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Holliday, John J. (unknown–1842)

Biography Entry

John J. Holliday, Tennessee Volunteer and survivor of the Goliad Massacre, traveled to Texas before December 1835, when he joined B. L. Lawrence's company of Tennessee Volunteers organized at Nacogdoches for service in the Texas Revolution. This company, with the Kentucky Volunteers under Burr H. Duval, composed the Kentucky Mustangs under James Walker Fannin at Goliad. Holliday escaped the Goliad Massacre by swimming the river and concealing himself until the departure of the Mexicans from the area. He rejoined the regular Texas army and on February 21, 1837, was listed as a first lieutenant in the Second Infantry Regiment. He was promoted to captain on March 6, 1837. Holliday was also a member of the Texan Santa Fe expedition. When that group was near the site of present Wichita Falls in August 1841, Holliday carved his name on a tree near the confluence of Holliday Creek and the Wichita River, a fact which resulted in the naming of Holliday Creek and the town of Holliday. After being taken as a prisoner to Mexico, he spent some months incarcerated there. He died aboard a ship in the Gulf of Mexico en route from Veracruz to Galveston in August 1842.

Charleston Courier, September 12, 1842. Harbert Davenport, Notes from an Unfinished Study of Fannin and His Men (MS, Harbert Davenport Collection, Texas State Library, Austin; Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin). John Crittenden Duval, Early Times in Texas, or the Adventures of Jack Dobell (Austin: Gammel, 1892; new ed., Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1986). Henry Stuart Foote, Texas and the Texans (2 vols., Philadelphia: Cowperthwait, 1841; rpt., Austin: Steck, 1935).

Time Periods:

  • Texas Revolution

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

Anonymous, “Holliday, John J.,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed August 03, 2021,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

February 1, 1995