The Rev. Francis P. Holland, who departed this life at Hope, Bartholomew County, Indiana, on the evening of Monday, May 21, 1894, was born near Salem, Forsyth county, North Carolina, on May 15, 1820.
He was the grandson of John Holland, whose parents, William and Elizabeth Holland, were prominent members and office.bearers of the Moravian Church in London, England. John Holland was born in Cheshire, England, in 1742, and emigrated to the Moravian settlement in North Carolina in 1773. The father of Francis Raymond Holland was William Holland, who was born at Salem, N. C., in 1790, and died there, during the pastorate of his son, in 1860.
His mother was Anna Elizabeth Shoemaker (Schumacher), a daughter of Adam Schumacher, who came to North Carolina in 1769. Adam Schumacher was one of the company of Moravian emigrants originally from. the Palatinate who settled at Broad Bay, in the Province of Maine, a majority of whom subsequently removed to North Carolina.
The home in which Francis P. Holland was born was situated a couple of miles to the northeast of Winston Salem, upon a plantation traversed by a beautiful stream upon which his father had erected a grist mill and a mill for carding wool. The region was still heavily timbered and abounded in game and the forests were full of flowers. His father was a keen lover of nature, an enthusiastic amateur botanist, a sportsman before whose rifle, tradition avers, the last red deer shot in in Forsyth county, N. C., went down. In the midst of the surroundings of this home environed by mighty oaks which his father had spared when be took possession of the plantation, the subject of this sketch drew in with the breath of his boyhood that almost passionate fondness for the beauties of nature which was one of the marked traits of his character through life. There were no public schools in North Carolina at that time, nor for twenty years afterwards. "Subscription schools" were made to do duty instead. To one of these presided over by Roderick Murchison, who came from "the Scotch Settlement" in Moore county, N. C., the lad was sent by his father, the path to the schoolhouse being marked for a portion of the way by a "blaze" through the forest. Roderick Murchison was a skillful and kind teacher to whom in later years his pupil gracefully referred. Here in the log schoolhouse, beyond the Hauser plantation on Brushy Fork creek, the first Sunday-school organized in Forsyth county was commenced in 1828, under the superintendency of Roderick Murchison, and this Sunday-school was attended from the outset by the boy and his father, whenever attendance upon the services of the Moravian Church in Salem was impossible.
At the age of nine years, young Holland was sent to the Parochial School for Boys, at Salem, which he attended regularly until be was about fifteen. Among his teachers he always expressed a special preference for the late Bishop Henry A. Shultz, who as a young man, was his instructor in German and in Latin, and who sought most effectively to cultivate in him that love and ÷ tion of the English classics, with which in after-years by assiduous study and reading he made himself familiar.
In his thirteenth year he experienced the first great sorrow of his life in the sudden death of his mother, a most refined and pious woman of whose early instruction he retained a lasting impression, and who in infancy had dedicated him to the Lord with the often-expressed wish that he might be eventually fitted to enter upon the duties of the Christian ministry.
Having completed the prescribed course of study at the Parochial School, and his father having been disappointed in an effort to enlist the ecclesiastical authorities In the plan to have him sent north to be educated for the ministry, in spite of the acknowledged ability of the son and the willingness of the father to defray the expenses of his education, he reluctantly entered, in his seventeenth year, the printing establishment of the late John C. Blum, the owner and publisher of The People's Press, one of the longest established newspapers in North Carolina. He found in Mr. Blum and his estimable wife true friends whose kindness to him he never forgot. His leisure hours were devoted to diligent study and reading, and he derived much profit in these as in previous years from the motherly care and intellectual guidance of Mrs. C. F. Deake, the widow of a veteran missionary to tine Indians in Canada, whose accomplished husband had been the lad's friend and instructor in botany while residing, in his old age, upon the plantation adjoining that of William Holland. Mrs. Denke had resided many years in France and was a lady of great refinement, a teacher in the Young Ladies' Seminary, at Salem, among whose former pupils were reckoned some of the most distinguished women of the Southern States, among them the wife of President Polk, and, later, Mrs. Jackson, who still survives her husband, the late General "Stonewall" Jackson, and who has expressed to the writer her deep sense of the cultivated intelligence and noted Christian character of the good woman who was a mother to the young printer's apprentice.
In his eighteenth year, under the pastorate of the late Bishop William Henry Van Vleck, who became his friend and faithful adviser, line united with the Church of his fathers at Salem. It was not, however, until a year later that he came to recognize and experience tine saving grace of God in Christ. In an incomplete memoir which he began some years ago to write for his children and grandchildren, he says, "I regard Easter Sunday, April 15, 1838, as my spiritual birthday.
Unlike his predecessors in time pastoral office at Salem, Bishop Vain Vleck took a deep interest in the expressed wish of his young parishioner to prepare himself for the ministry, and he often bade him "Be ready for any work whatsoever in the Church to which the Saviour may call you.
