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RICHARD S. HOLT. It is a pleasure to write the biography of a man of unusual personal merit-the possessor of a combination of gifts so comprehensive that happiness and success in any enterprise is bound to follow the application of his qualities to the solution of almost any reasonable problem in life. It is an unwritten law that the secret of success in life in all individual cases is the common property or heritage of all unfortunates of the human race. It is therefore eminently proper for the historian or delineator of character to review the lives of those individuals who have not only been successful in the various enterprises in which they engaged, but as citizens and neighbors have won the lasting regard of all. Richard S. Holt, a retired merchant and farmer, and an esteemed citizen of Lead Hill, Arkansas, was born in Cannon County, Tennessee, in 1832.
His parents, William H. and Mary L. (Stevens) Holt, were natives of Virginia and Tennessee respectively, the former born in 1799 and the latter in 1802. This estimable couple was married in Tennessee, whither they had gone with their parents when young, and made their home in that State until 1840, when they moved to Ozark County, Missouri, by wagon, being about six weeks on the journey. They improved a farm and resided there until 1849, when the fertile soil of Arkansas tempted them to settle in that State. They located in Marion County, on a small improved farm on White River, and there the father died in 1860. He had passed his entire life engaged in farming and stockraising, and as an honest, upright, industrious citizen was highly esteemed. He was a lifelong Democrat. Mr. Holt was one of six sons and five daughters born to Fielding Holt, who was a native of the Old Dominion but an early settler of Cannon County, Tennessee, where his death occurred when he was about eighty-six years of age. Some of his people served in the Revolutionary War. Grandfather Stevens was a native of the Keystone State, but when a young man went to Tennessee, married there and reared his family. Later in life he removed to Alabama, where he died over fifty years ago. He was also a farmer, and of French origin. He was the father of two sons and two daughters, one of his daughters, the mother of our subject, dying in Lead Hill in 1882. The twelve children born to Mr. and Mrs. Holt were named as follows: Margaret, deceased, was the wife of William Coker; Fielding resides in Lead Hill; Fannie, deceased, was the wife of William Pumphrey; Sophia died in infancy; William, of Lead Hill; Matilda, deceased, was the wife of Franklin Pumphrey; Richard S., the subject of this sketch; Joseph T. died in his fifth year; James, deceased, enlisted in the Confederate Army and died in the hospital in Little Rock in 1863, when sixteen years of age; Elizabeth, wife of Henry Clark, of Taney County, Missouri; Sarah, of Lead Hill; and Mary Ann, deceased. James fought at Prairie Grove and various other places, was captured, but managed to escape, and although so young was a brave and faithful soldier.
Until eight years of age our subject remained in his native county and then moved with his parents to Missouri and Arkansas. He received but limited educational advantages, but being possessed of a strong mind and an unlimited amount of good common sense, he made his way to the front and is classed among the intelligent men of Boone County. Until twenty-five years of age he remained under the parental roof, but during that time he was farming for himself. After this he began clerking, continued this for about four years prior to the war, and in the summer of 1861 he enlisted in Company C, Fourteenth Arkansas Volunteer Infantry, Confederate Army, and was made second lieutenant. He operated in Arkansas and at the expiration of his term reenlisted and was made captain. He participated in the battle of Corinth and soon after went to Tupelo, where he was taken sick. After remaining there for nearly a year he resigned his commission and came home, where he assisted in organizing a company. However it was not needed, as the war closed about that time. In the year 1867 he married Mrs. Ellen Harris, a native of what is now Putnam County, Tennessee, and the daughter of Wilson and Keziah Wilmoth, natives of Tennessee. Mr. and Mrs. Wilmoth came to what is now Boone County, Arkansas, about 1856, and passed the remainder of their lives there, conducting a farm. Both were Baptists in religion. To Mr. and Mrs. Holt was born one child, James B., who died when four years of age. Our subject has lived within five miles of his father’s old place on White River since his boyhood. He farmed for two years after the war and then engaged in merchandising at Lead Hill for about fifteen years. Since then he has carried on farming and stockraising, and is the owner of about 500 acres, being one of the most substantial and best known citizens of the county. He is a member of the A. F. & A. M., Polar Star Lodge No. 224, at Lead Hill, and is a Democrat.