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.
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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)
Males 10-15: 2
- William (b. 1813 - 7)
- George (b. 1804 - 16)
- John (b. 1802 - 18)
Males 45+: 1
- John (b. 1780 - 40)
Females <10: 2
- Margaret (b. 1819 - 1)
Females 10-15: 1
- Eliza (b. 1811 - 9)
Females 16-25: 1
- Sarah (b. 1808 - 12)
- 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
Males - 10 thru 15: 1
- James (b. 1810 - 10)
Males - 16 thru 18: 1
- Alec (b. 1808 - 12)
Males - 16 thru 25: 2
- Thomas (b. 1801 - 19)
Males - 45 and over: 1
- James (b. 1779 - 41)
Females - 10 thru 15: 1
Females - 16 thru 25: 1
- Unknown daughter
Females - 45 and over : 1
- Unknown daughter
- Mary (b. 1768 - 52)
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?