From NKAA, Notable Kentucky African Americans Database (main entry)

Smith, Holloway

(born: 1896  -  died: 1970) 

Kentucky native Holloway Smith was the second African American football player at Iowa State College of Agricultural and Mechanic Arts (now Iowa StateUniversity). The first African American player was Jack Trice, who died in 1923 from injuries received during a football game; Iowa State football stadium is named in his honor.

Holloway Smith arrived at Iowa State three years after Jack Trice died. Smith had played one year of football at Michigan State before he became a right tackle on the Iowa State team the following year while working toward his bachelor's degree in agricultural education.

Smith was an all-state lineman who stood 6'4" and weighed around 220 pounds. He dominated on the football field, but he was unable to play in the Missouri Valley Conference's games with southern schools because of the Conference's agreement with southern opponents not to use colored players in their competitions. The black press referred to it as a "gentlemen's agreement" [source: F. M. Davis, "World of sports," Capital Plaindealer, 12/13/1936, p. 7; note: Smith's name is misspelled as "Hollingsworth"]. In 1926 that agreement kept Holloway Smith out of three games. In 1927 he was only barred from the Missouri game and had a good season: he was named 3rd Team All-Missouri Conference.

After graduating from Iowa State in 1928, Holloway Smith was a school teacher in Marianna, AR, where he boarded at the home of Henry and Anna Baker, according to the 1930 U.S. Federal Census. In 1935, he had lived in Louisville, KY, according to the 1940 U.S. Federal Census.

By 1936, Smith was still a teacher when the African American newspapers proclaimed him the last Negro football player in the Big Six Conference, made up of Oklahoma, Missouri, Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State, and Nebraska. He had moved on from his football days. While in Pine Bluff, AR in 1940, he was a teacher as well as a National Youth Administration (NYA) worker, according to the 1940 U.S. Federal Census; he would later become the state NYA supervisor. Holloway, his wife, and his sister Bettie Smith lived at 2020 Reeker Street in Pine Bluff.

Holloway Smith left Arkansas in the 1940s. He served as a temporary member of the YMCA USO Club on 3rd Street in Pittsburg, CA in 1945, according to the USO-Staff Conference minutes of  June 11, 1945. At the U.S.O., Holloway was a stand-in for Maurice Hardeman, who was attending an orientation course in New York. [The USO-Staff Conference minutes are within the National Jewish Welfare Board War Correspondence. National Jewish Welfare Board, Army-Navy Division Records, I-180, at the American Jewish Historical Society.] By 1951, Smith was living in Monterey, CA, according to Polk's Monterey Pacific Grove City Directory, 1951, p. 430; he operated Ella's Southern Kitchen Restaurant there. He is last listed as a cook in the 1957 Monterey city directory.

Holloway Smith last lived to Reno, NV, where he died in January of 1970, according to the U.S. Social Security Death Index. Smith was born in Spottsville, KY November 19, 1896, according to his World War I Draft Registration Card, completed in Henderson, KY. He was the son of James and Harriett Smith, according to the 1900 U.S. Federal Census. He had been the husband of Eunice Smith, who was born around 1902 in Jackson, MS, according to the 1940 U.S. Federal Census.

For more information see Black History Month: Holloway Smith; After Trice, an Iowa State website; and "Holloway Smith" in Nevada State Journal, 1/22/1970, p. 39.


Kentucky County & Region

Read about Henderson County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Jefferson County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Kentucky Place (Town or City)

Read about Spottsville, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Louisville, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Item Relations

Cited in this Entry

NKAA Source: The Capital plaindealer (newspaper)
NKAA Source: Polk's Monterey Pacific Grove city directory (annual)
NKAA Source: Nevada state journal (newspaper)

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Cite This NKAA Entry:

“Smith, Holloway,” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed June 23, 2024,

Last modified: 2023-07-12 14:18:34