Sources cite his birth in either of the neighboring counties of Meriwether County or Troup County in Georgia. Holland’s father moved to Texas in the mid-1840s and settled in Erath County while Holland’s mother remained in Georgia until her death in 1862. Holland followed his father to Texas in 1846 and initially moved to Austin before finally settling in Burnet County.
In the spring of 1847 Holland enlisted under Samuel Highsmith in the United States Army for service in the Mexican War. He eventually became a part of Col. John Coffee Hays’s regiment and engaged in guerrilla warfare until his discharge in May 1848. From October 25, 1848, until December 8, 1848, Holland served as a private under Capt. Henry E. McCulloch in Bell’s Regiment of the Texas Mounted Volunteers.
After his discharge in 1848, Holland purchased 1,280 acres of land on Hamilton Creek in Burnet County. In October 1852 Holland married Mary Scott, the daughter of the first Burnet County judge, and the couple had the honor of being the first marriage in the county. They had one child, George A. Holland. Mary died on March 3, 1855. Holland married Clara Ann Thomas on December 6, 1855, and the couple had ten children: David B. Holland, John H. Holland, Emmaline Ellen Holland, Mary Rebecca (Holland) Lester, Samuel W. Holland, Porter Daniel Holland, Martha (Holland) Hester, Louisa Alice (Holland) Edwards, Margaret Catherine (Holland) Smith, and Elizabeth (Holland) Bryan. His second wife died on January 8, 1867.
Holland was a politically active citizen of Burnet County before the Civil War. He served as the county treasurer from 1852 to 1854, and in 1856 he was elected as the county commissioner. After the outbreak of the war, he enlisted for a second time and served in the Confederate Army in Capt. James P. Magill’s (also spelled McGill) company of the Burnet Guards in the Twenty-seventh Brigade under the command of Brig. Gen. E. S. C. Robertson. He served as a frontier scout until the war ended.
After the war, Holland continued his public service and pursued several business ventures. He was a member of the Grange and was a Royal Arch Mason. In 1869 he ran for Burnet county treasurer but was disqualified, and his opponent John W. Posey won the position. By the late 1880s he was a member of the Farmers’ Alliance. At the 1887 State Farmers’ Alliance meeting in Waco, he was elected as a delegate of the Tenth Congressional District representing Burnet County to attend the National Alliance meeting in October 1887 in Shreveport, Louisiana. He was a member of the Texas Mining and Improvement Company that built a railroad from Burnet to Marble Falls. He owned the Grange House and a livery stable. On September 22, 1887, Holland married Mrs. Susan McCarthy. The couple had three sons—Charles, Thomas, and William.
By the mid-1890s Holland had joined the Populist Party. He ran for office as a state legislator and was elected to the Twenty-fifth Legislature to represent Burnet and Lampasas counties. He served on three House committees: the Commerce and Manufactures Committee, the Military Affairs Committee, and the Revenue and Taxation Committee. Holland introduced House Bill No. 591 to the legislature, which proposed to return civil and criminal jurisdiction to the Lampasas County court. The governor signed the bill on May 7, 1897. Holland introduced a second bill that proposed to reorganize the Twenty-seventh, Thirty-third, Thirty-eighth, and Fifty-first judicial districts but the bill died in committee. After his tenure as a Populist legislator, Holland returned to life as a farmer.
By 1909 Holland had joined the Old Setters Association of Burnet County and was quietly living his life with his third wife. Although he was not a member of a church, he considered himself a religious man and studied the Bible. Holland died a few weeks before of his ninety-first birthday on November 19, 1917, and was buried alongside his second wife, Clara Thomas, in the family cemetery (Holland Cemetery) in Burnet, Texas.
Is history important to you?
We need your support because we are a non-profit organization that relies upon contributions from our community in order to record and preserve the history of our state. Every penny helps.
Please make your contribution today.
John Henry Brown, Indian Wars and Pioneers of Texas (Austin: Daniell, 1880; reprod., Easley, South Carolina: Southern Historical Press, 1978). Dallas Morning News, August 14, 1887; December 25, 1887. Lewis E. Daniell, Types of Successful Men in Texas (Austin: Von Boeckmann, 1890). Darrell Debo, Burnet County History (2 vols., Burnet, Texas: Eakin, 1979). Flake’s Bulletin, May 22, 1869. Galveston Daily News, September 5, 1909. Journal of the House of Representatives Being the Regular Session of the Twenty-Fifth Legislature (Austin: Ben C. Jones & Company, 1897). Legislative Reference Library of Texas: Samuel Holland (http://www.lrl.state.tx.us/legeLeaders/members/memberDisplay.cfm?memberID=3808&searchparams=chamber=~city=~countyID=0~RcountyID=~district=~first=~gender=~last=holland~leaderNote=~leg=~party=~roleDesc=~Committee=), accessed December 4, 2013. E. H. Loughery, Texas State Government (Austin: McLeod and Jackson, 1897). Texas State Gazette, October 20, 1849.
Twenty-fifth Legislature (1897)
The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.
“Holland, Samuel Ely,”
Handbook of Texas Online,
accessed May 29, 2022,
Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
Original Publication Date:
Most Recent Revision Date:
December 6, 2013