Friday, July 31, 2015

The Brothers Callin of Ohio

Fraulein Maria famously sang in the Sound of Music, "Let's start at the very beginning/a very good place to start!"

We don't actually know much about the "very beginning" of our story, but there are some clues, and a handful of records to work with.

And based on what I have, it starts with two brothers...

I can't prove that James and John were the sons of James Callin. If they were, then their father was the Revolutionary War soldier found in the earlier post, Lafayette on the Brandywine, and their sister (or sisters) experienced the events related in The Perils of Polly (or Margaret). Here is what John's grandson, George, tells us in his Callin Family History in 1911:

James 2nd, with his family moved from Penn. to Ashland Co. and located on a farm about the year 1810. He was killed in an altercation with a man named Fowler who struck him over the head with a rifle, this occurred about the year 1820. He was buried in Oliversburg Cemetery.

The family of James 2nd described here would have included his wife, Mary, and at least three very young sons: Thomas (b. 1801), Alec (b. 1808), and James (b. 1810). As imprecise as our information is, all three boys might have been born in Pennsylvania, though little James might have been born in - or on the way to - Ohio.

John Callin, 2nd son of James 1st, emigrated with his family from Westmoreland Co., Penn., to Ashland County in 1816 and settled on 60 acres of his brother James' farm who gave him a life lease of it. He lived the remainder of his life on the same farm, dying in 1835 of tuberculosis and buried in Oliversburg Cemetery; his wife, Elizabeth, born Nov. 1780, died Nov., 1864, and buried near Auburn, Ind.; John, eldest son, died at 22, unmarried.

John's family in 1816 would have been his wife, Elizabeth (nee Simon), four young sons (John, b. 1802; George, b. 1804; William, b. 1813; and James, b. 1815) and three daughters (Ann, b. 1806; Sarah, b. 1808; and Eliza, b. 1811).

I have yet to find any evidence showing where these brothers actually came from. George says Westmoreland county, PA, but I haven't found any records to show these two families in that county. There were people named James and John Callen living in that general area (mostly in nearby Armstrong county), but it seems pretty clear from the evidence that those individuals stayed put, died in, and left descendants in, Pennsylvania without venturing westward.

Wherever our James and John were from, the brothers arrived in Ohio in the years just before the Panic of 1819. James Madison was President of the United States, and the country had just finished a second war with Britain that had started in 1812. Ohio was still considered "the frontier," but it had been a state long enough for there to be some infrastructure - mills and markets, roads and mail. The easy credit and land speculation (which led to the Panic) and the pressures to move away from the original colonies (recent war, and growing numbers of immigrants) obviously made it a popular place to go.

Click for full size
Ashland County wasn't formed until February 24, 1846 from portions of Huron, Lorain, Richland, and Wayne counties, so when George talks about places and events in Ashland county before that date, he's usually talking about Richland county. This map shows the modern boundaries of Richland county, and the pin shows the location of Olivesburg (Oliversburg is probably a typo in George's original text).

Milton township was organized in 1816, just in time for John's arrival, and it makes up a roughly rectangular area between Richland county and Ashland city, with Olivesburg near the top and Pavonia near the bottom corner.

The reason I mention Milton is because the 1820 Federal Census for Milton, Richland county, has the earliest record of James and John that I can find - in fact, it's the only record I can find that shows them both. Since George Callin, compiling his book in 1911, would not have had access to any but the earliest of the U.S. Census records, any similarities between George's account and the official records can probably be considered independent verification.

This detail from the census record shows John and James "Calan" - as well as a neighbor named Sutton Fowler. There are also two neighbors named Burget - Thomas and Boston. All of these are clues that help match this record to our Callin Family History.

George's tale of James's demise at the hands of a "man named Fowler" is lent some credibility here, though there is no way to tell for certain whether this is the same Fowler.

There isn't a lot of information in the first few Census counts beyond the names of the heads of each household. Each member of the household gets counted and reported by some standard demographics - male/female, and rough age groups. It takes some analysis and guesswork to pull any kind of story out of it, so having George's names and ages to compare to makes the job a bit easier.

John's family, as listed in George's book, matches up with this census count almost perfectly. A few of the ages that George reports don't quite add up, but they are close - and every individual we know about is accounted for.

