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 »


Frank B. Lander II
Clarence Holland
Clarence St. Elmo Holland. Courtesy of Rice University. Image available on the Internet and included in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107.

HOLLAND, CLARENCE ST. ELMO (1867–1945). C. S. E. Holland, banker and leader in the Intracoastal Canal Association, son of William Allison and Eliza Jane (Van Nuys) Holland, was born in New Castle, Kentucky, on April 27, 1867. His father, a descendant of Lord Holland of England, established the weekly Constitutionalist in Eminence, Kentucky. Holland attended Eminence Seminary and later Eminence College, while helping his father with the newspaper. When he was eighteen, he and his brother Allison bought the Chattanooga (Tennessee) Democrat; they established the Chattanooga Sunday Argus in 1885. In 1886 Holland met William B. Traylor, a prominent rancher from Victoria, Texas, and his daughter Elizabeth on a train in Tennessee. That fall he took a trip to Victoria and was a guest on the Traylor ranch. The next year he left his newspaper business in Tennessee and returned to Victoria, where he and Elizabeth were married on November 28, 1887. They had four children.

Gulf Intracoastal Canal
Gulf Intracoastal Canal between Victoria and Houston. Image available on the Internet and included in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107.

In 1889, after a short time on the Traylor ranch, Holland joined the Houston Post. During the 1890s he became interested in encouraging commerce on the Guadalupe River from the Gulf to Victoria and in promoting a canal to carry barge traffic from the Mississippi River to Houston and Corpus Christi and later to the Rio Grande. He is perhaps best known as a promoter of the Gulf Intracoastal Canal. In 1905, as president of the Business Men's Association of Victoria, he called a "representative convention" of cities along the Texas and Louisiana coasts to discuss the feasibility of plans for a coastal canal and to organize a canal league. Out of this meeting grew the Interstate Inland Waterway League, which eventually became the Gulf Intracoastal Canal Association. Holland was elected president at the founding of the league and held this position until his death.

Houston National Bank
Houston National Bank, 1927. Image available on the Internet and included in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107.

In 1902 he was elected a vice president of the First National Bank of Victoria, which in 1913 became the Victoria National Bank and later the First Victoria National Bank. He held the post until he moved to Houston in 1919. In Houston in 1919 he organized and became president of the First Texas Joint Stock Land Bank, and in 1920 he was elected vice president of the Lumberman's National Bank (later the Second National Bank of Houston). In 1927 he became president of the Houston National Bank.

His wife died on April 6, 1917, and Holland married Sarah Handy Swett in Victoria on August 16, 1918. She had a daughter from a previous marriage. Holland was a Mason, a member of the First Presbyterian Church of Houston, a director of the Houston Club, and president in 1923 of the Houston Chamber of Commerce. He was a charter member of the River Oaks Country Club. He died in Houston on January 24, 1945, and was buried in Evergreen Cemetery, Victoria.


Lynn M. Alperin, Custodians of the Coast: History of the United States Army Engineers at Galveston (Galveston: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, 1977). Houston Chronicle, January 24, 25, 1945. Houston Post, January 25, 1945. Houston Press, January 24, 26, 1945. Dale Miller, "Victoria Meeting Founded the Intracoastal Waterway," Victoria Magazine, Fall 1955. Victoria Advocate, January 24, 25, 26, 1945, August 7, 1955, March 19, 1967, April 21, 1986.

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, Frank B. Lander II, "HOLLAND, CLARENCE ST. ELMO," accessed May 24, 2020, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fhobj.

Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Modified on March 9, 2017. 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...