Thomas Michael Holt

42nd Governor of the State of North Carolina - 1891 to 1893

Date Born: July 15, 1831

Date Died: April 11, 1896

Place Born: Orange County, NC

Place Buried: Linwood Cemetery, Graham, NC

Residence: Alamance County, NC

Occupation: Textile Manufacturing


Thomas Michael Holt was born on July 15, 1831 in Orange County (what later became Alamance County), NC, the son of Edwin Michael Holt and Emily (Farish) Holt. He studied at the Caldwell Institute in Hillsborough, then at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill for one year before briefly moving to work in a Philadelphia, PA, dry goods store.

On October 17, 1855, Thomas Michael Holt married Louisa Matilda Moore of Caswell County, NC; they had six children.

In 1858, Thomas Michael Holt and his father acquired Benjamin Trollinger’s bankrupt textile-manufacturing mill later known as the “Granite Mill,” (located in Haw River, NC). In 1861, Thomas acquired his father's interest in the mill and moved to Haw River to oversee the mill’s operations.

In 1868, Thomas Michael Holt's brother-in-law, Adolphus "Dolph" Moore, became business partners with him and the operation was renamed Holt & Moore. In 1876, Moore was murdered, and the mills were consolidated as the Thomas M. Holt Manufacturing Company.

Holt’s party affiliation was Democratic, and he served as a local magistrate and a county commissioner.

In 1876, Thomas Michael Holt was elected as one of two men to represent the NC 24th Senate District (Alamance County and Guilford County) in the NC Senate of the:
- 82nd General Assembly that met from 1876-1877

In 1882, Thomas Michael Holt was first elected to represent Alamance County in the NC House of Representatives of the:
- 85th General Assembly that met in 1883
- 86th General Assembly that met in 1885 - elected Speaker of the House
- 87th General Assembly that met in 1887

In the 1888 general election, Thomas Michael Holt was elected as the next Lieutenant Governor of North Carolina, and he served under Gov. Daniel Gould Fowle. Upon the death of Gov. Fowle on April 7, 1891, Thomas Michael Holt became the next Governor of North Carolina, and he served until January 18, 1893.

Gov. Thomas Michael Holt was actively involved in establishing a new system of county government, in the construction of the Western North Carolina Railroad and the Cape Fear and Yadkin Valley Railway as well as the North Carolina Railroad, which Holt served as president, as well as in increasing the funding for public schools, the University of North Carolina, and the state hospitals. He pushed for the establishment of an institution for the deaf at Morganton. An outstanding accomplishment was his getting the holders of bonds for the North Carolina Railroad to release the State from the lien on the State's shares. This saved the State money as the property was valued at more than $5 million.

Thomas Michael Holt promoted or supported the establishment of four major institutions: North Carolina State College (later University); a normal school for white women (now University of North Carolina-Greensboro); North Carolina A&T State College (now)University); and Elizabeth City State University.

As president of the NC State Fair for several years, Thomas Michael Holt was active in putting the fair on a financially secure basis. He was also a member of the Patrons of Husbandry, or the Grange, serving as President for thirteen years.

Thomas Michael Holt died at his home on the Haw River on April 11, 1896, and he was buried at the Linwood Cemetery in Graham, Alamance County, NC.


Thomas Michael Holt (15 July 1831 – 11 April 1896) was Governor of North Carolina from 1891 to 1893.

He was born in Orange County, North Carolina, July 15, 1831. Holt studied at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill for one year before briefly moving to work in a Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, dry goods store.

In 1858, Thomas and his father, Edwin M. Holt, acquired Benjamin Trollinger’s textile-manufacturing mill known as the “Granite Mill,” (located in Haw River, North Carolina). In 1861, Thomas acquired his father's interest in the mill and moved to Haw River to oversee the mill’s operations. In 1868, Thomas's brother-in-law, Adolphus "Dolph" Moore, became business partners with Thomas and the operation was renamed Holt & Moore. In 1876, Moore was murdered, and the mills were consolidated as the Thomas M. Holt Manufacturing Company.

After Thomas’s death in 1896, his son, Thomas Jr., took over operations of the mills and expanded them. In 1900, the mills were organized by a local labor union, which sponsored a strike that was eventually broken by lockouts and mill housing evictions by the mill management. Decades later, the mills were sold to the Cone family, who in turn sold it to Burlington Industries.

Thomas’s party affiliation was Democratic, and he served as a local magistrate, a county commissioner, as a member of North Carolina’s state senate (24th District) in 1876, as a member of North Carolina’s state house of representatives from Alamance County, 1883-1887, as Lieutenant Governor of North Carolina, 1889-1891, and upon the death of Governor (Daniel G. Fowle), as Governor of North Carolina, 1891-1893.

As Governor, he was actively involved in establishing a new system of county government, in the construction of the Western North Carolina and the Cape Fear and Yadkin railroads, and in increasing the funding for public schools, the University, and the state hospitals. He pushed for the establishment of an institution for the deaf at Morganton. An outstanding accomplishment was his getting the holders of bonds for the North Carolina Railroad to release the State from the lien on the State's shares. This saved the State money as the property was valued at more than $5 million.

Thomas Holt died April 11, 1896 and is buried in Alamance County.


Thomas Michael Holt, governor of North Carolina, was born in Alamance County, NC on July 15, 1831. His education was attained at the Caldwell Institute, and at the University of North Carolina, where he studied for one year. After working in the mercantile industry in Philadelphia, Holt returned home and went into business with his father, eventually establishing the successful Thomas M. Holt Manufacturing Company. Holt first entered politics, as a county commissioner and magistrate. He also served as a member of the NC State Senate from 1876 to 1877; was a member of the NC House of Representatives from 1883 to 1887; and served as the Lieutenant Governor of North Carolina from 1889 to 1891. On April 7, 1891 Gov. Daniel Gould Fowle died in office, and Holt, who was the Lieutenant Governor at the time, assumed the duties of the governorship. During his tenure, a state department of agriculture was created; three state colleges were formed; and the state deficit was cut. After running unsuccessfully for re-election, Holt retired from political life. He continued to stay involved with educational issues, as well as serving as a Trustee board member for the University of North Carolina and for Davidson College. Thomas M. Holt passed away on April 11, 1896, and was buried somewhere in Alamance County.

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