The Family Life of Silas Reagan Whitten
as told by Penny McNair


This page created March 2, 2002

Mrs. Penny H. McNair
33 Vine Street
Meridian, Mississippi 39301
June 2, 1985:

Dear Mary:

How nice of you to write me so quickly. Perhaps with the little information that I have, a few things might be cleared up. Mine, I am sorry to say, came mostly from the census records.

Silas Regan Whitten was born in South Carolina in 1815. In the 1850 Census of Winston County, he lived in the home of Dr. and Mrs. J.C. Hughes, and was a merchant (which probably explains the reason that he acted as bondsman for so many couples - he was handy.) At times, he also was a merchant in Philadelphia and Noxapater, and was postmaster in Noxapater for about a year. I found this in the 75th Anniversary issue of some paper. I just burned the few sheets that I had.

Silas was 18 years older than Martha Caroline Yarbrouth when they married in 1851. She was the daughter of Moses and Mary Murrah Yarbrough with these sisters: Mary Elizabeth Woodruff; Nancy King; Rebecca Smyth; Lucinda (who disappeared); and Sarah Taggart. Her brothers were Edward Moses, James (killed in the war); Titus; Lem Murrah (who was killed on the court house steps by another young lawyer); William LaFayette (who fled Mississippi when he killed the slave who revealed where the family had buried their prized possessions); and Robert Emmett. The first three girls and their families are buried in a private cemetery on Enon Road between Louisville and Noxapater - but nearer Noxapater. Mary Lynn Holman worked in Louisville and was raised by her grandmother, Nancy King. The reason I am telling you all this is that should you run across information on any of them - let me know.

Oh yes, Moses and Mary Murrah Yarbrough came to Louisville in 1836 from Abbeville, S.C., after Moses' father William died and his estate was settled. His youngest brother William Yarbrough came with them and I expect a sister or two.

In 1933 (I am 63 now) I was in Crippled Children's Hospital in Memphis and another patient was Pearl Whitten from Clarksdale, Miss. She had the middle finger of her left hand missing and one leg never grew below the knee. The sewed her hand up to the level of her other fingers and removed the small leg. When I told my father, he immediately said, "You are kin to her". Whether he recognized the affliction or the name, I don't now, but it was implied that any Whitten in Louisville as late as 1873 was related to us. I really wondered if Silas might not have been so afflicted. Usually men did not wait until they were in their late 30's to marry. Too, most of the Whittens were farmers and was he not because he was unable to.

After the war, there was very little left (Moses Yarbrough was wealthy) and Mary Amelia Whitten (my grandmother) divorced Henry William Holsomback and with her two sons, John Henry and George Everette Holsomback (my father) went to Texas with Silas and Martha Caroline Whitten, their other children and as Papa said, "other cousins, nephews and uncles". The way I understand it they went by wagontrain to the Mississippi River, boarded a river boat to Baton Rouge (Papa remembered the lights of Natchez Under the Hill looked like fireflies) then from Baton Rouge by the Red River up into Texas. Silas' son James died in Waxahatchie. Silas died in Dallas, Texas when my father was a teenager. When his wife, Martha Caroline died in 1919, it was mentioned in her obituary that her husband had died about 40 years before, that he was active in the Masonic Lodge in Meridian. The Masonic Building just burned here, but I would like to see their records if they were saved. Perhaps they would give some information about his parents, or perhaps Pleasant's war record would show parents or brothers.

