Friday, November 7, 2014

Silk or Satin

Transcribed from a letter dated 1973:

Things I Have Been Told About My Grandmother, Elizabeth Berlien (Barline) Callin.

The Revolutionary War soldiers were given land in the Northwest Territory -- Pennsylvania, Ohio -- to settle their wages for service, I believe. But this was a generation before Elizabeth's time. I am under the impression that my grandfather William Callin fought in the War of 1812. I don't know how or where he met up with Elizabeth Berlien. My father's Callin family history says they settled first in around Ashland, Ohio, later moving to Wood County.

Anyhow they lived in a Lincoln-like log cabin in Wood County. My father, George Callin, born in 1846 said they would waken in the morning and find a light layer of snow over their bed. William paid his taxes by cutting wood and hauling it into town, 50 cents a load.

William and Elizabeth had six children, five boys and a girl. I believe the girl was the oldest -- Harriet (Sly), John Zimri, George, Hugh and Jim. Father said they were warned not to say nothing at school about it, but their cabin was a station on the Underground Railway. I don't know whether it was William or Elizabeth, probably the latter, who awakened them softly in the middle of the night and led them to the window. The moon flashed out and they saw a white man, maybe William, leading a string of blacks through the clearing around their cabin and into the woods. They were on their way to Great Uncle George's barn. From there he would take them onto the next stop.

William was a powerful man, six feet tall. The boys had to be in the fields around sunup. He had a big, black whip. I don't know whether it was Elizabeth or her mother-in-law who would say pleadingly, "Now, William, don't whup 'em." It was a brutal age.

The first thing the children heard in the morning was the sound of her spinning wheel and the last thing at night. Papa said that one time she didn't get the buttons sewed on their shirts or maybe she didn't have any buttons so she sewed their shirts together with thread and so off they went to school or wherever.

When the Civil War came all five enlisted. I have a strong feeling that probably Elizabeth always had a Bible and encouraged visiting preachers and friends who could read it to her. She possibly taught the children verses and stories from it. I have known among my Appalachian friends people who couldn't read and write at all who knew their Bible by heart, sometimes more strongly and sincerely perhaps than literate people because to them it is the one book. They think about it and discuss it constantly.

The five boys went to war and for the first time Elizabeth learned to read and write so that she could communicate with them. This was probably not too hard for her as those "Dotsch" are good at everything anyway.

William died at maybe around 62 and I don't know what Elizabeth did then. I believe she lived to be about 84. In her very last years she came to live with us at 331 Pearl Street in Bowling Green. And this is where this picture must have been taken, probably by my mother who had a camera. Later I inherited my half-sister's (Mabel Callin's) dress-up picture of my father. I was handling it when it fell apart and here was this picture that I didn't know existed of Grandmother Callin.

I don't remember her but she knew me. She sat by the window mostly in the east bedroom. Papa loved to go in for a chat and he delighted in her witty answers. Mother was going to make her a dress and Papa asked --- he knew well enough that it would be calico or gingham, but he said playfully, "What'll it be, Mother, silk or satin?"

"It'll be sat in, all right."

"George, sometimes I wish I had gone over the hills to the poor house." (In those days considered a great disgrace.) "There would be old people there and they would know the things I want to talk about."

Another day she said to him.
"The woman next door (mother) is going to have a baby (me)."
After I came she said;
"I guess you better call her "Melia". (Sure glad they didn't.)

Mother went in one time and laid me on the bed for a moment. When she came back, Grandmother had grabbed me by the skirts and was pulling me toward her. I was almost off the bed. Mother probably let her hold me. She liked old ladies and was kind to them. When I was a young girl I used Elizabeth for my middle name but later I decided that Rosemary was enough.

Elizabeth passed away in 1903 and was probably buried from our house. I don't know where. There is a George Callin lot in Oak Grove Cemetery at Bowling Green and, by-the-way, there are still two places on it if any one in the family should need them. She and William might be buried on Uncle John Callin's lot also in Oak Grove, but I don't think so. I don't remember ever seeing them there.

If any of you know any more about Grandmother Callin I would certainly appreciate hearing about it.  I see from the Callin family history that I have the order of the children wrong. It was John, Zimri, Jim, George and Hugh. Jim was possibly the flower of the flock. Papa said he once accused Elizabeth of liking Jim best. She answered that he needed her the most.

Rosemary Callin
September, 1973

Some notes:

George W. Callin, Everett (standing), Clem,
Mary Ann, and Mabel - c. 1890

I have a photocopy of this 1973 letter, though I don't know if the original was typed or handwritten. I would love to get copies of any of the photographs mentioned in this letter, so if you have them, please comment below or email me (callintad at gmail dot com).

The writer of this memoir is Rosemary Callin (1902-1978), daughter of George W. Callin (1846-1921), the man who compiled the "Callin Family History" in 1911. Rosemary was born to George and his second wife, Lura Warner, in 1903. She never married, and it's not clear who was her intended audience.

(Pictured at right are George, his first wife, Mary Ann St. John, and Rosemary's older half-siblings.)

As far as Rosemary's facts:

I haven't found any proof of William (who would have been about 3 years old) fighting in the War of 1812. His father and uncle migrated from Westmoreland county, PA, around 1816, though, so either or both of them may have been involved in the fighting around the Great Lakes. As of the date of this post, I'm still looking for evidence to show where they came from and where they might have served.

I believe the Great Uncle George referred to would be William's uncle George Callin (1804-1879), who shows up in Huron County on the 1850, 1860, and 1870 census records.

When the Civil War began, I don't believe "all five" Callin brothers enlisted - I have found pension records for John, Jim, and George, but Hugh would have been 13 when the war began, and Zimri would have been 15 at its close. (In an interesting twist, Zimri's son, Edward, is the only relative of mine that I have found to date who served in the Spanish-American War.)

According to the Find-a-Grave database (thanks to cousin Joan!), Elizabeth is indeed buried in Oak Grove Cemetery.

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