Friday, January 13, 2017

Architects, Tailors, and Wanderers

 As we read last week, Rosalina Bedora Davenport (1848–1876) married James Monroe Callin, and had four children before her death in 1876 at only 28 years of age. Today, we will focus on their sons. Even though only their eldest left descendants for us to trace, there is still a lot to tell you.

Albert Clifford Callin (1869–1933) was seven years old the year his mother died. That was 1876, the same year the telephone was patented, and also the year that the Battle of the Little Bighorn saw 300 men of the U.S. 7th Cavalry Regiment under Lieutenant Colonel George Armstrong Custer wiped out by 5,000 Lakota, Cheyenne, and Arapaho led by Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse. Fresh reminders of the Civil War, threats of conflict with Europe, and personal tragedies combined with the tremendous technological and economic progress of those years must have had an impact on Albert, his brother, and his sisters.

The extended family of Callins and Davenports seem to have come together and helped ease the loss of Rosalina, and the children were able to grow up in Bowling Green, for the most part. The children were surrounded by Civil War heroes and strong pioneer men and women, and they all chipped in to make sure they were educated and safe. Even so, there is only so much protection family can offer.

Mamie Walker, c. 1895
 Mary Gertrude "Mamie" Walker (1868–1932) was the daughter of Joseph Walker (1827-1871) and Ellen Beswick “Nellie” Ruth. Nellie's father was Peter Stout Ruth, an Episcopal minister (who earned an early post on this blog due to his fantastic beard); and she was born in Delaware, before he began to move the family westward founding churches.

Joseph married Nellie in June 1866, in Zanesville, Muskingum county, Ohio. I believe Joseph's parents were Andrew and Agnes (Blakely) Walker of Muskingum county; if they were, then they brought Joseph from his birthplace in Pennsylvania around 1828, and settled in the village of Dresden.

Joseph died when Mamie was three, and Nellie remarried Samuel Kiser in January 1874; she died in December of that same year, when Mamie was six years old, but Samuel raised Mamie as his own. Samuel remarried, and lived in Anderson, Madison County, Indiana, where he died on 27 July 1895.

Mamie and Albert were married on 11 December 1895, in Anderson, Indiana. In 1900 Albert was a carpenter, was living at a house that he owned at 3140 Glenwood Ave, Toledo, Ohio, with Mamie and their first child, Ralph. Though they lost their twin infant daughters in January and February of 1899, they were financially doing all right at this time. Albert's brother, Arthur, was also in Toledo.

The family story is that Albert, as the architect and builder, and a partner who acted as salesman and business manager, were engaged to build an early subdivision in Toledo. At the time, this was done by selling the plots before any houses were built — rather than building on speculation — and then using the sale money to do the actual construction. But when the money was in possession of the business partner (perhaps with materials ordered and not yet paid for, and no homes yet built) the partner absconded with the money, never to be heard of again. The story was that he “ran off to Mexico.”

Albert was left holding the empty bag in Toledo. He may have declared bankruptcy; in any case, he was left virtually penniless. He was a stern, righteous Methodist, and he vowed to pay the home purchasers and creditors back if it took him the rest of his life. He and his little family sold their home and left Toledo for Texas, where he’d heard they needed builders in Galveston.

About this time, his brother, Art, also decided to leave Toledo. As he was a tailor, it's not likely that Art was involved in the housing project, but he may have felt unwelcome in town after that incident. In any case, neither brother knew where they would end up. Albert was going to Texas, probably Galveston, but anywhere he could find construction work as quickly as possible, and Art said he was “going West” somewhere. They arranged that Art would write to a particular Post Office (possibly Galveston) care of General Delivery, on a certain date, to give his own new “Western” location.

Albert at his drafting table, c. 1927
While working his way to Galveston, Albert took on a number of small jobs to pay his way. On one occasion, he undertook to repair a cotton gin that had jammed or broken. While he was working, someone accidentally turned it on, catching his left arm. He retained consciousness, and directed his own extraction from the gin. However, the doctors were unable to save the mangled, filthy arm, and it was amputated above the elbow.

The appointed time to look for Art’s letter came and went while Albert was hospitalized, recuperating from his injury somewhere in mid-Texas. When Albert arrived at the designated Post Office, the Postmaster told him that yes, there had been such a letter, that he had kept it well beyond the required month, but, not knowing who Albert Callin was, he eventually had to return it to sender.  He, of course, had no record of the sender’s address. Thus, the brothers lost contact and never saw each other again.  This was a great loss to Albert and his family, and everywhere they went, they checked phone books for Callin to try to find a trace of Art. Albert’s granddaughter, Joan, used to look for Callin in her western travels. We have no idea why Art apparently didn’t keep in touch with the rest of the family, as Albert did. But Albert and his descendants never found Art until census records became generally available.

