Friday, January 6, 2017

The Three Lives of James Monroe Callin

James Monroe Callin was born 26 February 1844 in the Ashland area of Richland county. That was the year that his father, William, traveled nearly 500 miles west to Iowa to bring Jim's aunt Margret back to Ohio. (I told that story back in the post titled The Distance of Close Connections.) Jim's older sister, Harriet, would have been about 6 years old, and his brother, John, would have been 4.

The family of William Callin would have been surrounded by extended family in the neighboring townships, so their mother, Elizabeth Berlin Callin, would not have been entirely on her own — but imagine sending your husband off on a journey like that at a time when the threat of attack from hostile indigenous tribes was not out of the question. The last major uprising of native peoples, the Battle of Little Bighorn, was still thirty years in the future at this point.

When Jim was six, William took the family to clear and settle a new farm in Peru, Huron county, Ohio. Jim grew up in New London and Ridgefield, attending school and working his father's farm, until the war began. Jim was not yet 18 when the call for troops went out in 1861, but he turned 18 the following February. He went up to Toledo, and on 10 October 1862, a full two months before his older brother John enlisted, he enlisted in the 67th Regiment, Ohio Volunteer Infantry, Company H.

At the time of his enlistment, his personal description was five feet eight inches high, fair complexion, grey eyes, and auburn hair. He was a farmer boy, strong and capable.

Ruins: The Second Assault on Fort Wagner
Jim was twice wounded in action. First, and most serious, he was hit by a shell that struck the upper part of his right thigh near the bone during the charge at the Second Battle of Fort Wagner, South Carolina, 18 July 1863. “He was one of the eighteen men who took their stand on the bomb proof of said Fort and that they held the same about thirty minutes and until their commander ordered them to retreat as best they could.” Jim was in the general hospital No. 9 at Buford (Beaufort), South Carolina, almost three months. He returned to duty 27 September 1863.

Second, he was struck in the back of his head by shrapnel from an exploding shell in the Battle of Chester Station, Virginia, 10 May 1864, and hospitalized at Ft. Monroe, Virginia, on 20 May 1864 after experiencing disorientation and headaches. This injury, though it sounds worse, was less serious than the thigh wound which caused permanent damage and a limp. Almost as bad, he, along with many others, contracted what was called “camp diarrhea,” dysentery, from which he suffered the remainder of his life.

James Monroe Callin was discharged honorably at the end of the war, and returned home in October 1865.

Rosalina Bedora Davenport (1848–1876) was the daughter, and only child, of Martin Sidney Davenport (Jr.) (1824–1895) and Laura Maria Hix (1828–1904). Martin married Laura in Norwalk, Huron county, Ohio, on 11 November 1845.

Laura was born on 5 September 1828 in Vermont, daughter of Daniel Weed Hix and Laura (unknown), and her family had only recently arrived in Ohio before she was married. Martin was a carpenter who descended from Dutch settlers to New Jersey who had spread to the west via Tompkins county, New York, where Martin was born. The Davenport family's origins are still a matter of some debate. They held a reunion in Perrysburg, Ohio, on 4 September 1890, at the home of Alanson Davenport, which was reported on by Charles C. Hum in the newspaper:
"In good old colonial days one Garret Davenport with three half brothers came from Holland to America and located in New Jersey. This circumstance coupled with the undoubted English character of the name, is almost certain evidence that the family was one of the many who had been driven from England in the days of religious persecution to find an asylum in Holland, and afterward a home in wild but free America."
While it's hard to find "almost certain evidence" of anything from that early period, it is certain that after arriving in New Jersey, Garret and his sons spread across the continent, through New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and beyond. Garret's son, Martin Sidney, Sr., was born in New Jersey, and lived for a time in Tioga and Tompkins counties, New York, where Martin Sidney Davenport, Jr., was born in 1824 youngest of six sons, the eldest of whom was Alanson. A number of these Davenports moved to Ohio in the 1840s.

Martin Sidney was a Union Army soldier who enlisted in Company A, 100th Regiment, Ohio Volunteer infantry on 1 September 1862. He mustered out on 20 June 1865 at Greensboro, North Carolina. After the war, he was also a member of the Wood County Wiley Post # 46 of the Grand Army of the Republic, and a GAR Flag Holder.

At that 1890 reunion, he recounted a story from those days:
"Sidney Davenport announced that the only behavior of the family that might be criticised [sic] was some of his own. It happened that in old army days a large cheese adhered to his rubber blanket, carelessly throwing over it while taking lunch. After reaching camp he noticed the cheese and tried to make it take the oath of allegiance. Failing in this he confiscated it as he was in duty bound to do. This was not a case of theft and the fault lay clearly with the cheese."

