The student of history cannot carry his investigations far into the annals of this section of the state without learning of the important part which the Holderman family has played. Prior to the Black Hawk war they became residents of Illinois and since that time the Holdermans, grandfather, father and son, have been important factors in promoting public progress. The grandfather, as a pioneer, aided in laying the foundation for the future development of the county and the father carried on the work which he instituted. The son, L. S. Holderman, stands also as a representative of a progressive public spirit and as the years have passed the family have enjoyed the well merited fruits of labor, so that the subject of this review in possession of a handsome competence is today living retired, deriving his income from his extensive landed interests and other investments.
L. S. Holderman was born in Grundy county, Illinois, November 8, 1859, a son of Abram and Mary E. (Hoge) Holderman. The former was a son of Abram Holderman, Sr., a Pennsylvania Dutchman, who married Miss Charlotte O'Neal, of Irish parentage. When eighteen years of age he removed to Ross county, Ohio, of which place his wife was a native. They reared a family of seven sons and seven daughters. Abram Holderman, Sr., engaged extensively in farming and stock-raising in the Buckeye state and drove large herds of cattle to the Philadelphia and Baltimore markets prior to the period of railroad transportation. In July, 1831, becoming imbued with a desire to establish his home on the western frontier, he made his way to Illinois on a prospecting tour. There were no white settlers in this portion of the state at that time and upon reaching Door Prairie he hired an Indian to pilot him through. He had no definite idea where he wished to go but traveled for seventy miles through the Indian country before stopping. They rode on across the trackless prairies, sleeping wrapped in their blankets where night overtook them, with their saddles for pillows. On the morning of the third day a lovely grove in the midst of broad prairies appeared before them and Mr. Holderman was so well pleased that he drove his stakes there and made his claim, selecting eighty acres of land which included the grove. He then returned to Ohio, gathered his earthly possessions consisting of one four horse Pennsylvania wagon, a common two horse wagon and a wagon drawn by oxen and with his household goods started for Illinois, accompanied by his wife and nine children. He also took with him eleven head of horses, nineteen head of blooded cattle and three yoke of oxen, forming quite a cavalcade. Such a journey was a great undertaking in those days, when there were no roads or bridges. They had to ford and sometimes swim the streams and flounder through sloughs, in which they were frequently mired. They traveled along the southern shore of Lake Michigan, having Chicago in view as a place where they might replenish their food supplies. The night before reaching the future metropolis of the west their provisions had become exhausted so that the family and the stock went to bed without an evening meal. They were in buoyant spirits, however, fully expecting to get plenty when they reached the fort by the lake. Morning dawned and they were twelve miles away with no breakfast. At length they reached the fort and imagine their surprise when four bushels of oats at four dollars per bushel and one loaf of bread was all that money could purchase. Twelve miles farther through mud and swamps brought them to Widow Berry's Point, where they secured supplies, obtained a meal and rested until the following day. Their bill for entertainment was forty-seven dollars — such was the exorbitant prices charged at that time. At this time they were only fifty miles from their destination and the next day they traveled to Plainfield, a distance of thirty miles. They reached the end of their journey in October, 1831, and another eighty acres of choice timber land was added to the original claim, which Mr. Holderman had staked out. Thus was established the Holderman family in Illinois and thus was laid the foundation for the family's fortune, while at the same time it was a momentous day for the section in which they located, as they planted the seeds of civilization there and were the vanguard in the work of development, improvement and progress.
