Unlikely cousins


I’ll bet you didn’t know that Margaret Mitchell and the “Doc” Holliday of Western fame, were cousins! Now I’ll grant you I am stretching it a bit, but trust me, this is a fact and not fiction.

Miss Mitchell’s ancestor, Great Grandfather Philip Fitzgerald, came to Fayette County from Ireland in 1835 (and is the prototype for Gerald O’Hara). He and wife Eleanor lived about four miles southeast of Fayetteville, not far from where Thames Dairy is located on McDonough Road.

They had seven daughters.

The Hollidays seemed to have come to Fayette County about the same time and lived in town. One of them, Dr. John Stiles Holliday, (a family physician) built the white columned house that  is the first house on the left on Lanier Street at Glynn Street (otherwise known as highways 54 and 85).

One of his brothers, Maj. Burroughs Holliday, who served in the United States Army, had fought in the Mexican-American War in the 1840s. Henry found a 13 year old Mexican boy, orphaned by the war, and brought him back to Fayette County to live. I have already written about this boy, Francisco Hidalgo. Henry later married Alice Jane McKey (pronounced by the family as Mackey). They took their marriage license out in Fayette County in 1849, however they settled down in Griffin.

Their first born, Eleanor, died at  just six months old. Their next and last born was John Henry, who grew up to become a dentist. As a fifteen year old, he lost his mother (1866) due to tuberculosis and just a few years later, in1873, he discovered that he, too, had the disease.

Encouraged by his family, he entered a dental school in Pennsylvania (1870) and graduated in 1872. A year later his cousin, Robert Alexander Holliday, entered this same dental school.

John Henry practiced for a year in Atlanta – however his health began to decline, and his family encouraged him to go West to a more proper climate and he began his infamous trek West in September, 1873.

One of his uncles, Robert Kennedy Holliday, who stayed in Fayette County, married Mary Anne Fitzgerald (her father was James Fitzgerald). Mary Anne’s cousin, Anne Elizabeth Fitzgerald (her father was Philip Fitzgerald, brother of James), married John Stephens, Margaret Mitchell’s grandfather.

And that’s how Margaret Mitchell became a kissin’ cousin, several times removed, to “Doc” Holliday.