The James Holliday House and Family

Source: Dee Levister through the Kunte-Kinte Alex Haley Foundation

James Holliday c. mid 19th century Source: Dee Levister through the Kunte-Kinte Alex Haley Foundation

To put our last post into context, I’ve put together a brief history of the James Holliday, his family and their property in Annapolis.

The property on which the James Holliday sits was originally part of the land surveyed and designated for Governor Francis Nicholson in 1696. Between 1700 and 1850, the property changed hands six times and it appears that the James Holliday House was built between 1784 and 1819. Finally, in 1850, James Holliday purchased two lots within this land for $650, which included the still-standing brick townhouse.

James Holliday was born around 1809 and was a slave in southern Anne Arundel County until 1819. James Holliday worked for the U.S. Naval Academy as a steward messenger for every superintendent from 1845, when the Academy opened in Annapolis, until his death in 1882. When James Holliday died his property was left to his daughter Eleanora. Eleanora Holliday married Benjamin Briscoe, a sailor for the US Navy, in 1883 and they lived in the house with their children until 1923 when Eleanora died. When Eleanora passed away, she left the house and property to her daughters, Eleanor and Lucy Louis.

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