Friday, December 4, 2015

A Tragic Beauty

George's tree
(click for a closer look)
We have spent the last several weeks talking about descendants of George and Polly Ann (Lewis) Callin, starting with the post, Uncle George and the Underground Railroad.

Next we looked at the family of his eldest son, John Callin (1832–1906), and his second son, William H Callin (1834–1919), followed by four weeks of posts covering each of William's daughters and their families.

George and Polly also had four daughters:

  • Minerva Callin (1836–1911)
  • Lavina* Callin (1839–1877)
  • Sabra Ann Callin (1837–1849)
  • Amelia A Callin (1849–1899)
While their birth and death dates are recorded in the Callin Family History, some of the information there is wrong or missing. The CFH does not have Minerva's date of death, for example; it just says "died," and since it was published in 1911, we have to guess that she died before then. It also lists Lovina's* death date as "July, 1880" and Amelia's as "Nov., 1875," both of which turn out to be incorrect.

Sabry A. Callin
(memorial on Find A Grave)
Sabra Ann's short life was apparently not as short as the CFH would have us believe. While Find A Grave does confirm the date of her death as February 11, 1849, her headstone gives her age as "12y 1m" making her birth date January 1837.

Minerva's story is harder to tell, as the CFH gives us surprisingly little to go on. That book tells us that she married a "John Smith," and lists four children, two of whom it says "died," leaving us to assume their deaths occurred some time before 1911. Their names were given as Frank (died), Flora, Willie, and Helen (died).

There is a record in the 1860 Federal Census for a family that fits this limited information rather well. They were listed in the village of Harrison, Winnebago county, Illinois. The head of the household is a blacksmith (aptly named) John N. Smith, age 28, born in Ohio. His 26 year old wife, Minerva, and 4 year old son, Frank, were also born in Ohio; 3 year old William J and 1 year old Hellen A were born in Illinois.

Thanks to the detailed enlistment records kept by Illinois, we know that John enlisted in the 74th Regiment of the Illinois Infantry, Company A, in September of 1862. That record confirms his name and middle initial, his occupation, and his 1860 residence, and it describes him as being 5'6", with black eyes, black hair, and a "dark" complexion. He mustered out of the unit in Nashville in 1865.

Unfortunately for us, in 1870 and 1880, the only John Smith family listed in Harrison, Winnebago county, is that of an English husband and wife, Mary, with children who are decidedly not named Frank, Willie, Helen, or Flora. Searches for each of the people we know to be in our John Smith's family turn up very little convincing evidence. There is a 1900 Census record in Columbia, Whitley county, Indiana which lists a Helen Hudson, living with her husband and children, and her mother: one Minerva Smith. Sadly, there are enough "Minerva Smiths" in the United States during the late 19th Century that without more clues, I can't say for sure that this is the same one.

The name "Smith" is far too common, even when paired with the other details we have, to zero in on the clues we would need to say anything more certain about Minerva and her family.

Lavina married Edward C. Rickey (1831–1896) on 24 October 1855, when she was only 16 years old. Ed was a farmer by trade, born in New Jersey to John and Bertha (Howell) Rickey. His family had moved to Ohio around 1845 and settled in Huron county. Ed enlisted in the 192nd Regiment, Ohio Infantry, in 1865 spending the final six months of the war on duty in the Shenandoah Valley.

We know from Ed's obituary that the couple had a daughter who died in infancy, and three sons; the youngest of those also died in infancy. We do not know the cause of Lavina's death, but she died in July 1877, only a month after the birth of that youngest son. She was 38 years old. Two months later the baby died, too.

Ed remarried to Anna Salome Tessler, on 8 May 1879; they had a daughter they named Florence (1884-1969). Ed died 23 October 1896, and was buried next to Lavina in the Cogswell Cemetery in Bridgewater Twp, Williams county, Ohio.

     1. Clayton E Rickey (1858–1930) was eighteen when his mother died in 1877. He left Ohio, worked as a farm laborer for a time in Michigan, and then married Sadie Taylor (?–1892) on 1 October 1887 in Fort Wayne, Indiana. In 1888, they had a son, Roscoe; but Sadie died in 1892 leaving Clayton and four year old Roscoe on their own. After Sadie died, Clayton married Ellen Teeple (1866–1934), and they had five more children.

The records tell an unusual story, because while the Census records show Clayton and his family living in Indiana, most of his children's birth records placed them in Williams county, Ohio. The two places were about 80 miles apart, and it may simply be that Clayton's family remained close to the rest of the Rickeys living in Ohio; I suppose that could account for a family traveling 80 miles each time they have a baby.

