Note by Sherrill Williams, CFA Genealogist, October 2003: The following Callaway History was sent in by several people during the early years of CFA. Judge Callaway was father of our early CFA member, Lew L. Callaway, now deceased. Lew, our member, was for years business manager for various enterprises of Time, Inc.; including Sports Illustrated. It was Lew who had the masthead, used for the Callaway Journal, designed by one of his friends - an artist with Time, Inc.
The English ancestry of the family as written by Judge Callaway, was the belief at the time he wrote his memoir. This has now been disproved due to our recent extensive research in England. This was also a time when the two American colonial Callaway families (Joseph and Peter) were believed to be one, now also disproved. Judge Callaway had a colorful life on the frontiers of America.
His line of descent is as
Samuel Taylor Callaway
James Edmund Callaway
Judge Lew L. Callaway
Lew L. Callaway
Written in His 81st Year by Judge Lew L. Callaway
Chief Justice Supreme Court of Montana
In writing these reminiscences there is in my mind no conscious vanity. There is in them nothing for me to be vain about. They may interest my children and grandchildren, and it may be that some incidents I shall relate will be of a wider interest. I probably shall not read them after they are finished - after that they will concern me no further.
In business I have avoided the use of the personal pronoun, when it would have been easier to use it. But now I will use it as I please. These are my memoirs, which can concern others but little.
My father’s ancestry was mainly Scotch-Irish, with an English intermixture. So far as I know, the original Callaways were in Cornwall. My distant cousin, Fuller E. Callaway, of La Grange, Georgia, was the greatest industrial figure in his town. Originally a bare-footed boy selling peanuts, he became a multi-millionaire, so Mr. Justice Stirling Price Gilbert told me.
After Mr. Callaway became wealthy he went to London. Inquiries respecting the family took him to Cornwall. There he traced the family back to 900. In Cornwall he found a cathedral in which was a stained glass window with the legend “St. Callaway, ora pro me.” It was the first time I knew any saintly attributes were ascribed to a Callaway.
The Callaways scattered over England and into Scotland. Some of them undoubtedly went to Ireland with Cromwell, and remained there. Their descendants came to America. The first Callaways came to America before 1700. I do not know how far back I can trace them with certainty.
My father’s name was James Edmund Callaway. He was born in Trigg County, Kentucky; he used to say “in the backwoods,” July 7, 1835. “James” came from his father’s brother and that name traces far back in the lineage. The name “Edmund” came from his grandfather, Edmund Callaway of Winchester, Kentucky. My father’s father’s name was Samuel Taylor Callaway, who was born in Christian County, Kentucky. His Mother was Athaliah Wright, who was born either upon the high seas or just after her parents landed in America from Wales, sometime before 1800. Athaliah, in family legend, at the time of her birth was reputed the last living lineal descendant of Llewellyn, the last King of Wales. I dislike royalty and take no pride in the fact, if it is a fact. There is a legend, widely believed in the family, that one of my father’s grandfathers was James Hamilton, the son of the father of Alexander Hamilton by his first marriage. He married, it is said, a titled English woman who was allied in some way with the Oglethorpe settlers of Georgia. It would be interesting to know if there was a relationship between Alexander Hamilton, a very great man, and me, an ordinary man, but as I think Alexander perhaps got his genius from his mother, I cannot get much satisfaction from the Hamilton blood.
This Edmund Callaway was born in Virginia, a nephew of Colonel Richard Callaway, who with Daniel Boone founded Fort Boone, or Boonesborough, in Kentucky. Edmund was a first cousin of Elizabeth and Fannie Callaway, who, with Jemima Boone, were stolen by the Indians. Edmund was in the rescuing party which was led by Colonel Richard Callaway. Colonel Boone was out hunting at the time. There was in the rescue party a young Mr. Henderson who was much interested. Shortly after the girls were recovered, unharmed, young Mr. Henderson and Elizabeth Callaway were the first couple to be married on Kentucky soil.
