Thomas Hollingsworth was born in Algiers, LA to parents of English descent. When Thomas was just 7 years old, his parents took him and moved back to England where he grew up and served 3 years and 3 months in the British army.
Moving back to America 1874, Thomas came to Florence in 1885 having only 15 cents to his name. He got a job working for the Muscle Shoals canal. One of his first real estate ventures was the purchase of a half-acre lot on Royal Avenue near the L&N depot for just $90. He later sold the same property for $3,550. Making many similar investments, Thomas quickly became a very influential member of the Florence community and a member of the city council.
By the 1890s, Thomas was worth over $50,000 and had built over 15 structures mainly in East Florence; the most notable of which was the Sweetwater Opera House built at a cost of $8,000.
On the morning of Tuesday, February 3rd, 1891 City Councilman Thomas Hollingsworth was found dead in a ditch. After attending a city council meeting on Monday night, Thomas headed for his home in East Florence with D.M. Wilson’s buggy (Wilson also lived in that direction). The two men stopped off at Schall’s Saloon for a few drinks and stepped back outside to find their buggy stolen. They both acquired horses from a near by stable and went in pursuit of the stolen buggy. Once the arrived in Sweetwater valley, each men went to their respective homes to inform their wives that they would be later than usual due to the pursuit of Wilson’s stolen buggy. Planning to meet up on Huntsville Road on Sweetwater Heights, Hollingsworth was never seen alive again. Wilson failed to find his friend and returned home.
On Tuesday morning, Hollingsworth’s body was discovered in a gulley beside Huntsville Road face down in the mud. A physician by the name of Dr. Kernachan, who viewed the body, stated “the cause of death to have been a fall, producing unconsciousness and suffocation by drowning.” Thomas Hollingsworth’s body was buried in the city cemetery the following day.