|Amanda Walker, about 1873|
This is the story of one generation of one family; just a little more than one life span. It was a century that bridged centuries, saw three major wars, and took my family from the old frontier to a new one. It was one generation that multiplied two ancestors into many cousins... but enough poetry - let's get started!
My great-great grandmother Amanda Lydia Walker was born in 1857 on Scotch Ridge in Wood county, Ohio. Her father was born in New York around 1828, and there is some speculation that his parents were Scottish immigrants who arrived after the Revolution. In 1874, when she was 17 years old, she married 33-year-old schoolteacher and Civil War veteran John Henry Callin.
John was the oldest son of William Callin and Elizabeth Berlin (who we read about in November's "Silk or Satin" post). William was a prosperous farmer known in the county for his physical strength and his industriousness, but not for his education. John, however, was a good student who was accepted into the Western Reserve Normal School in Milan, Ohio, when he was 18. Three years later, in 1861, he began teaching his first classes in Wood county, Ohio.
Of course, that April saw the start of hostilities between the states. If it is true that William's farm was a stop on the Underground Railroad, that may have contributed to the enthusiasm his sons showed for enlisting in the fight. John dismissed his students in the middle of their term, and enlisted in the 21st Battery of the Ohio Light Artillery. He acquitted himself well as a soldier, and was later credited with leading Detachment B during its deployment in West Virginia. He brought home notebooks full of poetry he wrote on the battlefield, including an account of his unit's part in halting Morgan's Raid. After his discharge at the close of the war, John attended a course at Hillsdale College in Michigan, and then returned to Wood county, where he taught school for 22 years.
John married a Lucy Patterson in October 1865, according to his pension records - it isn't clear whether she is any relation to the Captain Patterson who commanded John's unit during the war, or what happened to cut that relationship short. Needless to say, there isn't any mention of this first marriage in the biographical sketches of John in the Wood county history. At any rate, they do not seem to have had any children, and John was free to marry Amanda nine years after his wedding to Lucy.
|John & Amanda Callin's family - c. 1892|
The family photo to the right shows the whole family from around 1892. Standing up in the back are Byron and John Q. Amanda is seated on the left with Prentice and Welles to her right and left; John H. is holding Ray and Emma is standing to the right.
|B. H. Callin, May 1895|
|John Q. Callin (right)|
Bowling Green HS football
(Given that theme, he probably would have appreciated the idea of Mighty Acorns!)
At the Turn of the Century, the Callin family was coming of age. The family portrait below was likely taken in 1902, around the time John H. moved the family to Fostoria. Standing from left to right in back are Ray (12), John Q. (21), Emma (15), Welles (13), and Prentice (14). Seated in front are Byron (26, and living in Dayton by this point), John H., and Amanda.
I estimate that John H. retired from teaching around 1889 - at 49 years of age. He seems to have gone back to farming, and he became more active in the Grand Army of the Republic. Even though his pension records indicate that he was never commissioned by the Union, he was known in his community as "Colonel Callin", which was possibly his rank in the GAR. His mother, Elizabeth, was living in his home in Bowling Green when she died in 1903.
|John & Amanda Callin's family - c. 1902|
Byron’s marriage to Fannie Muir didn't last long. Records of their divorce have proven to be elusive, but in 1906 he surfaced in Baker, Montana where he married Ruby Cole. Their daughter Opal was the first of John H. and Amanda's grandchildren, and she was born in April 1907, in Minnesota.
During their courtship, Byron and Ruby were riding in a buggy, going on a hunting trip, when the horse became spooked and in the subsequent furor, the gun that he had in the front of the buggy discharged and struck him in the right side of his jaw. He carried a terrible scar on his face for the rest of his life - and in the portrait below, you will note that he keeps his right side turned away from the camera. According to Truman Matcham, a son of Emma Callin, the family was always suspicious of the story and felt there was more to it than Byron would admit.
Welles Monroe Callin was born on April 19, 1889 in Bowling Green, Ohio. He grew up there until 1902, when the family moved to Fostoria. Welles attended Fostoria High School where he was the captain of the Ohio State Championship football team in 1907.
Emma Beatrice, born July 8, 1885, married a man 41 years older than herself in 1907. George D. Matcham was widowed when his first wife, Marion Worcester, died the year before. They had been married since 1871, and had opened a 20-room cottage at Linwood, a resort town on Lake Erie, just a few years before. George and his first wife never had children, but in November 1908 he and Emma presented John and Amanda with their first grandson, George Jr. Since John H. is also said to have owned property at Linwood, it seems likely that his new son-in-law may have helped him get started in the business of building resort cottages.
|Welles Monroe Callin, c. 1908|
Welles and Prentice then seem to have left for Edmunds County, South Dakota where their brother Byron was living. He held a number of degrees, including at least one in theology, and had been a traveling preacher for a time in South Dakota, as well as teaching school at nearly every level.
|Prentice George Callin|
Byron and Ruby had a second daughter, Elda Geraldine, while living in South Dakota, then Byron moved the family to Plevna, Montana. Welles seems to have followed them, but Prentice returned to Ohio where he homesteaded a piece of property and married Hattie Owen in 1910.
