CHARLES HOLLIDAY. - (deceased), was the son of James and Mary Holliday. The Holliday family are of Scotch ancestry, and came originally from Avondale, Scotland. On the maternal side they were Irish. Charles McAlister, the grandfather, came from Ireland and settled in that part of (then York) now Adams county, Pennsylvania, known as Carrol's tract. His wife was Rosanna Pennaw, born in Ireland, but of a French Huguenot family, which took refuge in Ireland in the reign of Louis XIV. They had three sons, John, James and Alexander, and two daughters, Mary and Margaret. Alexander McAlister, the son of Charles and Rosanna, married Mary Fleming, who was a native of Pennsylvania. They had eight children. Mary, their daughter married Charles Holliday, the father of Rev. Charles Holliday, the subject of this sketch. There were two children born to them, both sons; Charles and William. Charles was born in the City of Baltimore, Maryland, November 23d, 1771. His parents were devout Presbyterians (Covenanters). Charles was carefully trained under Christian influences, and educated with a view of entering the ministry, when he reached the yeas of manhood. The loss of his parents took place, however, before he reached his majority, which unfortunate circumstance compelled him to abandon the idea of entering upon the profession for which he was educated and trained. In the month of May, 1793, he was united in marriage with Miss Sarah Watkins, a lady of good understanding, and sound and discreet judgment, who afterwards became a devoted, pious and faithful Christian woman. The day after the marriage they in company united with the Methodist Episcopal Church, and commenced family devotion the same evening.
Mr. Holliday received license to preach in the year 1797 as a local preacher in which relation he faithfully served the church until 1809, when at the session of the Western Conference he became an itinerant. His first appointment was the Danville circuit, in Kentucky. The next year he was placed in charge of the Lexington Circuit with Eli Truitt and Caleb W. Cloud for his colleagues, where he remained until 1812.
During his occupancy of this charge, the cares and responsibilities of it rested almost entirely upon him; as declining health compelled the retirement of Rev. Truitt, and Mr. Cloud was also unable to preach constantly. At this period the Lexington circuit embraced a large area of country. Its length extended from the Kentucky river on the south, to the Licking river on the north, embracing the counties of Woodford, Jassamine, Fayette, Scott and Bourbon, and all the southern and eastern parts of Harrison county in its boundaries. The number of its appointments were equally large: there being twenty-eight in four weeks. These were filled in twenty-two days by preaching twice a day. Some idea may be gathered of the extent of the work, and the amount of labor performed when it is recollected that in the pioneer days of Methodism of this country, there were no railroads or modern conveniences for traveling. In fact, common roads were hardly known, and journeys of any length were made upon horseback. It will be readily seen that Mr. Holliday, to fill his appointments in the different parts of his large circuit, was compelled to spend the greater portion of his time in the saddle, while the nights were given to preaching to the people, and impressing upon them their first duty to their Maker and their Redeemer. It was in these solitary journeys through almost trackless forests, over hills, and through vales, that the pious and hardy circuit rider of the pioneer area of this country, held sweet and silent communion with nature, and nature's God.
In 1812 he was appointed to the Shelby circuit, and in 1813 to the Salt River district, where he remained for three years. In July, 1816, being bereaved of his pious and faithful wife, who left him with nine children, he was compelled to locate. IN 1817 he was united in marriage the second time. He married Miss Elizabeth Spears, daughter of Jacob Spears, who was one of the first settlers in Lincoln county, Kentucky. She was born August 21st, 1787. Her father's mother was Christine Froman Spears, who was of French and German descent, and was a granddaughter of General Fry, who was an officer in the old French war, and distinguished himself at the battle of Fort Duquesne, where Braddock was defeated.
The same year that he was married, he was readmitted into the Conference, and appointed to the Cumberland district, in the Tennessee Conference, and in 1821 he was placed in charge of the Green River district, Kentucky Conference, on each of which, he remained for four years. The labors of Mr. Holliday in Kentucky, whether in charge of circuits of districts, were greatly blessed to the church. This was equally true of his labors on the Danville, Lexington and Shelby circuits. For the office of presiding elder he was eminently qualified. We quote from the history of "Methodism in Kentucky," the author of which says: "His fine executive talents, his marked ability in the pulpit, wether in defending the doctrines and peculiarities of Methodism, or enforcing its practical and experimental truths, together with the kindness and gentleness showed toward the younger preachers in his district, rendered him a universal favorite as a presiding elder during his stay in Kentucky."
In the autumn of 1825 he was transferred to the Illinois Conference and appointed to the Wabash district, on which he remained until the General Conference of 1828, when he was elected Book Agent at Cincinnati. In this relation he served the church until 1836, when he was appointed presiding elder of Lebanon district, Illinois Conference, and in 1838 we find him in charge of the Alton district, on which he remained for four years. Unable longer to perform the arduous duties of a presiding elder, yet unwilling to lay aside the harness, at the Conference of 1844 we find him on the Grafton circuit, and in 1845 on the Carlinville circuit. At the close of the year, unable longer to prosecute his labors as an "itinerant" he was placed on the superannuated roll, on which he continued until his death, which occurred in 1850. The last Conference that he attended was at Quincy, Illinois, September, 1849. On his way there he was taken sick from which he never fully recovered. His sufferings in his last illness were extreme and painful, but yet such was his confidence and perfect faith and hope in the goodness of God that he bore them without a murmur. He felt and saw that the time was nigh at hand when his labors and toil of years the dread summons came to join that innumerable throng that is silently passing down to the realms of shade, he met it calmly and peacefully, and with a child-like simplicity and confidence in the mercies of Jesus Christ he passed over to the world beyond, where he received the just reward for a pure and blameless life while in this.
Four of the nine children, fruits of the first marriage of Mr. Holliday, are still living. Of the latter marriage, five children were born to them: two of whom have survived the parents. Elizabeth Holliday, the latter wife of Mr. Holliday, died July 18, 1863.
In the spring of 1836 Mr. Holliday removed to Chesterfield, in Macoupin county, and entered land in the township, and at the time of his death was possessed of considerable property. It was, while he was a resident of Chesterfield, that his death occurred, as above stated. He was a man of great energy and promptness, and allowed nothing to hinder him in anything that he undertook to do, and has completed all that he set out to do. The two surviving children of the last marriage of Mr. Holliday, are George H. Holliday and Nancy H., wife of Dr. W. H. Robertson, of Carlinville. George H., the son, was finely educated, and was, while a resident of this county, one of the most prominent and influential citizen. His scholarly attainments, and researches in the domain of science and literature, together with his great store of knowledge accumulated from wide and extensive reading, made him a marked man in the community. During his stay in Cincinnati while his father had charge of the Methodist Book Agency, he had superior advantages for receiving an education. He soon became a good Latin, Green and English scholar, and also acquired a fair knowledge of the Hebrew language. After his father came back to Illinois he entered McKendree College, at Lebanon, Illinois, and graduated from that institution. He was for a number of years prominently identified in the politics of the county, and held important offices of trust within the gift of the people.
In August, 1858, he was appointed by the county court to fill out the unexpired term of Enoch Wall, who died, and who had been county clerk. He held the position until 1866, when he was nominated by the Democratic party for the same position, and was elected in the following November. In 1864 he received the nomination again, and was re-elected and held the office until the expiration of the term in 1868.
He was in 1856 elected to represent this district in the General Assembly of the state. As surveyor of the county for many years, he was perhaps the best posted man in the county, and enjoyed a larger acquaintance and was more favorably known than any other. He married Cinderella Chism, who was born in Macoupin county. There were six children born to them, all of whom are living.