Here's the breakdown, with the names and birth-dates provided by George:

Males <10: 3
  • Hugh (b. 1817 - 3)
  • James (b. 1815 - 5)
  • William (b. 1813 - 7)
Males 10-15: 2
  • George (b. 1804 - 16)
  • John (b. 1802 - 18) 

Males 45+: 1
  • John (b. 1780 - 40)

Females <10: 2
  • Margaret (b. 1819 - 1)
  • Eliza (b. 1811 - 9)
Females 10-15: 1
  • Sarah (b. 1808 - 12)
Females 16-25: 1
  • Ann (b. 1806 - 14)

Females 26-44: 1
  • Elizabeth (b. 1780 - 40)

James's family is also close enough for me to be convinced that it's the same family, but the census includes two boys and two girls that George's book does not list.

Males - Under 10: 1
  • James (b. 1810 - 10)
Males - 10 thru 15: 1
  • Alec (b. 1808 - 12)
Males - 16 thru 18: 1
  • Unknown
Males - 16 thru 25: 2
  • Thomas (b. 1801 - 19)
  • Unknown
Males - 45 and over: 1

  • James (b. 1779 - 41)
Females - 10 thru 15: 1
  • Unknown daughter
Females - 16 thru 25: 1
  • Unknown daughter
Females - 45 and over : 1
  • Mary (b. 1768 - 52)

These unknown kids could mean there were people in the household who were not family, but I'm not entirely convinced that's the case, because of what we find in 1830. I think it's more likely that because John is George's grandfather, George had better information about who his aunts and uncles were. It's entirely possible that some combination of frontier tragedy and poor bookkeeping kept him from learning the names of all of his 1st cousins, once removed.

That 1820 Census was enumerated on August 7, and it's probably a safe bet that James and Mr. Fowler had their altercation some time after that. James's eldest son, Thomas, married a Nancy Burget in 1822; Nancy may be one of the females who is listed in the household of Thomas Burget in 1820. A death and marriage in the 1820s ought to show up in the following census, and sure enough, in 1830 things seem to have adjusted as you would expect.

John is there in Milton Township, with young, newly-wed nephew Thomas listed below him, and James's widow, Mary, listed below him. Unexpectedly, though, the name Hugh Callon appears further down the page!

This Hugh could be completely unrelated to the family, of course, but remember there were two boys listed in the 1820 census that weren't in the Callin Family History; there is a good chance that this is one of those young men. In 1830, he seems to have a wife, they are counted in the "20 to 29" age group, and they seem to have a son and daughter each under the age of 5.

John's family matches up once again, though the census lists one daughter fewer than the number he should have in the household. The widow Mary has two young men in her household, most likely Alec and James.

After John's death in 1835 of tuberculosis, the two families he and his brother had brought to Ohio begin to spread out. Daughters and sons marry and strike out on their own, and in the coming weeks, I'll explore what happens to their descendants. John's widow, Elizabeth, eventually moved to Auburn, DeKalb county, Indiana where she lived out her days with daughter Eliza Ferguson.

We saw what happened to James's sons, Alec and James, and their mother, Mary, in the earlier post, The Pull of the West. The mysterious Hugh from the 1830 Census will remain a mystery, for now; he doesn't appear to be in Ohio in 1840, but there is a Hugh Callen of the right age in Louisa, Iowa territory. Perhaps we'll learn more about him during our search for more records on Alec?

James and Mary's eldest son Thomas will remain in Ohio with Nancy until.... but perhaps we should talk about their family next time?

Sunday, July 12, 2015

On the Moving of Goal Posts

When I began this blog, I wasn't entirely sure what I wanted to get out of it. I knew I had some stories to tell, and I knew that researching and writing those stories would lead me to others. I knew that doing this would motivate me to try bigger things - and that is what happened!

My plan at the end of last year was to re-publish the original George Callin Family History (that links to the hard cover edition), then to gather the notes and research I had already done over the previous couple of decades and publish a revision - possibly during the summer months. Now, having devoted almost all of my efforts to getting that revision ready since March, I can see that this was too ambitious a goal.

