Family Histories of Coleman County, Texas

by Grace Callan White

From A History of Coleman County and Its People, 1985 
edited by Judia and Ralph Terry, and Vena Bob Gates - used by permission

The Dudley Johnsons and the Callan brothers were early settlers in Coleman County.  Dudley Johnson, born 1799 in New York, New York, was a soldier for 45 years.  About 1838, he married Laura (maybe Rhodes) and they had six children: (1) Jessie, born 1839 in Wisconsin – died 1921 Camp Colorado, married Fannie ?; (2) Laura, born 1840 – died 1919, buried Camp Colorado, married M. MacNamara (see Henry Sackett); (3) Dudley, born 1843 in Michigan – died before 1908; (4) Annie, born 1845 in Michigan – died before 1908, married Luke Williamson; (5) Emma, born 1848 in Pennsylvania – died 1922, buried Camp Colorado, married John M. Elkins (see John Elkins); (6) Virginia, born 1850 in Arkansas - died 1894, buried in Coleman, married M. M. Callan.

The family came to Texas in 1852, when Johnson was ordered to Fort Phantom Hill.  He was Ordinance Sergeant, having charge of the artillery and ammunition.  When the post was abandoned in 1854, he was sent to Fort Chadborne.  In 1861, at the outbreak of the Civil War, the U. S. troops left the fort, leaving the area defenseless.  The Johnsons moved to the nearest protected area, Camp Colorado, where Capt. J. J. Callan and his company of Rangers were in an encampment on Pecan Bayou, 8 or 10 miles away.  Capt. Callan’s Company occupied the fort as winter quarters and remained at Camp Colorado until the summer of 1864 when he was ordered to the south part of the state.  Capt. John Elkins and a company of minute men were kept at Camp Colorado during the war.  The Johnsons remained at Camp Colorado until their deaths.  He died in 1870, buried there.  Laura Johnson survived her husband 14 years, dying 1884.  While they lived at Camp Colorado the post office was kept by Laura and her daughters.  It was the first and only post office in that part of the country and Rangers from all the camps would come by to get their mail and visit with the girls.  Mrs. Johnson’s comfortable cabin had bearskin rugs in the winter and a good library.  She had learned to tan hides and she and her daughters made gloves, vests and trousers for men.  The garments were very soft and beautiful with their decorations of fringe and beads.  She studied medicine in her youth and was the only “doctor” for many years in the parts of the frontier where she lived.  She was called “Grandma” Johnson and was considered an encyclopedia of frontier life knowing what to do and how to do under the varied and difficult situations always present.  One day she was in the cow lot when she heard something dart by her.  Then, another strange noise passed near her ear and she saw something hit a fence rail and fall to the ground.  It was a feathered arrow, and before she had time to move, two more struck the fence, one of them burying its point deep into the wood.  She rushed into the house and barred the door, but heard a scream and cry for help and knew it came from the hired boy.  Opening the door, she found him scalped and bleeding, and Mrs. Johnson, disregarding her own safety, carried the boy into the house.  She gave him the best care possible, but he could not be saved.  A little later, several men came to her rescue and discovered that M. M. Callan’s (her son-in-law) beautiful horse, Black Baby, was missing from his stall.  Prior to this attack, a detachment of the 45th Texas Frontier Cavalry had a fight with Indians near Caddo Peak.  A number of the red skins were killed and several were taken prisoners and carried to headquarters at the military post at Camp Colorado.  Among the prisoners was Squatting Dog, who adjusted to the new surroundings and learned to like one of his captors, Lt. “Peter” Callan (as M. M. was called by the pioneers).  He begged Pete to become his paleface brother and declared all his relations had been killed in battle.  He promised to be faithful and “I swear by Great Spirit to no do bad thing.”  He was subsequently “adopted” and taken to live at Pete’s home.  Mingling among the army officers of the post soon caused him to feel that his unpretentious title was not in keeping with his environment.  “Me want fine name like Col. Mister McCord and me want sword, too.”  It was agreed to grant his request in so far as the title was concerned.  From then on, he was called “Capt. Big Bluff.”  This honor made him very proud and whenever he met a stranger, he would pound his breast and declare, “This is Capt. Big Bluff, me very brave and friend to Mr. Pete.”  It was about a year after his capture, that the Indian attack on Mrs. Johnson occurred.  Callan hurriedly got a troop of cavalry on the trail.  As Big Bluff was also missing, “misplaced confidence in an Indian” was the verdict of the settlement and each one who commented made it plain that he had warned Pete Callan of what was coming.  The Indians traveled west and in about an hour the trail led the pursuing party into a thick pecan bottom on Hords Creek, 6 or 7 miles away.  There stood a horse, Black Baby, and lying on the ground at her feet were two Indians in a pool of blood.  One of them was still alive and it was Big Bluff.  When he heard Pete’s voice, the dying Indian cried out, “Me no bad Captain.  Come back for Black Baby.  They take him.  I follow and fight and kill.  I make promise to Mr. Pete.”  It was a solemn little service that was held over the burial of this faithful Indian.  The men realized that he made a princely sacrifice in keeping with his promise, and that a paleface could have done no better.

