Friday, August 14, 2015

Jeff the Shoemaker

Jeff Callin grew up on his family's Ohio farm in Weller township, either in or near the young town of Olivesburg. Born in 1827, his parents named him after the third U.S. president, Thomas Jefferson, and it seems he was called by his middle name to differentiate him from his father. (I can relate to that! #genealogypuns)

His childhood in the 1830s and 1840s would have found him surrounded by a lot of cousins, uncles, and aunts. His father, Thomas, was one of 17 cousins to grow up on that same Richland county farm land, and Jeff had two big brothers, George and James, close to his own age.

Jeff would have been about 8 years old when his great-uncle John died of tuberculosis, and he lost at least one infant brother a few years later, and possibly a sister or two, most likely to the diseases that would have raged through a close community like the one around Olivesburg. I don't mean to downplay the tragedy of these losses, but a boy in that time wouldn't have had a lot of time to dwell on them. I expect that the rhythm of farm life and the support from family and neighbors that we look back on so nostalgically today would have done their part to soften the blows.

In Jeff's teenage years, around 1841 or 43, his father also died. Then over the next couple of years, the rest of Jeff's uncles began to leave Ohio and strike out further West. By this time, Ohio was no longer the "frontier", and there were even newer states hoping to attract settlers. Jeff's uncle Alec took his family, and Jeff's grandmother, Mary, to set off for Iowa; his uncle James, after marrying great-uncle John's youngest daughter, Margaret, would have followed Alec a year or two later in 1844.

Early shoemaking shop, Maine State Museum IMG 2020.JPG
"Early shoemaking shop, Maine State Museum" by Billy Hathorn - 
Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.
Young Thomas Jefferson Callin grew up, learned the trade of a shoemaker, and in about 1848, he married a Susan Egner, according to our favorite book, the 1911 Callin Family History (or the "CFH", for short). When we find the newlyweds in the 1850 Census, they are living next door (or are at least listed in the household above) Jeff's mother Nancy, who is in turn listed above a Joseph Burget - possibly an uncle or cousin to Nancy.

Jeff and Susan's household at that time also lists an Eliza M Egner, age 17. I think it is likely that this is Susan's sister. In spite of the fact that there are several Egner families in and around Richland county at that time who might be the girls' relatives, I have no solid evidence to show who Susan's parents were - but I suspect that her (and Eliza's) parents were Eli Egner and his second wife, Dorcas Sowerbeck. (see comments below for an update on this section)

Jeff and Susan began working on a family of their own, but they were struck by an early tragedy when their first infant, a daughter named Alice, died at one month of age in 1850. Again, we don't know the cause of death, but I suspect one of the infamous childhood diseases of the time - like those that possibly claimed so many of Jeff's younger siblings. Whatever the cause, a young couple in those days had little choice but to recover and move on. Over the next decade they went on to have more children: Mary E (1851), Martin (1853), Clara (1856), and Fred (1858).

The family seemed to be doing well in 1860. The census reports Jeff as having $850 in real estate and personal assets, and there are two young men lodging with the family - a blacksmith named Hiram France and a shopkeeper the transcriber saw as "Munfer Callan", age 27. It isn't gold-plated proof, but this could well be a record of Jeff's younger brother, whom the CFH refers to as "Marquis". The lesson here is to read every record carefully, just in case! (It would be nice to be able to figure out where this "Munfer" was in 1850, but if this is our Marquis, he would have been in his early teens, and might have been sent to live with relatives, or apprenticed to someone to learn a trade of his own.)

The 1860s brought the family joy and sorrow, as you would expect during the decade of the Civil War. In November 1860, Jeff and Susan had another son, George, but in 1861 they lost 10-year-old Mary to unknown causes. 1863 brought their son Delbert into the world, but also saw Jeff receive his draft notice. He was fortunate enough not to go to war himself; he may have been deferred for the sake of his wife and young children, or due to the fact that his unmarried older brother George and unmarried younger brother Elliott both enlisted. Sadly, both brothers were lost in 1865: George to a rebel sharpshooter just weeks before the end of the war; and Elliott, who survived battles through the Cumberland, the Battle of Shiloh, and duty in both New Orleans and San Antonio, died in the hospital at Columbus, Ohio.

In 1870 the family still lived a mere two households up the Census page from Jeff's brother James and mother Nancy. I said last time that I wished I knew more about what Nancy was like; I imagine that living near her grandchildren these 20 years must have been a source of joy. I like to imagine that she had to be tough to keep her family together through all of these common tragedies and I have a picture of her in my head - almost as if my own wife were there in that time, telling everyone "come on, we'll sleep when we're dead" as she bustles around tidying, feeding everyone, and getting things done. But even the tough can't last forever, and Nancy died in 1871.

By now, Jeff and Susan's kids were coming of age. Clara married her own Civil War soldier, Jacob Mohn, in 1875. A couple of years later, Martin married Mary Elizabeth Rearick and set himself up as a dry goods merchant in Blooming Grove. The 1880 Census lists Jeff, Susan, Delbert, and another young daughter, Minnie (born 1873) in Olivesburgh - by now more than just a post office. Further down the same page there is a Benjamin H Egner, 55, blacksmith with two of his children; if Susan is the daughter of Eli and Dorcas, then Benjamin would be her half-brother - the son of Eli and his first wife, Hattie Hoover. I don't know where Fred was that year, but 19-year-old George is employed as a servant in the home of a farmer named Cyrus Rebman in Weller Township.

