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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Thank God for Genealogical Hoarders

My mother-in-law, JEAN MARY FETTES CALHOUN, was a woman who loved her family, held on to old photos and letters, and kept contact (by letter) with all sorts of relatives.  The relatives she kept contact with were both hers and her husband’s.  She was not one to throw away old photos, but she actually kept a notation on them of who they were.  This is very lucky for me, as I try to collect, sort, and keep the stories of all these assorted folks.

Jean’s aunt, HELEN JANE ISAAC (1872-1955), married twice…once to the gentleman in the photo below, RICHARD JOSHUA DIXON (1876-1904) and secondly to DONALD MCFADYEN RAY (1864-1936).  Helen married her first husband, who seems to have gone by his middle name, on 4 June 1902 and he died only two years later on 21 Aug 1904 of Appendicitis.  How tragic!  Apparently, he had been studying for the ministry when he became ill.  She must have truly loved him because she kept this photo till the end of her life and she was buried next to him, not her second husband.  Helen’s second husband, Donald, was buried beside his first wife, WALTRENA WEIR.

Josh Dixon’s gravestone has a very touching memorial inscribed on it:

A loving husband, Kind and True, Was called to higher services than here.  In Love he lived, In Peace he died, His life was asked but denied.

When Helen married Josh, she was 29 and he was 25!  They had no children.  By the time she married her second husband, Don, Helen was 49 and Don was 64.  He had 3 children from his first marriage, they had none in common.  They were married for 15 years.

 

DIXON RICHARD JOSHUA_0001
Richard Joshua Dixon
DIXON RICHARD JOSHUA ISAAC HELEN JANE tombstone
The tombstone of Helen Jane Isaac and her first husband, Richard Joshua Dixon.
RAY DONALD MCFADYEN gravestone
The gravestone of Donald Ray and his first wife, Waltrena Weir.

Getting back to the luck of being related to a Genealogical Hoarder…there are many treasures that Jean left for me.  There are all sorts of breadcrumbs that she left for me to follow and to add to the family history.  I feel incredibly lucky.

Tracking down family stories…

My mother-in-law, JEAN MARY FETTES, told me the story of her cousins, JAMES PATON ISAAC and MARGARET AGNES ISAAC.  She told me that James was a professor and his sister was his travel and research partner…that they traveled the world together, exploring, researching, and writing.  Neither of them ever married.  I thought I would try to try track them down.

James (1895-1964) and Margaret Isaac  (1902-1995) were the only two children of Jean’s maternal uncle and aunt, ROBERT HENDERSON ISAAC (1867-1928) and MARY SPIERS PATON (1867-1941).  James was 7 years older than he sister.  He graduated from University of Toronto in 1917 with his Bachelor’s degree and in 1918 with his Master’s degree.  He went on to Harvard University and got his Ph.D. in Ancient History there.  Pretty impressive intellect, cousin!

After Harvard, James taught at the University of Colorado for a time and then at Oklahoma State University till he retired.  He went back to Toronto and lived there for his last 20 years.

According to James’ U.S. Naturalization paperwork, he was 5’11” tall, weighed 160 lbs., had dark brown hair and blue eyes, and wore glasses.

Margaret was listed in the Voter Directories of 1935 and later as a Stenographer.  This would be a plus when she and her brother did their travel/research.

Margaret published her brother’s best-known work, “Factors in the Ruin of Antiquity”in 1972.  I haven’t found any evidence of her collaboration with her brother but that doesn’t mean that it didn’t happen.  Neither of them ever married.  It would make sense that she and her brother could have spent this time together, traveling and working together.

James Paton Isaac’s archives are kept at University of Toronto, Ontario, Canada.   He was described as such:

James Paton Isaac (1895-1964), educator and author, was born in and educated in Toronto and at Harvard University where he received the PhD. He later taught Ancient History at the University of Colorado and at Oklahoma State University. Isaac was the author of ‘Factors in the ruin of antiquity; a criticism of ancient civilization,’ (1971).

So, the family story wasn’t proved but I found some interesting material about this sibling pair.  And I can imagine their collaboration, and I hope it was true.  I’d like to believe that Margaret had an interesting intellectual life, as her brother did.  James died at age 68 and Margaret died at the grand old age of 93!