Holland, Franklin Pierce (1852–1928)

By: Brian Hart

Type: Biography

Published: 1952

Updated: February 1, 1995

Franklin Pierce Holland, agricultural editor and publisher, was born to Gustavus (Gustave) and Evelyn (Compton) Holland on September 22, 1852, at Galveston, Texas. His father, who was born in Würtemberg, had been a United States Army surgeon before the Civil War and reportedly was a Confederate blockade runner during the conflict. Holland was educated at various public and private schools, including Reading Institute in Reading Ridge, Connecticut. Upon his return to Texas in 1870, he worked first as a transfer agent for a steamship line at Galveston and later as a farm-implement and sewing-machine salesman at Austin. He married Pamelia D. Allen of Waxahachie on December 25, 1877. The couple had seven children. In 1881 in Austin Holland joined the advertising department of the humor magazine Texas Siftings. He resigned the following year when the periodical moved its offices to New York City and began publication of Texas Farm and Ranch in 1883. The monthly agricultural journal showed no profit during its first years of operation in a two-room office in Austin. In 1885 Holland moved the magazine to Dallas, partly in response to urging from Dallas businessmen, but chiefly because of his own enthusiasm for agricultural prospects in the region and because he believed that agriculture would eventually surpass livestock raising in economic importance to the state. During his first months in Dallas, Holland carried out office work and composition as well as editorial duties on the paper. He steadily increased the journal's circulation and influence in Texas and the Southwest, and in 1899 the title was shortened to Farm and Ranch.

Throughout his career Holland promoted efforts to improve both agriculture and the lives of farmers and their families. The programs he supported emphasized cooperation and self-help, as well as balanced farming and efficient farming techniques. In time, his financial success enabled him to underwrite a number of endeavors promoted by Farm and Ranch and a second periodical, Holland's Magazine. One of his earliest projects contributed to the evolution of the State Fair of Texas. Wishing to make better agricultural equipment available to Texas farmers, Holland worked to interest eastern and midwestern manufacturers in the potential of the Texas market. In 1885 he was selected general manager of the Dallas State Fair and Exhibition Association, an organization established with the aid of local farm-implement manufacturers and salesmen, which served as the forerunner of the State Fair Association. After a dispute in the association about the location of the fair, Holland resigned his post, established a rival organization, and purchased the original association's charter. He traveled the state promoting the exposition and offering prizes to entice entrants, oversaw the erection of the fair's first buildings, served as general manager of the initial event in 1886, and later became a director of the State Fair.

In an effort to encourage balanced farming and agricultural innovation, Holland established an experimental farm to study blackland-farming techniques and crops in 1887 in Ellis County. In 1889 he established another such farm at Flour Bluff, near Corpus Christi, which focused on the growing, packing, and marketing of vegetables. He further supported agricultural experimentation by offering prizes for outstanding farm products. From his own experimental farms he once sent seventeen varieties of sorghum for exhibition at the state fair. In February 1889 in Austin he sponsored the first of a series of educational programs known as Farmers' Institutes, forerunners of the Texas Agricultural Extension Service. Other Farmers' Institutes, sponsored variously by Texas Farm and Ranch, the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas (later Texas A&M University), and local groups, were held sporadically in the ensuing years. After John H. Connell was hired as editor of Farm and Ranch in 1902, the magazine also financed Farmers' Institutes in Louisiana and Oklahoma. In 1891 Holland organized the Texas Swine Growers Association, which was incorporated in 1919. He organized the Texas Corn Growers Association in 1906. Farm and Ranch also sponsored agricultural clubs for Texas farm children that became predecessors of the 4-H Clubs.

In the early 1900s Holland sent a group of scientists to Mexico to study the boll weevil, which was beginning to invade Texas cottonfields. In 1906 he campaigned in the pages of Farm and Ranch against so-called bucket shops, establishments where commodity futures were traded illegally, a practice believed to drive farm prices down. Farm and Ranch hired a lobbyist and gathered petitions from farmers denouncing the shops. Legislation to eliminate the shops was passed in 1907. In 1907 Holland also sent Hatton W. Sumners to Europe to study cooperative agricultural marketing. The arrangements used in Denmark were subsequently reported in Farm and Ranch. In 1913 Holland organized the first national conference on cooperative agricultural marketing and rural credits, which was held in Chicago. The conference resulted in the National Cooperative Council. He subsequently helped establish the office of marketing and rural development in the United States Department of Agriculture. In 1910 Farm and Ranch hired Sumners again to lobby for lower shipping rates for cotton being sent from the interior to Galveston. Holland's interest in keeping Texas farmers technologically up to date was reflected in a 1911 Farm and Ranch competition, which offered $1,000 in prizes for letters concerning the use of automobiles on the farm. The following year the magazine sponsored the Farmers' Auto Tour, perhaps the first such tour in the country restricted to farmers.

