April 28, 1809, Canaan, Maine.
May 24, 1888.
West Burying Ground, Bolton, Massachusetts.
Holman is remembered as an itinerant portrait painter, pastor, writer and doctor. He came to Christ at age 13, and at age 18, he entered a preparatory course for the ministry at Waterville, Maine. He began his career as an evangelist, traveling over a large portion of Maine preaching wherever opportunity presented itself. He then moved to Philadelphia, where he stayed eight years. In 1831, he moved to Boston, organized the first Free Will Baptist Church in that city, and served as its pastor about 15 years. During that time, he studied medicine at Harvard University, and afterward is said to have made good use of his medical knowledge in his ministry.
In 1853, Holman joined the Baptist denomination, and became pastor of the First Church in Norwich, Connecticut, and later received a call to the Bloomingdale Baptist Church (later renamed Central Baptist Church) in New York City.
After several years at Bloomingdale, he resigned and organized the Mt. Olivet Church in New York City. He was subsequently pastor of Baptist churches in Stanfordville, New York; Rockport and North Haven, Maine; Franklin, Massachusetts, and North Stonington, Connecticut. He was still connected with the North Stonington church at the time of his death.
Over a half a century of ministry, Holman preached over 5,000 sermons. At one time he published a religious journal called The Revivalist, and frequently contributed to publications. He wrote notes on the Book of Revelation, and a great many hymns and poems. His works include:
I stood on the hill by the green hemlock wood,
On the very same spot where the log-cabin stood,
In which I was cradled and where I had passed
The days of my childhood, too precious to last.
It seemed like a dream, as I gazed all around;
Not a trace of the cabin was there to be found;
The plough had gone over the place where it stood,
And there were the flocks, gently cropping their food.
I went by the grove where in youth I had strayed,
While I wept for the changes that time since had made,
The old leaning hemlock indeed was still there,
But its glory was gone, for its branches were bare.
I sought for the well where I often had been,
But the curb was removed, and the earth had caved in.
The axe and the fire had assailed the green wood,
And the rich barley waved where the tall cypress stood.
The bramble and hedge, where the birds built their nests,
Though dear to my childhood, had gone like the rest—
Indeed if the gods had been reveling there,
They could not have left the old homestead so bare.
I asked for my mother, as though but a week
Had passed since she pressed the last kiss on my cheek.
Your mother, said one,
O! ’tis long since she died!
And your father, too, lies in the grave by her side!
And where are my brothers that loved me so well?
And my little sister? Why do you not tell?
Go down to their grave, said a sage standing by,
And look on the spot where together they lie.
Thus passes the world! and ah! soon it will be,
What is now said of them, will be spoken of me.
Then give me a dwelling, a mansion on high,
Where my joys will not fade, where my friends will not die.
Jonas Welch Holman