Friday, November 4, 2016

My Place in the Queue

After the 1874 birth of their first son, Byron Herbert Callin, John H. and Amanda Walker Callin had a baby daughter on 11 August 1875. They named her Leota.

Leota died on 7 April 1876; we don't know what caused her death, but we can imagine how devastating the loss must have been to the young family. They must have remembered this little girl fondly, because Byron named his first child Opal Leota, even though he would have been too little to remember much about his little sister.

They would not have another child for three years after Leota, but when they did, another son was born.
Bowling Green High School

John Quincy Callin was born 11 July 1879 in Bowling Green, Ohio. In comparison to his scholastically precocious elder brother, John was more physical. He played football, a game that wasn't much older than he was; and he enlisted in the Army to support the American effort in the Great War.

That physicality didn't prevent John from following the family vocation, and like his father and elder brother, he became a teacher. Looking at the family and correspondence he left behind, he also seemed to have a wry sense of humor, and the "Callin luck" that my family jokes about to this day.

Bertha May Greenlee was born 5 December 1885 in Arcadia, Hancock county, Ohio to Allen and Ava Alice (Hales) Greenlee. Her father, Allen, died very soon after she was born, in 1887, and her mother remarried in 1889. Alice's new husband, George Cramer, adopted Bertha.
Bertha May Cramer
c. 1900

I wrote about the Greenlee family's origins in The Unknown and the Unknowable. Since writing that piece, I've learned a few new details - such as the date of Allen's death, and where he and his father, Robert, were buried. I've also learned more about Allen's mother's family, the Bollmans; but I'll save that for after the Callin Family History is done!

John and Bertha married in 1906, which may explain why he did not head west to South Dakota and Montana with his brothers. Instead, the young couple had their daughter, Yvonne, the following year, and in 1910, John was teaching in Fostoria. Their son, Norman, was born in 1912, followed by the death of John's father, John Henry Callin, the following year.

John (left) and Prentice Callin
c. 1918
The mid-1910s saw John and Bertha move to Lorain, near Oberlin, where John's widowed mother was living with his sister, Emma Matcham. John worked as an insurance agent for Prudential for several years. That's where they were in 1917 when John and his brother Prentice enlisted in an Ohio army unit.

From the scant documents I found, I don't believe the brothers were in the army for very long before the war ended; I don't think John went away, other than to complete basic training. He returned to insurance in the Fostoria area. John and Bertha had their third child, my grandfather, in Findlay, Ohio in 1920, and little Bobby was about a year old when John's brother, Byron, persuaded him to take a teaching job in Otsego county, New York.

John & Bertha in FL
with their dogs
John and Bertha weren't in New York for more than a couple of years, and they returned to Fostoria around 1925. But, once again, they seem to follow in Byron's footsteps and between 1931 and 1935, they moved to Orlando, Florida, with their two sons.

John & Bertha Callin
Over the course of the late 1930s and 1940s, John built several cottages, which he intended to sell as part of the real estate boom going on around Orlando. We have a number of letters to their son, Bob, during his enlistment in the Army, and almost all of them include an update on the troubles John was having with getting work done by contractors, or problems with tenants and prospective buyers. It's hard to read those letters and not think about how much more successful John might have been in Florida real estate if he had only waited twenty more years for Walt Disney to come along!

Of course, John would not live to see that day. He died in 1956, at 76 years of age; Bertha survived until 1971, though - and she died on September 20th, less than two weeks before Disney World opened. I'm sure by then she was well accustomed to the old "Callin luck."

Yvonne, Ginny, and Ed Weimar
     I. Yvonne W. Callin (1907–1974) was born in Fostoria, Ohio, on 9 May 1907. She was 15 or 16 when her father took the family to New York state, and she was attending Fostoria High School at the time, so she stayed behind, living in the home of her grandparents, George and Alice Cramer. About 1931, when her parents were preparing to move to Florida, Yvonne married Thomas Nathan Wirebaugh (1908–1971).

Yvonne and Thomas had a daughter in 1932, but soon divorced, and Yvonne moved down to the Orlando area so she and little Virginia could be closer to her parents. In 1939, Yvonne remarried Edwin John Weimar (1890–1958), a Purple Heart veteran of the First World War. Ed had survived the war with some lingering health problems, and spent his final days in the Soldier's Home in Brevard, Georgia.

       A. Virginia Ann Wirebaugh (1932–2004) was born in Fostoria, Ohio, but grew up in Winter Park, Florida. After her mother died in 1974, Ginny remained in Florida the rest of her life, occasionally visiting family in Ohio and Arizona. She never married, and never had children, but she loved her cousins.

I remember she always sent birthday and Christmas cards to my sister and me when we were growing up, and in the 1990s, after long distance phone calls became less expensive, she liked to call periodically and chat. After I started researching family history, I asked her about her grandparents, but if she talked about them much, I failed to save any notes. She didn't like to talk about her mother, who she missed, and I never asked about her father. She had a dry, dark sense of humor, and I was sad I never got a chance to take my kids down to Florida to meet her.

Norman Callin
     II. John Norman Callin (1912–1964) was born on 8 September 1912 in Fostoria, and when his family returned from New York, he attended Fostoria High School, as Yvonne had. Norman was the humor editor for the school paper, which doesn't surprise me in the least to discover. After he finished high school, his parents and younger brother moved to Orlando, and it appears Norman went with them.