Albert and Mamie stayed some time in Galveston. Their son, Eugene Walker "Gene" Callin, was born there, 18 April 1901. After the destructive 1903 hurricane, there was an urgent demand for housing and skilled builders were in high demand; Albert did well as a building contractor, but, as he had vowed, he sent every penny he could spare back to the defrauded home buyers in Toledo.
Ralph (l), John (c), and Gene (r)
Victoria, Texas; about 1907

John Albert was born in 1904, probably in Galveston, and some time before 1908, Albert and his family moved to Victoria, Texas, where their last child, Clara Ruth, was born on 21 October 1908. Albert was successful in his business; however, he still sent every spare penny back to Toledo. He was listed as an architect, and they owned a mortgaged home. Though this made them personally poor, they were content.

The family was devastated by John's death in 1914 (see below); having lost three of six children, they felt they could no longer live in Victoria. Mamie’s half-brother offered them an asylum, and they moved to Pittsburg, Kansas, to be near him.

     I. Ralph Clayton Callin (1896–1955) was about five years old when his father took the family from Toledo to Galveston. As a young man, he served in the 280 Aero Squadron, Rich Field, Waco, Texas, during World War I. He received an abdominal injury while in the service, not in flight, but in a roll-over automobile accident. After his discharge, he went to work for a man he’d met while serving at Waco: D. W.  Baker.

Baker had a guest ranch in Wetmore, Custer County, Colorado. He was an Easterner, and was ill with tuberculosis, so he had come to this high mountain valley for his health. He needed help to run the ranch. The 1920 census shows Baker, 41, his sister and her two young sons, and Ralph, aged 23.

After a time, Gene joined Ralph on Baker's ranch, and the two surviving Callin brothers and Baker ran the business; maintaining a guest ranch, and raising wheat and horses. Eventually, Albert and Mamie came to live there as well. Albert liked it, but Mamie apparently was homesick for city life in this empty ranch land at the base of the Rockies.
Ralph C. & Margaret (Dunbar) Callin
Wetmore, Colorado; c. 1926

Harris Dunbar was the owner of an adjacent large ranch. He was a mostly absentee owner from Buffalo, New York. Harris liked Baker’s little ranch, and wanted to annex it to enlarge his spread and influence in the sparsely settled county. Harris’s youngest daughter, Margaret Dunbar (1908–1966) married Ralph Callin about 1927.

Baker became very ill while on an extended visit to Palm Springs, California, and Harris took over Baker’s ranch, installing Ralph and Margaret as the operators. The 1930 census shows Ralph (farm owner) and Margaret, with their two daughters, Patricia, 2, and  Marjorie, 2 months. Just up the road are Albert Callin, 63, general farmer, and Mamie, 62.

Baker died in October of 1930, and was buried in Pueblo, Colorado. He was mourned by the Callin family, who owed so much to him. Albert became a foreman on the ranch, which was now owned by Ralph and his wife after Baker’s death. Mamie died October 9, 1932, and Albert died seven months later, May 6 , 1933. They are buried together in New Hope Cemetery, Fremont County (just north of Custer County), Colorado.

Ralph’s and Margaret’s marriage was stormy. She left him twice, but came back pregnant; and he took her back both times.  Although these last two children were not Ralph’s, he loved them and raised them on the ranch as his own. They bore the Callin name, and although originally the other Callin children did not know that they were half siblings, they eventually found out. Of the four children, one is still living.

Ralph and Margaret were divorced at some point in the 1940s, and both remarried. Ralph married Alice (last name unknown); she had two young sons from her previous marriage, who were born about 1940, and lived with Ralph and Alice. Alice had been an Indian Agent, possibly with the Jicarilla Apaches. Ralph and Alice lived in Cortez, Montezuma county, Colorado, where they owned and operated a liquor store, and later an adjacent lovely little Indian store, selling beautiful jewelry, ceramics, blankets, and other native crafts. Ralph died in Cortez on 23 April 1955, aged 58, and was buried in Cortez Cemetery.

Margaret’s story was more tragic. She married Russell Ball Rose (1900-1963), a neighboring rancher. She was his second wife, and they lived in Canon City, Colorado. He died in 1963, leaving her a relatively wealthy widow; she then moved to Pueblo, Colorado.

In the evening of 5 October 1966, she was brutally attacked by a 17-year-old neighbor boy, who was burglarizing her home. He knew her because he used to mow grass and shovel snow for her. She heard him in her house; he stabbed her, stole her car, and drove out of town. A gas station attendant called the highway patrol, reporting a stressed boy, with bloody clothes, driving an expensive car in the wee hours of the night. He confessed after he was stopped; the highway patrol asked the Pueblo police to check on Margaret, but by that time, early next morning, it was too late. She had bled to death. She was buried with Russell Rose in Canon City.

