W. HOLMAN, county attorney for Buchanan county, was born in
Erie county, Pa., August 22, 1841, a son of Joseph S. and
Polly (Brainard) Holman. Joseph S. Holman was a native of
Massachusetts, and died in 1882, at the advanced age of
eighty-five years. His later years were spent with our subject,
and at his death his remains were carried back to his old home
and interred in the cemetery at Conneautville, Pa. Mrs. Polly
Holman was a native of New York and died in Erie county, Pa., in
1845, and was buried in Waterford cemetery. To Joseph S. Holman
and wife were born twelve children, the following of whom are
now living: David, of Rockville, Iowa; Frank, of
Minneapolis, Minn.; Harrison, our subject, and Nancy, living
near Waterford, Pa.
At the early age of nineteen years, H.
W. Holman entered upon the career of a soldier in the Civil war.
April 17, 1861, he was mustered into the three months’ service
at Conneautville, Pa., in the Erie regiment. At the end of three
months the regiment was reorganized and went out as the
Eighty-third Pennsylvania volunteer infantry, with which he
served until January, 1862. He was then transferred to the
signal corps of the United States army, in which he served as
first sergeant, and as signal officer was honorably discharged,
August 21, 1865, with character given as “Excellent, faithful,
intelligent and reliable,” signed by Paul Brodie, first
lieutenant, signal corps U. S. A., commanding. In the general
order, No. 3, of headquarters, Army of the Potomac, signal
department, bearing date March 22, 1865, Capt. Holman is
mentioned in the following commendatory terms:
The zeal and
vigilance of Sergeant H. W. Holman and his party on
station at the WaIthall House is commended. Sergeant
Holman, in his operations between the twelfth and
fifteenth of February last, obtained information of great
value, not only to the signal corps of the army, but to
the entire army of the United States. It is not deemed
prudent, how ever, to publish the nature of this
information. This order will be read to alt the
departments of the signal corps of the army. By order of
the chief signal officer.
(Signed) FRED S. BENSON,
Lieut. Signal Corps, U. S. A.,
The capture of the rebel code
of signals was the information secured by Sergeant Holman, and
military and naval men know the great value of such knowledge in
time of war.
The first time Capt. Holman was under
fire was at Yorktown, Va., April, 1862. He was also in the
following battles, besides numerous skirmishes: Williamsburg,
Fair Oaks, Gaines’ mills, Orchard station, Savage station,
Frazier farm, Malvern hill, Grovetown, South mountain, Antietam,
Fredericksburgh, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, Bristoe station,
Mine run, Wilderness, Spottsylvania, Cold Harbor, Petersburg,
Reams’ station, Appomattox, and at Lee’s surrender. He never
missed a day of service from sickness or disability. At Savage
station he was wounded in the face, and now bears the “honorable
After the war, Capt. Holman went to
the oil regions of Pennsylvania. In 1865 he came to Iowa,
settling in Allamakee county, and was there engaged in
blacksmithing for five years, during which time he studied law.
While blowing his bellows he had his law book laid so that he
could study it, and also studied at night. In this way, and
under these difficulties, he laid the foundation for, and, in
fact, acquired, his legal education in this way. His advisor and
preceptor was Capt. George R. Miller. He still owns one of the
law books he studied by his forge; with the coal dust still perceptible on its
pages. He was admitted to the bar in December, 1868, and began
the practice of his profession in the same year, succeeding his
preceptor, Capt. George R. Miller, who went to Mason City to
practice. In 1871 Capt. Holman went to Waterloo, forming a
partnership with Lewis Lichty. He had learned stenography in the
meantime, and in 1872 was appointed, by Judge J. M. Brayton,
shorthand reporter for this judicial district, which position he
held until 1877. In 1874 he had moved from Waterloo to Dubuque,
where he lived until May, 1877, when he came to Independence.
In 1886 Capt. Holman was elected county attorney for Buchanan
county, was reelected in 1888, and is now holding that office.
During the time he has been holding
the office of county attorney the great question of prohibiting
the sale of intoxicating liquors came before the county.
In no county in the state was the
liquor interests more determined and stubborn. Fifteen saloons
and two breweries were in full operation in defiance of law, and
a liquor league was backing their operation with money and the
best legal talent that money would bring. Captain Holman
commenced a vigorous prosecution, both by indictment and
injunction, and succeeded in closing every place in the county
and entirely suppressing the sale of intoxicating liquors.
October 27, 1868, he was united in
marriage with Miss Hattie Smith, daughter of John Smith, a
native of Vermont, who afterwards lived and died in Ohio. Mrs.
Holman’s mother, Eliza (Moore) Smith, subsequently married Isaac
Grimwood. To Mr. and Mrs. Holman are born four children, viz.:
Grace, wife of Hugh McGibboney, of the noted McGibboney family
(musicians); Leta, May Bell and Harold.
Captain Holman is identified with the
Masons; Legion of Honor; E. C. Little Post, No. 54, of
Independence, G. A. R., and the I. O. O. F. In politics he is a
republican. The first vote he ever cast was for Abraham Lincoln,
during the war, when he sealed his vote and sent it to his home
in Pennsylvania, the soldiers being permitted to cast their
votes in that way by a special act of the legislature of
Pennsylvania. He has regularly voted the republican ticket, and
for the last twenty years has been active in the canvass, and
his voice has been heard in different parts of the state
explaining the grand principles of the republican party.