Flanders Callaway, who probably got his given name from the fact that some of his ancestors sojourned in Flanders for a time during the persecution of protestants in England, a brother of Edmund, married Jemima Boone, the daughter of Daniel Boone. Their son, Captain James Callaway, was a resident of Missouri in the War of 1812, killed toward the latter part of the war. A county of Missouri bears his name.
Edmund was a soldier in the War of 1812. He was a Lieutenant in a Kentucky regiment, probably horse infantry. He fought in the battle of Lake Erie and in the battle of the Thames. Some of his cousins, Callaways, were with William Henry Harrison at Tippecanoe. There is legend that Edmund fought with the Kentucky troops against the British and Indians during the Revolutionary War. I am not sure this is so. The records were fragmentary and unreliable. Edmund probably was the son of James Callaway and his wife Sarah. James died in 1773 (sic) in Virginia. Perhaps this James was the son of Joseph Callaway who fought in the Colonial wars. Here, again, I cannot be sure, because of the destruction of records during the Civil War.
Edmund, James, Micajah, and Flanders were brothers. James and Micajah fought in the War of 1812, also being made prisoners of war by the British.
None of the Callaways liked the English. They disliked the monarchial idea, worshipped the principles of liberty and free speech. My father, a broadminded man, used to refer to the Bloody English in a laughing way.
It may interest my children to know that a cousin of Colonel Richard, and of their great-grandfather, was James Callaway, “the iron King of Virginia,” a very wealthy man, a close friend of George Washington, and a strong supporter of the Revolution. Lady Astor, a member of the English Parliament, is one of this James Callaway’s descendants. She was one of the three famous Langhorne sisters. It is said they are related to Samuel Langhorne Clements. So is your mother’s family.
Samuel Taylor Callaway had the good fortune to marry Mary Hamilton Means, a very pretty young woman, known as “Old Bill’s Polly” in her part of Kentucky. She was the one with the Hamilton blood. Her father and her grandfather were named William Means. The grandfather was a Revolutionary soldier in North Carolina, living on the French Broad River. I am not sure that this North Carolina grandfather was the one with the gout and the irascible temper. He and his son were slaveholders. The story is that one of these was an irascible old gentleman and when confined to his chair by the gout would keep his cane near at hand. When mad about something he would coax his slaves to come near enough so he could hit them with the cane, which he would do, just to hear them howl.
Once he had a felon on his thumb. It was pioneer country, far from a doctor. The pain was agonizing. The sufferer sent a slave to the tool house for a chisel and a sledge hammer. These having been got he ordered the slave to bring a block of wood. There upon he laid the offending thumb upon the block, placed the chisel upon it, and ordered the slave to hit the chisel with the hammer. After many protestations of “Fo God, Massa!” “No, Massa! and the like the hammer descended and the thumb flew off. No more felons on that.
Before I go on I will say that Edmund and Athaliah had eight children: James, Dudley, John, Chester, Samuel Taylor, sons, and four daughters. The daughters married well and produced some outstanding citizens. One was James E. Payne, a foremost newspaper editor. When he was 96 years and 7 months old he wrote me a letter in his own handwriting (better than mine). He was the Department Commander of the Confederate Veterans in Texas. He lived at Dallas. One of you may find it interesting to trace the descendants of the four girls of Edmund and Athaliah.
Dudley must have been “some fellow.” He was married the third time when he was 81 years old. Dudley is a family name. We find a Dudley Callaway marrying in Virginia on December 12, 1758. December 12, you know, is mine and your mother’s wedding day.
From my investigations I am satisfied that while a historian writes of the “Characteristic Callaway energy,” Mary Hamilton Means supplied the verve to our branch of the family.
Samuel Taylor Callaway was a Christian minister, a Campbellite. He preached in Kentucky for years. He was a scholarly man of frail health. He also studied medicine and during his travels as a itinerant preacher, ministered to the body as well as the soul of man. While his father was a slaveholder, Samuel hated slavery. That caused him to leave Kentucky for the free state of Illinois. He migrated with his wife and family to Illinois in 1849, settling first at Jacksonville and later at Tuscola. He occupied Christian and also Baptist pulpits for considerable lengths of time. He was elected Superintendent of Schools in Douglas County, Illinois, of which Tuscola is the county seat.
