E. Simpson & the
History of Holliday, Texas
Maggie Elizabeth Holt was born October 17, 1858 near Shelbyville, Bedford County, Tennessee to Mr. & Mrs. Herod Jackson Monroe Holt. Maggie had four brother: John J. Hiram J., William and George. The family settled near Auora, Missouri in 1869.
In 1889, Maggie came to visit her Aunt & Uncle, William H. and Martha Word, who lived 5 miles south of Holliday, Texas. She met and married the Mail Stage owner, Mr. Hampton Wade Simpson, on May 22, 1890. He continued handling the mail from the Station which was 5 miles west of Holliday, but after their marriage they moved into town because the arrival of the railroad made the State Station obsolete.
Mr. George Meade was a land investor and after hearing that a railroad would be built from Wichita Falls to Seymore, he moved to the vicinity and purchased acreage where one of the Mail Stations was planned. He realized it was a lifetime chance for a good investment. Mr. Meade's brother was a professional land surveyor, so he was brought in to oversee and help with the job of plotting lots for the town of Holliday in 1890.
Holliday was named after Captain John Holliday who was a survivor of the Massacre of Goliad. On August 4, 1841, Holliday and two dozen other survivors camped and hid out from the Indians near the Wichita River and it was there that John Holliday carved his name on a tree. Many years later, settlers decided on this name for the town.
Excitement was flourishing with stores, churches, and by 1892, Holliday had built a school for all grades. Mr. Meade had built a two-story hotel to accommodate passengers on the train and moved in a boxcar for the mail distribution until a depot could be built. It seemed the most exciting and interesting thing that people could do was to make a point of meeting and talking to the passengers on the train. Until the hotel was finished, churches in the area met in his home and the hotel, until other places became available.
On August 1, 1892, Mrs. Maggie Simpson gave birth to their son, Herod M. (Pap) Simpson. Herod was the first infant born in Holliday. Many years later, he became the second Mayor of Holliday and led in the incorporation of the town in 1928.
In 1894, Maggie Simpson's husband, H.W. Simpson, along with a big crew of 15 to 20 ranch hands from the Luke Wilson's Ranch, south of Holliday, drove a herd of cattle to Dodge City, Kansas never to be heard from again. Herod was only two years old at this time. He spent his lifetime and a lot of money trying to find his Father, but each effort was fruitless.
After her husband's disappearance, Maggie began teaching at the Lone Star School which was located on the John Thomas homeplace in Holliday and the Pleasant Valley School. "Auntie" which she was affectionately known, would wrap Herod in a blanket and place him under her feet as she drove her horse and buggy to school. This arrangement allowed him to start school at the age of five and for his Mother to be his teacher. Many of her students were taller and bigger than her. The salary for teaching was $25 per month. Due to the diligence and integrity of his Mother, Herod was a well educated person. She sent him to high school in Byers and then to college in Decatur, Texas.
The school terms were short as the children were needed to harvest the crops and the boys helped work the cattle. Maggie continued to teach until she purchased the Holliday Hotel in 1907. In the beginning the hotel had 10 rooms of which three of them were a kitchen, dining room and what was known then as a polar. In the later years, during the oil boom, five more rooms were added. Room and board were $1 a day and single meals both for the regular roomer or the walk-ins was 25 cents a meal.
Each year she and Herod planted a garden at the rear of the hotel and they always had fresh vegetables or canned goods fixed with a pressure cooker all through the year. Both of them took great pride in taking total care of permanent or temporary guests of the hotel.
During the many years she owned the hotel, she and her son met many people who came to Holliday and formed lifelong friendships.
Because of Maggie Simpson's hospitality, one circus company always came to the Holliday Hotel and her granddaughter was the recipient of many passes to all the fun rides.
Most of the people lived on the south side of town and as they walked to the Post Office, they would stop and rest and chat with Mrs. Simpson in her rocking chair. She spent many hours and looked forward to seeing friends and neighbors passing by to keep up with local news and rumors.
In 1937, Maggie quit cooking on the wood stove, at the instance of her son and his family. She converted over to gas. Herod and his wife, Alva, and their daughter, Jo, lived miles away on an oil lease and many times they checked on her welfare. One afternoon, they went for a visit and walking down the hotel hall, we were met by dark black smoke. She was found resting and snoring with a big pot of red beans burning. She never really got used to cooking with gas.
Maggie Simpson spent her days with a life of hard work, but after the buggy and fewer trains, the hotel was unnecessary. She will be remembered as the friend of mankind, always passing the time away by rocking alone in an old rocking chair and speaking to those who passed by.
Maggie (Auntie) Simpson, passed away in Holliday on June 18, 1946 and was buried in the local cemetery next to her beloved son, Herod (Pap).
When the hotel was torn down in the early 1950's, jars of food was found in the storm cellar at the rear of the hotel.
Herod (Pap) Simpson, passed away in Wichita Falls on January 23, 1963 and is buried in the local cemetery between his loving wife, Alva, and his mother, Maggie. A saying Herod was known for, "Call on those who are lonely and burdened and remember we do not pass this way but once".