The little Calhoun family gets bigger…

As you read yesterday, Robert and Eliza Calhoun seemed to be making a successful new life for themselves as they settled in to late 19th century Ontario (Canada West, at the time).  They now had 2 boys, Charley and Alexander William, and 2 girls, Grace and Bertha.  I just want to note that Robert had a brother named Alexander,  a sister named Bertha, and an uncle named William…just saying….

Robert had gone from being a “Bookkeeper” at the birth of Charley and Grace to a “Bookkeeper and Clerk” at the birth of Alexander William.  On 17 Nov 1879 another son, named ALEXANDER CALHOUN, was born.  This has been a tough puzzle to put together.  Did they lose Alexander William, then have a son named William?

In the 1881 census the family consisted of Robert C.  (Bookkeeper, age 33), Elizabeth A. (age 26), Charles (age 8), Grace (age 6), Bertha (age 4), William (age 2), and Alexander (age 1).  Shouldn’t Alexander William, born in 1877, have been age 3 or 4 in that census?

Alexander (who would become my husband’s grandfather) referred to an older brother named Willie.  But when Willie died, he was age 6, in 1883.  That means that Alexander William was Willie.  How odd that they named their next son Alexander!

I wrote about the next child, MYRA ISABELLA CALHOUN, in a post on 26 Jan 2016.  Myra was born 27 Feb 1882 and died of Consumption (Tuberculosis) at 8 months, 10 days old on 6 Nov 1882.  I believe Myra Isabella was named after Eliza’s two sisters, Maria and Isabella.

I don’t know if it was this last loss or if things were just not moving the way Robert wanted them to, but the Calhouns moved West to Gananoque, 165 miles away, early the next year.  Robert became a Wharfinger (the manager of a wharf, managing the ingoing and outgoing ships, etc.) there.  The lumber company that ran the wharf was the Rathbun Company.

Unfortunately, tragedy followed…in the drowning death of Willie.

newspaper drowning report
Gananoque Reporter, 1 Sep 1883 Drowning death of Willie Calhoun

Willie died on 28 Aug 1883.  He would have been 6 years old only 10 days later.  What a sad and tragic time for Eliza and Robert.  My heart breaks that they lost their daughter, Myra, the year before and now Willie.  And Eliza might even have known she was pregnant with their next child.  How sad and frightening.

On 9 Apr 1884, another daughter was born, MARION CALHOUN.  Marion was another form of Maria (her sister) and Myra (her last daughter).  On her birth record, it states that she was born in Gananoque.  Her father was a clerk in the lumber/coal business.  Robert was 37 and Eliza was just 30.  Was Robert a clerk or still a wharfinger?  Was a wharfinger a clerk?

On 20 Nov 1886, the family welcomed another daughter, KATHERINE CALHOUN.  Later in life, she was known as Kathleen.  She was probably named after Robert’s now long-dead mother, Catherine McCullough.  She was born in Gananoque.

In the next few years, the family moved East again, about 70 miles away to Belleville.  On 17 Jan 1890, DOUGLAS HANLEY CALHOUN was born.  Robert was listed as working as an Agent, Rathbun Co., here.

The family was now complete.  As the story goes on, you will see that there is still tragedy (and triumph) to come for them.

To be continued…

 

 

 

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…

 

 

 

Uncle Charlie and Constitution Day 1919

Maybe I’m not a ‘good American’ but I had never heard of Constitution Day till doing some genealogical research on my husband’s great-uncle CHARLES KINGSLEY CALHOUN. I came across an article, dated Sunday, Sept 7, 1919, in the New York Times listing C. K. Calhoun, Associate General Secretary of the Y.M.C.A., as requesting all of the 2100 branch secretaries in the U.S. to assist in making Constitution Day (Sept 17th) a success.

 

CALHOUN CHARLES K 1919 NY Times Constitution Day
7 Sept 1919, The New York Times

In this particular year, the drive was to provide “an antidote for the poisonous doctrines of present-day radicals” (i.e. Communists). That quote was from a second article, written in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle (Brooklyn, NY).

CALHOUN CHARLES K 1919 Brooklyn Eagle Constitution Day
8 Sept 1919: The Brooklyn Daily Eagle

Interesting. My husband’s grandfather, ALEXANDER CALHOUN, had become (around this time) a Socialist and his brother, Charlie, was waging an American-wide campaign against Socialism’s big brother, Communism. (For the differences between the two, look here: http://www.diffen.com/difference/Communism_vs_Socialism) THAT was very interesting, indeed. It goes a long way in explaining the two brothers living separate, and not very close, lives.

