Bird Holland, civil servant and Confederate soldier, immigrated to Galveston, Texas, in 1837 with L. B. McGill. By 1840 he was residing in Travis County, where he owned one slave. He was probably the father of three sons by a slave, James, Milton M., and William H. Holland. Sometime in the 1850s he purchased the three brothers' freedom and sent them to school in Ohio. At the outbreak of the Mexican War Holland was elected captain of Company F of Col. George T. Wood's Second Regiment, Texas Mounted Volunteers. His nephew James Kemp Holland was elected second lieutenant of the company and served in that capacity until detached as aide-de-camp to Colonel Woods. Bird Holland became seriously ill, probably of cholera, at Matamoros, where he resigned from the army on August 8, 1846. He was replaced by First Lt. Etheldrid J. Thomson. A brother, Kemp S. Holland, served with Jefferson Davis's famed First Mississippi Rifles in the Mexican War but died in camp shortly before the battle of Buena Vista.
After the Mexican War Holland served as chief clerk and assistant secretary in the state department. On October 1, 1857, he married Matilda Rust of Austin. She died on July 4, 1858. He was appointed secretary of state on March 16, 1861, and served until November 1861, when he joined the Confederate Army. During the Civil War Holland served as adjutant of Col. Richard B. Hubbard's Twenty-second Texas Infantry with the rank of major. He was killed in action on April 8, 1864, at the head of his regiment at the battle of Mansfield, Louisiana, during the Red River campaign. The following year his body was returned to Austin, where it was buried on October 14, 1865.