JOSEPH JOPLIN HOLT, as president and founder of the Amarillo Sash and Door Company, has through this enterprise as well as by numerous other means wrought untold benefit to the industrial and commercial prosperity of Amarillo. A man of almost unlimited business resourcefulness and courage, of well balanced judgment and mature experience, he has naturally been very successful, and besides bringing prosperity to himself his undertakings have also been on such a broad and useful basis as to effect much for the material welfare of every community with which he has been identified.
Born at Cameron, Milam county, Texas, in 1865, Mr. Holt is identified, through his parents, Captain John O. and Fannie (Turnham) Holt, with such important Texas as well as ancestral history. Several generations of the paternal ancestry have resided in this country, his paternal great-grandfather, a native of Ireland, and his paternal great-grandmother, a native of Holland, having both come to America and settled in North Carolina many years ago.
Captain John O. Holt was born at Raleigh, North Carolina, a member of a large family of brothers who were pioneers in the building of cotton mills in the south, especially at Haw River, North Carolina, where several of the captain’s brothers still live, being the most prominent cotton mill operators in that part of the country and are wealthy and influential men. Captain Holt came out to Texas in 1837, not long after the winning of independence had been achieved. He located in Milam county, and, being a man of great enterprise and push, he soon became identified in the foremost way with the larger interests of the young republic. He was a pioneer in the cattle industry, and in his later years devoted almost all of his time and energies to the business, in which he gained a large success. He had large landed and cattle interests in Milam, Robertson and McLennan counties, and later, going further west, at Midland, this state, which is the center of one of the most important cattle regions of Texas. Captain Holt organized a company and fought valiantly for the Confederate cause in the Civil war, and the record of the company he commands is replete with stirring deeds and acts of bravery. Following the war his energetic spirit was constantly harassed by ill health, and for several years he was compelled to devote a great deal of his time to health seeking, and it was while thus recuperating at Carlsbad, New Mexico, that his death occurred, in 1902. Several of his sons and daughters are living, and two sons, O. B. Holt, of Midland, and J. R. Holt, of Carlsbad, New Mexico, are prominent in the cattle business.
Mrs. Fannie (Turnham) Holt, the mother, was born in Milam county, Texas, in 1834, and, is at this writing one of the oldest if not the oldest native daughter of the state. Her lifetime covers an eventful period of history. She was born when Texas was still a part of Mexico, was two years old when independence was achieved, as a young girl lived under the flag of the Republic, grew to womanhood under the stars and stripes, was then a citizen of the Confederacy, and for the past forty years has been under the flag of the Union. She now makes her home at Midland, Texas, honored and revered by family and friends. Her father came to Texas from near St. Louis, Missouri. Two of her brothers were soldiers under General Sam Houston when the little army of patriots captured General Santa Anna at San Jacinto in 1836. Her brothers, a well as Captain Holt, were engaged in several of the early Indian wars of Texas. She also bears the distinction of being a cousin of the late ex-Governor Ross.
On account of the unsettled conditions following the Civil war and existing during reconstruction days, Mr. Holt did not enjoy much scholastic education, and he, has achieved his splendid success in life through inborn ability and “hustling.” He recalls how he began his serious career by working for wages on a farm in McLennan county, where he remained for two years, receiving fifteen dollars a month, and by working extra hours for money to purchase his clothes, he was able to save every cent of his regular salary. Such economy and preserving industry brought him to the front and made him a substantial man of affairs when yet a young man. When he had accumulated something over a thousand dollars he went into the lumber business at West, in McLennan county, and in the eleven years that he ran that business he made fifty-five thousand dollars. He helped in many ways to build up the town of West, being a principal backer of every enterprise inaugurated to promote the growth of the place. He assisted in organizing the First National Bank of West, in which he is still a stockholder and director. He was a member of the city council there when the council was first organized for city government, as also for several years following, and was mayor of the town for eight years. He was one of the promoters of, and took the contract for furnishing all the material for the construction of the cotton mill at West, costing one hundred and ninety thousand dollars. He built a residence for himself at West which cost five thousand dollars.
In the early part of 1903 Mr. Holt brought his family out to Amarillo, seeking the higher altitude of the Panhandle primarily for health considerations. Against the advice of friends, and relying on his own best judgment, which had upheld him throughout his business career, he established in this city the Amarillo Sash and Door Company, which is the leading industrial plant of the town. It has been a success from the start, and its business has grown beyond all expectations. Several thousand dollars are already invested in the plant, and at the present writing arrangements are being completed for the installation of a connecting factory for the manufacturing of windmills, this adjunct to cost many thousands more. The present plant not only manufactures sash and doors, but takes contracts to erect buildings of all kinds complete, from the drawing of the plans to the furnishing of the inside finishings. For these purposes all the lumber and woodwork are manufactured at the plant, and the stone is furnished from the Potter county quarries, of which Mr. Holt has taken charge. He has the contract for building at Amarillo the new forty-eight thousand dollar court house for Potter county. For this structure he will manufacture all the woodwork and the stone will be obtained from the Potter county quarries just mentioned, so that all the money will be expended in this county, a feature which is much appreciated by the citizens. Much credit is given Mr. Holt by his fellow citizens for his business courage and enterprise in establishing such a worthy and valuable industrial plant in a new western town so distant from the sources of raw material, and in making such a splendid success of it. The factory is constantly crowded with orders, and many workmen are employed.
Mr. Holt has associated with him in the business, as secretary and treasurer, his nephew Len McClellan, an enterprising young man who attends to the office and various other details of this concern. Although his home is in Amarillo, Mr. Holt still retains the bulk of his interests in McLennan and adjoining counties, such as farms, farm loans, town property, bank stock, etc. He is one of the directors of the National Bank of Commerce at Amarillo, also a director of the board of trade, and a member of the city council. He is participating actively in the upbuilding of Amarillo, and, being a liberal and public-spirited man, spends money freely either for promoting new enterprises or for entertaining visitors to the city and furthering all projects which will place Amarillo at the dominant commercial position in the Panhandle.
Mr. Holt was married at West to Miss Katie Glasgow, who as born in McLennan county. They have three children, Mertte, Will and Enid.
Source: B. B. Paddock, History and Biographical Record of North and West Texas (Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1906), Vol. I, pp. 644-646.