It was around this time that Byron began calling himself “Herbert”, his middle name. Welles evidently thought this was quite elegant and is listed in the 1910 census as “Monroe Callin”, though nobody ever seemed to call him that. In Baker, Montana, he met Marion Elizabeth Silvernale, the daughter of Baker's blacksmith, Charles Silvernale. They eloped sometime in 1911. It was quite a scandal, and there was even an article in the local paper with the headline, “Where is Marion Silvernale?”
Her family was not exactly smitten with the idea of their little girl seeing a divorced man, but the couple settled in Whitefish, Montana where Welles went to work for The Great Northern Railroad. They had three boys, Cameron Welles (1912), Charles Silvernale (1913), and John Kenneth (1920).
In 1913, John Henry died at the age of 72. Ray was attending college at Gambier, Ohio (probably Kenyon College), and Amanda moved to Vermillion to live near the Matchams. In 1920 she and Ray were living in the home of a widow named Anna Sherod, where Amanda worked as a housekeeper. Welles was still in Montana with his young family, but it seems the rest of the boys gravitated to Middlefield in Otsego county, New York.
|John and Prentice Callin|
After Congress passed the declaration that entered the U.S. into World War I in April 1917, 2.8 million men were drafted into the Army. John and Prentice seem to have enlisted (or at least registered for the draft), though it isn't clear whether they were in the U.S. Army or an Ohio unit. They were a bit older than the average recruit - Prentice was 30 and John was 38. It doesn't appear that they got far from home before hostilities ended in November 1918, which was surely welcome news to the rest of the family.
The good news was not to last. On September 21, 1921, one year and one day after the birth of his youngest boy, John K., Welles was on a short run from Troy to Libby, Montana. He was standing on the platform between the locomotive and the tender when a heavy coal rake, that was sticking out beyond the side of the locomotive, struck a trestle and knocked him off of the train and into the riverbed. He landed on his head and died instantly. He was 32 years old. He is buried in the Missoula Cemetery in Missoula, Montana.
|Ray Callin, with|
John Q. and Bertha moved to Schenevus, New York (not far from Middlefield) around 1921, when Bobby was about six months old. John taught there for a few years before moving back to Ohio. In February 1923, George Matcham died of pneumonia, leaving Emma with five children - the youngest being three years old: George Jr. (1908), John Edward (1912), Marjorie (1915), Truman (1916), and Ruth Ellen (1920). Emma remarried five years later to Gus Heimsath, and the aging Amanda moved into their home in Oberlin. That same year, 1928, Ray married Mary Delcamp.
|Byron Herbert "Prof"|
At some point after this, Byron married again. Records about this union are sketchy. They had one child, Flora Ida, but this marriage also ended in divorce. He remarried and another daughter was born, Ella Margaret.
On November 30, 1933, in Alford, Florida Byron Callin was shot to death. There are several stories about what actually happened. One is that he had been repeatedly trespassing on his neighbor’s property. Another was that it was a land dispute with his in laws. His death certificate states “Gunshot inflicted homicidally”. His occupation is listed as “Farmer.” Flora made numerous attempts to look at the records of the incident, but the County of Jackson, Florida refused to allow her access. No arrests were made. The whole incident simply went away. He is buried in an unmarked grave in Alford.
Mercifully, Amanda did not live to see Prof's ignominious end. She died in February 1933 at Oberlin, and after that, the Callin family began to move out of Ohio more permanently.
John Q. and Bertha had moved back to Fostoria from New York by 1930, but they soon decided to move down to Florida, once again following Prof's lead. John tried his hand at building resort cottages around the growing town of Orlando, and they lived out their days in Winter Park. By then, Ray and Mary had moved to Florida, also, with their son, Glenn, who was born in 1936. Prentice stayed in Ohio until the mid-1950s before moving to San Diego with Hattie.
It was barely 100 years from when Amanda, a daughter of Ohio's pioneering settlers, was born in 1857 until the 1950s saw the dispersal of her children and grandchildren to the East and West Coasts - and John Q.'s death in 1956. They were teachers, preachers, soldiers, builders, and adventurers who saw America come through some of its most celebrated episodes; and their lives were bracketed by the end of the Civil War at one end, and the rise of the Civil Rights movement at the other.
And that's just one family.
I couldn't have written this without the help of Welles's grandson, John K. Jr. He posted almost all of what you see here on Byron and Welles in the original Mighty Acorns blog, and either provided or identified most of the photos. He also met and interviewed Truman Matcham, John Elijah Callin, and several other folks before they moved beyond the reach of even the Internet.
If you see any mistakes in there, though, those are all mine.