Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley L. Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton
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HOLLAND, Josiah Gilbert, author, born in Benchertown, Hampshire County, Massachusetts, 24 July, 1819; died in New York city, 12 October. 1881. He was the son of a farmer, who was also an inventor. His early educational advantages were limited. After a long struggle, he entered the Northampton high school, where he studied so earnestly that his health gave way. Subsequently he taught penmanship for a while, and became successively an operator in a daguerreotype gallery, a copyist and a district schoolmaster. At the age of twenty-one he began the study of medicine, and in 1844 was graduated at Berkshire medical college, Pittsfield, Massachusetts Settling at Springfield, he received but little encouragement, although his patients were numerous enough to give him a distaste for the practice of his profession. In his leisure moments he wrote and sent an article or two to the "Knickerbocker" magazine. These being accepted, he was encouraged to undertake the publication of a literary journal, "The Bay State Weekly Courier." but it was not successful, and was discontinued at the end of six months. He then became a teacher in Richmond, Virginia, and three months later superintendent of public schools in Vicksburg, Mississippi There, after fifteen months of hard work, he succeeded in introducing a superior graded educational system, which resulted in the closing of all the private schools in the city but one. Just as he had achieved this success, Dr. Holland was compelled to return north, for family reasons. At the age of thirty he again settled in Springfield, Massachusetts, and became the associate of Samuel Bowles, editor of the "Republican." His first year's salary was $480, the second year he received $700, and he began the third as owner of a quarter interest in the paper (then worth $3,500). for which he had given his notes. Fifteen years afterward he sold his share for more than fourteen times what it had originally cost him. From the first, Dr. Holland exhibited remarkable aptitude for journalism; and, while Mr. Bowles, through his political opinions, made the "Republican" esteemed and feared in Massachusetts, his associate, becoming a popular preacher of social and domestic moralities, made it loved in ten thousand homes. Dr. Holland's first venture as a bookmaker was the reprinting from the "Republican " of his "History of Western Massachusetts" (2 vols., Springfield, 1855). Two years later he published "The Bay Path: a Colonial Tale" (New York, 1857), which was not at first popular. He now began a series of papers entitled "Timothy Titcomb's Letters to Young People, Married and Single," which, when collected (New York, 1858), were remarkably successful. Nine editions appeared within a few months, and more than 75,000 copies in all have been sold. In November of the same year he published "Bitter Sweet, a Poem in Dramatic Form" (New York), the sales of which exceeded those of the "Titcomb Letters." In the autumn of 1865 appeared his "Life of Abraham Lincoln" (Springfield), of which more than 100,000 copies were sold. In 1866 he sold his interest in the "Republican." In 1867 he published "Kathrina: Her Life and Nine in a Poem," of which over 100,000 copies were called for. The following year he travelled in Europe, and while sojourning in Geneva, with Roswell Smith, conceived the idea of a new illustrated magazine. Long previous to this Charles Scribner had solicited Dr. Holland to go to New York and edit "Hours at Home." In 1870 Dr. Holland, as editor and one third owner, began publishing "Scribner's Monthly," with Roswell Smith and Scribner, Armstrong and Company as joint owners. He became a member of the board of education of New York city in 1872, and was subsequently its president. He also held the chairmanship of the board of trustees of the College of the city of New York. As a lecturer Dr. Holland was extremely popular. In addition to the books above named, he published "Gold Foil Hammered from Popular Proverbs" (New York, 1859); "Miss Gilbert's Career," a novel (1860); "Lessons in Life" (1861); "Letters to the Joneses" (1863); "Plain Talks on Familiar Subjects" (1865); "The Marble Prophecy, and Other Poems" (1872); "Arthur Bonnicastle." a novel, and "Garnered Sheaves," a complete collection of his poetical works (1873); "The Mistress of the Manse," a poem (1874); "The Story of Sevenoaks" (1875); and "Every-Day Topics" and " Nicholas Minturn" (1876). None of his works subsequent to 1867 at-rained the popularity of his earlier books.
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