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As promised, the next series of columns will be on the Holroyd family of Athens due to interest shown via email from Holroyd descendants Samuel David Holroyd and Luke Roberts.

We’ll start with the family of Holroyd patriarch William Holroyd with the source material being the article by the late Captain Paul H. Davis, USN (Ret.) in the Mercer County Historical Society’s History of Mercer County, 1984 edition.

Rev. Holroyd and his wife Sarah came to Mercer County in 1848 from England to serve as Methodist missionaries.

They first settled in Pisgah Valley before moving to Athens in the 1850s when Col. William Henderson French donated land for a church. Sarah Holroyd was asked to name the church and she said “Concord Church” where all could worship “in harmony, sweet fellowship and concord.”

The Holroyd home, which was located where the Athens branch of First Community Bank is, was known as “Mountain House” . It served as a social and political center from which came the movement to establish Concord Normal School (now CU). The town was known as Concord Church until 1896 when it changed its name to Athens.

Holroyd served as a captain in the Confederate Army during the Civil War and was known as Capt. William Holroyd for the rest of his life. They had a large family who were prominent in the arts, the legislative branch, the judiciary, education and medicine,.

Their children were Mary Ann “Nannie”; Sallie, William Henderson; Samuel; Robert Lee; and James French Holroyd,

Nannie married Charles William Gore. She died in 1935. A descendant, Col. Charles Sampson, was retired in Bluefield in the early 1980s.

Sallie married William McGinnis, an attorney and judge in Raleigh County. They had three children: William Holroyd McGinnis, James Hereford and daughter Sixie.

Robert Lee Holroyd moved to South Carolina early in his legal career and his descendants still live there.

The other three children have more involved family relationships and I will leave them for next time.

Jeff Harvey is a freelance reporter and columnist for the Princeton Times. Contact him at or write me at Mercer Memories, P.O. Box 781, Athens WV 24712.

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