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Benjamin Whitley Holliday, M. D.
THERE is no class of citizens to whom the world owes a greater degree of gratitude than the self-denying, self-sacrificing, kind-hearted, and noble-minded gentlemen whose time and attention are devoted to the ministering succor to the afflicted and the mitigation of human suffering, for nothing is truer than the statement by one of the ancient philosophers, "He serves God best who serves humanity most." And the writer of biography and memorial history, dealing with the personal records of men engaged in various affairs of every-day life, occasionally finds a subject whose record commands exceptional interest and admiration, and especially is this true when he has achieved more than ordinary success or made his influence felt as a benefactor of his kind, or a leader of thought. Such a life abound is valuable lesson and incentive to those who have become discouraged in the fight for recognition or to the youth whose future is undetermined. For a number of decades the late Dr. Benjamin Whitley Holliday directed his efforts towards this goal of success, and, by patient continuance, won. For more than forty years his name was a household word in the city of Cleveland, and throughout the entire surrounding country, for he ranked among the foremost practicing physicians of his day and generation in this section of Ohio, and was not only admired for his skill in this branch of science, but was also greatly esteemed for his personal worth as a man and a citizen, having been a kind and obliging, broad-minded, and courteous gentleman whom it was a pleasure to know. His name is eminently deserving a place in the pages of history of the Buckeye State, along with other men of the past who have made their mark in the world's affairs, especially those whose lives were of distinct service to humanity.
If we go back into the dark ages of history we find that there were many people who were made to suffer and many who died for their religious beliefs. Back in those days of the early history of advanced thought, when men were beginning to become enlightened, and form their own views as the proper way to worship God, we will find a family by the name of Holliday, living in the hills of Scotland. But because they were of the class of people who were doing their own thinking, and not leaving it to the State, they ere persecuted so much that they finally left their Scotland home and fled to the north of Ireland, where they lived and prospered for many years. In the middle of the seventeenth century, however, tales of the land across the seas were coming to them, and finally there were three brothers of that name who decided to venture across the seas and make for themselves a home in the new land of America. Arriving in America the separated, one going to Massachusetts, another to Virginia, and the third to Pennsylvania. It was from the last that the subject of this memoir was descended. He went into the wilderness and made his home near what is now the town of Chambersburg, where he married and raised a family. In the latter part of the eighteenth century, Dr. Holliday's grandfather left the ancestral home with his bride and went to what was then a wilderness but is now the county of Erie, Pennsylvania, where in 1805, Dr. Holliday's father was born. There on the large tract of land that the grand father had pre-empted from the government, Samuel Holliday grew to man's estate. And it was to the same house he was born in that he took his bride, who was Elizabeth Porter. Also it was in the same house where, on the twenty-first day of May in the year 1847, that Benjamin Whitley Holliday first opened his eyes to the light of day. It was on the same farm, too, that he spent his early youth and manhood. In that day, the public schools were far and few between, and, so, instead of attending a public school, Dr. Holliday received his primary and preparatory education from private tutors, all graduates of Yale College, who were brought to this section to teach the children of the Holliday families.
Dr. Holliday's mother was also a daughter of one of the pioneer families of Erie County, Pennsylvania, and it was her wish that he become a physician, so that he might be of aid in the relieving of human suffering. So he decided on a college education. He went to Oberlin College, at Oberlin, Ohio, where he was enrolled and studied for one year, when he left there and went to the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. But, owing to affairs at his home, he was not destined to remain there, but returned to his home after about two years. He remained at home until in 1867, he came to Cleveland and enrolled as a student in the medical department of Western Reserve University, from which institution he was graduated in 1869 with a degree of M. D. He had come to see something of the possibilities of Cleveland during his two years here, and decided to make Cleveland his home. He immediately opened an office and began the practice of his chosen profession. He became one of the most active men in the practice, and very early showed his thorough knowledge of all branches of his profession. In September of 1872, he was appointed on the visiting staff of the Charity Hospital, which position he occupied for many years. In October of the same year ye was engaged in lecture on the subject of Anatomy in the Medical Department of Western Reserve University, succeeding Dr. Laisy, and continued in that capacity for seven years in the meantime keeping his practice alive. His practice had grown so rapidly, however, that he finally decided he could not spare the time to devote to teaching, so he gave that up altogether, in 1879. In 1878, however, he had been appointed visiting surgeon at the City Infirmary, now the City Hospital, and held that position for seven years.
In politics Dr. Holliday was a Republican, but he was never active in political matters, and never held, or aspired to any elective office. At one time he was appointed City Health Officer, and that is the extent of his office holding. He took and interest, from the point of view of an onlooker, in all political matters, but no more than any other good citizen.
Dr. Holliday was recognized as one of the best posted men in the medical profession, and during the last few years he was in active practice he was sought as a witness in many trials before the courts where it was necessary to have expert medical testimony. For ten years prior to his death Dr. Holliday had been in failing health, and had retired from the active practice of his profession. But he still maintained his office in the Schofield Building, and could be found in it at most any time. The day before his death he was in his office during office hours, and was feeling in his usual health. He had not been complaining of feeling any worse than usual. But that night he was stricken with apoplexy, and when his family arose in the morning they found his soul had gone to "that bourne from which no traveler returns." He had lived a life of extreme usefulness, and while he is mourned by all who knew him, they believe that after his sixty-six active years, more than forty of which had been spent in the service of suffering humanity, he is entitled to the "rest" that is now his.
While Dr. Holliday had almost reached the allotted age of man, he died quite young when compared to his parents. His father passed away in 1891 at the age of eight-six, and his mother died in 1889 at the age of seventy-two years.
On the fifteenth day of August, 1872, Dr. Holliday was united in marriage to Miss Isabel Brokenshire. Mrs. Holliday was a native of Ohio, being born in Cincinnati. Her parents were James and Margaret (Wallace) Brokenshire. Her father was a native of England, coming to America at the age of eighteen. He landed in New York and remained there for some years, when, deciding there were more prospects for a young fellow in the western part of the country, he came to Ohio in 1840, settling in Cincinnati. Mrs. Holliday's mother was a native of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, of Scotch-Irish descent.
To Dr. and Mrs. Holliday were born four children. The first two were boys, named Mott and Guy. But neither lived to reach maturity, the first dying at the age of two years, and the latter at the age of four years. The others were Elsie and Margurite. Elsie is the wife of Charles Farrand Taplin, one of Cleveland's most promising young attorneys, who has his office in the Williamson Building. They have two children, Charles Farrand, Jr., who is now four years of age, and Benjamin Holliday, who id just past six months.
Miss Margurite is a teacher in the public school at Bratenahl, a suburb of Cleveland, having accepted that position when she left the Women's College, Western Reserve University, from which school she was graduated in 1909. She makes her home with her mother at 1984 East Seventieth Street in Cleveland.
Too often it is that the people of the world reserve their encomiums of praise and their flowers to spread on the graves of those who have been of benefit to human kind. But in the case of Dr. Holliday it is to be said that he was given his just share of the benedictions of these with whom he came in contact, while yet he was a resident among them. He was one of those few men so seem to bring sunshine with them wherever they come. And those whom he helped to make well and those whose last hours he soothed with his kindly ministrations were ever ready to extend their gratitude to him. Dr. Holliday had gone from among us never to return. But the work he did while laboring among the sick and afflicted will ever remain as a reminder of the fact that he was one of God's noblemen. May God rest his soul. He died February 19, 1914.
Barbara's Bordered Backgrounds