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Frances Ann Holt


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At a Glance

Frances Ann Holt was the eldest daughter of EM Hold and Emily Farish. EM Holt was one of the pioneers of textile manufacturing in NC.


Frances Ann “Fanny” Holt was the first daughter and 5th child of 10 children born to Edwin Michael Holt andEmily Farish. She was born in 1837 in the Alamance area of what was then Orange County, NC, but would become Alamance County, NC in 1849. E.M. Holt was one of the pioneers of the textile industry in NC and one of the North Carolina’s wealthiest citizens. The Alamance Historical Museum is housed in the Holt family home which was owned by three generations of Holts. It was built by Frances Holt’s grandfather, Michael Holt III, and subsequently owned by her father E.M. Holt and her brother, Lynn Banks Holt. The Director, Dr. William Vincent, is an expert on the Holt family. Please see the Museum website for details on the family, including notes from E.M. Holt’s diary.

Much of the history of the Holt family referenced herein is taken from Bess Beatty’s comprehensive book on the Holt family and their place in the establishment of the textile industry in North Carolina. The Holt family is descended from German immigrants who settled first in Virginia. Frances’ great- great grandparents, Michael Holt I and his wife, Elizabeth Scheible moved from Virginia to North Carolina in the mid 1700’s. Michael Holt I received a royal land grant of 739 acres in 1759. The wealth of the family was primarily derived through land for the next two generations. Michael Holt I’s son Michael Holt II and his second wife, Jane Lockhart, has 7 children, the third of which was Michael Holt III who was Frances Holt’s grandfather. By the time Michael Holt II died in 1799, he had already divided much of his property, land and slaves, among his children. Michael Holt III married Rachel Rainey, the daughter of a prosperous farmer. They had six children, four of whom died as children or young adults. Their two sons, William and Edwin, each lived long and prosperous lives.

Michael Holt III was a wealthy land owner who also owned as many as 40 slaves. He diversified his holdings, owning a plantation, a grist mill, a store, a sawmill a distillery, and a blacksmith shop, among other commercial ventures. He encouraged scientific farming and served in the NC state legislature, in both the House and the Senate.

Edwin Michael Holt, Frances’ father, was born in 1807. By all accounts, Michael Holt III valued education and saw to it that his children were schooled, male and female. However, while Edwin’s older brothers, Michael and Alfred were sent to study at the University of North Carolina, Edwin attached himself to the family business and began working for his father as early as age fourteen. Michael went on to study medicine at Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia and Alfred read law and practiced law until his death at the early age of twenty-one.

In 1828, Edwin married Emily Farish, daughter of a prosperous planter from Caswell County, NC. Michael Holt gave them land and slaves and they built a small house near his parents in Alamance County. Edwin ran the family plantation and it prospered. Edwin and Emily began to have children, most of whom they named for other family members.

While Edwin was a successful planter, it is in the field of textile manufacturing that he made his fortune. When he founded Alamance Factory in 1837 (along with his brother-in-law, William Carrigan), the textile industry was beginning to thrive in North Carolina. His textile operation was a leader in the field, employing scientific methods and introducing new products including “Alamance Plaid”—purportedly the first plaid cotton cloth produced in the South. Edwin Holt eventually became one of the wealthiest men in North Carolina. At one point the household included approximately 5o slaves.

Frances was late to marry for a young woman of the time. At age 25, she married a cousin, Thomas Slade, who was killed in the Civil War. At the time of their wedding, Thomas was in his 40s and widowed with two children. After his death, she married Dr. John Lea (or Lee) Williamson, who was also older and had children by a previous marriage. Together they had 6 children. Most of Frances’ adult life was spent near her family in Alamance County [1] [2].

Biographical Data

Frances was called Fannie or Fanny.

Important Dates

Frances Ann Holt was born on July 14, 1837, in Orange County, NC. She died on December 18, 1918 [3] [4], Senile dementia, bad heart and kidneys and high blood pressure, and was buried in Linwood Cemetery, Graham, Alamance County.

Places of Residence

Schools Attended




  2. Bess Beatty, Alamance: The Holt Family and Industrialization in a North Carolina county, 1837-1900.
  3. North Carolina Death Certificates, 1909-1975 [database on-line], Provo, UT, USA..
  4. Alamance Gleaner, obituaries, December 19, 1918..