An example of a wagon built in the 1880s,
this one by H. Barkow Co,, Milwaukee, WI
In 1884, Fred married Priscilla Creveling and settled in Mansfield, where he worked as a laborer and a driver. A few years later, in 1889, his brother George married Katie Imhoff and also moved his young family to Mansfield to work as a driver.

It's worth taking a moment and reminding a modern audience that when we say "driver" we are not talking about the modern delivery truck, yet. These men would have been actual teamsters. The first "horseless" trucks would start appearing on the scene in another 25 years, but it's likely that living with or near blacksmiths for most of their lives, the boys would have been very familiar with the business of tending horses and maintaining a wagon. As Ohio rapidly developed from the frontier of their father's childhood into the well-settled (and populated!) center of a United States, their skills would have been in high demand. So it's no surprise that Fred and George, and their sons, worked mainly as drivers in the busy and increasingly metropolitan town of Mansfield.

Their older brother, Martin, seemed to be doing well for himself in another related business. As a dry goods merchant, he would have depended on the services of drivers like his brothers for his success. He also took on the postmaster job, first in Olivesburg, and then after 1884, in Tiro, a town about 20 miles due west of Olivesburg. Sadly, in February 1889, he was killed when he and a business partner were struck by a train while crossing the tracks in their sleigh.

This newspaper clipping says a lot about the time - not only in the florid language used, but in the small emphases on technology (like the telephone) and the almost clinical physical details:
A common sight before the day of the automobile.

Martin L Callin and Jacob H Bloom hurled into Eternity Without any Warning

News reached this place last Wednesday afternoon by telephone that Martin L. Callin and Jacob H. Bloom, both of Tiro, were killed at 11:30, a. m., the same day on Plymouth street at Bucyrus while crossing the T. & O. C. track in a sleigh. The news, after further inquiry, proved only too true, and their homes which they left bright and cheerful, hale and hearty in the morning turned to be homes of mourning and sorrow at night.
The yard engine with three gondolas attached had gone north and was returning at a rapid rate of speed, the gondolas preceding the engine, when the fatal accident occurred at the crossing. The gondola farthest from the engine struck the sleigh and reduced that vehicle to a mass of ruins as well as inflicting the fatal injuries to its occupants. 
Mr. Callin was thrown a distance of about 60 feet, sustaining a dislocated neck, four or five broken ribs together with other injuries. His pulse beat for a short time after the crash but life was soon extinct. On his person were found $400, and a gold watch. 
Mr. Bloom was thrown on the cattle guard and sustained a dislocated neck and hip, a broken back, broken legs and inferior maxillary crushed. Death resulted instantaneously. A watch chain was found on his person but the watch could nowhere be found. The horses which were hitched to the sleigh were unhurt. 
Coroner Thoman held an inquest in which testimony was given by various parties who witnessed the awful accident. After the inquest the remains were taken in charge by an undertaker and after proper preparation were sent to the respective homes of the deceased parties at Tiro; arriving at that place at about 10 p. m. 
Mr. Callin leaves a wife and four small children to mourn his sudden departure. He was for a number of years a successful and one of the most prominent business men at Tiro.

(I left out a longer paragraph detailing Mr. Bloom's injuries for the sake of space, but if any are interested, I found the text in Martin's Find-a-Grave entry. -T.C.)

Martin's widow, Mary, soon remarried; to Harry Carlisle in 1890. Their four small children were Pearl (1877), Ben Frank (1878), William Jefferson (1885), and Gaston (1888). Records do not show where the Carlisles lived, but they appear to have remained in Ohio.

Jeff and Susan's later years were far more bucolic. The rest of their children grew up and moved away, but not far. Delbert married Mary Coleman in 1892, and Minnie married Wilson Urich (in 1890, if you believe the Census; in 1900 if you go with the CFH). The Mansfield News was more likely to print these types of notices than anything tragic:

"Dell Callin and family, from Adario, and Wilson Urich [Minnie's husband] and family visited their parents, Mr. and Mrs. T.J. Callin, Sunday."


"Arthur, Mabel and Fred Mohn [Clara's children], of near Tiro, were the guests of their grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. T.J.Callin a few days last week."


"Arthur Mohn and sister, Miss Mable, of Amey, visited their grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. T.J. Callin, recently."

(All of the above just from the 7 September 1900 edition of the Mansfield News, page 4, col 1 & 2)

In 1902, a 74-year-old Thomas Jefferson Callin died in Olivesburg, probably in the same street where he was born. Susan stayed in their home, at least for a few years, frequently visited by her children until some time before her 81st year, when she seems to have quietly died and slipped away, leaving no record - at least not that I have found, yet - just a legacy of children and grand-children.

Updates: Refined some of the location information thanks to some helpful feedback.

1 comment:

  1. Regarding the paragraph that originally read thus:

    Jeff and Susan's household at that time also lists an Eliza M Egner, age 17. I think it is likely that this is Susan's sister. In spite of the fact that there are several Egner families in and around Richland county at that time who might be the girls' relatives, I have no solid evidence to show who Susan's parents were - but I suspect that her (and Eliza's) parents were Eli Egner and his second wife, Dorcas Sowerbeck.

    A kind descendant of Eli Egner (and his first wife) let me know that while Eliza Ann (b. 1835) was the daughter of Eli, there is no indication that Eli had another daughter (at least not one named Susan). Eli is also not known to have had any brothers, which would rule him out as Susan's uncle, too.