We know that Clayton died some time before 1930, but I have been unable to find any records or memorials to provide more detail. Part of the problem lies in the fact that he tended to use his initials, "C.E." on most official records, and part of the problem lies in the bewildering variety of ways the records list Ellen's name; Ellen, Ella, Lydia E., and Temple, Tebel, or Topple, just to name a few.

     a. Roscoe Leroy Rickey (1888–1917) grew up in his father's household with his step-mother and half-siblings, and they were living in Elkhart, Indiana, in 1900. There is a death record for a Roscoe Rickey who died in Detroit, Michigan, in 1917, and while there is a Roscoe Ritchey in Kokomo, Indiana in 1910 with a wife, Lizzie, it is not certain that our Roscoe Rickey had a family of his own when he died.

     b. Marguerite Rickey (1893–??) married William Harry Heidrick, Jr. on 28 August 1915, and the license was recorded in Hillsdale, Michigan. They lived in Fort Wayne at first, and apparently moved with their two young daughters (Alice V., b. 1917 and Jeanette M., b. 1918) to Sioux Falls, South Dakota, by 1920. After that, I have been unable to find any further records.

There are numerous records for different spellings of "Marguerite Heidrick" -  Margaret, and Headrick being most common - but where they list a husband, the names do not match. As with the Smith family above, we will have to keep hunting to find these descendants.

     c. Paul Edward Rickey (1897–1940) fought in World War I, and served in the 81st Company of the Transportation Corps in 1918 & 1919. His residence was listed on his draft registration as Stutsman, North Dakota, where he was employed as a farm laborer. After the war, there are several records in the 1920s listing his address in Indianapolis, and in 1930, the Census shows him in Marion, Grant county, Indiana. That Census record says he is married, though that is the only record that says so.

Paul was buried with military honors in Portland, Oregon, after he died there on 25 October 1940.

     d. Hugh Rickey (1899–1904) five-year-old Hugh died in December 1904, almost a year after the birth of his sister, Florence. He died in Indiana, and was buried in the Riverside Cemetery in Montpelier, Ohio.

     e. Florence Anola Rickey (1904–1923) may have been named after her father's half-sister, who would have been twenty years old in 1904. Florence Anola married Leonard Christian Roebel (1901–1970) on 11 August 1923, but was taken by typhoid fever in November that year.

     f. Arlo R Rickey (1905–1988) was born on September 20, 1905. He married Fayma Kleber (1909 - 1980) on 27 June 1936, and they lived most of their lives in Fort Wayne, Indiana. He was 37 years old when he enlisted in the U.S. Army after the beginning of World War II.

Fayma died in 1980, and Arlo died on June 13, 1988 at age 82. They were both buried in St Joseph's Catholic Church & Cemetery in Marion Township, Indiana.

     2. Willis L Rickey (1864–1935) married Cora Shoffer (1865–1903) in 1888. She died when their son was only eight years old, and Willis remarried Hannah Drusilla Crouse (1872–1938). Drusilla was the recent widow of Ambrose Stroh (1863–1903), and Willis adopted her four-year-old daughter, Vera I Stroh (1900–1973).

Willis was the proprietor of hardware stores in the towns the family lived in. Over the years, they lived in Madison, Ohio (1900), Wilmington, Indiana (1910), and Detroit, Michigan (1920). Willis died in Parker City, Indiana, in February 1935.

     a. Earl Glenn Rickey, Sr. (1895–1959) married Alma Miller (1897–1983) on 5 May 1914. They had one son, Earl G Rickey Jr. (1915–1986), a lifelong resident of Fort Wayne, Indiana, who served in World War II.

Amelia was the youngest daughter of George and Polly Callin. She was born at their home in Monroeville on 16 March 1849. She married Mr. Charles Henry Horton on 8 November 1875, when she was 26 years old, and they lived in Wellington for 20 years before moving to Painesville.

Charles was born in Holley, Orleans county New York, on 25 April 1845, to Chauncey and Nancy (Masten) Horton. He served as a sergeant in the 55th Ohio Volunteer Infantry for the four years of the Civil War. According to his biographical sketch in the Commemorative Biographical Record of the Counties of Huron and Lorain, Ohio, he "was in the battles of Chattanooga and Buzzard's Roost, and was severely wounded at Resaca, but [after] recovering rapidly rejoined his company, and was with Sherman on his march to the sea." After the war, he invented a threshing machine and a brick making machine, which made his fortune.

The Hortons did not have children of their own, likely owing to Amelia's delicate health. She was known to have a chronic digestive disorder, and her obituary noted that her health prevented her from participating in church activities.

On 3 December 1899, after recovering from a severe attack of typhoid fever, she died from that chronic digestive disorder.

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This was a difficult post to write, as you can probably imagine. It is rare to find so much information about a family and still be left with so much untimely death and so many loose ends. I hate having to leave loose ends. Usually, the untimely deaths keep us from having the loose ends, but this family was special!

I will, of course, keep looking for more clues to finish the story, but for now, aside from the seven or so great-grandchildren of George and Polly whose fates we do not know, this is all there is. Arlo and Fayma may have had some children we did not discover; Paul may have had a family in the twenty years between Indiana and Oregon; and the Smiths and the Heidricks may yet turn up in some unexpected place.

Until they do, we will have these stories of lives lived with their tragic beauty in the middle of America.
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*Note that the CFH spells Lavina/Lovina with both spellings in different places; her husband's obituary spells it "Lavina" but her headstone spells it "Lovina."

Portrait of Amelia Callin Horton is of unknown origin, and is assumed to be in the public domain.

For more information about the Rickey family, visit the Rickey Family Association's Rickey Database (

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