Friday, October 2, 2015

The Distance of Close Connections

For the last couple of months, we've explored the descendants of the man I called Tragic Thomas. Thomas was the son of James, elder of the two Brothers Callin of Ohio, and grandson of the man referred to in the Callin Family History (or CFH) as "James 1st".

I told you what little I know about Thomas's brother, Alec Callin, who felt The Pull of the West and moved further, from Ohio to Iowa. Just to refresh you on the details, the CFH says this of Alec:
"Married and moved with his family and mother to Iowa about the year of 1840. The mother referred to was 'Aunt Mary', wife of James 2nd who was killed with a gun. She sold the farm and went with Alec to Iowa where she died some years later. Nothing has been heard from that branch of the family since 1845."
There are several records of land grants to an Alexander Callin, one identifying him as a resident of Muscatine, Iowa in July 1854, and showing that he purchased a plots of land in the young state. There is also a Mary Callin buried in a Muscatine county cemetery, having died in 1846 at age 77.

Following behind Alec by a year or two, his younger brother, James (3rd), also moved to Iowa. Per the CFH, again:
"James Callin with his wife and baby moved to Iowa where he died in 1844. William Callin, brother of Margret, went to Iowa and brought her and the two above named children home to Ashland Co. after her husband's death." 
The "above named children" are William and Warren on the following chart, which shows the lineage of their parents:

Because it's such a taboo, I hesitate to come out and say plainly that James and Margret were 1st cousins, but clearly, they were. James was the youngest son of James, the brother of John, whose youngest daughter was Margret. 

I don't have any way of knowing what the family might have thought about this arrangement, either. Both fathers were long dead by the time the couple was wed in 1841. Alec had already moved west by this point, taking his and James's mother, Mary, with him; and if Margret's mother, Elizabeth, disapproved of their wedding, it may explain why they decided to make the journey described here. Even today, traveling 435 miles (by modern route estimates) from the frontier of Ohio to the even newer frontier of Muscatine, Iowa with an infant wouldn't be ideal!

But the truth is that we can't know the Truth(tm) - the best we can do is look at what we do know, and try to fill in the blank spots as best we can. We can't know what the people were thinking or what motivated their choices, but we can at least hazard a guess as to what those choices were.

We already know from reading about Tragic Thomas's life that James and Margret were two of at least 13 cousins (including Thomas himself) who grew up together on the farm that their fathers had settled in Milton township. 

We know that when James died (1844), Margret was left with Warren, about age 2, and she was almost certainly pregnant with little William (b. 1845). Since Margret's brother - my own 3rd great grandfather, William - is the one who made the ~870 mile round trip to Iowa to bring Margret back to Ohio, we can assume that Margret either did not want to remain in Iowa or could not, for some reason. Alec had only purchased the first of three recorded properties that we know of, and we have no idea who his wife was or how many children they had; clearing a farm and providing for a large family would have been daunting.

Since "Aunt Mary" (James and Alec's mother) died a year later, perhaps we can guess that she was in poor health. It could be that with her husband dead, Margret simply wanted to return to where she grew up.

Once back in Ohio, Margret herself died in 1847. It is telling that her two small sons - 5 and 3 by that time - were not taken in by any of her siblings' or cousin's families on the 1850 Census. As we will see, at least one of the boys was fostered with a family in New London, Huron county. Of course, for the size of her extended family, Margret's options for finding someone to raise her sons were more limited than you might think.

Consider that Thomas, her cousin/brother-in-law had likely died in 1843, just before she came back from Iowa. His widow, Nancy, had several small ones of her own, two of whom she would lose after 1850; her household may have been stricken with any number of disease outbreaks common at the time, and possibly couldn't have handled the two boys.

Margret's own siblings all had their hands full. The oldest brother, John, died young (23 years old) in 1825, but of the rest:
  • Her oldest brother, George, had six children under 12 in his home; 2 boys, and 4 girls. (The youngest of those, Sabra Ann, was born in 1843 and died in 1849.)
  • Her sister Ann Campbell also had 5 who were 10 and under; 2 boys and 3 girls.
  • Her sister Sarah married John Scott in 1835 and they had moved to Illinois around 1840.
  • Sister Eliza Ferguson and family lived in Auburn, Indiana.
  • Her brother William's third child, a son name James, was born in 1844, and his fourth, George (who grew up to compile the Callin Family History) was born in 1846. The births of these boys bookended his trip to Iowa to fetch Margret, Warren, and little William.
  • Her next eldest brother, James, had two daughters - the younger of whom (born in 1841, and called Sabra Ann) was blind, and likely needed special attention that her parents couldn't spare.
  • And lastly, Hugh had just married Barbara Matthews, and they had a newborn in 1846.
Certainly, each of these families had their own hardships to face, so it wouldn't be charitable to draw any conclusions about them or their sister from the fact that none of them seemed to have room for Warren or William - even William's likely namesake, his uncle.