       A. Patricia "Pat" Dunbar Callin (1928–1990) was born 2 March 1928, in Custer County, Colorado. She married Ralph Williams Ball (1919–2009) on 5 April 1952, in Denver, Arapahoe County, Colorado. They were divorced before 1985. Pat was an antique dealer in Denver. She died 16 September 1990, in Denver, Arapahoe Co., Colorado, aged 62. Pat and Ralph had three children, all still living, and five grandchildren.

       B. Marjorie "Marge" Callin (1930–1995) was born 30 January 1931, in Custer County, Colorado. She was married very briefly to Dudley Harding Van Buskirk (1916–1991), with whom she had a daughter. She married Robert Victor Becco (1932–2008) about 1954, and they had five children before they divorced about 1981.

Bob Becco was raised on his family’s apple farm and in his younger life worked at Hill Top Market, a Canon City grocery store his parents co-founded. He retired as an Assistant Superintendent of Maintenance from Colorado Fuel & Iron mill after 45 years of service. During his time at the CF&I, he was foreman of the scale, machine and central shops, and was the 1959 Apprentice of the Year. Bob was a talented machinist with an aptitude for invention; many of his creations are still operating at the Rocky Mountain Steel Mills today.  Marge was an antique dealer in Pueblo, Colorado, and she died there on 6 April 1995, aged 65. Bob died in 2008; they left behind their son and four daughters, and nine grandchildren.

       C. John Harris Callin (1932–1996) was born 26 July 1932, in Colorado. John was an officer in the Air Force. He was married twice, and had four children with his first wife. So far as we know, both wives and his children are all still alive.

       D. Jean Callin (abt. 1935-) was named after Ralph's brother, Gene, and I believe she is still living.

     II. & III.  On 13 January 1899, twin girls, Mary Kiser Callin and Nellie Ruth Callin were born. These babies died in infancy, Mary on January 29, and Nellie on 22 February 1899.

     IV. Eugene Walker "Gene" Callin (1901–1973) was born in Galveston, and moved with his family to Victoria, Texas, then to Pittsburg, Kansas. After his brother Ralph moved to Colorado, Gene joined him in operating the guest ranch belonging to D.W. Baker. Among the guests were a New York City widow Adele Merritt and her daughter Louise, who spent two summers there. By the end of the second summer, Gene and Louise were engaged; they were married 26 May 1926, in a Quaker ceremony at the bride’s home in Brooklyn Heights, Kings County, New York, leaving Ralph to care for Baker.

Eugene W. & Louise (Merritt) Callin
New Mexico, 1926
Louise was the daughter of James Haviland "Jim" Merritt and Adele (Ovington) Merritt, born 27 March 1894. Jim was an architect in Brooklyn, New York. He had died in 1914. Louise was a graduate of Smith College, Northampton, Massachusetts. Gene and Louise decided to settle in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and spent the remainder of their lives there, raising two children.

Gene developed a prosperous plant nursery on property he purchased near Santa Fe. He was a landscape architect; many of the gardens in Santa Fe during those years were designed and planted by him. The garden at his Santa Fe home was filled with experimental plantings, as he sought out and tested plants for Santa Fe’s climate.

Gene was a gifted artist and craftsman. He was deeply interested all his life in learning new techniques and using new materials. He was a master woodworker, making furniture and smaller pieces. He learned blacksmithing on the ranch, and wrought handles and hinges for some of his furniture. He learned to work with gold foils while framing his paintings and decorating small wood pieces. He loved working with unusual painting media. He was always whittling and carving. He taught himself lapidary work, and created small treasures combining stones and metal and wood. If he could imagine it, he could create it with his gifted hands. He was directly responsible for his daughter’s teaching herself cloisonné enameling, a craft she pursued for many years. Gene’s and Louise’s home in Santa Fe became a gem, filled with his work and hers; she was a needle worker and embroiderer.

Gene Walker Callin, 1950
Baja California, Mexico
Gene was seriously ill for a time. About 1936 he contracted diphtheria on a visit to Texas. He nearly died, and was in a vegetative state for over a year as a result of its brain-damaging high fever. Louise gradually nursed him back to health, though he suffered some after-effects the rest of his life. Later, Louise began her many-year battle with breast cancer. In those days, treatments for these illnesses were difficult. Despite this, their Santa Fe home was filled with happiness before Louise died in Gene’s arms at home on their 23rd anniversary, 20 May 1949, age 55.

On 16 October 1951, Gene married Henriette “Henri” Harris (1901–1987), an antique dealer in Santa Fe, daughter of Nathan and Rose Harris of St. Louis, Missouri. Their marriage ended in an amicable divorce about twelve years later, and they remained great friends the rest of their lives.

Gene died 2 May 1972, age 72, in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Henri died there 9 July 1987, age 86. Gene is buried between his two wives, Louise and Henri, in Memorial Gardens, Santa Fe.