My father studied law in the office of Richard Yates, afterward the War Governor of Illinois. He commenced the practice of law at Tuscola. Just when he was becoming prominent as a young lawyer, the Civil War broke out. He organized a Company which became “D” of the Twenty-First Illinois when that regiment, to become famous, was mustered in at Mattoon. Marching to Springfield, Governor Yates appointed U. S. Grant its Colonel. The friendship between the new Colonel and the Captain of Company “D” was to last for life.
Colonel Alexander was killed on the second day of Chicamauga and Lieutenant McMakin was captured. He was detailed to accompany the body of Colonel Alexander to Paris, Illinois. While on that mission he met Miss Mary Elizabeth Link.
I should tell you something more about my father. He was not only a fine lawyer, with strong oratorical ability, but as legislator he was reckoned as a parliamentarian without a superior, a debater with few equals. As a soldier he was famous in the Army of Cumberland. For his services at Murfreesboro, General Rosencrans gave him, a young Major, command of one of his light brigades. At Murfreesboro he was fighting on foot. Seeing two color bearers of the Twenty-First Illinois shot down, and the colors captured, he cut down with his sword the Confederate who had the colors and regained them. We never knew this from him. We saw the incident reported in the National Tribune, ratified by the letters of soldiers who saw the exploit.
At Chicamauga General Rosecrans’ lines were too long and his army was outnumbered. Ten thousand veteran soldiers of the Army of Northern Virginia, under General Longstreet, had reinforced General Bragg, the Confederate General. General Rosencrans was a great strategist, perhaps the greatest of the war unless we except Stonewall Jackson and General Sherman. Rosencrans’ exploit in recovering Tennessee and getting to Chicamauga was not excelled in the Civil War. But his lines were too long, twenty miles with but seventy thousand men.
When the battle of Chicamauga was impending, the Union Army knew this and every man was needed. The 81st Indiana was composed of fine men, but they had no confidence in their leaders. They had the disgraceful reputation of being a runaway regiment. Their division commander, General Jeff C. Davis knew this, of course. He was a fierce fighter, a profane man. Calling the 81st Indiana into line parade on the morning of the battle he addressed them with much profanity, and said, in effect, that the Union Army was about to engage in a death struggle in which every man must stand his ground. He said, “You runaway S. of B.’s, are you going to run away again, or are you going to stand and fight?” A sergeant stepped forward and saluted. He said, “You send us somebody we can fight under and we’ll show you!” General Davis said, “I will send you Major Callaway of the 21st Illinois; will you fight under him?” The men shouted, “Send him along!” and cheered.
They went into battle, stood and fought like veterans. They stood near the break in the line made by the mistaken withdrawal of a brigade, where the battle was fiercest. The 81st Illinois was close by. At evening on the first day, my father went to his own regiment to see how it had fared. Col. Alexander was sitting by the campfire. With tears rolling down his cheeks he said, “We’ve lost our battle flag.” My father said, “I saw it happen. The 81st Indiana recaptured it, captured the flag of the rebel regiment, and came out flying three flags.”
Aunt Sallie’s husband, Doctor J. L. Reat, was regimental surgeon of the 21st. He told me that on the second day he and my father were talking over the progress of the battle, standing with a little bush between them. My father was fingering a twig of the bush. Doctor Reat said that when he stopped running he was 20 feet away, when he looked around my father hadn’t moved. He was quietly putting his hand in his pocket. “He was abominably cool during battle, in full possession of his faculties, never excited; but when the battle was over I usually had him in the hospital; he had a temporary nervous breakdown,” the doctor told me. The 81st Indiana presented my father the sword, costing $287.00, which is now on our mantelpiece.
When the army was besieged in Chattanooga, my father was sent with the 21st Illinois foraging. He commandeered all the flour mills and wheat they had; made flour for the army.
Many sorties were made by the Union troops. My father, who was “night blind” led a sortie one dark night during which he and his men encountered abatis. Jumping over one he hit a sharp timber, a spike set in the ground. In the excitement, he did not feel it. Returning to camp, he told Dr. Reat his boot was full of water, and he said he didn’t remember crossing any water. His boot was full of blood. The abatis had ripped his leg almost the full length. It was a deep cut which put him in the hospital for several weeks.
