widow Martha Preston, who died March 21, 1703, aged eighty years. He had by his first wife four sons and four daughters; by his second wife, one son and one daughter.
Children, b. in Newbury:
Elizabeth, Mary, Samuel, Andy.
Children, b. in Andover:
Henry Nicholas, James, John and Priscilla.
.................[first line cut off].................moved to Andover, Mass. soon after the revolutionary war, in the settlement of the towns of Maine, back from the coast. Captain William Holt, of Andover, a master mariner, with his two sons, Stephen and Nathan, settled in Wilton and later in Weld, Maine; the sons in 1807, and the father in 1812. The sons took up land, and were for many years farmers. Another son of William was Asa, who lived in Weld, where he died in 1825.
(I) Abel Holt, supposed to have been a native of Andover, Mass., lived and died in Weld. He was a farmer, and took a lively interest in public affairs and held town offices. He married (first) Lydia Pratt.
Hubbard, Erastus, Abigah Jr., a son who was lost at sea; Otis, Grace and Isabel.
He married a second wife, by whom he had two chidlren:
Whitman and a dau. Lois.
(II) Erastus, second son of Abel and Lydia (Pratt) Holt, was born in Weld, in Sept., 1818, and died Jan. 28, 1897, aged seventy-nine. He was a farmer and carpenter, and lived for years in Portland, where he worked at his trade.
He married Lucinda, dau. of Ephraim and Lydia (Stiles) Packard.
1. Artemas G., killed instantly in a railroad accident in 1905.
2. Nellie A., married (first) a Mr. Bishop, and (second) Franklin Sanborn; now resides in Walpole, Mass.
3. Charles O., married Miss Bucknell, of Canton, Maine; lives in Lewiston.
4. Henrietta L., married Charles Glover, now deceased; she lives in Canton.
5. Emma L., deceased; married M. T. Hatch of Hyde Park, Mass.
6. Erastus E., see forward.
(III) Dr. Erastus Eugene, youngest child of Erastus and Lucinda (Packard) Holt, was born in Peru, Oxford county, Maine, June 1, 1849. He was a boy of four years when his father removed with his family to East Stoughton, Mass., and there had charge of the Alms House and House of Correction, and in connection with his official duties carried on the farm connected with the almshouse property, and also performed considerable work in highway construction. In 1857 he returned with his parents to the old homestead in Peru, and two years later his father went to California, leaving young Erastus at home with his older brother, Artemus C. Holt, and their mother, who kept house for them while her sons did the work of the farm. In 1861 he went to Canton, Oxford county, and in August of that year his mother was .............[rats! a line or so cut off]...................the family of his grandfather, Ephraim Packard, of Buckfield, until 1864, being then fifteen years old, and he then went to live in Canton with John P. Swasey and Albion Thorne, and worked as clerk in the store of which they were proprietors.
During the latter part of the time young Holt was at work in the store in Canton, he organized an ameteur minstrel company and gave exhibitions in the district school house of the village. Soon afterward he went to Lewiston, and there found work in a store kept by a Mr. Pulverman, whose stock in trade comprised Yankee notions. In 1866 he went to Clinton to work for Abijah Billings, in a wool-carding mill which was run day and night. It was here that he strapped his books at the side of the feeder of the carding machine, and studied them at every opportunity during the long and weary nights; and here too he committed to memory Harkness' Latin Grammar, and when he went back to school again in the fall his classmates wondered how it was that he happened to know so much about Latin.
In 1866 he returned to Canton, and again was employed by Mr. Thorne, and in 1867 he taught his first school in that town. About this time he secured the services of a Dr. Major to give a course of lectures at Canton on psychology, in which he illustrated all the features of what is known as hypnotism. At Canton he also worked in the general merchandise store of Hayford & Bradford, and while there in 1868 he took a rather prominent part in amateur theatricals, on one occaion playing Polonius to Albion Thorne's impersonation of the title role of Hamlet, with Mrs. D. P. Stowell as Hamlet's mother, and Otis Hayford as the ghost. In the same year he attended Hebron Academy, and taught penmanship and bookkeeping. He also acted as local correspondent for the Oxford Democrat, a Republican newspaper published at Paris, Maine. On one occasion an article written by him, under the caption of the "Singing Mouse," was widely copied throughout the country and attracted considerable attention. The article in question had its inception in the capture of a Mrs. Cooledge of a mouse which in some way was injured about the throat, causing it to make a peculiar rythmic sound. One intersting divertisement of our young man about this time was his scheme of organizing a lottery, with the drawing set for the day appointed to decide the contest as to whether the town of Canton or Hartford had the best wrestler. However, the wrestling contest may have resulted is of little importance to our present narrative, but young Holt's lottery enterprise turned him net profits sufficient to pay all the expenses of one term at Hebron Academy.
