Friday, October 30, 2015

The Girl from England

William is the son of George Callin
For the next several weeks, we're going to be talking about daughters.

If you've been following this blog from its beginning, you know I feel strongly about remembering Where the Women Folk Are. The very name of this blog is meant to turn the Great Man Theory of history on its head - and one major influence on history that Theory ignores is the importance of (and often, the existence of) women. This line of James Callin's descendants will demonstrate how much you lose when you ignore women.

William H. Callin (1834-1919) was the younger son of George Callin. His older brother, John, had one son, one grandson who did not have any children, and three grand-daughters. William, as we will discuss today, had four daughters; and the rest of George's children were girls. So, while we're still going to be talking about descendants of James 1st, we will be talking less about people with the surname Callin - and thanks to our patriarchal system, the sheer number of surnames involved is going to explode.

Let's begin in England:

Ellen C. Channing (1838 – 1916) was born in Isle Abbots, Somerset, England on the 24th of November 1838. Her father was Joseph Channing, born May 29, 1807 in Curry Mallet, Somerset, England.

Joseph Channing
Charlotte Fox
Joseph was one of nine children with a widowed mother, so at the age of nine he was apprenticed to a neighboring farmer until he was twenty-one. At the age of 24 he married Rhoda Mounter, and though they had three children, two died in infancy. Rhoda died after only four years; the surviving child grew up to become Mrs. Mary Matilda Gommer.1

On June 29, 1835, Joseph married Charlotte Fox, the daughter of Daniel Fox and Susannah Stroud. Charlotte was born in 1811 in Fivehead, Somerset. In May 1819, when she was eight years old, her father was convicted of some undetermined crime and shipped off aboard a ship called the Caledonia in 1820 to land in Hobarts Town, Tasmania.

Joseph continued to farm in Somerset county until May 3, 1851, when he embarked with his wife and five children - the youngest but three months old - for America. They arrived in New York, and immediately headed west, where they settled in Greenfield township, Huron county. Joseph and Charlotte lived there five years, and had two more children. He then purchased a farm in Richmond township where he resided until the spring of 1884.

Ellen Channing - c1856
Ellen, at 13, would have been the oldest of the five children who came to America with her father and mother in 1851. The daguerrotype to the right shows her from about the time her father moved the family to Richmond township.

William H. Callin was born 4 March 1834, and grew up on his father's farm in Peru township. He most likely worked on the farm with his father and brother until he was ready to marry and set out on his own, as many young farmers of that time and place did.

The Channing family arrived in Huron county when William was 16, and their first farm in Greenfield township would have only been a few miles south of the Callin farm in Peru township. I imagine that to an Ohio farm boy, this girl from England must have seemed exotic and well-traveled; though the families seem to have been devout and humble people as a rule. It's hard to say how many years they knew each other, but even after the Channings moved to Richmond township, they weren't far away - just on the far side of Chicago Junction2. We can certainly imagine social events and holidays when the young couple might have met in town, or at church functions.

William married Ellen Channing on 8 March 1860 in Sandusky, and they started a home next door to his parents. William registered for the draft in 1863, but being married probably reduced his chances of being selected.

By the time of the 1870 Census, William and Ellen were living in Richmond township, with their three small daughters, Lillian Florence (1861 – 1936), Anna (1865 – 1908), and Lydia Minerva Callin (1869 – 1943). These sisters were all still at home in 1880, when their littlest sister, Grace M (1880 – 1978) came along. We'll talk about each of their families over the next few weeks.

William's farm was one of those selected for the 1880 non-population schedule of the Census, which means we get a rare glimpse at some of the details of his farm's activity. In that year, he cultivated one 333 acre field, and kept 10 acres of woodland on his property. The property itself, including the buildings, equipment, and $250 of livestock was valued at about $2,400. William paid out $20 in wages for 4 weeks of labor in 1879, and estimated his farm's total production that year at $410. He kept 2 horses, 3 "milch cows", 1 "other" (neither a milk cow or a "working ox"), about 5 sheep, 7 swine, and 25 chickens. The farm produced 300 pounds of butter, 5 fleeces (for 25 pounds of wool), and 80 eggs; there were 2 calves born, and 8 lambs. William planted 4 acres of "Indian corn" and harvested 160 bushels; 5 acres of oats for 180 bushels; and 7 acres of wheat for 140 bushels. A quarter acre of potatoes produced 25 bushels, and one acre with 20 apple trees produced a bushel of apples. His 10 acres of woodland produced 10 cords of firewood, valued at $10.

In 1884, Joseph and Charlotte sold the family farm to their son, William G. Channing, and moved to Norwalk until the following fall, when they moved back to Chicago Junction2, where Joseph died on 5 December 1889. Charlotte spent two years in Chicago Junction before moving in with her daughter, Mrs. Lydia Lloyd, and the with Ellen and William Callin.

Ellen C. Callin
William H Callin
In 1900, Grace was the only child left in the home (though at 20, she was only a year away from being married by then), and her grandmother Charlotte was listed in the household. Interestingly, Ellen's brother, William G. Channing, was the Census enumerator for the township that year. By this time, of course, he owned the Channing family farm. Charlotte would often visit, and on one such visit, she grew ill; she died there on 4 April 1901.

The 1910 Census shows William Channing's household just a few lines down the page from William and Ellen Callin, which indicates how close the family farms probably were to each other.

William and Ellen seem to have lived out their days on their farm, Ellen passing in May 1916 at 78 years of age, and William in November 1919 at 85. If there are obituaries or records of their deaths beyond their grave markers, I have not found them. This would seem to indicate what kind of modest people they were. They led a simple life by modern standards, raised a close family, and as we'll see in coming weeks, they left their legacy behind  in their children.

1 - Mary Gommer remained in England when her father emigrated; she was most likely married to Mr. Gommer by that time.

2 - Chicago, and later Chicago Junction, was often confused for Chicago , Illinois by train passengers, and in 1917 the name of the town was changed to Willard.

3 - The entry is hard to read; it looks like the enumerator wrote "43", then wrote over the "4" with a "3".

Photos posted with permission of Ancestry user meganoneill10.


  1. Thanks for all the hard work. I look forward to every new entry and pore over them, repeatedly.
    JC aka Carl La Fong

  2. I appreciate that! The stat-counter tells me that there *is* an audience, but it's nice to know you're there!

  3. yes! thank you. i have photos of that old home (wm callin's) in some of the reunion photos

  4. Very good work! I am Joseph and Charlotte Channing's great great great granddaughter. I grew up in Plymouth, Oh, right down the road from the cemetery where these Channings are buried.