Wherever he ended up going to live as a boy, we know what eventually happened to Warren:
"Warren enlisted in the spring of 1861 in 25th Regiment O.V.I., and died on Cheat Mt., West Va. Had been on a scout; only sick one hour. It is supposed he died from drinking poisoned milk. He was a musician, and wherever he went his violin went, and when in camp he drew crowds to hear him play. It is said no man in the regiment equaled him in strength, his soldierly qualities won the confidence of his colonel and he was made Scout. His kind heart and sweet disposition endeared him to all his comrades. The whole regiment mourned his death." (CFH - record of Margret, his mother)
As for young William, his first cousin, George, happened to be the author of the CFH, and had this to say:
"Andersonville Prison" by John L. Ransom 
"William Callin was left an orphan in childhood about the age of 3. Was adopted by and raised by a family named Day near New London, O. At eighteen he enlisted in Co. E, 55th Regt. O.V.V.I., was in all of the battles of his Reg't. till captured on Sherman's Atlanta Campaign and remained in Andersonville prison till close of war. He escaped from prison three times but was each time traced by bloodhounds, captured and returned. His prison life resulted in curvature of the spine and he was badly crippled during later life, enduring much suffering and finally death, for the services he rendered his country, to which he gave the full measure of his devotion." (CFH)

I still don't know for certain who the "family named Day" was, though I have a hunch; I will continue that hunt and keep you updated.

After the war, William married Theodocia Johnson (1843 – 1899) 9 August 1868 at age 23, and they had one daughter, Edith May Callin (1872 – 1967). It isn't clear what William did for a living; by the 1900 Census, he was 55 and listed as a "pentioner" (I assume that's just a spelling mistake by the enumerator). Theodocia died in May 1899, and Edith appeared with William on the Census, which says she worked as a seamstress, probably supporting her father.

Just over a year after the death of her mother, Edith married Oley Ray Hanley (1876 – 1953) on 16 August 1900; they had one son: Lyle Elliott Hanley (1902 – 1935). William likely lived with them, until his death in 1907. His brief death notice in the newspaper simply mourns the passing of an "old resident and soldier," and he was buried on a Friday.

Edith divorced Ray around 1912, and moved with 10-year-old Lyle to Toledo. Lyle lived with his mother through the 1920s, and was employed as a clerk, and as a time-keeper by the American Can Co. Lyle died on May 10 1935 in Toledo. He was survived by his young widow, Marie, whom he married around 1930. His obituary did not mention any children.

Edith outlived her son by 32 years. She seems to have made a living taking in boarders, as she did in 1940, judging by the Census, and she died in May 1967 at the age of 94. It's impossible to know whether she ever knew her Callin cousins who also lived in Toledo; Ben Frank and Daisy would have been living there at least until his death in 1953. But it may be that after three somewhat tragic and lonely generations, Edith may not have been interested in her family connections. 

And with that, unless we discover something new, I believe we have officially covered everyone on the "James 2nd" side of the family - from here on, we will look at the descendants of his brother (my 4th great grandfather), John.


  1. I assume it was common practice to marry your 1st cousin in the 19th century. Clans liked to stick together. it was very common in the old world (esp. among royals) It is still legal to marry your 1st cousin in about half of the state today.

  2. It's hard for me to judge how common it might have been; this family is not the only one in my ancestry to have 1st cousins marry. (Though I have to say, the taboo is strong enough that I'm relieved that none of those marriages were my direct ancestors.)

    It does seem to be pretty common in my tree for pairs of siblings to marry other pairs of siblings - as when brothers Joseph and Edward Lowe married sisters Cora and Carrie Callin. And one of these posts has a story about a man who married his brother's widow - which does seem like a very biblical thing to do.