- He was born around 1836 in New York state.
- He was living in St. Louis by 1857.
- From 1857 to 1864, he lived in a boarding house on Third Street.
- He worked as a clerk for Scott & Covert, land agents, in 1859.
- He was the secretary of the Empire Club in the summer of 1860.
- He worked as a constable in St. Louis from 1860 to 1863.
- He signed up for the draft in 1863.
- He died in St. Louis on September 26, 1864.
- The most common spelling of his name in official documents is Joseph M. Hollenback.
- He was probably working for Scott & Covert beginning in at least 1857.
- As a constable, he worked for Captain Dan Manning.
- He lived in Athens, New York, in 1850.
- He was exposed to New York City ball-playing culture as the game spread up the Hudson River Valley.
- He was one of the founders of the Empire Club.
- He was a member of the Enrolled Missouri Militia in 1864.
- He was the founder of the Empire Club.
- He played the New York game prior to coming to St. Louis.
Based on recent research, I've been able to almost eliminate the Possible Facts category and greatly expand the Known Facts category. And there is a lot of stuff in the Probable Facts category that I pretty much accept as a known fact but want to take a closer look at. So we've had a major reshuffling of the data regarding Joseph Hollenback and I don't think there's any doubt that we now know a great deal more about him then we did before. There's a great deal more to learn but I'm pretty happy with this.
A quick note on Hollenback's exposure to the New York game in the mid-1850s:
While I have no doubt that Hollenback, if he was living in Athens in the 1850s, was exposed to New York City ball-playing culture, I am not particularly convinced that he would have been playing the game according to the latest rule sets of the mid-1850s. Baseball, by 1855, had taken some important strides forward and a common rule set had been agreed upon among the three biggest clubs in New York. By 1857, we had the convention of clubs and the 1857 rules that defined the game as being played by nine players per side, over nine innings and with ninety foot base paths. But, by 1857, Hollenback was in St. Louis and probably had no exposure to the convention and the new rules - except through newspapers. And while there was a baseball club in Albany in 1856, there's no proof that Hollenbeck was still in the area at that time. The first great spread of the modern game of baseball takes place in the second half of the 1850s, with the game exploding in popularity during that time. But we don't know if Hollenbeck was still in New York when all of this was taking place.
I don't see Hollenbeck in the 1854 St. Louis city directory so I assume he arrived in the city sometime between 1854 and 1857. If he was in St. Louis anytime prior to 1857, I seriously doubt that he had first-hand knowledge of the evolving New York game of baseball. We know that Merritt Griswold and Jeremiah Fruin played on baseball clubs in New York in the late 1850s before they moved to St. Louis. There is no evidence that Hollenbeck did the same. The idea that he played for the Knickerbocker Club is ridiculous and provably false. But I do believe that there is something to the idea that he had been exposed to the evolving game in some form before he moved to St. Louis. I just don't have enough evidence right now to articulate the extent of his baseball knowledge.