Virginia Johnson married M. M. Callan.  His parents, Michael and Mary Ann (Wedaman) Callan, and their six children arrived in Baltimore, Maryland, from Dundalk, Ireland, on August 22, 1844, aboard the vessel “Luconia.”  They settled in Georgetown, D. C., where later the boys attended Georgetown College.  Their three boys came early to the frontier of Texas, two of whom settled in what is now Coleman County.  The first was James Joseph Callan, born 1833 in Ireland.  He reached Camp Colorado on Christmas Day, 1857, and married Margaret Jane Sheen in 1858 (see John Sheen).  Prior to the Civil War he served in the Texas Rangers, then in March 1862, he joined the Confederacy and was a Captain in Co. I of McCord’s Frontier Reg., Texas Cavalry.  In 1864, J. J. was elected to the office of Chief Justice of Coleman County, so he tendered his resignation as Captain in the Confederate Army, November 1, 1864.  J. J. and Margaret Jane had 14 children (2 girls stillborn were not named).  The others were:

(1) William (1859 - 1862).

(2) Paul (1861 - 1866).

(3) Joseph Taylor (1861 - 1939).

(4) James (1863 - 1934).

(5) Ireneaus Ivanal (Rena) (1867 - 1942).

(6) Marie Virginia (1869 - 1963).

(7) Louis Gonzaga (1871 - 1916).

(8) Austin Benedict (1874 - 1953).

(9) John Berchamms (1875 - 1960).

(10) Leo Alphonsus (1880 - 1937).

(11) Claude Clement (1881 - 1956).

(12) Margaret Florence (1888 - ).

 In 1881, J. J. Callan founded the newspaper “Coleman Voice” that merged with the “Coleman Democrat” in 1907 to become the “Democrat-Voice.”  The J. J. Callans eventually moved to Menard where they were in the ranching business.  James Joseph and Margaret both died in 1919.

Michael Maximus Callan, variously called Marion, Peter, and M. M., was born in 1841 in Ireland and was a student in Georgetown College when the Civil War started.  He enlisted in the Confederate Army in Alexandria, Virginia, on April 21, 1861, and mustered into service May 8, 1861, at Culpepper, by Lt. Col. A. S. Taylor, as Corporal with Captain Reuben Cleary’s Company of Washington Volunteers, 7th Regiment, Virginia Volunteers.  He was wounded at Manassas and after spending time in the hospital, and honorably discharged, came to Camp Colorado in 1862.  In December, he enlisted in Col. J. E. McCord’s Frontier Regiment, Texas Cavalry.  He was elected to the rank of 1st Lieutenant, April 1, 1864, in Capt. J. B. Cooke’s Company attached to the Texas Frontier Regiment.  Later he joined his brother’s company in the 45th Frontier Cavalry.  The 45th was organized principally for frontier protection and was not ordered to the front until shortly before the close of the war.  M. M. saw a great deal of service along the far-flung battle line of civilization and in one engagement in 1864, he was pierced in the nose by an Indian arrow.  He fell badly wounded and no more than struck the earth until a big Comanche warrior was upon him.  He was saved from instant death only by the daring of a comrade named Bud Sneed.  This incident happened shortly after M. M. and Virginia, called Jenny, were wed in 1864, at Camp Colorado.  She was 14 and he was 23.  They had ten children:

(1) Grace, 1865 Camp Colorado - 1923 in California, married Harmon Bennett, 1862 - 1941, in 1891.  Their children:
(la) Norma Callan, 1892 - 1962, married (1st) R. M. Grose in 1915, divorced in 1928, (2nd) J. A. Buie, 1888 - 1947, in 1929, no children, (see William Clark Gay, Sr.).

(lb) Clara May “Brownie,” born 1894, married 1913, Harry E. Thorpe, 1891 - 1962, in California.  Their children: (a) Norma Ellen, born 1914, married 1936, A. Mac Cantin, born 1912, their children, Robin, born 1939, married 1961, J. S. Ronan, born 1934, a daughter, Kellie Lynn, born 1968, and Eugene Cantin, born 1944; (b) Helen Marie, born 1925, married 1946, Wm. E. Dunkum, Jr., born 1924, their children, Wm. E. III, 1952 and Linda, 1954.

(2) Laura M., 1867 - 1875.

(3) Teresa, born and died 1870.