In 1869 he taught school at North Turner, Maine, and had classes in penmanship during the winter term. In 1870 he became a student at Westbrook Seminary, and taught penmanship and bookkeeping during the spring term. During the interval of vacation he canvassed the towns of Cumberland and Falmouth, selling maps of the world and of the U. S. In the fall of 1870 he became a student at Gorham Seminary, and also taught penmanship and bookkeeping during the term. In the fall of 1870 he began teaching in the Willard district at Cape Elizabeth, and continued through the winter term, at the same time conducting an evening school in penmanship and bookkeeping. In 1871 he was a student at Gorham Seminary, and during the spring term taught the special branches referred to in the preceding paragraphs.
In this year young Holt took up the study of medicine under instruction of Dr. J. G. Pierce, of Canton, with whom he became regularly registered. However, he continued teaching as previously, and also kept up his evening classes in penmanship and bookkeeping. In 1871 and the early part of 1872 he taught in the Ferry district at Cape Elizabeth, and afterward in the Willard district; and in the former year also he went to Boston and became expert accountant and bookkeeper for the wholesale dry goods house of Anderson Heath & Co. In 1872 he attended his first course of lectures at the Medical Schoool of Maine, Brunswick, and afterward during the same year went to Deer Island, Boston, as a teacher in the City Reform School, of which in the next year he became principal. At that time he suffered a serious attack of typhoid fever, but even this served its useful purpose in his own after life, for he wrote out about forty larges pages of manuscript with a full account of his experiences while in typhoid delirium. In 1873 he went to Hanover, New Hampshire, and took a course in the preparatory school of medicine of Dartmouth Medical College. In 1874 he resumed study in the Medical School of Maine, and at the same time took up especial laboratory work under Professor Carmichael. In June, 1874, Mr. Holt completed his second course of medical lectures at Brunswick, and received the degree of M. D. His gradutaion thesis was on the subject of typhoid fever, and in the presentation of his argument he was able to draw largely upon his own recent experiences while suffering with that disease. His class numbered twenty-eight members, of whom only twenty-one were successful at the final examinations and received diplomas. Immediately after graduation he was elected demonstrator of anatomy in his alma mater, and during the same year became a member of the Maine Medical Association. During that summer he took a summer course at the Portland School for Medical Instruction, later went to New York City and attended lectures at the College of Physicians and Surgeons, now the medical department of Columbia University. In 1875 he graduated from the College of Physicians and Surgeons, and received its degree of M. D., again presenting a thesis on typhoid fever, to fulfill the requirements of graduation. While in New York he also took a special course in operative surgery under Prof. Sabine, and on returning to Maine became demonstrator of anatomy in the Medical School of Maine. In 1875 he attended clinics at the Mass. Charitable Eye and Ear Infirmary, and studied the ear under Dr. Clarence J. Blake; and returning, was made house surgeon at the Maine Gen. Hosp., beginnig his duties there in August of that year. He made quarterly reports of all medical and surgical cases treated at the hospital for the year 1875, and these reports were published in the Boston Medical and Surgical Journal. He also wrote a history of the Maine General Hospital, which was published in the Portland Transcript.
In 1876 Dr. Holt opened an office at No. 11 Brown street, Portland, and began his career as a general practitioner of medicine and surgery. About the same time he became attending physician and surgeon to the Portland Dispensary, was elected member of the Cumberland County Medical Society, founded the Portland Medical Club, served as demonstrator of anatomy at the Medical School of Maine, and prosected for Dr. Thomas Dwight, professor of anatomy in that insitution. At the same time he continued his connection with the Maine Gen. Hosp., to the first of August, and reports of medical and surgical cases treated there. In 1877 he read a paper before the Portland Medical Club on diseases of the eye, served as attending physician and surgeon to Portland Dispensary, read a paper entited "Report on Otology" before the Maine Med. Assn., which was publichsed in the Transactions of that year, and attended clinics at the Manhattan Eye and Ear Hospital, New York, where his instructors were Drs. Agnew, St. John Roosa, David Webster, O.D. Pomeroy and J. Oscroft Tansley. In the following year he attended clinics at the same famous insitution, and also at the New York Pphthalmic and Aural Institute, under Dr. Herman Knapp; served as delegate from Maine Medical Association to the meeting of the Connecticut Medical Society, and was elected a member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows. In 1897 he took a special course of instruction in the laboratory of Professor Heitzmann, of New York, attended clinics at the Manhattan Eye and Ear Hospital and the New York Ophthtalmic and Aural Institute, delivered a lecture on the eye before the Maine Charitable Mechanics' Association, and read a paper on "Strabismus Convergens" before the Maine Medicl Association, the same being published in the Transaction of the Association.
