George W. Jolly, a member of the Owensboro bar, son of John B. and Rachel (Hardin) Jolly, was born in Breckinridge County, near the town of Stephensport, February 22, 1843.
His father was born in Breckinridge County, July 20, 1815; was educated in private schools in the vicinity of his home. He was engaged in agricultural pursuits until his death, March 10, 1896. He was a consistent member of the Methodist church and an honored citizen, whose quiet and unostentatious life won for him the love and confidence of his neighbors. He was married May 9, 1842, to Rachel Hardin, who was born in Breckinridge County in 1817. They were the parents of eight children: George W.; William Henry Harrison, who died in 1864; Nannie; John L., who also died in 1864; Gideon N.; Thomas and Sarah. Mrs. Jolly died December 7, 1893.
Nelson Jolly (grandfather) was born in Hines’ Fort, near Elizabethtown, Kentucky, February20, 1786, and removed to Breckinridge County with his father when a child. He married Barbara Barr, a native of Breckinridge County, and they were pioneer Methodists, as well as citizens of a new and but partially settled country.
Nelson Jolly, the elder (great-grandfather), was born at Londonderry, Ireland, and came to this country in 1755 with his father, who settled in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. He married a Miss Graham of Maryland, and came to Kentucky in 1780, or about that time; settled near Hardinsburg in 1790, and made his home in Breckinridge County until 1819, when he died.
The progenitor of the Jolly family in America (the father of the great-grandfather), was of Scotch-Irish extraction, and settled in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, thirty miles east of Philadelphia. He enlisted under Paul Jones and was killed in a naval battle off the Irish coast. He left a widow and two children, Nelson and Alcey Jolly. Nelson Jolly brought his mother and sister with him (having married Miss Graham before coming) to Kentucky. Alcey married John Combs and lived in Nelson County, Kentucky, after her marriage.
Henry Hardin (maternal grandfather) was the youngest child of William Hardin (great-grandfather) who was a native of Virginia, and subsequently became a citizen of Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, whence he came to Kentucky. He was in the Revolutionary war, in command of Virginia troops, and he received land patents in Kentucky as a compensation for his services. These patents were issued by Governor Patrick Henry and Benjamin Harrison. He brought his own and several families from Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, by water in flat boats, to the mouth of Bear Grass Creek (now Louisville), in the fall of 1779, and took his settlers to Breckinridge County in March, 1780, and there made a settlement. Block houses and stockades were erected as a defense against the Indians, and in 1782 he founded the town of Hardinsburg, donating the land on which the town now stands. He was appointed colonel of the militia of the county, and soon became known as an Indian fighter. He was a man of large frame and great strength, of dauntless courage, skilled in all of the arts of border warfare.
George W. Jolly received his education in private schools. His principal tutor was the Rev. R. G. Gardiner of Hardinsburg, by whom he was sufficiently advanced for the study of law. He then began his legal studies with Judge Kincheloe in Hardinsburg, and was afterwards a pupil of Judge G. W. Williams of Hawesville (a sketch of whom is given elsewhere in this volume). Mr. Jolly was admitted to the bar in 1867, and began the practice of law at Hardinsburg, where he remained until 1872, when he removed to Owensboro. In this larger and more inviting field he has met with success and has enjoyed a share of the important litigation.
August 5, 1889, he was appointed United States Attorney for the District of Kentucky by President Harrison, and at once assumed the duties of that office. He was reappointed January 27, 1890, and served until the appointment of his successor, January 27, 1894. In the performance of his duties in that office he was indefatigable, and he served the government with fidelity. After the expiration of his term of office he resumed his practice in Owensboro.
Mr. Jolly was married February 16, 1871, to Miss Sue E. Henderson, who was born in Breckinridge County, November 7, 1843. She is a daughter of P. J. and Elizabeth (Orendorf) Henderson, and was educated in the schools of Breckinridge County. They have five children: Horace, born April 17, 1873; Marian, born August 27, 1876; Jessie, born January 23, 1878; Percy, born October 25, 1880, and Susie, born November 4, 1884. (For interesting lineage of Mrs. Jolly, see sketch of Dr. Henry Orendorf in this volume.)
Source: Biographical Cyclopedia of the Commonwealth of Kentucky. John M. Gresham Company, Chicago, Philadelphia, 1896.