After the war my father and Doctor Reat returned to Tuscola. My father to practice law, Doctor Reat to resume the practice of medicine. My father was elected a member of the Illinois Legislature in 1868.
Miss Link, whom my father met at Paris, was born December 6, 1843. She was mainly of “Pennsylvania Dutch” ancestry, with some Irish. Her people came to the United States very early. Her Pennsylvania Dutch ancestors were among those who left Pennsylvania and went to Virginia. Her father, Nethamiah Link, was born in Richmond, Virginia. Her mother, Emeline Vaught, was born in Kentucky. Her forebears were mainly Pennsylvania Dutch. The Links were God-fearing, honorable, and thrifty; not rich, but well-to-do. Colonel Callaway married Mary Elizabeth Link, January 16, 1866.
I, their first child, was born December 15, 1868. I was puny, a good deal of a nuisance, I suspect, but my grandfather Callaway thought I was smart. Natural notion of a grandfather. He taught me my letters when I was two years of age. I could pick them out unerringly from a newspaper.
In January, 1871, President Grant appointed my father Secretary of Montana, and we came here in the last week of March, 1871. My father had heard of the awful winters in the Rocky Mountains. Solicitous of the safety of his wife and child, he wrote the Territorial Officers to learn whether it would be safe to bring his wife and child before summer. Montana was enjoying a mild winter so the officers wrote the new Secretary that they thought he might bring his wife and child without apprehension. We came to Corinne by train. At Corinne we took the stage, a concord coach. It took four days and nights to reach Virginia City, the capitol of the Territory. I mean four days and nights, continuous travel. If you got off the stage to lie overnight, to get a night’s sleep, your seat in the stage was gone, and maybe the next stage would be full --- no more seats. It may be that a night’s rest was provided en route. The stage ambled along about six miles an hour.
When we got to Beaver Canyon on the way to “Pleasant Valley,” we changed to a sled. I was a bad boy, raising cain. My mother warned me that if I did not behave myself the sled would turn over. It did, burying me in the snow. They say when I was dug out I promised that I would “be a good boy,” and that I reformed, temporarily at least.
The telegraph line from Corinne to Virginia City carried the news that the Secretary with his wife and child were coming. The wags in Virginia City got busy. They hunted up all the straw hats and linen dusters they could find. As the stage drew up at the hotel they stepped forward clad in these dusters and hats, --- it was a lovely warm day in March ---- inquiring solicitously how the Colonel’s wife had withstood the rigors of the climate. The Colonel invited them to the bar.
Virginia City was a mining and commercial town. It was western with all the earmarks. But it contained a remarkable citizenry. There were scholars, musicians, orators, men and women of various types among its people. The town had theaters, musical and debating societies, dancing parties of the highest type--and others, Courts, Judges, lawyers, Federal Officers, schools; the people were friendly and helpful. Throughout the Northwest, within a radius of 500 miles at least, it was known and called the “Social City.”
The people, good and bad, were without veneer--they were genuinely what they were. Bluffing didn’t go. There were animosities, of course, but these seldom led to serious trouble.
The question is often asked, “What is the first thing you remember?” It seems to me, through a blur, that my first memory is that of standing with a silver cup by someone who was milking a cow. The milker filled the cup from the cow’s teat, and I drank the warm foaming milk. This must have been in Illinois.
I distinctly remember a political meeting in August, 1871 (I would not be three until the next December), at the intersection of Wallace and Jackson Streets in Virginia City. There was a stand built on the southeast corner of these streets. From this W. H. Clagett, a real orator, spoke. He was a candidate for delegate to Congress and was elected. Governor Potts and my father had offices in Content Corner (southwest corner of Wallace and Jackson). There was a band. The people called for Governor Potts and Colonel Callaway. Both spoke briefly. The fact that there was a band and that my father spoke made an impression that has always remained.
I remember having the Scarlet Fever that Fall. Doctor Mussigbrod was my physician. He gave me his autographed photograph which I still possess.