In 1880 Dr. Holt became a Master Mason, attended clinics in New York as mentioned in the last paragraph, took a second course in Professor Heitzmann's laboratory, and presented before the State Medical Association a valuable paper on "Oitis Media Non-suppurativa," based on one thousand cases of diseases of the ear observed in private practice. In April, 1881, he went to Europe and visited various hospitals in England, Ireland and on the continent, but spent the greater part of his time at the Royal London Ophthalmic Hospital, from which institution he received a certificate; was elected member of the seventh International Congress, held in London; made a report of the proceedings of the Congress to the Maine Med. Assoc.; attended special lectures at the Royal College of Surgeons by Jonathan Hutchinson; presented papers on "Supperation of the Middle Ear" and "Acute Diseases of the Ear" before the Portland Med. Club; lectured on the eye before the Maine Charitable Mechanics' Assoc., and read a paper before the Cumerland County Medical Society on the "Pupil of the Eye in Health and Disease."
In 1882 he became a member of the American Otological Society, and read before that body a paper on "Boilermankers' Deafness and Hearing in a Noise"; also read a paper on "Diseases of the Lachrymal Apparatus" before the Maine Med. Assoc. This paper embodied much work, as it included the views of many medical men consulted in England and elsewhere while Dr. Holt was abroad; also prepared an article on "Acute Inflammation of the Middle Ear," published in the American Journal of Otology; and read before the Portland Medical Club a paper on "Practical Points in Eye Diseases." [trans. note: is this more than you wanted to know about this? It sure is for me!! In fact, contrary to my usual policy, I'm going to skip over some of this. If this is your ancestor, contact me at CL38911@cox.net and maybe (maybe) I'll send you the rest].
We learn from these records that Dr. Holt in his childhood came in contact with the unfortunate poor, when his father had charge of the almshouse and house of correction in Massachusetts, that he became a teacher, and later principal in the Reform School for Boys for the city of Boston. He thus at two different periods of his life dwelt among the poor and early became cognizant of the misfortunes of life. This no doubt caused him to have a deep feeling for those in humble circumstances, who meet with accidents and sickness that deprive them of the means of support and make them dependent upon others. It was a potent influence in impelling him to found the Maine Eye and Ear Infirmary.
He taught school a portion of the time for six years, beginning at the age of eighteen, and he was in a store for general merchandise for a portion of the time for six years, acting as clerk, salesman and bookkeeper, under such men as Albion Thorne, A. M., a graduate of Tufts College; John P. Swazey, who has been elected to congress from the second district of Maine; Otis Hayford, who has served on the state board of assessors ever since it was organized, and Dura Bradford. As student, clerk, salesman, bookeeper and teacher he always strove to do his best for all concerned.
He thus became well fitted to enter college, but too late for a four years course followed by a course in the study of medicine such as he contemplated. His opportunities were all in favor of his studying law instead of medicine, but as he had been a sufferer from ear-ache and its consequent deafness in childhood, and had found by experience that doctors knew little or nothing about diseases of the ear, he determined to study medicine and make himself familiar with the best methods for their treatment. This he knew would take much more time than that required for the general practice of medicine, hence it was his principal reason for not taking a four years college course. It will be seen then that Dr. Holt's own misfortune in the period of childhood and youth lead him to study medicine and practice a specialty to alleviate the sufferings, or prevent similar misfortunes in others. Thus from this circumstance in his life is the state indebted to him for the Maine Eye and Ear Infirmary.
In his first years service as demonstrator of anatomy he established the rule that no medical student should be credited with having dissected any part of the body unless that student had actually done so and had demonstrated the anatomical structures to him or one of his assistants, one of whom was ex-Governor J. F. Hill, of Augusta. During the two years of his service as demonstrator of anatomy he prosected for Pref. Dwight, who then was professor of anatomy at the Medical School of Maine, and now occupies the same position in the Harvard Medical School. Some of these dissections were note-worthy, especially one which showed the brain, spinal cord and nerves complete, and which was exhibited to the president and whole faculty of the college and preserved in the museum. Another specimen, a novelty at that time, was a solid cross section of the head made and upon which he wrote his book on the "Anatomy of the Head." At the close of his services as demonstrator of anatomy, he attended the clinics at the Mass. Charitable Eye and Ear Infirmary and studied the ear under Clarence J. Blake, now professor of otology in Harvard University.
