Hollan Family’s Unusual Record

By Stephen D. Bowling

On December 11, 1931, The Jackson Times ran an unusual story on its front pages. Today, newspapers would not print similar reports for fear of violating current standards in the newspaper industry. The article, brief as it was, was filled with personal details that were not exactly of a public nature.

The tombstone of Alfred H. Hollan in the Hollan Cemetery at Canoe.

Hollan Family Has Unusual Record

The Hollan family residents of Breathitt county have an unusual record in weight and size.

Alfred Hollan, father of seven children living has passed the 300 mark on the scales.  The total weight of his four sons is approximately 1,035, or an average of over 258 pounds each.

Mr. Hollan and his seven children have a total of 1,918 pounds, averaging 274 pounds.

Five of Mr. Hollan’s children live in Jackson, one of whom is John S. Hollan, treasurer of Breathitt County.

The Jackson Times, Friday, December 11, 1931, page 1.
John S. Hollan, mentioned as one of Alfred’s sons, was Postmaster of Jackson for 24 years. He was active in Breathitt County Politics and was Chairman of the Breathitt County Democratic Party for 10 years. He died in 1981 at the age of 86.

Alfred Henry Hollan (Holland) was born on April 21, 1859, in Breathitt County on the Middle Fork of the Kentucky River. His parents, Levi and Elizabeth (Hall) Hollan had moved to the area from Clay County and settled on the river just above the mouth of Old Buck Creek. Levi Hollan was born in Buncombe County, North Carolina and raised ten children in Breathitt County.

Alfred, who the story identified as more than 300 pounds, farmed the large open fields along the river for more than 50 years. His now-famous sons included Patrick, Archibald, Hurum, Alfred, Jr. and John S., David Redwine, Walker, Woodrow, and Morton. Exactly who The Jackson Times weighed to get their total is unknown, but by the time the article was published in 1931, Alfred, Jr. was no longer living to add to the totals.

Alfred was married twice but produced two children with Susan Hensley. According to his obituary, Alfred was married first to Mary Ann “Polly” Howard, who died on June 16, 1909, and second to Malvery Gilbert. Alfred had a total of 14 children, based on family information.

Alfred Hollan was a prosperous businessman in the Canoe community. He operated a store for more than 35 years and was an active member of the Methodist Church for more than 40 years. The Jackson Times said in his obituary that he was “known for kindness and generosity and his home was always open to those who passed his way.”

On December 3, 1938, Alfred Hollan rose at his usual 5:00 a.m. and ate his breakfast before going to the store. The family noted that he was in good spirits and did not complain of any issues. He closed the store that evening and attended to his usual chores. The next day started as so many had before.

He rose at 5:00 a.m. on December 4, 1938, and had his coffee in his bedroom. Alfred stood to walk to the kitchen table to eat breakfast. He took a few steps and collapsed in front of the fireplace in his bedroom. Hearing the thump, his wife, Malvery (Gilbert) Hollan, ran to check on him, but he was already dead when she got to him. Alfred’s body was taken to the Ray & Blake Funeral Home at Jackson and then on to his daughter’s home for services on Monday, December 5th.

Alfred Henry Hollan, 79, was buried in the Hollan Cemetery on Canoe Road near his father and family.

A view of the Hollan Cemetery on Canoe Road.

© 2023 Stephen D. Bowling


About sdbowling

Director of the Breathitt County Public Library and Heritage Center in Jackson, Kentucky.
This entry was posted in Breathitt County, Businesses, Farming and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Hollan Family’s Unusual Record

  1. James Noble says:

    Is Alfred’s Obituary available to read on this website? He is my Great Great Great Great Grandfather and I would love to have it for my family record. Thank you for your time.


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