Support the Burwell School

Elizabeth Ashe Holmes

(b. 1839)

« return to database list
No image available.
No image available.
Would you like to contribute one?

At a Glance

Elizabeth (Bettie or Bet) Ashe Holmes was the great granddaughter of NC Governor Samue Ashel (1725 – 1813), a planter on “The NecK”, along the Cape Fear River near Wilmington, NC.. She was also the niece of John Baptisa Ashe, (1748 – 1802), who was elected Governor but died before taking office.


Bettie Holmes was descended from the “aristocracy” of the lower Cape Fear River. Her maternal -great grandfather Samuel Swann Ashe was a renowned landowner, (his home was “The Neck” on the northeast Cape Fear River at Rocky Point), He was a planter, patriot, presiding justice of the state Supreme Court and ninth Governor of the state (1795-98), serving three one-year terms. Ashe County and Asheville are named for him. His wife, Mary Porter, was a descendant of John Moore, (1640 – 1706) who was Governor of the colony of NC 1700 – 1702, having been elected by the Lords Proprietor.

Samuel S. Ashe’s son, Bettie’s great-uncle John Baptista Ashe II, was a Revolutionary War Commander, Member of Congress, and chair of the Constitutional Convention in North Carolina. He was elected Governor but died before taking office.

The Ashe family, while based along the Cape Fear, also owned land in Orange County at Hawfields, and that is only one of several connections of the family to Hillsborough. Bettie’s grandfather, Col. Samuel Porter Ashe, and her cousin Samuel Porter Ashe married sisters, daughters of Elizabeth Haywood and Col. William Shepperd of Hillsborough.


Bettie’s paternal great-uncle was Gabriel Holmes, Governor from 1824 – 1821, and a US Congressman. Her father, Owen Holmes, was a prominent lawyer who practiced in the Fayetteville area.

Bettie appears in the 1848 – 1851 Catalog of the Burwell School, but references to her time at the Burwell School are very scanty. She may also have attended prior to those years.

On January 6, 1852, she married a widower, Dr. John London Meares, of Wilmington, a graduate of UNC and of Jefferson Medical School in Philadelphia. Dr. Meares was one of a small number (six or seven) physicians in Wilmington in the 1840’s. At some point he and Bettie moved to Washington County, Mississippi and had two children, John and Mary. Bettie died in 1868 in Mississippi at 34. The cause of her death and the location of her grave in Mississippi are unknown.

After the Civil War, several members of Betty and John Meare’s families moved to California. This included Bettie’s brother, Samuel Ashe Holmes and his wife, Mary Strudwick, her father, “Col.” Samuel Strudwick. Dr. Meares moved to California with his two children, living first in Fresno County near his brother in law, and then in San Francisco where he was appointed the Health Director in 1876 . Dr. Meare’s published comments about illnesses in the Chinese immigrants brought to the US to work on the railroads have been quoted in books regarding the imperialism of the US. He died in 1888 and was buried in the Lone Mountain Cemetery (est. 1854), now known as Laurel Hill Cemetery.

Biographical Data

Elizabeth was called Bettie.
She was also called Bet.

Important Dates

Elizabeth Ashe Holmes was born before 1839, in Fayetteville, NC. She died Probably November 12, and was buried in Mississippi.

Places of Residence

Schools Attended