Uncle Charlie had a lifelong career at the YMCA. At age 19, (in the 1891 Canadian Census) he was living at his parents’ home in Ottawa and his occupation was YMCA Secretary. I had no idea what that meant. Was he a clerk? No, apparently not. The job of a YMCA Secretary was the running of an actual YMCA. Now…he may have been an Assistant Secretary, given his age. The YMCA, at that time, was not an athletic club, as my local Y was…before it shut down altogether…but a place for Christian fellowship and an early social service organization that helped all sorts of people get a foothold in their communities and provided all kinds of services to help them do so.

By 1901, Charlie had moved to Montreal and was (according to the 1901 Canadian Census) again working as a Secretary, YMCA. He was earning a whopping $1200 a year, while his father, ROBERT CHARLES CALHOUN, working as a Manager and age 51, was earning $1000/yr. His sister, GRACE CALHOUN, a teacher, was earning only $325/yr. He was obviously a man of some consequence already. That same year, he married the boss’s daughter, EFFIE MARGARET BUDGE.

In 1908, Charlie was named Canadian Field Secretary of the International YMCA, another step up…he was responsible for all of Canada. He was a good fundraiser and traveled Canada, helping Associations with their building campaigns. His earnings, according to the 1911 Canadian Census was a whopping $3000/year, three times what his father was earning (still listed as $1000/yr).

In 1917, Charlie had been moved up to the really big leagues, New York City.   World War One was on and Charlie was the New York City Secretary of the YMCA War Work Council. Charlie must have been a top-notch fundraiser. Here is a description of the work that was done by the YMCA through the War Work Council:

  • Throughout World War I, the YMCA provided morale and welfare services for the military. By war’s end, the YMCA, through the United War Work Council, had operated 1,500 canteens in the United States and France; set up 4,000 YMCA huts for recreation and religious services; and raised more than $235 million—equivalent to $4.3 billion today—for relief work.

After the War ended, Charlie was the Associate General Secretary of the YMCA New York City, and I found him organizing Constitution Day. Charlie had come from humble beginnings in Fenelon Falls, Ontario, Canada…son of Irish immigrants and the eldest of a big family. Without a college degree but with a great intellect and a great work ethic, he worked his way up to a really powerful and socially important job with the then-powerful YMCA. Bravo, Uncle Charlie!

 

Little Lies and Manipulations…

In 19th Century Canada, there were rules for reporting events such as births, marriages, and deaths.  The father of a child was required to register that child’s birth within 30 days.  If the father was unable to, the mother was then required.  Well, that didn’t always happen…as anyone who is doing Canadian genealogy can tell you.

In the case of great-aunt KATHLEEN CALHOUN, her parents registered some of her siblings births, but not all.  And they didn’t register hers at the time.  For whatever reason, Kathleen must have needed a record of her birth and her mother, ELIZA ANN PARKE, filled out the necessary form.  Here it is:

CALHOUN KATHLEEN 1886 Birth
Birth document for Kathleen Calhoun

Well, maybe Eliza wasn’t quite telling the whole truth when she signed this document.  She listed the date of her marriage as 8 February 1871.  That wasn’t quite right.  She was, in fact, married on 8 February 1872.  Was this just a mistake?  Probably not.  Eliza was heavily pregnant with Kathleen’s brother, Charlie, at the time of her marriage.  He was, in fact, born a mere 3 weeks later.

Here’s the record of their marriage in Dublin.

Parke_Colhoun_Wedding_1872
Calhoun Parke marriage document

Poor Eliza was probably still worried what her children would think of her if she told the whole truth about the marriage and the move to Canada.  I find this sad, but very much of the time.  I just found it fascinating that Eliza was willing to lie in a government document, though what would they have done to her…really?

The duty of recording births and deaths…

My husband’s great-grandfather, ROBERT CHARLES CALHOUN, emigrated to Fenelon Falls, Ontario, Canada, following his hasty marriage in Dublin in 1872 (as I wrote about in an earlier post).  In the frontier lumber town of Fenelon Falls, he got a job as a clerk…I understand he was working for one of the three lumber businesses operating in the area at the time.

After several years, his name also appears in the public records of Fenelon Falls.  He had become a recording clerk for the area.  I found his name and handwriting (which was quite easy to read and beautiful, actually) in the record books for births and deaths.  Recording the birth of his own daughter, MYRA ISABELLA CALHOUN, on 27 February 1882 must have brought him a great deal of joy.  Not only were the name and date of birth recorded but also such details as the names of the father and mother, the rank or profession of the father, the name and address of the informant, the date of the registration, and the name of the attending physician (in this case, Dr. A. Wilson, M. D.).

