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William Alexander Holley and Family


Dr. William Alexander Holley of Bramwell, W. Va., is the pioneer Colored physician in his part of the State. Like so many of the other professional men of the race in West Virginia, he came to the State from the Old Dominion, having been born at Wytheville, Va., on July 6, 1863, right in the midst of the great struggle which brought freedom and opportunity to the race in America. His father, John Holley, was a man of energy and intelligence and was for years a foreman in the employ of the Western Union Telegraph Company. Dr. Holley's mother, before her marriage, was Miss Martha Woodson, who was a daughter of Frederick and Jane Woodson. Dr. Holley's mother, passed away when he was three years of age. His father was in position to keep him in school, however, and gave him the best educational advantages available. The boy laid the foundation of his education in the local public schools. By a peculiar arrangement he was able to pursue his studies under private tutors, so that some years he went to school as much as eleven months in the year. This work, together with normal course was with a view to entering Lincoln University. He taught school for awhile in Virginia and when ready for his Medical Course, matriculated at the School of Medicine of Howard University, where he won his M.D. degree in 1892. It was while teaching and later while in Medical College he edited and published a weekly newspaper as the Southwestern Press, the first publication of its kind in the coal fields. It was also while teaching that he earned money and gained much valuable experience as a successful book agent. This work was done at intervals and evenings. He says he then saw people as they are and not as they show themselves to their teacher, preacher or doctor. After his graduation in medicine, he located at Bramwell, where he has since resided. As previously stated he is the pioneer colored physician in that field and for thirty years has led the life of a successful doctor and a good citizen in his town and county. He helped to organize and was at one time President of the Flat Top Medical Society. He is also a member and an ex-President of the State Medical and Dental Association and belongs to the National Medical Association.

Among the secret orders and benevolent societies, Dr. Holley holds membership in the Masons, Odd Fellows and Pythians for all of which he is, or has been, medical examiner. He was a delegate to several state conventions, and was elected, and served on the town council of Bramwell, in which there resides half a dozen multimillionaires.

He was the first Grand Master of the York Masons in West Virginia. Dr. Holley is also medical examiner for the National Benefit Insurance Company of Washington, D. C. Out of years of experience and intelligent observation, Dr. Holley concludes that perhaps the lesson most needed to be learned by the race today is thrift and economy. He has been married twice. His first marriage was on June 6, 1891, to Miss Maria J. McGee, of Knoxville, Tenn. She was educated at Knoxville and was a teacher. Two children were born to this union. Their names are George and Emma (Mrs. Peake). His second marriage was on June 29, 1898, to Miss Ella Witten of Tazewell, Va. There are five children by this marriage: Lillian E., Julia A., Elizabeth, William and John Holley.

Dr. Holley is a Republican in politics, but since taking up the practice of medicine has found but little time for outside interests, but has with singleness of purpose devoted himself to his professional work.

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