MILTON - In 1887, a 43-year-old former Confederate officer of the Civil War, Lt. James Henry Holley, organized and became the founding pastor of a small Baptist church congregation established on Dry Ridge near Milton, West Virginia. The congregation first held their services in the Chestnut Grove School House until they built a permanent church in 1915. Holley died in 1923 where he was laid to rest in an unmarked grave next to the church.
Lt. James Henry Holley was a soldier of Co. A, 34th Battalion of the Virginia Calvary. He served under Confederate Generals Vincent Witcher and Robert E. Lee and was present with Lee at the battle of Gettysburg. He was survived in his death by two sons, a brother and a sister.
Ninety-five years later, on Sunday, Nov. 18, the United Daughters of the Confederacy, Cooney Ricketts, Chapter #2726 and the Sons of Confederate Veterans, Camp A. G. Jenkins, #628 combined forces to honor Lt. James Henry Holley in a memorial service held at the Chestnut Grove Baptist Church cemetery. The hill-top, open-air memorial featured flag ceremonies, singing, poetry and prayers by the attendant UDC members and ceremonial live-fire rifle and pistol salutes by the SCV contingent.
The marker obtained by the late soldier's great-great-granddaughter, Roberta May Cremeans Casey and her husband, Roger, placed a marker on the soldier's grave site. Roberta is a charter officer in the UDC 'Cooney Ricketts' Chapter of Milton. Roger is the commander of a local SCV Camp based in Huntington.