Redwood City Democrat
August 10, 191 I
At 4 o’clock Monday afternoon William Holder peacefully closed his eyes in death at Mrs. Huling’s sanitarium and with the passing away of this rare old citizen Redwood City and doubtless the county loses its oldest inhabitant. Mr. Holder came to Redwood City sixty-one years ago. Redwood City did not then exist and its name was not thought of. Embarkadero was the Spanish name given to this locality for this was the shipping place for the lumber product of the nearby mountains, from whence the material came that built up the old San Francisco and many other bay cities. In 1852 Mr. Holder built a house for himself and the first substantial building to be erected here. The house is still standing on Main Street close to its junction with Holder street and its good condition is a testimonial to the skill of its builder. The lumber which cost $80 a thousand was sawed at Dennis Martin’s mill at Woodside.
In going back to sketch the devious wanderings of William Holder from the time that he left the land of his birth to the new world, and where he spent so many years, one is led to almost encircle the globe. Mr. Holder was born in London, Sept. 28, 1825. His parents died when he was quite young and William was forced to make his way in the world. He learned the carpenter’s trade and in 1849 emigrated to Australia where he worked as a builder. When the news of the gold discovery in California was heard in Australia, Holder and some adventurous friends, among whom was the late Robert Mills of Belmont, chartered a sailing vessel and set out across the broad Pacific for the new El Dorado. The voyage, which took 125 days, was uneventful until when almost within sight of the California shore. A heavy fog came down over the sea and in the obscurity the vessel narrowly escaped wrecking on the rocks at the Farollone Islands. Mr. Holder with his presence of mind averted a disaster. He rushed to the helm and throwing it hard over caused the vessel to turn and barely miss the threatening shore. So close did the ship come to land that a number of the passengers, including Mr. Holder, thinking the vessel wreckcd, jumped off on the slippery rocks. Then the vessel veered and was quickly lost in the fog. Instantly they found themselves in the midst of a great horde of apparently ferocious animals which they took to be bears. They waited in momentary expectation of being devoured when the sound of a gun from the ship told them of its safety and their own. A boat was sent out and they were taken on board. The animals which they thought to be bears, turned out to be seal lions which were as badly scared as the voyagers were.
Mr. Holder spent a short time in the mines but becoming sick he returning to San Francisco and later came down the peninsula in company with Major William Eaton, who became one of the early land owner here. At Belmont Mr. Holder formed a partnership with William Cottam in the establishment of a canvas covered hotel where the stage coach travelers between San Francisco and San Jose were furnished meals.
He farmed near Menlo Park and worked in the redwoods. Later he located permanently in this city where he established a planing mill at the end of Main Street where the lumber from Hanson & Co.’s mills was dressed into building material. The old structure, dismantled many years ago, is still standing.
Since first coming to California Mr. Holder made two long voyages, one to England and one to Australia
His possessions consisted of a large tract of marsh land, part of which is now the site of the Frank tannery. From time to time he sold off small tracts and at the time of his death none of his property remained except his old mill on Main Street. Mr. Holder was one of the oldest members of Bay View Lodge of Odd Fellows. He was also a member of the Rebckah lodge. He was always deeply interested in the welfare of Redwood City and served many years as a city councilman.
Three generations in this city have known the old gentleman intimately. His figure had become a familiar one-a landmark in the community. Until old age had weakened his mental faculties Mr. Holder was a most interesting companion. His life was full of stirring adventure and romance and his stories of days agone were often thrilling. He was a kindly old gentleman, loved and respected by all, and will long be missed by many.
The deceased was laid to rest in Union Cemetery yesterday afternoon by the Odd Fellows.
Lot 47 Sect L
William ‘Joe’ Holder He was born in London, Sept. 28, 1825. After the untimely death of his parents, he became a carpenter apprentice and migrated to Australia as a hill-fledged carpenter. When news oflhe discovery of gold in Calif, he with some of his friends, chartered a sailing vessel ‘Robert Henderson’ to California. In the dense fog, the party almost ran aground on the Farallones, but on June 20, 1850 landed in San Francisco.
He went first to the mines but they were not to his liking so he returned to S.F. where he helped erect many a crude dwelling there. He did a little exploring down the peninsula and together with Wm. Cottam established a canvas covered hotel known as ‘Angelo’s’ in Belmont, but finally in the latter part of l851 settled down in ‘Pulgas Embarcadero’. In consultation with Dr. Tripp and with a contract with Hanson and Co, he set up a planning mill. On July 4, 1852 at the westerly corner of Marshall and Main, he flew the Stars and Stripes from a 42 foot pole for the first time in this community. He had hauled the pole from Woodside and purchased the American flag from some firm in S.F.
In 1855 ‘Joe’ holder took a sentimental trip back to Australia and the London, but the next year came back and was busy as ever. He owned most of the property on the north end of Main Street. In June 1888 his brother Henry visited him in company with his sister, but died suddenly and is buried in Union Cemetery.
The following year he made plans to lay out his property in lots and even laid out 400 feet of 6 foot side walks.
Death came to Wm. Holder in August 1911 at Mrs. Hulings Sanitarium, the town hospital where Woodside Rd crosses Middlefield. He was buried in Union Cemetery. He was never married. He was aged 85 years. His brother was a Naval Engineer.