10 November 2017

Caroline Bivins Holmes Williford (d. 1892)

Caroline E. Bivins was born about 1815 in Milledgeville, Baldwin County, Georgia.  Her parents were William Bivins (d. 1850) of Delaware and Eliza W. Harris (1788-1846), and two of her siblings were James M. (d. 1876) and Sarah (1821-1898).

100_0765Caroline married John Holmes, son of James Holmes and Mary Kell, 17 October 1833 in Bibb County, Georgia.  The couple had two sons – John C. Holmes and Edward Bivins Holmes – before the elder John died on 26 September 1835 at the age of 27 years.

When her boys were teenagers, Caroline married again to William S. Williford on 2 December 1849 in Bibb County.  This marriage was also short lived as the couple was parted by William's death on 28 March 1858.

John C. Holmes married into a well-known family when he wed Ann Eliza, a daughter of Abner Flewellyn Holt.  This young couple had at least five children.  Since John died in the 1860s, and Ann died about 1878, matriarch Caroline Williford was housing four of her living grandchildren by the taking of the 1880 Macon, Bibb County, Georgia federal census:

  • Caroline E. "Carrie" Holmes (1858-1935)
  • Victoria Holmes (1859-1934)
  • Lannie Holt Holmes Jemison (1861-1938)
  • John Champneys Holmes (1864-1930)

Caroline's other son, Edward Bivins Holt, also married and had children.  That immediate family went West to California in the early 1860s.

Caroline's parents and both of her husbands were buried in Rose Hill Cemetery.  Her son John was buried there, and the four grandchildren who remained in Macon were also buried there.  I think it is highly probable Caroline was also laid to rest in Rose Hill Cemetery after her death in the summer of 1892, but I am still looking for confirmation.

A Note About the Burial of John Holmes

As mentioned above, Caroline's husband John died in 1835.  This was five years before Rose Hill Cemetery was open for business.  So I wonder if John was originally buried in Macon's Old City Cemetery, then later moved to Rose Hill.


According to RoseHillCemetery.org, John rests in lot 137 of block 1 of the Central Avenue Division of Rose Hill Cemetery.  Cemetery records note the purchaser of that lot as "Isaac & John Holmes," though a purchase date is not included.  I have to wonder if that is entirely accurate.  Could the lot have been purchased, more specifically, by their estates? The city of Macon? Or maybe even the State of Georgia?

John's brother Isaac was once mayor of the City of Macon.  He resigned from that position to captain the Macon Volunteers in the Mexican War.  Isaac died in that service near camp in Monterey, Mexico, December 1846.  Inscribed on his tombstone is the following:

The state of Georgia erects this monument in honor
of his service to his country.  The city & citizens
of Macon, the Macon Volunteers & Masonic Fraternity
uniting in the testimonial.

Whether John was moved to Rose Hill Cemetery from his original burial place, then Isaac laid beside him, or if the sequence of events were the opposite, I don't know.  It does appear there was enough room for Caroline to be placed there in 1892, though.

Caroline's son John C. Holmes, as well as each of his children, were buried in a lot (also in the Central Avenue Division) purchased by the "Estate of Dr. Abner F. Holt."

Obituary for Caroline E. Bivins Holmes Williford

Macon Telegraph (Georgia)
Monday, 4 July 1892 -- pg. 6 [via GenealogyBank]


Mrs. Caroline E. Williford Died Yesterday Afternoon.
Mrs. Caroline E. Williford died in this city yesterday afternoon at 5 o'clock.

The death of Mrs. Williford breaks another link between the present and the past.  Though born in Milledgeville, for seventy-seven years she has been a resident of Macon, and has seen it grow from a frontier village to its present importance.  She was twice married, first to Mr. John Holmes, and a few years after his death to the late W. S. Williford.  She leaves one son, Capt. Edward B. Holmes of San Francisco, Cal., and a number of grandchildren and great-grandchildren.  Among the grandchildren are Mr. John C. Holmes, Miss Carrie E. Holmes, Miss Victoria Holmes and Mrs. R. W. Jemison of this city.

Though confined to her own home by reason of her age, for a number of years, she has not passed from the lives of her friends, but her home has been the centre of a large circle who have been wont to gather there and enjoy the cheer and comfort that has ever been shed about by her pure Christian character.

She has literally gone about on this earth doing good unto her fellowman, and it may be said of her with absolute certainty that "None knew her but to love her."

Surely a mother in Israel has fallen, but the consolation is left to those to whom she was most dear, that her deeds will live after her and her "works will follow her."

Her life has been a part of the history of Macon, and as one of the oldest residents she will be sincerely mourned.

The funeral will take place from the residence of Mr. John C. Holmes, No. 221 Forsyth street, this afternoon at 5 o'clock.

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