Holliday is on U.S. highways 277 and 82, ten miles southwest of Wichita Falls in north central Archer County. It was near an old buffalo road and on the route of the Texan Santa Fe expedition. In 1841 John Holliday, a member of the expedition, carved his name and the date on a tree. Settlers later found the name on the tree and gave it to the nearby creek, then to their town. By 1889 there was enough of a community to organize a Methodist church at Holliday, which already had a stage stop. In 1890 the Wichita Valley Railway built through the area, the post office was opened, and the town was platted by George P. Meade. The population was estimated at twenty-five in 1892, when a Professor Rinehart began teaching at a district school established there. The first water well in Holliday was drilled in May 1892, and on June 23 land was donated for a cemetery. The first grave was marked June 3. By 1896 the population had reached an estimated 100, and two more Protestant churches had formed. Holliday now had a two-story hotel, a livery stable and a blacksmith shop, two general stores, a store offering furniture and groceries, a physician, and a justice. Other early businesses included a grain mill and elevator, a real estate office, and a confectionery. In 1900 or 1901 a tornado demolished the school and reportedly blew the twenty students in class a mile away into a low place in the land, all unhurt. About this time the Lake Wichita Irrigation and Water Company was buying land along Holliday Creek to make Lake Wichita, now about five miles east of town, which eventually provided irrigation for the land around it. After the severe winter of 1905, two of the largest rail shipments ever made from Archer County-2,400 cowhides in 1906 and forty carloads of steers in 1907-were shipped from Holliday. The drought in 1911 was so bad that many settlers left the area, and the nearby colony of Geraldine failed.
In 1914 Holliday had a population still estimated at 100. Two years later the Panther oilfield opened with the drilling of a well four miles from town. Oil wells soon appeared both within and around Holliday, which prospered. The population in 1925 was estimated at 219, and in 1926 at 1,000. By 1926 Holliday had one of the county's three independent school districts and a high school. The 1926 Texas Almanac describes the town as a large oilfield-supply manufacturing and distribution center with about sixty businesses, including refineries. By then, over 1,400 wells had been drilled in the vicinity, including the largest in the county, the Wilmut well, on the Geraldine townsite five miles south of Holliday. The Methodists began building a new church in 1927. By 1928 Holliday had an estimated population of 1,500 and a bank. By 1931 the town had lost both population and businesses, and by 1933, when it incorporated, it had a population estimated at 786 and twenty-five businesses. During the 1930s paleontologist Alfred Romer and his wife discovered the Geraldine Bone Bed, one of the largest fossil pits in Texas, nine miles south of Holliday. The first official census figure, in 1940, was 798. By the time the Fort Worth and Denver acquired the Wichita Valley Railway in 1952, Holliday had annexed the Mankins school and had a population of 1,066. In 1960 the population was 1,139, and in 1970 it was 1,048. In 1986 Holliday had a post office, twenty-two businesses, and 1,349 residents, and the railroad, now the Burlington Northern, still serviced the town. In 1990 the population was 1,475. The population was 1,632 in 2000.