Robert Calhoun & Eliza Parke Family Story

I have told bits and pieces of this family’s story in this (poorly updated) blog over the past couple of years.  When there are pieces of the family history that I have already talked about, I will reference the dates of those posts.

In my 4 Nov 2015 post, I wrote about the genesis of this couple.  Eliza was a student or student-teacher and Robert was teaching in the same 2-room Church of Ireland school in Ballinamore, County Leitrim, Ireland, when they met, had an affair, and Eliza found herself pregnant.  Robert was eventually tracked down and they married when Eliza was 8 months pregnant in Feb 1872.  Go to that post for the rest of that story.

Some basics:  ROBERT CHARLES COLHOUN (27 Jul 1847 – 22 May 1925) was born in Gortin, County Tyrone, Ireland (now Northern Ireland) to SAMUEL COLHOUN and CATHERINE MCCULLOUGH.  Samuel and Catherine had 4 girls and then 4 boys.  The eldest boy was Robert.  Robert’s father, Samuel, was a Blacksmith.  Robert must have gotten some training (maybe even went to college) to become a teacher.  This gave Robert the chance to move up in the world, socially.  It also gave him the opportunity to leave Gortin.  He may have been assigned other places before going to Ballinamore in County Leitrim, but I have no record of that.

ELIZABETH ANN PARKE (15 May 1854 – 15 May 1944) was the first child of WILLIAM PARKE and ELIZABETH TAYLOR.  Both mother and daughter were called Eliza.  She was 16 when she met her handsome, older teacher, Robert.  Her father was a well-off farmer with 2 other daughters.

After the disgrace of their shotgun wedding, Robert and Eliza set sail for Canada…at least that’s what I think.  Their son, eldest child CHARLES KINGSLEY CALHOUN, was said to have been born in Canada, though I have never found a birth record for him.  He may have been born aboard ship.  His birthdate was 23 Feb 1872.  The little family settled in the small town of Fenelon Falls, Ontario, Canada.  Charles was employed as a Bookkeeper for one of the lumber companies there.

Fenelon Falls was incorporated as a village in 1874, just 2 years after the Calhouns (who had changed the spelling of their name from Colhoun, the Irish form) arrived.  It was a prosperous port town.  Robert was a smart, educated guy…in fact, he had a reputation in his family of being somewhat smug about his intellect.  He seems to have prospered in this little village.

Robert was said to have never been in touch with his family again after his hasty marriage, so he probably didn’t know that his mother, Catherine McCullough Colhoun, died a year after he emigrated, on 19 Apr 1873.  How sad for both of them.  As a mother, I imagine Catherine in Ireland, wondering where her oldest son was and how her only grandchild might be faring.  Did she even know if it was a grandson or a granddaughter?

On 15 Apr 1874, two years after the birth of their first child, Robert and Eliza had a second.  Their daughter, GRACE CALHOUN, arrived.  Robert was still listed as a bookkeeper in her birth record.

Just a month after Grace’s birth, Robert’s brother, WILLIAM JAMES COLHOUN, married SARAH EMILY ALEXANDER on 12 May 1874.  William and Sarah were both teachers in Gortin, the Colhoun’s hometown. They had a daughter, whose name I have not been able to find, on 9 Feb 1875.

Not only that but in Ballinamore, Eliza’s mother and father had another daughter, FANNY PARKE, on 11 Sep 1874.  Eliza never met her sister, who was the same age as her own daughter.  How strange was that!

Eighteen months after Grace’s birth Eliza and Robert had a second daughter, BERTHA ELIZABETH CALHOUN, was born on 3 Dec 1875. And 18 months after that, on 4 Sep 1877, another son was born…ALEXANDER WILLIAM CALHOUN.   The fast-growing family was certainly keeping them busy.

Back in Gortin, Robert’s brother, William, died of consumption on 6 May 1877.  William’s wife, Sarah, was pregnant with their son, another WILLIAM JAMES COLHOUN, who was born a month later on 9 Jun 1877.

To be continued, tomorrow…

 

 

 

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