Not many homes in Marion can claim constant occupation by a single family line for more than 140 years but the house at 513 S. Market Street could make just that claim until recently.
After Jacob Holland lost his wife, Emily, in 1857, he left his family home in W. Virginia and brought his six children to Southern Illinois, settling in Marion by 1859. All three of Jacob’s sons, Caleb, Brice and Romulus, would go on to become leading Marion citizens and active city council members. In 1871, Romulus D. Holland married Adele Hundley, daughter of Dr. Robert M. Hundley, mayor of Marion from 1867 to 1868 and builder of the second county court house in 1858.
Romulus and Adele built the home at 513 S. Market in 1875. Romulus worked as a druggist, like his father in law. He served as city alderman under Mayors John H. Burnett in 1896 and his brother, Brice Holland, in 1897 along with his other brother Caleb T. Holland as alderman.
Romulus passed away in 1912 followed by his wife, Adele, in 1919. In 1899, one of their daughters, Elizabeth Bess Holland, had already married Charles W. Hay from Carbondale and the couple took possession of the home. Charles W. Hay was a salesmen and owned and operated the Hay building which used to occupy what is now the western 50 feet of the Southern Bank on the Tower Square specializing in clothing and shoes. Hay was a shameless promoter of Marion and served as President of the Marion Chamber of Commerce through most of the 1930’s and beyond.
Charles and Bess had two sons, Charles C. who worked for the St. Louis Post Dispatch and John Hay, a Marion attorney who once appeared before the U.S. Supreme Court, winning a landmark case which forbids banks from using deposits as collateral for other deposits.
After Bess died in 1908, Charles, in 1915, remarried to Alliba Thurmond, the musically gifted daughter of Elijah Thurmond, founder of the Thurmond Monument Company and Mayor of Marion from 1927 to 1931. Alliba who had few equals in Southern Illinois as a vocal and piano instructor operated a music school on the second floor of her husband’s building on the square.
In 1928, Charles and Alliba had a daughter named Elizabeth Eleanore Hay, known as Betty. When she was about four years old, her uncle Ralph Thurmond brought her first pony to her parent’s home on S. Market Street in the rumble seat of his automobile and she would go on to spend the early years of her life participating in state equestrian competitions and completing her education. While attending William Woods College, she and a number of the other girls from the college called “Willies” were able to attend the famous “Iron Curtain” speech performed by Winston Churchill at neighboring boy’s school, Westminster College, on March 5, 1946.
Betty taught in local schools over a course of 32 years, teaching primarily Kindergarten. She served at Longfellow, McKinley, Lincoln and ended at Washington School. Betty’s father, Charles, passed away in 1967 and when her mother, Alliba, died in 1971, Betty and her second husband, Ed McDevitt moved into the parental home.
Betty retired in 1988, her husband Ed died in 2000 and she remained in the home until her recent death on May 3, 2016 bringing a likely inevitable end to the family’s occupation of the home.