(4) Genevieve L., 1871 Camp Colorado - 1953 Houston, married 1892, T. Y. Cox, 1861 - 1955.  Their children:

(4a) Eulalia, 1893 - 1968 Houston, married 1915, Wm. Forbes, 1883 - 1945.  They had Mary Lou, born 1916, married X. J. Thompson, born 1916, and they had Karen Ann, born 1944, married Everett Anschutz, born 1943, one child, Jeffrey, born 1971.

(4b) Genevieve, 1895 - 1968, married H. L. Elkins, no children.

(4c) Grace, 1897 - 1904; (4d) Wm. W. “Bill,” 1901 - 1983, married Florence Huskey, no children.

(4e) F. Marion “Mickey,” 1904 – 1974, married “Bea” Goode, 1902 - 1968, no children.

(4f) Anna Mae, 1906, married Marcus Kennard, born 1904, no children.

(4g) Marie, 1908, married Lloyd Alline, born 1910.  They adopted Linda, born 1944, married K. W. Bates, born 1943, their children, Gregory, born 1967 and Kristy, 1971.

(5) Joseph Marion, 1873 - 1883.

(6) Alice, 1875 - 1878.

(7) Arthur F., 1878 - 1932, married 1915, Beulah Ellis, 1892 - 1964.  Their child:  (7a) Virginia Lee, 1916 - 1981, married 1934, Floyd Ritchey, born 1909.  They had: (a) Charles A., born 1935, married Loralei Lady, born 1943, they had Gregory Scott, 1963, and Jeffrey Kirk, 1969; (b) Floyd L., 1938, married 1965, Judith Phillbrick, born 1947, they had, Joel Lee, 1967, Gary Shane, 1969, and Kendra Ann, 1972; (c) Elna June 1945, married 1966, B. W. Turnage, born 1945, their children, Angie Maureen, 1967 and Callan, 1972; (d) Wanda Fay, 1947, married 1965, K. J. Stinson, born 1943, they had twins, Debora and Deidra, 1967; (e) John Marion, 1952, married Andra Gay Love, they have John Bryan and Andra Brooke; (f) Janice Kay, 1960.

 (8) George L., 1880 - 1970, married (1st) 1906, Myrtle Bradford, 1887 - 1912 (see William Frederick Bradford).  Their children:

(8a) Marion B., born 1907, married 1930, Wilma Manley, they had Beverly J. born 1938, married 1964, Robert M. Kachel, born 1933, their children, Kimberly Callan, 1968 and Nicholas, 1972.

(8b) Adelaide E., 1911, married 1928, R. Barclay Hollingsworth, born 1908.  Their children: (a) Marian, born 1929, married 1950, B. L. Shafer, born 1925, they had, Chris B., 1951; Teresa L., 1953, married Rowland, two children, Tyler, 1972, Jana, 1977; Trudy, L., 1955, married (1st) Smith, divorced, they had a son, Jesse, born 1978, married (2nd) Clay Benz.

George L. Callan married (2nd) in 1916, Ellen Martin, 1893 - 1979.  Their child: (8c) Grace A., born 1916, married 1937, H. E. White, born 1912.  They had: (a) Carol E., born 1939, married 1961, J. H. Carpenter, born 1936, their children, J. Callan, 1962, and Scott Wm., 1965; (b) Judy J., 1941, married 1965, D. D. Oldham, born 1941, their children, Steven D., 1968, and Michael K., 1971.

 (9) Hugh Harvey, 1882 - 1969, married 1918, Mollie Beddingfield, 1892 - 1969, they had Leon H., 1919 - 1943.

 (10) Norma, 1884 - 1889.

M. M. and Jenny Callan lived at Camp Colorado until Coleman was organized in 1876.  That year, M. M. became the first postmaster of Coleman and his home the first post office.  This was a position he held until 1889, when he was replaced after the election of President Harrison, a Republican.  Their son, George, was a clerk in the Coleman post office from 1918 to 1922, having transferred there from Del Rio Post Office.  Jenny died in 1894, buried in the Masonic section of Coleman Cemetery, along with Joseph Marion age 10, and Norma, age 5.  In 1897, M. M. married (2nd) Mrs. Alice Spalding in Coleman.  They had no children.  About 1900, M. M. bought a ranch near Sterling City and moved there.  After being plagued by a four year drought and numerous livestock diseases, he salvaged what he could from the ranch and bought a place twelve miles west of Colorado City, near Westbrook.  This property was bought in his three son’s names and after M. M’s death in 1915, was divided between them.

(Images to be added)

Annie S. daughter of Laura Johnson and M. MacNamara

Nellie Sackett with Leon, son of Hugh Callan and Grace, daughter of George Callan, on porch of Sackett home Camp Colorado, 1919

Michael M. and Virginia Callan

Children of M. M. and Jennie Callan: George, Arthur, Hugh and Norma (seated)

Families History Index
Coleman County Index
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This page last updated January 1, 2006
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