While our physical offices are closed until further notice in accordance with Austin's COVID-19 "stay home-work safe" order, the Handbook of Texas will remain available at no-cost for you, your fellow history enthusiasts, and all Texas students currently mandated to study from home. If you have the capacity to help us maintain our online Texas history resources during these uncertain times, please consider making a 100% tax-deductible contribution today. Thank you for your support of TSHA and Texas history. Donate Today »


Nolan Thompson

HOLLAND, WILLIAM H. (1841–1907). William H. Holland, soldier, legislator, and teacher, was born a slave in Marshall in 1841. He and his brothers James and Milton were probably the sons of Capt. Bird Holland, a white man who bought their freedom in the late 1850s and took them to Ohio. William and Milton attended the Albany Enterprise Academy, a school owned and operated by blacks. On October 22, 1864, Holland enlisted in the Union Army's Sixteenth United States Colored Troops, which was organized in Nashville, Tennessee, but included enlisted men from Ohio. Holland participated in the battles of Nashville and Overton Hill and in the pursuit of John Bell Hood to the Tennessee River. He also did garrison duty in Chattanooga and eastern and middle Tennessee. His brother Milton enlisted in the Fifth United States Colored Troops, organized in Ohio, and won the Medal of Honor for his role in the battle of New Market Heights on September 29, 1864.

Holland entered Oberlin College in Oberlin, Ohio, in 1867 and attended for at least two years before returning to Texas, where he taught in various counties and in the city schools of Austin. He also received an appointment to a position at the Austin post office. When he later resigned he had one of his pupils appointed as his successor. In 1873 Holland served as a member of the committee on address at the Colored Men's Convention (see BLACK STATE CONVENTIONS) that met at Brenham.

The date of his move to Waller County is unknown, but in 1876 he won election to the Fifteenth Legislature as a representative from that county. In the legislature he sponsored the bill providing for Prairie View Normal College (now Prairie View A&M University). In 1876 and 1880 he was chosen as a delegate to the Republican national convention. He later submitted a memorial to the Texas legislature for the establishment of a school for the deaf, mute, and blind in the state. The Deaf, Dumb, and Blind Institute for Colored Youth (see TEXAS BLIND, DEAF, AND ORPHAN SCHOOL) was established by law on April 5, 1887. Holland was appointed by Governor Lawrence S. Ross to be its first superintendent on August 15, 1887. His wife, Eliza H. (James), joined the staff in 1890 as an instructor for the deaf. Holland served for ten years before being succeeded by S. J. Jenkins, who served until he died in 1904. Holland then resumed the position and served until his death. He also founded a charitable organization known as the Friend in Need. He and his wife had two daughters. Holland died in Mineral Wells on May 27, 1907.

J. Mason Brewer, Negro Legislators of Texas and Their Descendants (Dallas: Mathis, 1935; 2d ed., Austin: Jenkins, 1970). Rayford W. Logan and Michael R. Winston, eds., Dictionary of American Negro Biography (New York: Norton, 1982).

Image Use Disclaimer

All copyrighted materials included within the Handbook of Texas Online are in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 related to Copyright and “Fair Use” for Non-Profit educational institutions, which permits the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA), to utilize copyrighted materials to further scholarship, education, and inform the public. The TSHA makes every effort to conform to the principles of fair use and to comply with copyright law.

For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml

If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.


The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Handbook of Texas Online, Nolan Thompson, "HOLLAND, WILLIAM H.," accessed May 25, 2020, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fho30.

Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
visit the mytsha forums to participate

View these posts and more when you register your free MyTSHA account.

Call for Papers: Texas Center for Working-Class Studies Events, Symposia, and Workshops
Hi all! You may be interested in this call for papers I received from the Texas Center for Working-Class Studies at Collin College...

Katy Jennings' Ride Scholarly Research Request
I'm doing research on Catherine Jennings Lockwood, specifically the incident known as "Katy Jennings' Ride." Her father was Gordon C. Jennings, the oldest man to die at the Alamo...

Texas Constitution of 1836 Co-Author- Elisha Pease? Ask a Historian
The TSHA profile of Elisha Marshall Pease states that he wrote part of the Texas Constitution although he was only a 24 year-old assistant secretary (not elected). I cannot find any other mention of this authorship work by Pease in other credible research about the credited Constution authors...