A living history

Fulton man documents ancestors’ ties with Callaway County, Civil War

Isham Holland, 94, holds the Bible his grandfather, Confederate officer T.C. Holland, read while a prisoner of war following the Battle of Gettysburg. Also on the table, itself a family heirloom, rests a photograph of his  grandfather and a book of U.S. history that was published in the 1830s.

Isham Holland, 94, holds the Bible his grandfather, Confederate officer T.C. Holland, read while a prisoner of war following the Battle of Gettysburg. Also on the table, itself a family heirloom, rests a photograph of his grandfather and a book of U.S. history that was published in the 1830s. Photo by Dean Asher.

With commemorative Gray Ghosts Trail panels, heritage events and Sons and Daughters of Confederacy camps, Callaway County has a strong Civil War heritage.

But not many people left can claim to have personally known someone who fought in the war that claimed the most American lives. Isham Holland, 94, can.

Holland was born Dec. 9, 1917, and in his first eight years of his life got to know his grandfather, T.C. Holland, a Confederate officer from Virginia who fought in the First Battle of Bull Run and was wounded and captured by Union troops in Gettysburg.

An interest in his grandfather’s remaining belongings and correspondence spurred the great-great-grandfather to devote several years of his life to uncovering his family history, which dates all the way back to the early settlers of Callaway County.

“You see, I'm a genuine Callawegian,” he said, “because my mother's folks came here when it was Louisiana territory. It'd be her great-grandfather who built the first church of any kind here.”

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