Riverhead by J.M.M. Holden


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Dedicated to the pioneers who endured hardships on the Carolina frontier, to their followers who improved opportunities for mountain children, and to all now teaching and preaching preservation of water quality from the riverheads to the ocean floors.

Thanks to the Department of Environmental and Natural Resources for their special emphasis and efforts this year 2000, “The Year of the Rivers.”

– Johnsie Marie McCourry Holden (1915-2005)

Memorial Biography

Johnsie M.M. Holden  was born in the mountains and was the daughter of George W. and Elsie E. McMahan McCourry.

Ms. Holden graduated from Weaverville High School, Mars Hill College and Maryville Presbyterian College. Her post graduate studies were at Duke University.
She was a teacher of English and French. Ms. Holden also served as a high school principal before being recruited by the Army Signal Corps for cryptographic work in breaking the Japanese codes in WWII. Her educational skills were used in Brunswick County at Bolivia High School and later at Shallotte High School. Additionally while at Bolivia High School she coached the girl’s basketball team to the championship.
Through 2005 she was an avid Duke boys and girls basketball fan.

Ms. Holden always enjoyed research and historical works. She penned two books. Riverhead was filled with highland heritage of North Carolina mountains before the Revolutionary War through the years of development. Heartening Heritage concentrated on the history of Churches in the Brunswick County area.
She was active in the community as well. She was a member of Concord United Methodist Church in Supply, but often attended the Holden Beach Chapel. She was a past president of the Brunswick County Historical Society and the Professional Woman’s Club. Ms. Holden was a member of the North Carolina Society of Historians, the Holden Beach Scribblers, Methodist Historical Societies, and other organizations.
Ms. Holden was the first postmaster at Holden Beach and served for years. Also, she formed the first Girl Scout troop in the Holden Beach area and served as its leader. As the Town of Holden Beach was in the organizational stages, Ms. Holden was the person behind the scenes working with her husband John, the town’s first mayor, to get the paperwork done with the help of others.

Johnsie Marie McCourry Holden was a Christian, scholar, community minded lady who, in all of her 90 years, gave of herself far more than she took.
Her husband, John F. Holden, preceded her in death. Ms. Holden is survived by her sons, John Alan Holden and Lyn L. and wife Judy Holden of Holden Beach. There are five grand children: Sherry Holden Durham and husband Charles Durham, Shane Holden and wife Dore’ Lelepali Holden, Lesley Holden William and husband Dr. Allen Williams, Robbin Holden Carson and husband Welch Carson and Josh Holden. Six great-grand children: Curren Holden, Morrea Holden, Kate Carson, Connor Durham, Holt Durham, Blake Durham. Ken McCourry, a brother, and Myrtle Hill, a sister, live in North Carolina. Another sister, Virginia Strong lives in California.