James Richard Holt, one of five children, was born in Tuscumbria, Alabama, July 12, 1842 to Major Richard E. and Elizabeth Jane Holt. When he was five years old, the family moved to Corinth, Mississipppi. Before the battle of Shiloh, he enlisted as a private in the Army of the Confederated States of America. He fought in many battles and was wounded several times before surrendering with Lee at Appomatox.

After the Civil War, he worked in the building trades in Corinth, Mississippi; Granville, Texas; and Denver, Co1orado. Then he worked his way north through California; he worked in Santa Barbara and Oroville before 1876 when he and John N. Gregg established a brick manufacturing and building contractor corporation in Red Bluff.

Mary Ault was born February 1852 in Iroquois, Ontario, Canada. Little is known of her early life, but she married James Holt in Red Bluff, in 1881 The couple had four children: Freddie, who died at age two; Inazetta, who received her doctorate from Stanford and retired from the State Hospital Staff at Napa; Helen, who married Dr. Robert Powers of Stanford University; and James, who succeeded to the family business.

As the railroad moved north, so did Holt and Gregg; the brick making was moved to the present site of the Sierra Pacific Mill north of Anderson and the construction business was moved to Redding in the early 1880s. The firm built homes and commercial buildings from Chico to Medford in addition to supplying most of the bricks used in the Sacramento Valley and the Bay Area.

James R. Holt died in 1911 and his son left college to take over the family business. Mary Holt remained in the family home at the corner of West and Butte Streets. Though described as "not a joiner", she was a charter member of the Women's Improvement Club and probably involved in most of the good works of the community; most of those known to be her friends are listed in newspaper articles and on founders plaques.

Mary Holt lived with with her son, Jim and his wife, Norma until her death in 1932.

Source: Shasta Historical Society

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