It was with Dr. Blake that Dr. Holt first met Professor Alexander Graham Bell, before he had invented the telephone, and when he was much interested in experiments of Dr. Blake in recording speech from the movements of the membrana tympani incident to the sound of the voice.
Dr. Holt began his services as the first regularly appointed house surgeon of the Maine General Hospital by making accurate records of all cases that were treated in the hospital and delivered therefrom quarterly reports for publication in the Boston Medical and Surgical Journal, a practice which has not since been followed by any one occupying that position. He also wrote a history of the hospital, which was published in the Portland Transcript, which evinced an unusual interest in the welfare of the hospital.
Dr. Holt was elected attending physician and surgeon to the Portland Dispensary as soon as he left the hospital and he served in that capacity for two years. In this year (1876) he, with other physicians, founded the Portland Medical Club, now the oldest and largest medical club in the state. He was appointed to make a report on otology to the Maine Medical Assoc. for the annual meeting of 1877. This report attracted wide attention because among other things he proposed a new method of inflating the middle ear, which method was copied into several American and foreign journals, thus giving Dr. Holt an international reputation at once. For the next four years he attended clinics in Boston and New York some portion of each year and produced papers on otology and ophthalmology that were widely discussed.
In 1881 Dr. Holt went to Europe, as has previously been noted, and upon returning took up practice limited to diseases of the eye and ear, doing nose and throat practice in connection with it, however. For the next five years until 1886, when he founded the Maine Eye and Ear Infirmary, he devoted himself assiduously to his specialty, and built up a large and lucrative practice. During this time he had become one of the founders of the New England Ophthalmological Society, and been elected a member of the American Otological and Ophthalmological societies, before all of which he had read papers which attracted attention for their force and originality.
[a page or so not copied, because of redundancy]
The law for the prevention of blindness, the passage of which by the Maine legislature was secured by Dr. Holt, provides that if one or both eyes of an infant become reddened or inflamed within four weeks of its birth it shall be the duty of the midwife, nurse or person having charge of said infant to report the conditon of the eyes at once to some legally qualified practitioner of medicine of the city, town or district in which the parents reside. Failure to comply with this law is punishable by a fine not to exceed one hundred dollars or imprisionment not to exceed six months. This is not excessive when it is considered that about one-fourth of the totally blind are rendered so by inflammation of the eyes in infancy which is preventable when treated propertly.
It will be noted that Dr. Holt advocated a new method for the treatment of these cases, namely the douche, which consists of thoroughly syringing out the folds of the upper lids of the eyes, thereby removing the germs which cause the inflammation.
Dr. Holt's papers on the removal of steel and iron from the eye attracted wide attention, as he wa the first to report a series of cases to the American Ophthalmological Society successfully treated by this method. The Transactions of the society show that at first he was almost alone in this work, because he had been successful in saving eyes that were often in similar cases removed by the attending physician or surgeon on account of danger to the other eye. When, however, the family physician or surgeon learned that the iron or steel could be removed with the electro-magnet and the sight saved, they referred such cases to the specialist, so that in after years other specialists had abundant cases to report to the society.
In 1894 Dr. Holt took a large amount of additional work upon himself in founding the Maine Academy of Medicine and Science and its official organ, the Journal of Medicine and Science, for the purpose of obtaining a medical registration law for the state of Maine. Dr. F. E. Sleeper, being a member of the Legislature some six years prior to this time, had secured the passage of a medical registration law, but Governor Bodwell was induced to veto the law after it had been signed by him. This lead to legal proceedings by the Maine Medical Association to reinstate the law. These efforts to restore the law failed. [another ff to something more germaine]..........
Dr. Holt married Mary Brooks Dyer, Oct. 9, 1876.
1. Lucinda Mary-Belle, who is a graduate of Smith College and of Tufts Medical School.
2. Clarence Blake, who has an A.B. from Harvard Univ.
3. Roscoe Thorne, who has an A.B.A.N. LL.B from Harvard Univ.
4. Erastus Eugene Junior, who has an A.B. from Bowdoin College and now is a senior in the Medical School of Maine.
5. Dorothy Kent, who is a student in Miss Marshall's School in Philadephia.
6. Benjamin Dyer, who is a graduate of the Portland High School and ready to enter college.