I am not sure if he did this work to bring in a little extra income, whether he was having trouble with his other employment, or what.  It certainly allowed Robert to come in contact with his neighbors and get to know them a bit better, whether they were reporting something joyous like a birth, or something tragic like a death.

Unfortunately, Robert had the awful job of recording his youngest child, Myra Isabella, at her death at the untimely age of 8 months, 10 days.  Again, his careful and beautiful writing is clear.  Myra died on 6 November 1882 of Tuberculosis/Consumption after an illness of 3 months.  Again, the attending physician was Dr. A. Wilson, M. D., who was also listed as the informant.  The date of the record was 23 December 1882.  For some reason, the religion of deceased was also listed (Methodist).

MyraIsabellaCalhoun_birthMyraIsabellaCalhoun_death

 

Robert finished out the year 1882 with that said record of his own daughter’s death and then resigned as Clerk.  He and his little family moved to Gananoque, Ontario, to begin anew.  Myra wasn’t the only child Robert had lost in Fenelon Falls in his decade there.  He had lost an infant son, Alexander William, in 1877.  Maybe the losses were too much for him and his wife, ELIZABETH ANNE PARKE, and they decided to move on to a place without the sad memories.  My heart breaks for them both.

 

Exploring Germantown

I am visiting my son in Philadelphia and took the opportunity to do some more legwork, hunting down Calhoun ancestors who lived in the area.  I made an appointment with the Archivist at the Germantown Historical Society.

Germantown, Pennsylvania is now part of Philadelphia.  In the 1860’s, many wealthy Philadelphians built ‘summer homes’ (which were very large, beautiful estates) there.  They were helping their families escape the cholera outbreaks that were occurring in Philadelphia itself. Germantown wasn’t as wet and swampy and mosquitoes were not the problem they were down in town.

A pair of ancestors (a great-uncle and a great-aunt) were servants of a couple of those wealthy families and are recorded as such in the  1870 and 1880 censuses.  Unfortunately, the 1890 census was destroyed in a fire and I cannot track what happened to these folks at that time.

Germantown Early Map Great-grandfather, ROBERT CHARLES COLHOUN (or CALHOUN, once he immigrated to Canada), was part of a large family.  His older sister, MARY CALHOUN, immigrated from Gortin, County Tyrone, Ireland to Philadelphia by 1870.  I found her in the 1870 census, living in Germantown, with the William Wynne Wister family as a domestic.

Here are the family members and domestics listed:

William W Wister 63
Hannah Wister 62
Wm Wynne Wister 32
Hannah Wister 28
Mary W Wister 23
Emily Wister 21
Mary Cavanagh 30
Mary Calhoun 24

Now, Mary Colhoun/Calhoun (the Colhouns seemed to all understand that once they hit the New World, they HAD to change the spelling of their names) was born on 21 March 1841, so she was 29 years old not 24, as stated in the census.  Of course, one never knows who was giving the census-taker the information and there was possibly a fair amount of guessing-of-ages going on, especially in terms of the servants.   Hey, maybe Mary looked younger than her years…or told her employers that she was younger than she was.

William Wynne Wister was part of a very prominent Philadelphia family.  William, himself, was the president of the Germantown Bank.  He was a mover and a shaker in the community and did business with all the other wealthy men in the area.  He was born in 1807 and died in 1898; he went into the Bank till a few weeks before his death.  He was an amateur Botanist and was known as the Grand Old Man of Germantown.

Mary was still working for him in 1880.  The census says that Mary Calhoun was still a domestic (and age 30!), while the other live-in servant was a C. McLoughlin, 23, who was the Cook.  The house was large, so Mary must have had quite a time keeping that big house clean, unless there were other servants that lived outside the house.  Doubtful.

I have a hunch that Mary got her job through a relation.  In the 1860, 1870, and 1880 censuses, a certain Bridget McCullough was living as a servant right next door, at the Isaiah Hacker home.(Isaiah Hacker was a very successful merchant.  His house still stands.)  McCullough was the last name of Mary Calhoun’s mother.  There were no other McCulloughs listed in Germantown, either.  I suspect that Bridget McCullough helped her niece/cousin get a place when she immigrated.

