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
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.