In my head, it seemed pretty straightforward: once the hard research is done, I know I can draft up a narrative story (like the ones posted here) in a few hours. Using Ancestry and Google, I've been able to get most of the hard research done very quickly, so spending six or eight months on the revision seemed like a reasonable time budget. But that only really accounted for the number of families and individuals listed in Great Uncle George's book - which was around 350 families.

Starting just before Christmas 2014, I began "Round 1" of creating a public Ancestry tree: Callin Family History - G.W. Callin 1911. All I did for several months was enter information that I already had from George's book, and review the Ancestry record hints that popped up along the way. I finished Round 1 in March, just before our vacation to Arizona to visit my still-living family, and immediately went back to the "top" of the tree - James 1st - and started Round 2.

At the end of Round 1, I had expanded the known descendants of James to about 1100 families. Remember, I had budgeted time for about 33% of that number. And I knew from the skills I had picked up and tricks I had learned doing Round 1 that there were a lot of people that I simply hadn't found, yet. So I already know that if I'm planning to publish a fully fleshed out narrative for each family, it will take me another year or two - just to write up the families I've already found!

As of this post, I'm only just reaching the final stretch of Round 2 of my research phase, and there are more than 5,000 individuals in the tree. Many of those are NOT direct descendants of James 1, but my best guess is that about 3,500 individuals from that tree will be included in the final report.

There is a good reason for those numbers. One of the standards I decided on at the beginning this project at the beginning was that I would include the names of both parents of each spouse. To find that information, I've often had to look for the spouse's grandparents and siblings in order to figure out mothers' maiden names and piece together the origins of orphans. I'm committed to doing this, partly because it makes the eventual stories I have to tell richer and more complete, and partly to look for relationships between the "allied families" - the family groups that seem to intermarry more than once with my cousins. I also am learning just how badly our culture has mishandled the way we record the lives of our mothers, sisters, and wives, and I am determined to correct that by including as much information about the women in my book as I can find.

Obviously, there are costs involved in the standards I'm choosing to maintain. In order to push through the Round 2 research phase, I made a choice to suspend the writing I was doing in this blog. That clearly isn't enough to make my original vision for this book a reality - certainly not this summer as I had originally hoped. Probably not by the end of 2015.

So I'm moving the goal posts. Here's my new plan:

Finish the Research phase, and publish this as a slim volume - James Callin Descendant Report, 2015. I believe I can get this done by the end of the year, and I plan to put it up on as I did the Callin Family History - 1911 volume.

Starting soon (probably in the early fall), begin posting weekly stories about the families in the Descendant Report here on Mightier Acorns.

This will be useful in two ways. Most obviously, it gives me motivation to draft and edit the stories in a regular and timely manner; but it should also work as an outreach tool - as I work my way forward in time, I expect that I will be finding living relatives who will be able to help me spot errors, fix mistakes, and maybe even collect more of the kinds of stories that can't really be picked out of the records.

Doing this on a weekly schedule should also allow me to budget my time so that I can pay attention to my non-Callin ancestors. Eventually, the weekly Callin descendant posts will be ready to publish - but writing about them all will take years. I don't want to ignore everyone else while I'm doing that!

Once I know how long it is really going to take, I will begin planning a complete re-publication of the Callin Family History. I expect that future volume to include a section that captures Great Uncle George's work, my James Callin Descendant Report, all of the family-focused blog posts, and a few other ideas that I hadn't originally intended to include because I was aiming for an over-ambitious deadline of Summer 2015. (Like a roll-call of all Callin family veterans, and some sections describing the major areas where Callin descendants lived - especially central Ohio and DeKalb County, Indiana.)

If you've been one of the loyal, regular readers of this blog over the past year, I want you to know I appreciate you. I hope you'll be patient with me as I get my feet back under in July and August, and when I really get started posting again, I hope you'll spread the word - especially if we're related!

As always, I welcome questions, corrections, and encourage contributions - if you are a cousin who will turn up in this book, there are a lot of ways you can help me make it better. My Gmail address is "callintad" at - that's the best way to get in touch with me.

And even if you aren't an Ancestry member, you should be able to explore the public Callin Family History - G.W. Callin 1911 tree.

Thanks again! We'll be in touch...