That fall or the next, my father and three other men went to the geysers (Yellowstone National Park), a supposed highly adventurous undertaking.
About this time my father had to travel over Montana a good deal. Then winters were cold and the trips in winter hazardous. Beaver skins being plentiful, he bought enough for a suit. He had a tailor make him a coat buttoning up to the neck and a pair of trousers with feet; that is, the trousers contained something similar to a boot for each foot. It was a beautiful suit. It fitted over his regular suit and shoes. When winter came, having to make a trip by stage, he put on his suit. He was certain of keeping warm. He nearly roasted from the waist down; he never was more uncomfortable. He never wore the suit again. It was hung up in the closet where the moths ruined it.
I also remember my father and mother having a wedding anniversary party in the Rockfellow house which they were renting, and falling in a well at that place (afterwards filled up) and being rescued by “Uncle Harry,” the colored man. At this house my sister was born December 26, 1872. That was a great event, of course.
I became known to all the prominent men, as my father was in official life. He and my mother had many people to dinner at different times.
Hezekiah L. Hosmer, the first Chief Justice, gave me his photograph, signed by him. I still have it. He could not have dreamed that one day in the distant future I would be one of his successors on the High Court.
In the fall of 1873 my mother and father went to Illinois. I said fall; it must have been close to winter. I remember the flower gardens in Virginia City that summer, 1873; and the people playing croquet. There were a few frail trees in Virginia City. About the time we left they were tearing down some log cabins on the site and excavating for the basement of the Courthouse, intended for the Territorial Capitol.
But the outstanding memory was crossing the Mississippi in a train running on the ice. Ties were laid on the ice. I couldn’t swear whether it was coming or going that I saw this. I remember incidents in Tuscola and Paris. I celebrated my fifth birthday in Tuscola. My mother took me to Paris to see her father. I liked him but I didn’t like his wife. She was a second wife, not my grandmother, who was dead. My father called this second wife the “old she-devil.” My mother didn’t like her either. I made so much trouble they sent me back to Tuscola in care of the conductor. When the train reached Tuscola my relatives were at the station to meet me. They feigned surprise. They said, “Why did you come back here?” I said, “I came back to my friends.”
I remember my grandfather Callaway who was very fond of me. My grandmother, Aunt Sallie, Aunt Min, my cousins Lois and Cal. While we were in Tuscola my Aunt Katie, the family pet, died, to the intense grief of all. I remember it well.
We started home, my father having gone ahead. Where the train ran nearest to the Black Hills we saw an immense herd of buffalo. Not many people can remember such a sight now.
The pullman car was of great interest to me. As I look back, what a funny little train it was. No double or triple windows then, no vestibules. How it rocked and lunged and what a time the brakeman had twisting the wheels to put on the brakes and release them. But the engine was a grand affair; it had a big, bulging smokestack and a bell which rang every once in a while. The engine blew out steam in big jets, too. It was most interesting.
When we reached Corinne we had to take the stage again. This seemed to me a real adventure. We had not been out very long when we were joined by a platoon of cavalry, sent to protect us from the Indians who were on the warpath. The soldiers stayed with us a long time. These men were rigged out attractively, at least to a five-year-old boy. They had blue coats and breeches. There were brass buttons on the coats and some had chevrons on their arms. One had epaulets on his shoulders. All had yellow stripes down their breeches. They had pistols and guns, and one had a sword. All had spurs on their heels, and the horses made noises. I wanted to stand on the brake-blocks, holding on to the uprights, so I could see these soldiers all the time, but my mother objected. Just the same I would get out on the brake-block frequently and she would make me get inside, where I hated to be. She must have had plenty to do what with taking care of the baby and looking after me.
In after years when the “Pioneers” were meeting in Virginia City (1899) and Colonel Sanders was trying to amend the association’s constitution, some were squawking against admitting “Pullman car pioneers.” My mother said to Colonel Sanders, with whose endeavor she was sympathetic, that while she didn’t want to join the society she wished some of those old fellows had had to ride the stagecoach from Corinne with a baby not much over a year and a five year old boy hanging outside a lurching coach looking at soldiers keeping off hostile Indians.