Norman married in 1933, and by 1940, he and his wife had a son and a daughter. Their family remained in the Orlando area at least until some time after the end of the Second World War, and they had their second son there in 1946. But at some point, Norman moved them to Baltimore. He suffered from congestive heart failure, and died there in 1964, at only 52 years of age. His daughter is still living.

       A. John Richard "Dick" Callin (1933–1993) was born and raised in Florida, and moved with his family to Maryland in the late 1940s or early 1950s. He married Edna Mae Barkley (1938–2013) around 1961, and they had five children - a son and four daughters. One daughter, Barbara Ann, died in infancy in 1971.

       B. Michael Norman Callin (1946–1976) was born in Florida, and would have been very small when the family moved to Maryland. I don't know much about him, other than he appears in the Florida Death Index; my dad remembers his cousin Mike, as they would have been about the same age when the two families visited each other in the 1960s. Dad said after Norman died, the families lost track of each other, and he was sad to hear that Mike had died so young.

Bobby Callin
c. 1921
     III. Robert T Callin (1920–2007) entered the world in Findlay, Ohio, on 16 December 1920. One of my first posts on this blog, You Shoulda Seen the Other Guy, related a few anecdotes about him; he was my Grandpa Bob.

Bobby was the baby of the family, as Yvonne was 13 and Norman was 8 when he joined them. He was very small when John took his teaching job in Schenevus, New York, and he actually very nearly died there:

Schenevus, Nov 21--Little Bobbie Callin, the 23 month old son of Mr. and Mrs. John Q. Callin was severely scalded Sunday evening at his home on Main street.  Mrs. Callin, the contralto soloist at the Baptist church, was attending an evening service, Mr. Callin remaining home with the two children, Norman, a lad of 8 years and little Bobbie.  In some unexplainable manner the little fellow got under his father's feet when the latter was carrying a large basin of hot water, and the child was badly scalded on the right side of his body.  There are  two very severe burns on the torso and while the right side of head and face is also affected, it is hoped there will be no scar or disfigurement on face or head.  Dr. E. C. Winsor was quickly summoned and did everything possible to relieve the little sufferer.
The Callins moved to Schenevus from Ohio about 18 months ago and Mr. Callin is one of the teachers in the high school here.  Sympathy is expressed by a wide circle of friends and sincere wishes for the little one's speedy recovery.

Obviously, Bob survived - and lived a long life. If you read You Shoulda Seen the Other Guy, you will begin to understand what we mean when we talk about the "Callin luck" - but as bad as things may have gotten, he always seemed to bear it and bounce back with a joke.

A World War II romance
In 1939, Bob graduated high school, and enlisted in the U.S. Army. He started out at Camp Blanding, not far from home; but soon, he was assigned training out west, in Yuma, Arizona, where he learned how to be a mechanic on aircraft for the new Army Air Corps. When he transferred to Luke Field, near the little farm town of Glendale, Arizona, he met my grandmother, Nancy Gay Witter (1925–2004). I've written about that, too, in When Things Got Serious.

After the war, Bob decided to leave the military and attended seminary. He completed degrees at Arizona State University and at Grand Canyon College, and began a career teaching math in the Glendale Union High School District. They bought a home on Gardenia Lane, and stayed there for nearly 50 years. Nancy eventually got her degree at Grand Canyon, as well, and taught art in the Glendale schools until she retired.

Bob & Nancy, about 1985
in their house on Gardenia
with Sam (the cat) and Charlie (the dog)
Bob and Nancy raised two children, my dad and my aunt; they left behind five of us grandchildren, and we've managed to produce a crop of of eleven amazing great-grandchildren.

In her last few years, Nancy developed a condition that left her unable to form memories properly. We explained it to the kids by comparing it to Dory, the fish with short-term memory loss played by Ellen Degeneres in Finding Nemo - but the effects were nowhere near as harmless or amusing as simply forgetting things and repeating herself. If Bob left her sight for any length of time - to shower or make coffee, for example - Nancy would quickly panic, and try to leave, not remembering that she was in her own home and thinking that she was in a stranger's house.

They moved into a house two doors down from the house where their daughter ran a bed and breakfast in Peoria, and Bob patiently took care of her for several years until she died in 2004.

After that, Bob seemed determine to enjoy himself while he could. He made some new friends (Hi, Ruby!), found work officiating weddings at the bed and breakfast, and began taking long drives around the state - probably reliving the many camping trips and adventures he and Nancy had enjoyed over the years with their RV and motorcycles. Dad and the family worried about him, an 85 year old man out on the road by himself, but he seemed happy. He always came home safe.

 - -- --- -- - 

That's as up-to-date as I can bring this branch of the family without talking about living people - unless you want to read about me, in which case, I have a book for you on Amazon!

I hope you enjoyed it, especially if you're one of my cousins, however distant! Or nearby. I've lived within 10 miles or so of Norman's grandchildren for almost 12 years, now, but haven't managed to make contact with them.

If you're one of them - or if your family is related in any way to James Callin - drop me a note. You can use the comment section below, email my Gmail address (callintad at, or follow the link to the Callin Family History group on Facebook.

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