Jeff Harvey

We continue our look at Athens through the notes of Ella Holroyd as printed in the Mercer County Historical Society’s 1987 edition of “The History of Mercer County” with a look at more of Ella’s family.

The since-demolished William Holroyd house was next to the Mountain House hotel operated by the Holroyd family. “Will” Holroyd was an artist, who taught his art teacher how to do perspective drawing, “the vanishing point,” etc. He died at about 40 from a rumored brain tumor. He also served as a doctor.

Ella’s father, James French Holroyd, was the oldest child in his family. He was born at the old Coulter house, spent the Civil War at William Henderson French’s farm taking care of the place and at 16, took care of the hotel and his siblings while his parents went back to England.

He also served as postmaster and as first assistant to nine Concord principals/presidents before contracting a fatal case of Bright’s Disease.

He married Bette Lively from Lowell. She came to Athens with her brother, roomed upstairs at the R.G. Meador store and later boarded with Mrs. Meador. She met Holroyd when she played the piano at the Mountain House.

The Holroyds married in 1882 and lived in a cottage on Vermillion Street. The oldest five children, including Ella, were born there before the family moved to State Street where the last four children were born.

After James’ death, Bette worked at the Concord Registrar’s Office where Ella later worked.

The Methodist Church was built on a land plot deeded by Col. W.H. French which bordered the Red Sulphur Turnpike. Thomas Pritchard supervised the construction and Sarah Holroyd named the church. A Rev. Workman gave the first sermon.

As the church grew in size, a frame building was constructed, followed years later by the current building with the brick addition of Anderson Hall, named after Lucy Thompson Anderson and her husband, who left money to both the Methodist and Baptist churches.

Jeff Harvey is a freelance reporter and columnist for the Princeton Times. Contact him at

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