Ohio Genealogy · Uncategorized

Picture Found in Flea Market Reveals Holloway Family Mystery

Did you ever come home with something you never intended to buy? That happened to me last weekend at Picker’s Paradise in Niles. A cabinet card portrait of 5 children caught my eye. The children seemed well cared for, happy and well dressed, so it was a surprise when I saw the handwritten note on the back.

Holloway Children

Holloway Names


Where were the parents and what happened to these happy children? The note provided the names and location (Xenia, Ohio), and the cabinet card and clothing appearance put the date around the early 1900s. Starting with an Ancestry.com census search for Owen Holloway with sibling Ada, the 1900 census provided the record of the Holloway family of Darke County, Ohio:

Jackson Holloway, age 72, his wife Amanda age 33, Owen age 5, Ada age 3 and Logan less than 1 year. Other than the age difference between husband and wife, an unremarkable family. More census research and the Ohio, Births and Christenings Index, 1774-1973 filled in additional details on the children of Jackson Lincoln Holloway and 3rd wife Amanda Alice Gilbert:

  • Owen Lincoln Holloway born 23 Aug 1894
  • Ada Alice Holloway born 23 Aug 1986
  • Logan Jackson Holloway born 11 Aug 1899
  • Leonard Marker Holloway born 22 July 1901
  • Emma Holloway born 25 Aug 1903

By the 1910 census, Owen, Alice, Logan, and Leonard were listed as pupils in the Soldiers and Sailors Children Home in Xenia, Ohio. The Home was founded in 1869 to care for the children of soldiers and sailors killed in the Civil War. Later rules were relaxed to include children of any veteran, and residents were not required to be orphans. By 1900, the Ohio Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Orphans Home was the largest institution of its kind with 900 children in residence, living in cottages, each housing 40 to 50 children.  Children were given both a traditional education and training in various occupations. Children “graduated” and left the home at the age of 16.

When did the Holloway children enter the Children’s Home? And how long did they stay? Just 15 months after the birth of his youngest daughter, Jackson was admitted to the U.S. National Home for Disabled Soldiers in Dayton, Ohio. His next of kin was listed as his wife Amanda, resident of Dayton State Hospital, an asylum for the insane.  Upon Jackson Holloway’s death January 9, 1905, notification was phoned to the superintendent of the asylum. Staff were instructed to return his effects to Albert O. Holloway, guardian of his widow. (Albert was the adult son of Jackson’s first wife.) So it seems that shortly after the photograph of the happy family, they were no longer a family. Jackson was dead, Amanda was institutionalized and at least 4 of the children were pupils in the Soldiers and Sailors Children’s Home. No record was seen for Emma, but it is likely that she was also placed at the Home.

What became of the family? Were they ever able to reconnect?

Census records show Amanda was not a permanent resident at the Dayton State Hospital. By 1907, she had left the asylum and married Levi Bell. In the 1910 census, when her children by Jackson Holloway were still at the Children’s Home, she had 2 additional children with Levi.  Did Amanda retrieve her children, or, as it seems more likely, did the children remain at the Home until each reached the graduation age of 16?  By 1920, we see all 5 children living with their mother, her husband Levi Bell and their 2 children. What became of them next?  That’s a story for another day!

The photo has been mailed to Ohio to a descendant of Amanda Gilbert Holloway. I may have to go back and look for another photo puzzle to solve!

For more information on the Soldiers’ and Sailor’s Children’s Home see:



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