Quite unexpectedly in his nineteenth year, before his term of service in the printing office was ended, he was invited to become one of the Masters of the Parochial School for Boys, at Salem. His employer kindly gave his consent, and released from his verbal contract to remain in his employment for two years, and on October 1, 1838, he entered upon the duties of his new position. His colleagues were the late William L. Meinung and the Rev. H. G. Clauder - scholarly men and accomplished teachers. The latter soon accepted a call to the pastorate of the Moravian Church at New Dorp, Staten Island, N. Y., and was succeeded by Theodore F. Keehln later a graduate of the Medical Department of the University of Pennsylvania, a distinguished physician. During the period in which he was engaged as a teacher at Salem he was encouraged by his pastor, good Bishop Van Vleck, to still cherish his intention to enter directly into the service of the Church, and frequently was invited to make public addresses upon various occasions, and occasionally to preach under the direction of the Bishop in neighboring country charges. He also organized the first Sabbath-school in the town of Salem, in an unoccupied room, called "the Old Concert Hall," in the upper story of what is now the "Widows' House."
In August, 1841, in his twenty-second year he received a call as Assistant Missionary in the Island of Jamaica. His preference had been the Mission to the Cherokees, but he was dissuaded from this by Bishop Van Vleck who did not regard him as possessed of a sufficiently robust constitution to undergo what were accounted the hardships of that work.
On October 2, 1841, he left Salem, and after visiting Philadelphia and Bethlehem, where he made numerous friends and acquaintances, among them that of the late Jacob Wolle, Esq., and his daughter, who was destined in later years to become his wife, he sailed from Philadelphia, on October 18th, on the barque Madeline, Captain Shankland, for Kingston, which he reached on November 2. After a brief stay at Kingston he went by drogher (a coasting vessel) manned by Negroes, to Alligator Pond, and thence to Lititz and Fairfield. Here he established, under the care of the Mission in April, 1842, the Fairfield Training School, whence in later years have gone forth a multitude of those who have filled the ranks of the native ministry in the West Indies and on the Moskito Coast. The School remained under his care until 1844 when he was succeeded by the late Bishop A. A. Reinke, then a young man of about the same age. The depletion by death of the ranks of the missionary force in Jamaica soon after his arrival in 1841, forced him, in spite of the understanding that his work was to be primarily that of teaching, to be speedily engaged in the work of the pulpit and pastorate.
In the month of May, 1866, at the earnest solicitation of the Provincial Elders' Conference, he removed to Hope, Indiana, for the purpose of establishing and taking charge of a Seminary for Young Ladies, in that place. In this work he labored with his accustomed intelligence and energy, and was eminently successful, between six hundred and seven hundred young women from all parts of the United States having been under his care at Hope Seminary during the thirteen years in which he stood at the head of the institution. At the time he resigned the Principalship in 1879, there were nearly seventy young ladies in attendance, and the beautiful and tastefully adorned grounds reflected his well-known skill in transforming waste places into places of beauty. For everything that he touched he made beautiful. He was like some of the monks of the Middle Ages, a planter of trees and flowers; and from the Mission Stations in Jamaica to the home in which he breathed his last there are everywhere leafy memorials of his taste and skill. The grove of palms about the mission house at Lititz and the tall elms and firs upon the lawn of the Seminary, and the avenues of evergreens on the Moravian Cemetery at Hope, as they stand in all their beauty, reflect his love for that world of growing and blooming things which had entranced him from his childhood.
In 1869 he was one of the Delegates of the Northern Province of the Moravian Church in America to the General Synod held that year at Herrnhut, and subsequently traveled upon the Continent and in England. In 1870, at the Provincial Synod at York, Pa., by a practically unanimous vote, he was elected a candidate for the Episcopate, but this action of his brethren was not sustained by the official Lot afterwards cast in Germany.
In 1873 he was elected by the vote of the churches, a member of the Provincial Elders' Conference, to fill the vacancy occasioned by the death of the Rev. Sylvester Wolle, and held this office for five years until the election of a new Conference in the Fall of 1878.
The last fifteen years of his life have been spent in the quiet retirement of his home on the outskirts of the village of Hope, where he has, with his devoted wife, passed the declining years of life in the enjoyment of well-earned leisure. During these years he has ever held himself in readiness to preach upon occasion.
Stephen Benezet Holland and Sarah Horefield Holland died in infancy, the former at Sharon, Ohio, and the latter at Salem, N. C. The closing hours of Father Holland's life were marked by physical suffering, but great spiritual peace. He was "ready to depart." He said, "Do not keep me, I am ready to go." "How easy it is to slip out of time into eternity, and for those who are tired, how good it is."
His loving consideration for others was conspicuous in his utterances, when amid his most intense sufferings he sought by word and act to mitigate their labor and sorrow on his behalf.
As this lover of nature and of God, his Saviour, was coming near the bound of his earthly pilgrimage, he said: "I love everybody." He loved little children; he loved the flowers and the trees, he loved his kind; above all, he loved his Saviour. To Him he gave with a rare grace of modesty and of manly forcefulness all the years of his laborious and fruitful life.
Happy household with such a heritage. Happy community with such a citizen. Happy Church with such a consecrated, self-forgetful laborer.
We bless God for the grace by which He enabled Father Holland so to live and so to labor and so to go home to his eternal reward.
"Well done, good and faithful servant."