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John James Holloway grave marker

Northern Santa Barbara County pioneer John James Holloway, who died in 1918, is buried at the Santa Maria Cemetery. Holloway's family homesteaded in the Cat Canyon and Pine Grove areas and he became a prominent civic and political leader in the county.

In April of 1850, having fitted out two wagons -- each having from three to six yokes of oxen -- and with about 60 head of purebred shorthorn Durham cattle, John James Holloway joined a train of 25 wagons setting out from Independence, Missouri, for the Pacific Coast.

Unfortunately, the couple’s 9 year-old daughter Louisa, who was born in Morgan County, Illinois, had died in the 1840s on a trail between Illinois and Missouri.

Shortly after arriving in California on Aug. 22, 1850, the family settled on government land in Sutter County on the Bear River, and did some farming while also raising cattle.

It wasn’t long before Holloway returned to Missouri for more horses and cattle.

However, in 1853, as he was returning to California, Holloway drowned in the Green River, Utah, when a boat on which he was trying to move horses and cattle tipped over and everyone was killed.

According to available records, John and Nancy Holloway had nine children, most of whom were born in Missouri. Unfortunately, I have been able to find the names of only five of them.

Millie Ann, who was born Feb. 23, 1833, in Benton County, Missouri, married Calloway Green Heath in November of 1854 in Sutter County, California. Millie died of tuberculosis on Oct. 14, 1893 in Cat Canyon and was buried in Pine Grove Cemetery, as was her husband.

Thomas Jefferson Holloway, born Sept. 26, 1835, in Benton County, married Hester Ann Walton in 1859 in Sacramento.

The 1860 census shows him as a 24-year-old farmer from Missouri living with his mother, a sister and two brothers.

In 1870, he was living in Santa Maria, and 18 years later he was living in La Graciosa. He died Dec. 5, 1919, in Los Angeles County.

John James Holloway, son of John and Nancy, was born Jan. 26, 1839, also in Benton County.

The young man, who was 11 years old at the time that his family left Missouri for California, walked the entire distance, driving cattle before him to Hangtown, California.

When her husband died, Nancy became the sole support of daughter Millie and three sons, John James, Thomas J. and William H.

Although she tried to keep her family together, fate was against her. Hydraulic mining that had been underway in the mountains above the Bear River for many years had deposited debris and sand in the channel and ravines. The last straw came when the great flood of 1861-’62 scoured out the accumulation of debris and deposited it on the surrounding farms, leaving the Holloway house filled with sand up to the second floor.

Although Nancy went to live with her son William in May of 1862, all four of them (Nancy, William H., John James and Thomas J.) moved to the Santa Maria Valley, where she had relatives, and brought with them their full-blooded Durham cattle, the first seen here.

They each homesteaded 160 acres in the Cat Canyon and Pine Grove areas and John James became a prominent civic and political leader in the county.

The first Protestant service preached north of Gaviota took place at Holloway’s house in November of 1869, with the Rev. Miller, pastor of the Methodist Episcopal Church, officiating.

Young John James Holloway was married twice: first to Rebecca Miller, daughter of Milton and Charlotte Miller and stepdaughter of Joel Miller, Santa Maria’s first teacher and justice of the peace, on Dec. 22, 1870.

After the reception, the young bride and groom drove 18 miles in a lumber wagon to their new home in Cat Canyon.

The house had a living room, dining room, kitchen, a large bedroom and two smaller bedrooms upstairs, and even though it was a comfortable home, it had no water.

Oakdale School, which was part of the Olive School District, was organized in the front room of Holloway’s home. He was a trustee at this school for 12 years.

In February of 1940, the trustees of the Blochman School District as successors of the Oakvale school district, sold the school parcel to the Williams Holding Company.

After Rebecca died in 1883, leaving five little children, Holloway married her widowed sister, Sarah Miller Linebaugh, and had four more children.

Nancy died in 1885 and was buried in the Pine Grove Cemetery.

John James Holloway died Sept. 3, 1918 in Los Alamos and is buried in the Santa Maria Cemetery.

William Houston Holloway, who was born in December of 1844 in Benton County, married Julia Ann Lewis in 1872 in Santa Maria.

The 1860 census shows him as a 17-year-old farmer living with his mother and three farm hands on land worth $20,000.

He must have seen promise ahead as he left Cat Canyon in the 1890s and helped build the railroad in Daggett.

Later in life, he and his son, Will, went to Mexico where they mined. How long they stayed there is anyone’s guess, but he took sick and died in June of 1912.

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Shirley Contreras lives in Orcutt and writes for the Santa Maria Valley Historical Society. She can be contacted at 623-8193 or at shirleycontreras2@yahoo.com. Her book, “The Good Years,” a selection of stories she’s written for the Santa Maria Times since 1991, is on sale at the Santa Maria Valley Historical Society, 616 S. Broadway.

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