During the spring of 1832 the family lived for six weeks on a poor quality of pounded corn, so poor that the horses refused to eat it. During that spring Mr. Holderman went to St. Louis and invested four hundred dollars in supplies. He also purchased a keelboat and in that way took his provisions to Ottawa. On the 17th of May, the day after he had reached home, he was informed by a friendly Indian named Peppers that a band of eighty Mohawks were on the warpath and had murdered a family close by. The report of the murder, however, proved to be false, as the man of the house was away from home and the family had in some way received word in time and hid in the brush. Not long before this five families had settled near Mr. Holderman and when the news came of the uprising of the red men they all collected at the Holderman home. It was dark, however, when they arrived there, so that they could make no move before morning. When the dawn came Mr. Holderman and two or three other men went out to reconnoiter. They found the Indians at the home of the family who were supposed to be murdered. One was acting as sentry on top of the house and at the approach of the whites he jumped off and the whole party took to the brush but fired on the whites, who necessarily had to make a hasty retreat with the entire number of Indians following. Seeing that the Indians would pursue them to where their families were gathered the men resorted to a ruse to check them, Mr. Holderman pulling off his hat and waving it as if there were others in reserve. The Indians fearing a trap or ambuscade beat a hasty retreat and the white settlers reached home in safety. Everything was now in readiness for the retreat to Ottawa. The children, some of whom were asleep, were put in wagons, as well as the women. The women drove, and the men, mounted and on foot, kept guard until Ottawa was reached and there they remained for some time. The Indians, however, visited the homes of the settlers and destroyed everything they did not carry off and thus Mr. Holderman lost the supplies which he had brought from St. Louis at such great expense and hardship. However, the disturbance quieted down and the families returned to their homes. As the country developed and there sprang up a market for the produce, Mr. Holderman, who had a, rich tract of land, made much money from his farming and stock-raising operations, becoming one of the prosperous residents of the community. He well deserved the success that came to him, for it was gained through hardships and difficulties in early days and through persistent, earnest and indefatigable labor. Moreover, his name is inseparably associated with the ubbuilding of this part of the state. Being the first settler to locate here, from the beginning he was actively associated with the growth and development and aided in shaping the policy of the county during its formative period.
Abram Holderman, Sr., resided with his father until twenty-three years of age, at which time the father gave him a plow and harness and all the land he could use, rent free, saying "earn your own money and you will know how to prize it." With resolute spirit he set to work and was soon on the high road to prosperity. At the age of twenty-five years he married Miss Mary Hoge, a daughter of William Hoge, who, coming from Virginia, had reached this portion of the country two weeks before the Holdermans. Immediately after their marriage, which took place May 6, 1847, the young couple settled at Holderman's Grove, in one of the houses owned by his father, who at that time purchased most of his neighbors land. There they lived for two years and then removed to a quarter section of land which Mr. Holderman had purchased near Seneca for three dollars per acre. This was his first investment in property. Before his death his land extended along the canal and the Rock Island Railroad for seven miles east and west. From time to time he made judicious investments and during his later years he was the owner of seven thousand acres of choice land in the Illinois river valley. His family numbered eight children, seven sons and one daughter, of whom three sons died in childhood.
L. S. Holderman, whose name introduces this record, was reared on his father's farm and there remained to his twenty-sixth year. He received his education in the country schools and five years after attaining his majority he left home and in 1883 took up his abode upon a farm in Ford county, which he purchased. He only remained there for a year, however, when he removed to Paxton, where he engaged in trading and dealing in horses. He also gave considerable time to the raising of blooded stock, including both the raising of stock and heavy draft horses. This business he conducted in connection with the supervision of his farming interests until a few years ago, when he disposed of his stock. He was also connected with merchandising in Paxton for two years, dealing principally in farm implements. In all of his business affairs he has displayed an aptitude for successful management and in bringing to successful completion whatever he has undertaken.
In 1888 was celebrated the marriage of L. S. Holderman and Miss Laura J. Smith, a daughter of John and Adeline (Morehead) Smith, who were natives of England. Removing to the west, they settled in Vermilion county at the town of Potomac, being among the early residents of that locality. Mr. Smith was a farmer and stockman and was well known in business circles there. His family numbered four children: Martha J., the wife of William Kuykendall, of Armstrong, Illinois; Alvin G. and Robert H., also of Armstrong; and Mrs. Holderman.
Unto our subject and his wife have been born five children, John A., Jennie A., Lillian M., Edward S. and Mary L. Mr. Holderman and his family are members of the Methodist Episcopal church. Mr. Holderman belongs to Paxton Lodge, A. F. & A. M., and to the Knight Templar commandery. He is also connected with Paxton Lodge of Odd Fellows. He has filled several city offices, including that of alderman and has ever exercised his official prerogatives in support of progressive public movements. He is a thoroughgoing man, enterprising and energetic, reliable in business and a worthy representative of an honored pioneer family.

Extracted 17 Oct 2016 by Norma Hass from History of Ford County, Illinois, From Its Earliest Settlement to 1908, author E. A. Gardner, Volume 2, pages 682-688.

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