In the 1880 census, Mary’s younger brother shows up in Germantown.  ALEXANDER CALHOUN was twelve years younger than his sister Mary; he was born in 1853.  In 1880, he was 27 years old, though he was listed as 24 in the census.  He was listed in that census as working as the only male live-in servant of Harry Ingersoll, Farmer. SARAH CRAWFORD, who would later become Alexander Calhoun’s wife, was also listed as a servant for the same family. There were 5 live-in servants.

Harry Ingersoll was much, much more than a Farmer.  His family had deep roots in the country. His grandfather was a personal friend of George Washington and he himself was a personal friend of Charles Dickens and James Fenimore Cooper.  He was very wealthy…his wife brought a considerable fortune to their marriage.  Their estate, called Medary, was known for its’ incredibly beautiful garden.

I suspect that Mary helped her brother get his position at Medary, through the connections that William Wynne Wister, her employer, had.

Doing research on servants in 19th century America, I read that Irish servants were often suspected of trying to convert the children of their employers and there was much prejudice.  Alexander and Mary were Protestants and Protestant servants were hard to come by, and very much in demand.

Germantown is no longer a place where the wealthy live and play.  The area has become a victim of white-flight and is noticeably poor.  There is still some fine architecture there and one day it will probably turn back to being a fashionable place to live.  I did get a sense of the area that Mary and Alexander lived and worked, though, and it was a worthwhile visit.

 

The beginning of the Calhoun/Colhoun and Parke story…

Robert Charles Colhoun married Elizabeth Ann Parke in Dublin on the 8th of February 1872. This is the story of their marriage and their family.

Eliza Parke
Eliza Ann Parke, at around age 16

We don’t have any pictures of Robert in his youth, but since he was a good looking man well into his older age, he must have been quite a handsome young man. Eliza was a lovely young woman with brown hair and brown eyes.

Robert was a teacher at the Church of Ireland school in Ballinamore, County Leitrim, Ireland and 7 years Eliza’s senior. According to a note written by her son, Alex, the school is where they met. Given that it was very unusual for someone 16 (the age that Eliza was when she met Robert), she may well have been a teacher’s assistant.

There was some sort of romance between the two, and Eliza found herself pregnant. It appears that Robert had left Ballinamore around this time, and was teaching in Ballyshannon, County Donegal. How frightened Eliza must have been to find herself pregnant and unmarried. According to A Social History of Ireland, 1870-1970:

Within the farming community, the plight of an unmarried girl who became pregnant was critical. With the emphasis on agreed or ‘matched’ marriages amongst those with land in post-Famine Ireland, the increased importance of female virtue was stressed, as ‘an unvirtuous daughter could be the ruination of an otherwise thrifty and farseeing man.’

Frequently girls were cast out by their families and forced to become vagrants, many resorting to the workhouse or prostitution. Women for whom a marriage partner could be found never fully redeemed the disgrace caused to themselves or their families.

We don’t know if Robert knew that Eliza was pregnant when he left Ballinamore, nor do we know when he came to find out. All we know is that at the time of her marriage, Eliza was listed as living in Dublin at 44 Lower Ormond Quay…which at the time was Glynn’s Hotel. Had her parents put her there to remove her from the eyes of the small village they lived in? Probably.

Robert was listed on his wedding documents as living on Church Avenue, Ballyshannon, County Donegal. The only thing on the tiny spur of a road that is Church Avenue is the Church of Ireland church and the accompanying C of I school.

Eliza was said to have a very sweet, accommodating personality. She was the eldest of 3 sisters. Her father, William Parke (age 55), was a prosperous farmer. Her mother, Elizabeth (also called Eliza) Taylor Parke, was about 37 when her 17-year-old daughter got pregnant and then married the schoolteacher, Robert Charles Colhoun.

No matter what he thought of the marriage, or of his daughter and Robert Colhoun, William Parke went to Dublin and witnessed their marriage. He was one of the two witnesses on their marriage document. The other was Sarah Haddock. We don’t know who she was. It is possible that she was the companion to Eliza. She needed some sort of chaperone in Dublin.

Robert was 24 and Eliza was 17 at the time of the wedding. Robert was listed as a Bachelor of ‘full age’; Eliza was listed as a Spinster and a Minor.

Did Eliza’s mother or sisters attend her wedding? We don’t know. What we do know is that Eliza never saw her family again. Either did Robert. They seem to have set sail for Canada immediately after the wedding. Their son, Charles Kingsley Calhoun, was born 16 days after their wedding, on 23 February 1872. He may have been born on the ship or he may have been born when they reached Canada. I have yet to find a record of his birth.