Abraham James Holderman, president of the Farmers and Merchants National Bank of Eldorado, an ex-mayor of the city, and one of the most prominent men in Butler county, was born in Morris, Grundy county, Illinois, May 17, 1854. He is a son of Abram Holderman, Jr., and Mary (Hoge) Holderman, the former of whom was born in Ross county, Ohio, Jan. 22, 1822. The Holderman family are descended from Pennsylvania Dutch ancestors. Abram Holderman, Sr., the grandfather of Abraham J., was a native of Chester county, Pennsylvania, but removed to Ross county, Ohio, where he became an extensive farmer and stock raiser and drove cattle to the Philadelphia and Baltimore markets. In 1831, he removed to Illinois, located land and settled in what is now known as Holderman's Grove, near Newark in Kendall county. There he continued to reside until his death. He passed through all the experiences incident to the pioneer life of that time and place, became an extensive stock raiser and grew quite wealthy. His son, Abram, Jr., the father of Abraham J., began farming for himself when twenty-three years of age and became a great stock raiser and a very wealthy man. His land holdings in Grundy county aggregated 7,000 acres and his estate was valued at $600,000. He was a stanch Republican and was a prominent man in the public affairs of his community. He served twenty years as supervisor of Grundy county, was a school director twenty-five years, and was road commissioner twenty years. He was a famous hunter and was known throughout Illinois as "Abe" Holderman.
On May 6, 1847, he married Mary, a daughter of William Hoge, who settled in Grundy county, Illinois, in 1829, and as the first white settler in the county. The Hoge family was founded in America by William Hoge, who came from Scotland in the Seventeenth century and settled in Pennsylvania. He married Barbara Hume, a relative of the historian Hume. Their son, William, was the first Quaker in the family and removed from Pennsylvania to Virginia in 1854. His son, Solomon, born in High Bucks county, Pennsylvania, May 2, 1729, died in Loudoun county, Virginia, March 7, 1811. Joshua, the son of Solomon, was born in Loudoun county, Virginia, Feb. 8, 1779, and died April 5, 1854. He married Mary Poole and acquired large farming interests near Washington, D. C. William Hoge, their son, born in Loudoun county, Virginia, July 5, 1801, was the maternal grandfather of our subject and was the first settler in Grundy county, Illinois, as stated before. He became a prominent man in Grundy county and was one of its largest land owners. Though a Quaker, he was a stanch Union man and an active supporter of its cause during the Civil war. In 1835, he erected at his own expense the first school house in Grundy county, which is still standing on the old home place. He also in other kindred ways contributed to the progress and development of Grundy county. Abraham Holderman, Jr., died Nov. 28, 1887, and is survived by his wife, who now resides at Morris, Ill., and by five children, namely: Abraham J., the eldest living; Albert Henry, a farmer and stock raiser at Morris, Ill.; Martha, the wife of M. D. Wilson, a farmer residing near Morris, Ill.; Landy S., a farmer residing near Paxton, Ill; and Samuel, who resides on the old home farm in Grundy county and is a prominent citizen of the community.
Abraham James Holderman was educated in the public schools of Grundy county, Illinois, and at the Morris (Ill.) Classical and Scientific Institute. His earlier years were spent on the home farm where under his father's direction he gained a practical knowledge of the great basic industry of agriculture. In 1876, he began to farm independently and also engaged in stock raising, both with great success. He came to Butler county, Kansas, in the spring of 1885 and bought 640 acres of the finest land in the county, at Chelsea, on the Walnut river. The land is principally devoted to crops though he feeds some cattle, usually a herd of about 500. The farm now comprises 1,400 acres and is one of the fertile and scientifically conducted farms in the state. The farm, which is now under the management of Mr. Holderman's son, Theodore W., is in Chelsea township and occupies the old town site of Chelsea, once the county seat of Butler county. Mr. Holderman has bought at different times all the old buildings of the town such as the old school house and the church, which still stands well preserved, with the verdant fields of the Holderman farm as their background. Mr. Holderman also owns another fine farm which adjoins Eldorado on the west. On this farm he has constructed one of the largest artificial lakes in the state. It is well stocked with bass and croppie and affords much pleasure to the owner and his friends. He has resided in Eldorado since 1886 and has taken an active and influential part in the city's affairs. He is a Republican in his political allegiance. He was elected mayor of Eldorado in 1903, was reëlected in 1905 and left the record of a clean progressive administration. During his terms in that office the sewerage system was established, the waterworks plant was bought by the city, the concrete dam was built in the Walnut river, the stand pipe rebuilt, and other improvements made at a total cost of about $50,000. In 1898 he became a stockholder in the Farmers and Merchants National Bank at Eldorado and was elected a director of the bank, serving as such until May, 1909, when he was elected president to succeed R. H. Hazlett. It was organized in 1894 and is the oldest bank in Eldorado. It has a capital of $50,000, a surplus of $50,000, and deposits aggregating $500,000, the largest of any bank in the county. During the late '80s, he with W. T. Clancy conducted the Bank of Eldorado, a private institution, which they later liquidated. He, with R. H. Hazelett, organized the Butler County Telephone Company, of which he is president. The company covers the entire county and has exchanges in all the towns except Potwin and Whitewater. Mr. Holderman is a successful man of broad and progressive views, one whose genial personality wins and holds him many friends.
On March 6, 1877, Mr. Holderman maried[sic] Miss J. Virginia, daughter of Robert Hume Bashaw, of Warrington, Va. To Mr. and Mrs. Holderman have been born the following children: Mary Virginia, born March 28, 1878, who is the wife of Robert H. Ramsey, of Marlow, Okla., a son of the late A. C. Ramsey, a prominent pioneer of Butler county; Theodore W. born Sept. 29, 1888, who manages the home farm in Chelsea township; Grace Pearl, born January 3, 1890, completed a five-years' course in the Mt. Carmel School at Wichita; Abraham, Jr., born in 1895, and Curtis Malcolm, born in 1900, both of whom are students in the public schools. Mr. Holderman has a charming family. His wife is a lady of grace and culture, and their home, one of the handsomest in Butler county, is known for its hospitality, a hospitality that is administered with a geniality and liberality that both gain and give pleasure.Pages 445-447 from volume III, part 1 of Kansas: a cyclopedia of state history, embracing events, institutions, industries, counties, cities, towns, prominent persons, etc. ... / with a supplementary volume devoted to selected personal history and reminiscence. Standard Pub. Co. Chicago : 1912. 3 v. in 4. : front., ill., ports.; 28 cm. Vols. I-II edited by Frank W. Blackmar. Transcribed December 2002 by Carolyn Ward. This volume is identified at the Kansas State Historical Society as microfilm LM195. It is a two-part volume 3.
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