       A. Charles Ovington Callin (1929–2005) was born 10 November 1929, to Gene and Louise Callin. Though he was born in New York City, he was raised in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Charles & Diane (Tomcheff) Callin
Chicago, 1964
His schooling was interrupted by service in the army. He served in the Korean War, drafted as a private, and discharged as a sergeant at the end of the war. He then attended and graduated from Pomona College, California.

In 1960, in Laguna Beach, California, Charles married Diane Jean Tomcheff (1935–1995), daughter of Demetre Stephen “Jim” Tomcheff, and Frosa Buteff, immigrants from Macedonia to the Chicago area, Illinois. Diane was working in California at the time, but about 1962, Charles and Diane moved to Chicago, which she considered her home.

Charles was a cartographer. He worked for the Chicago and Northwest Railway, later becoming land manager of their multiple properties. Diane, a teacher, became an English professor at Harper College, Palatine, Illinois. Diane died suddenly on 1 June 1996, age 60, of an accidental overdose of prescription pain medication. Charles was on a visit to their daughter in Las Vegas when she died. Charles then retired and moved to Las Vegas to be near his daughter and her family. Charles died 12 May 2005. His daughter, son-in-law, and their five children are still living.

       B. Joan Callin (1931-) was born 30 June 1931, in New York City, although she was raised in Santa Fe, New Mexico. She attended Radcliffe College, which has since been fully absorbed into its parent Harvard University.

On 10 September 1951 in Santa Fe, she married Robert John Foster, son of John Thomas and Margaret G. (Loftus) Foster of Arlington, Massachusetts. Bob Foster was a graduate of Massachusetts Institute of Technology in geophysics.

Bob obtained a PhD in geology from the University of Washington, Seattle, while Joan worked at Boeing, doing data management from flight testing and the wind tunnel; later she was writing test reports for a company engaged in manufacturing instrumentation for planes and missiles. Bob taught geology, and was the author of a number of textbooks. Joan was his illustrator for most, and helped see them through press.

Joan and Bob have a daughter, a son, and three grandsons. Joan and Bob and their family are all still living.
John Albert Callin
Victoria, Texas, 1914

     V. John Albert Callin (1904–1914) Just after Christmas, on 29 December 1914, tragedy struck. Gene and John and their two best friends, brothers Beau and Val Harris, were playing in some small caves they had dug in the bank of the Guadalupe River near their homes. One cave collapsed, burying John and Beau, and partially burying Gene. Val extracted Gene, and they ran for help. When the neighbors succeeded in digging the boys out an hour after the collapse it was too late. John and Beau were dead, and Gene and Val had witnessed the failed rescue.

     VI. Clara Ruth "Ruth" Callin (1907–1985) was born to Albert and Mamie on 21 October 1908, in Victoria, Texas, the last of their six children. She was named both for Mamie's half-sister, Clara Kiser, and the Ruth family surname.

Clara Ruth Callin
After her brother John died, the family went to Kansas, first to Pittsburg, then to Wichita, where Ruth spent the majority of her life. When Albert and Mamie left Kansas permanently to live with Ralph in Colorado, Ruth stayed behind alone in Wichita. She was a musician, a violinist, and she made her living teaching violin. Her brother Gene always prided himself that he had given her her first violin with his first earnings.

On 15 August 1945, Ruth married James Franklin Powell (1880–1951) when he was 65, and she 36. They had one child, before James Powell, Sr., died 19 October 1951, aged 71, leaving Ruth to raise their five-year-old son.

Ruth was severely crippled with arthritis, and she spent much of her later years in a wheelchair. This was doubly hard as she became unable to play the violin she so loved. She also became estranged from her son for many years, and she lived alone. She and her son maintained a better relationship late in her life.

Ruth died 25 October 1985, aged 77,  in Wichita, Sedgewick County, Kansas. She was buried in White Chapel Memorial Gardens, along with her husband.

Arthur K Callin (1871–1957) was the lost brother who left Toledo when Albert and his family moved to Galveston. Judging by the City Directory entries and Census records, he went to Gray's Harbor, Washington, where he worked as a tailor; then in 1910, he moved about 45 miles inland to Olympia, Washington, where he remained for a few years.

By 1918, however, Art moved to Portland, Oregon, where he worked as a janitor for many years. He seems to have done well enough for himself to have a house on Southwest Madison street, where he eventually retired. He died in Portland on 29 January 1957 at the age of 85.

 - -- --- -- -

Enormous thanks to cousin Joan, for the amazing detail and permission to include her photos here. As I've said before, if you see anything you like here, she deserves full credit; if you find any mistakes, those are all mine!

As always, if you're related to any of the folks in this post, then you're family! Please do drop me a note at callintad (at, or in the comments below; or follow this link to send a request to join the Callin Family History Facebook group.

No comments:

Post a Comment