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Nelle Francis Williams Holthouse

Nelle Francis Williams is a daughter of Edward Heath Williams and Maude Dunn.

Born:   October 29, 1891 in Jonesboro, Arkansas
Died:   October 10, 1973 in Lawrenceburg, Tennessee
Buried:   Lawrenceburg, TN

Married Bernard Godfrey Holthouse October 25, 1911

1895 at age 4

1934 at age 43

1945 at age 54

1950 at age 59

1961 at age 70

1971 at age 80


Edward Heath Williams 1959 - 1901
Maude Dunn Williams 1865 - 1913
Nelle on the left, Edward in the back, and Frank in the front.

Nelle Williams, who we knew as Mamma Nelle, was born in a well-to-do family and enjoyed the finer things of life as a young lady. She attended finishing school in St. Louis before marrying Bernard Godfrey Holthouse in her home town of Jonesboro, AR.

Her grandfather, James H. Williams had moved to Osceola, AR from Nashville, TN to manage some of his father's farms in the area. He came to Arkansas with his wife Mary E. Finley who later died.  He then married Juliette Marion Heath.  Mama Nelle's father, Edward Heath Williams, was a product of that union. Her Father was a successful farmer and merchant.  Unfortunately, he died of pneumonia following a horseback trip in the rain at the young age of 42.

Mama Nelle's ancestor's on the Williams side had come to Arkansa from Nashville, TN where the Williams, Philips, and Horn families, among others, came together.  Much is known about these families and this subject will be covered elsewhere on another web site.

Mama Nelle and Pop moved to Indiana, living in Toledo and Muncie and possibly other towns before moving to Lawrenceburg, TN in June of 1924.

Note Mama Nelle wrote about the honeymoon.

Mama Nelle and Virginia in the late 1930's

Not sure when this picture of Mama Nelle was taken.  I'm guessing it was about 1940.  I received it from my brother Steve in September of 2015.

Following is a list of their children in the order in which they were born:

Margaret Martha Holthouse Feldhaus
born 2/22/1913 Jonesboro, AR
died 5/27/2001 Houston, TX

Virginia Heath Holthouse
bn 6/7/1915 Jonesboro, AR
died 1/18/1996 Lawrenceburg, TN

Maude Williams Holthouse Lumpkins
born 5/28/1919 Muncie, IN at hospital
died 6/23/1997 Santa Rosa, CA

Robert Bernard Holthouse
born 12/8/1922 Muncie, IN
died 11/28/2005 Osceola, AR

Bernard Godfrey Holthouse, Jr.
born 8/8/1924 Lawrenceburg, TN
died 3/26/2006 Cleveland, OH

Nelle Jean Holthouse Smith
bn 11/13/1929 Lawrenceburg, TN

It has to be mentioned that every one of the children who are deceased suffered from Alzheimers disease. Maude was the first to contact the desease at about age 55. The others were in their late 70s before the disease became incapacitating.

The Holthouse house was built on the site of the old Lawrenceburg Military Academy. In November of 1920 it was announced that a boy's military school would be established on the old Sowell home place on Pulaski Street. The place was leased and the school opened and prospered for several years.

The Holthouse's bought the site for their house after the Military Academy closed. The lot was about three acres in size and surrounded by about 35 acres of woods and fields owned by Admiral Sowell who lived away from Lawrenceburg. It wasn't until about 1946 that the old military academy swimming pool in front to the east of the house was finally filled with dirt and leveled. I can remember once during WWII we cleaned out all the old 78 rmp records and sailed them out over the swimming pool

I'm assuming the entrance to the Military Academy was the same intrance used by the Holthouse family to their house which was located on a slight rise above the Pulaski highway.

The huge oak tree directly behind the entrance to the Military Academy and to the left of the drive looks identical to the oak tree in front of the Holthouse house. This oak tree was struck by a ball of lightning one day about 1950, killing the tree. Pop had the tree taken down and it measured over four feet accross the stump.

The picture below was taken in November, 1971

When I was a small child, Mama Nelle and Pop helped the two boys, Bob and Junior farm the land around the house which they rented from Admiral Sowell.

They had a milking parlor and sold milk. They raised broilers in a broiler house. They had a farrowing house and raised pigs. They raised turkeys. They cured hams and bacon. They made lye soap. They raised cotton and corn. It was a working farm on the edge of town.

Mama Nelle had help in the house doing some of the cooking and cleaning and most of the ironing. Groceries were delivered by bicycle from the local grocery store after being ordered by phone.

It wasn't until about 1954 or so that Admiral Sowel sold the land to Edward Parks who subdivided the property and built nice brick homes. Eventually my Father and Mother bought one of these houses and lived there until they died.

Mama Nelle owned 220 acres of prime farm land near Manila, AR which she had heired from her father. There had been much more land, but over the years the government had levied taxes to fund the draining of the Mississippi Delta in Arkansa and much of the land was sold to cover the taxes. However, the rent she obtained from the land she owned allowed her to purchase a new car frequently and indulge other whims she otherwise would not have felt comfortable indulging.

click here to view the notes Mama Nelle left concerning the history of the Williams Family.

Mama Nelle and Margaret with Steve's first wife Allis Ann Rennie at a reception in her honor.

Mama Nelle and Pop 1961