After nine children, my mother was 42 and my father 53 when I was born, (I always felt that they WANTED a puppy) but I only knew my father as an older man when his recollections of childhood had somewhat dimmed. He adored his grandmother but I expect that he was drawn closer to her because his mother remarried in Dallas and his stepfather was not too fond of him or his brother. He said that one day they were all in the yard in what is now downtown Dallas and a stranger rode up. He got off his horse, walked into the yard, kissed Mary Amelia (his twin sister) patted each boy on the head and told Tom Greenlun that he had heard that he had not been very good to his sister's boys and that if he ever laid the weight of his hand on them again that, "as sure as God made little green apples, he would come back and kill him." Mr. Greenlun refrained from any untoward behavior thereafter. Of course, this was Charles Everette Whitten, Silas' oldest son. Soon after they arrived in Dallas, Charles Everette left home and was not heard from until he came to see about my father and his brother. He was a Texas Ranger, a cowboy, a prospector for gold and goodness knows what. When his mother Martha Caroline Whitten died in 1919, he was not listed as a survivor, but in 1941, my brothers Robert and George and I lived in Houston, Texas. George answered the phone one night and the caller wanted to talk with George Holsomback. My brother said it was he. The caller asked his age and George told him about 35. The caller said, "No the boy I am looking for would be about 75". Of course, it was Uncle Charlie Whitten. We got my father to Houston and he could not believe it was Uncle Charlie and was going to "test" him. He asked if Uncle Charlie had remembered the old dog that everyone loved in Louisville. Without hesitation, Uncle Charlie said, "You mean Old Blue, fine dog." He was about five feet 7 inches, with the bluest eyes and such a keen mind. He fell down the stairs at 98 in Houston, and died with pneumonia. He often came to the office where I worked and we would have a soda at Walgreens; however, I did not know the value of the information he could have given me. At the time, I was not really interested. However, we did understand that Uncle Charlie had spent some time in Oklahoma and one day the banker was leaving with a large suitcase. It was found that he had all the money from the bank (including Uncle Charlie's) and the banker died suddenly. After getting his money Uncle Charlie left there but was known thereafter as "Charlie White". We drew our own conclusions.

Oh, here is the family of Silas and Martha Caroline:

Now Mary Amelia Whitten Holsomback had two sons by Henry William Holsomback:

Mary Amelia remarried a Michael Greenlun in Dallas and had one son Thomas S. Greenlun. Neither of my father's brothers had children.

I wonder if the Whittens did not leave a family Bible with one of the children in Dallas. I had the most extraordinary thing happen to me through an ad. After my father was taken to Texas I don't believe that he ever knew where his father Henry William Holsomback was. Well a friend of mine in Lufkin, Texas (who is also doing research on the Holsombacks) ran across Henry William Holsomback in the Van Zandt County, Texas 1900 Census. Henry had married Julia Flowers in Noxapater and her sister Annise came to live with them. The girls had a sister who lived in Wills Point, Texas, so around 1900 my grandfather and his wife and sister-in-law moved to the Hiram Community then to Fruitvale, which is near Wills Point. Well I wrote the genealogical society and a great-granddaughter of Eliza Flowers Curtis who is 93, wrote and said that she met my grandfather when she went on her honeymoon. We saw them on our way to Mineral Wells, Texas, and they took my husband and me to Henry's grave. She was the only person in the world who could have helped me as he died in 1911.

I am the last of my generation and the only one ever interested in the history. If you asked one of our children about a Whitten, they would say, "Whitten who!"

Now, I am going to tell you about me. Of course, I am the great-granddaughter of Silas Regan and the granddaughter of Mary Amelia "Molly" Whitten Holsomback. Since I was born so late in my parents' life, I probably am the closest relative of Silas living and the ONLY living grandchild of Mary Amelia. My father was her only child who had children. My parents were George Everette Holsomback and Nannie Elizabeth Parker. Papa and Mama married on Christmas Day 1895 in McComb, Miss. Papa was a harness maker and moved around quite a bit when he started installing harness-making machinery and teaching people to operate the machines. He went into the furniture business here in Meridian after coming here to install machinery for the Threefoot Brothers. My brothers and sisters were:

You must be exhausted, but I wanted to give you as much information as I could so you would have some idea about our part.

I went to Houston, Texas, when I was 18, married and lived there until about 1970 when I had to quit work and since I owned our home property here, I came back here. I had only one child, John Frederick Williams, who was born May 1, 1947. He is a pilot with Continental Airlines and has lived in Houston all his life.

Often, we come to Louisville and have lunch at Tiak O'Khata. I do hope you will join us the next time we are there. I am quite anxious to meet you and talk.

I can't believe that I am sending you a four page letter, but I am so hungry for information on the Whittens. I am also researching the Holsombacks and thought that we were the only ones - believe me, the woods are crawling with us.

By the way, I have a picture of Charles Whitten, and J.W. Whitten when I have copies made I will send them to you. J.W. Whitten has an army uniform on but he could not have been in the Civil War - I don't know what it is.

I do have to stop but please let me hear from you.

Penny Holsomback McNair

P.S. My son told me that he would have been afraid to have married in Mississippi, because the list of Yarbroughs, Whittens and Holsombacks meant that I was related to every third Caucasian.


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