Another cause repeatedly championed by Farm and Ranch was education. As early as 1891 the magazine called for more agricultural schools, including an industrial college designed particularly for female students and an agricultural college in North Texas that would be open to both men and women. In 1911 Farm and Ranch undertook a program to help establish libraries in rural and small-town schools, reportedly resulting in the establishment of 1,500 library collections. During World War I the magazine hosted a conference on rural education that brought together state school superintendents from Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Louisiana. The magazine also offered $500 in prizes for the best suggestions from rural teachers on ways to improve rural education. In 1922 the magazine held another conference that brought together the presidents of agricultural colleges in Texas and its four neighboring states. Concerned about tenant farmers' discontent and alienation, Holland advocated making the Texas judicial system more accessible to them by reducing the costs involved in going to court and by reducing delays in the system.

In 1905 Holland established Holland's Magazine, a publication designed for women in the Southwest. By the late 1920s Holland's had the largest circulation of any such magazine in the South. Holland used the periodical as a vehicle to improve living conditions, especially in the countryside and small towns. In 1906 the magazine crusaded for pure-food laws; the following year the state legislature passed a pure-food act. Beginning in 1910 Holland gave enthusiastic support to an effort by the Texas Federation of Women's Clubs to establish social centers in small towns and rural communities throughout the state. In addition to publicizing the movement and helping the federation raise money, Holland organized a social-center conference that met in Dallas in March 1911, the first to be held in the Southwest. In 1912 and 1913 Holland's sponsored "cleanest town" contests, offering a $1,000 prize and employing Manton M. Carrick to oversee the competition. In 1923 Farm and Ranch offered $1,000 in prizes for the "best all round community development," and in 1926–27 Holland's campaigned for community beautification. In 1927 Charles A. R. Campbell, who had studied the use of natural predators to eliminate malarial mosquitoes, was engaged to contribute articles to both Holland's and Farm and Ranch and to give numerous lectures around the state.

In 1922 Holland, under appointment by Governor Pat M. Neff, represented Texas at the ninth national game conference of the American Game Protective Association. Two years later Holland's conducted a campaign for the preservation of southwestern wildlife. In 1925 the Texas legislature passed a wildlife preservation act. Holland also served briefly in local government. In April 1891 he was elected to represent the Eighth Ward on the city council, but he resigned within a year. In April 1895 he was elected to a two-year term as mayor of Dallas, his campaign slogan calling for "economy, enterprise and forward march." An effort to close the city's suburban saloons and to reduce the salaries of the mayor and members of the city council by 50 percent marked his term in office. He declined to run for a second term. In 1896, while serving on the committee on platform and resolutions at the state Democratic convention, he called for limiting United States immigration to those who could produce certificates of education, health, and character and who possessed $1,000 in cash. In 1915 Holland again spoke out for immigration restrictions, arguing that an unlimited influx of European war refugees would further worsen conditions for needy citizens in the United States.

Holland went to Mexico as a correspondent covering the American occupation of Veracruz in 1914. He wrote a number of articles on conditions in the Mexican coastal city. Although he ultimately came to support United States entry into World War I, he evinced a strong distaste for modern war in general, writing in 1914 that it was "promoted by those who seek profit and notoriety." During the war Holland served as chairman of a commission that oversaw the operation of military training camps in five southwestern states. He also reportedly purchased $88,000 worth of Liberty Bonds. His editorial activities led to his election to the presidency of the Texas Press Association in 1894. He was a founder of the Texas Editorial Association and twice served as its president and later as president emeritus. He also served a term as president of the National Agricultural Press League. From 1896 to 1899 Holland served on the A&M College board of directors. He was an Episcopalian, a Mason, and a member of the Dallas Country Club. A harness-racing enthusiast, he played a major part in organizing the Dallas Horse Show. He also entertained friends at his Rockport estate, known as the Oakshore Outing Club. Holland died at his home in Dallas on January 18, 1928, and was buried in Oakland Cemetery.

Alberta Cornelius, "Frank P. Holland," Texas Monthly, May 1930. Dallas Morning News, January 19, 1928. C. M. Hammond, "Colonel Holland: Texas Builder," Texas Weekly, June 4, 1932. Tom Mann, "Frank P. Holland, Successful Publisher, Wise Counselor, Wonderful Friend," Farm and Ranch, April 1, 1933. National Cyclopaedia of American Biography, Vol. 33. T. C. Richardson, "Fifty Years of Farm and Ranch," Farm and Ranch, April 1, 1933. "Texas Agriculture Has Lost a Staunch Friend," Farm and Ranch, January 28, 1928. Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin. Who Was Who in America, Vol. 1.
  • Journalism
  • Agriculture
  • Politics and Government
  • Writers, Authors, Publications, and Literature
  • Literature
  • Publications, Journals, and Magazines
  • Journals and Publications
  • North Texas
  • Dallas/Fort Worth Region
  • Dallas

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

Brian Hart, “Holland, Franklin Pierce,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed August 18, 2022, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/holland-franklin-pierce.

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

February 1, 1995

This entry belongs to the following Handbook Special Projects: