Holliday - John H. - Montgomery InGenWeb Project

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Holliday - John H.

Source: Barnard,  Nancy  --  Ball State University, 1980

Inducted 1967
John Hampden Holliday, newspaperman, financier and  philanthropist, was born on May 31, 1846, in Indianapolis,  Indiana, of pioneer stock.
His grandfather, Samuel Holliday, settled in Indiana in 1816,  the year the territory became a state. Holliday's father, the  Rev. William A. Holliday, was born in Harrison County, Kentucky,  in 1803. As an adult, William Holliday gained prominence as  minister of the First Presbyterian Church of Indianapolis. He  also served other churches in the capital and was a professor at  Hanover College, Hanover, Indiana, before his death in 1866.  Holliday's mother, Lucia Shaw Holliday, was born in Boston,  Massachusetts, in 1805 and died in Indianapolis in 1881.
John Holliday received his formative education in Indianapolis  public schools. He attended Northwestern Christian University  (Butler University) for four years, and in 1864, entered Hanover  College, graduating with a bachelor of arts degree. Three years  later, he earned a master of arts degree from Hanover. Wabash  College, Crawfordsville, Indiana, presented Holliday an honorary  doctor of law degree in 1916 in recognition of what by then had  become a wealth of professional and civic achievements.
Holliday saw brief service in the Civil War, enlisting in the  100-day unit of the 137th regiment of Indiana volunteers. He  attempted to re-enlist in the military but was rejected by the  medical examiner.
Holliday next tried his hand at law, but abandoned his studies  to enter the field of journalism, starting as a reporter for the  Indianapolis Gazette. During his career, he also served on the  staff of the Indianapolis Herald, the Indianapolis Sentinel, and  as correspondent for the Cincinnati Gazette, the New York Herald,  and two Chicago papers, the Journal and the Republican.
In 1869, at the age of 23, Holliday founded the Indianapolis  News, the first two-cent evening paper west of Pittsburgh.  Holliday continued at the helm of the News until 1892 when he  retired at the advice of his physician. In May 1893, Holliday  established the Union Trust Company (now part of Indiana National  Bank) and served as its president until 1899 when he resigned to  join William J. Richards in establishing the Indianapolis Press.  Holliday was editor of the Press throughout its brief existence,  for in 1901 the paper was consolidated with the Indianapolis  News. During his two-year association with the Press, Holliday  continued as a director of Union Trust. He returned in 1901 as  its president, stepping aside 15 years later to become chairman  of the board. He served in that capacity until his death on  October 20, 1921. Holliday was 75.
His survivors included his wife of 46 years, Evaline M.  (Rieman), and six children.
Journalistic Contributions
It was 65 years from the time Elihu Stout brought the first  printing press to old Vincennes in 1804 to the time of the  founding of the Indianapolis News by John Holliday in 1869.
In the beginning Holliday was owner, editor, and business  manager. As such, the young entrepreneur set certain guidelines  for his publication:
1. Advertisers would be entitled to know the circulation of  the paper.
2. It was to be a family newspaper, attractive to the mothers  and daughters in the best homes.
3. To this end, a poem would be published in every issue.
4. Crime reports would be free of all "salacious or immodest  details; the language of the report was to be chaste and free  from prurient insinuation."
5. All objectionable advertisements, whether personal,  medical, or lottery, would be excluded.
6. All advertisements should be advertisements, "never to  assume the form or guise of editorial paragraphs."
The News was both a pioneer and an experiment in the West. It  was low in price (two cents) and small in size (the copy was  condensed).
The first issue of the News consisted of four pages, six  columns wide, with each page measuring 15 by 22 inches. Early  subscriptions totaled 1,200 in a city the population of 48,500.  In December 1890, the paper was permanently doubled. The News  became an eight-page daily except on Saturday, when four  additional pages were printed. By Holliday's retirement in 1892,  the paper had 25,000 subscribers, and the population of  Indianapolis was approximately 105,000.
From the History of Greater Indianapolis comes this  description of the News:
Its plain makeup, condensed form and refusal to print  advertisements as editorial matter soon made it popular. It was  well edited. Holliday's editorials were plain, pithy and to the  point as a rule. His one failing was in not realizing how  important and valuable a paper he had established. One element of  the success of the News was employing the best writers available  in every department. The News could always boast of being well  written and well edited, and that has been a large factor in its  success.
Although a lifelong Democrat, Holliday sought to keep the News  politically independent which is not to say the paper was  neutral. The publication always had a cause. The News:
# Opposed the city lending public monies for the belt  railroad
# Advocated the city purchase of Garfield Park
# Led the agitation for the adoption of the first city  charter
# Was instrumental in the formation of the Commercial Club  (now the Chamber of Commerce)
# Led the fight for Consumers Gas Trust, the forerunner to  Citizens Gas Company
# Supported sound money and home rule
# Opposed a third-term presidency.
In the course of a signed editorial Holliday once wrote: "I  have tried to make the News fearless and independent, a defender  of the right as I saw it, at whatever cost; a worker for the  whole people, not for a class, faction or individual; an advocate  of good government and real progress."
For a period of 23 years after the date of its founding, the  News presented the best biographical sketch of John Holliday. The  paper represented the strong traits of his character without  being in any sense a personal organ. It catered to the best  elements in the community and had a loyal constituency.
On May 21, 1892, Holliday retired from the News. The day  marked the 6,981st issuer of the paper.
Other Contributions
Abraham Lincoln once stated, "In speaking upon civic life, I  believe a man should be proud of the city in which he lives, and  I believe he should so live that his city should be proud that he  lived in it."
It was said of John Holliday that it was impossible to think  of the philanthropist without instantly associating his name with  every worthy charity in the city. In fact, it would be much  easier to list the Indianapolis organizations and charities in  which Holliday did not participate than it would be to name those  in which Holliday did.
Holliday helped establish the juvenile court, the Summer  Mission, the Public Welfare Loan Association, the Immigrants' Aid  Association and the Foreigners' Home.
He served as director of the McCormick Theological Seminary of  Chicago, trustee of the Presbyterian Synod of Indiana, and as a  ruling elder in the First Presbyterian Church of  Indianapolis.
His many memberships included the Board of State Charities,  the Thomas post, the Grand Army of the Republic, the Commercial  Club (forerunner to the Chamber of Commerce), the University  Club, the Indianapolis Literary Club, the Marion County Council  of Defense, and the Scottish Rite, where Holliday was honored as  a Thirty-third degree mason.
He served as president of the Indianapolis Charity  Organization Society, the Board of Trade, the Indiana Pioneer  Society, and the Indiana Society of Sons of the Revolution. he  was treasurer of the Indianapolis Chapter of the American Red  Cross.
One of Holliday's more notable contributions was the gift in  1916 of his 80-acre White River country estate to the city for  use as a park.
To the Emmerich Manual Training High School of Indianapolis,  Holliday bestowed $25,000 in 1920 to establish a scholarship in  memory of his son, John H. Holliday, Jr. The younger Holliday, a  graduate of Manual, died during World War I while stationed in  Washington, D.C.
by Nancy L. Barnard
Ball State University, 1980
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