Martin's Veteran’s Pension records showed that though he was never wounded, he, like Jim, contracted “camp diarrhea” or dysentery during the war, from which he never recovered. He was several times left sick in camp in Frankfort, Kentucky and hospitalized in Marietta, Georgia. Like Jim, he eventually died of “cancer of the bowels.” His physical description in 1881 was height, 5 feet nine inches; weight 158; complexion dark; age 56. He died 14 June 1895, aged 70, and his widow, Laura died 5 March 1904, aged 75, both in Bowling Green, Ohio.

Jim Callin and Rosa Davenport were married in Bowling Green on New Year’s Eve, 31 December 1867. They set up a farm in Center township, and had four children over the following eight years.
  • Albert Clifford Callin, born 1869
  • Arthur K Callin, born 1871
  • Bessa Viola Callin, born 1873
  • Jessie Callin, born 1876
Jessie was born in March of 1876, but sadly, Rosa died in September of that year. Now a widower, Jim had to raise his four children on his own. In 1880, the three older children were living with their grandparents, Martin and Laura Davenport, not far from William and Elizabeth Callin's home.

Almira A. Weirick (1858–1889) was the daughter of Jason Weirick (1826–1917) and Matilda E Hassinger (1830–1915), both of whom came from Pennsylvania families that had settled in Ohio around 1830. More than most of our relatives, Almira's name seems to have been very difficult to spell; it appears as "Elmira" and even "Elvira" in some records, and her surname was often rendered as "Wirick" or "Weirich."

Almira was about 21 when she married the 35-year-old widower Jim Callin in 1880. Jim's sons Albert and Arthur were 12 and 9 years old, and his daughters Bessie and Jessie were 7 and 5, respectively. Jim and Almira had three more daughters together before Almira's death at only 31 years of age. They had a son in 1887, but he died at six months of age, and we do not know his name.
  • Cora May Callin (1881–1936)
  • Carrie E Callin (1883–1960)
  • Aurilla M Callin (1885–1969)
  • Unnamed Callin (1887)
 Emma G. Bradt (1856–1907) became James Callin's third wife on 23 August 1893 in Bowling Green, Ohio.

Most of Jim's children were old enough to be independent by 1893. Jessie married that year, and the boys and Bessie were already out on their own. Almira's three daughters would have still been too young to leave home in 1893, but by 1900, Cora had gone to live with her grandparents, Jason and Matilda Weirick; Carrie was married in 1898; and 15-year-old Aurilla was a listed as a boarding school student, living in Cottage 1 of the Ohio Soldier's and Sailor's Orphans Home.

Jim's health deteriorated, and he was unable to farm. He had been increasingly debilitated by his hip injury, but mostly by the diarrhea and resulting severe piles, as shown in his pension requests. Emma took him to her Canadian home in St. Catherines, Ontario, to be near her family, as somehow she was estranged from the Ohio families of Callin, Davenport, and Wirick who were caring for, or had cared for, his children. She apparently had  her mother and a sister or sisters in St Catherines. However, she apparently also became estranged from them during Jim’s final illness.

Jim died of bowel cancer in St. Catherine's on 7 April 1901, age 57. Nine months after Jim died, Emma married Albert A. Flora on 23 January 1902. She had been begging for an increase in Jim’s pension to pay his last doctor’s bill, but she was denied because of her remarriage.

Emma and Albert  had a contentious marriage. They returned to Perrysburg, Ohio, but she sued him for divorce in January 1907, asking to return to the Callin surname. She died just a month later, before her divorce was final, on 13 February 1907, and was buried  as Emma G. Flora, aged 51,  in the Oak Grove Cemetery, Bowling Green.

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You can take the title of this post, as with most of my titles, in a couple of ways. In one sense, James had three wives/lives, and you could read his biography that way. After all, he was with each of his wives for about 9 years — if you don't examine my math too closely. Or you can view him through the lens of history: pioneer boy, Civil War solider, and father during the Midwest's boom years.

As we look more closely at his descendants in the following weeks, there will be some mysteries that we have to leave unanswered; there will be some shocking crimes; and there will be a lot of children. I'll try to do them justice.

For help with this branch of the family, I thank Joan Callin Foster, who has been one of the most enduring and encouraging of fellow researchers. 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!

And as always, if you're related to any of the folks in this post, then you're family! Drop me a note at callintad (at, or in the comments below; or send a request to join the Callin Family History Facebook group. Please do let me know if there are mistakes, and I'll do my best to correct them. This ongoing project is intended to result in a published revision to the Callin Family History, so we want to get it right.

Now brace yourself — next week's post is a long one!

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