dee_burris: (Default)
2012-10-28 11:58 am

Black Sheep Sunday: Thurman W Balding

I was messing around earlier this morning with some of my Baldings. A whole slew of them lived in Morgan Co., OH, and I was making good progress in finding their graves.

And then, I ran across Thurman W Balding, one of the sons of William Balding and Elizabeth Hummel.

Thurman was born on New Year's Day in 1867 in Morgan County. He's my third cousin, three times removed. (Kind of like the familial relationship I have with another family misfit, Charles E Chapin.)

Apparently, Thurman was an honest-to-goodness outlaw.
He was a member of the Bill Cook gang, and it seems he spent a lot of time robbing stagecoaches and banks.

Thurman had aliases, including "Skeeter" (because he was tall and lanky) and "Tull." He also went by the surname Baldwin, which may have relieved his family to no end. No telling what his 7 brothers and sisters thought of him...

He was sentenced to 30 years in prison for his unlawfulness, and had his sentence commuted by President Roosevelt in 1903.

Thurman died on 2 Mar 1936 in Sun City, Barber Co., KS, and was buried in Sunnyside Cemetery in Sun City, where two brothers and a sister were also laid to rest.
dee_burris: (Default)
2011-09-03 07:06 pm

Black Sheep Sunday...which one was?

Looking for one thing, and ran across another.

In this case, it's my copy of Lest We Forget, a little history of two communities in Yell County, AR, compiled by Lola Person Cooper in 1972, shortly after the death of her husband.

I had several pages flagged with post-it notes from a previous reading, and was skimming through it again, when I ran across this:
In about 1920 Luther Hopkins and wife lived on the Cotton Town Plantation. It is said by those that were neighbors that she made up her mind to kill him for something she thought he did that was an injustice to her. While he slept one morning allegely she hit him with a car axle (which was useless and lying around the place) killing him instantly. The neighbors said she was tried, turned loose and her husband buried all in the same day. He was buried at the Harris Cemetery. The car axle was partially driven in the ground at the head of his grave, marking the grave as there is no monument.

Well, that would do it, I guess. But I was skeptical. So I started Googling around and found this, attached to a family record on a self-hosted family tree website:
Luther's wife struck him in the head witha ford car axle as he slept. The killing was called "justifiable." She was exonerated by a coroner's jury and on May 21, 1921, she collected the life insurance on his policy. The Atkins Chronical, April 8, 1921 and the Atkins Chronicle, May 13, 1921.

The date of death for Luther was 5 Apr 1921 in that family tree.

So now I have to find the Atkins Chronicle for those dates - my hope is that the Arkansas History Commission has it.

Carrie Hopkins died 12 Dec 1931 in Logan Co., AR.

We're not related.

But still...
dee_burris: (Default)
2011-07-31 08:55 am

Black Sheep Sunday: William Elihu Francis

It started with an email message from my Callaway cousin, Joe.

I wasn't online when he sent it, so he followed up with a phone call.

I need you to figure out if Elihu Francis is related to us.

Joe knows that I have carried my family tree out to include collateral relatives, because I can't just confine myself to linear relationships and call it good.

His urgency was evident in the tone of his voice. I asked for some detail.

In the wee hours of the morning on 3 April 1914, Elihu's wife and three young children were murdered with an axe. The house, in rural Clark Co., AR, was then set on fire to cover up the crime.
As I started looking, I found news reports from all over the country.

The Lincoln Daily Star, 4 Apr 1914:


Mother and Her Children Killed by Ax Murderer
Little Rock, Ark., April 4 - An unidentified assassin early yesterday murdered with an ax Mrs. Elihu Francis and three of her children in their home near Fendley, having previously set fire to the house, according to reports received here. Mr. Francis, the husband and father and a fourth child, narrowly escaped the same fate.

According to statements made by Francis, he was awakened about 4:30 in the morning by the barking of his dog, and found his house in flames. About this time, Francis said, he saw a man enter his wife's room carrying an ax. Believing the intruder was searching for him, Francis said he ran into the yard in an effort to draw the man away from the house, but the slayer remained and killed Mrs. Francis and the three children, ranging in age from two to six years.

Francis stated he then ran to the house and the assassin disappeared, the flames by this time had completely enveloped the house and he was unable to enter the room where lay the bodies of his wife and children. He succeeded, however, in rescuing the one year old baby from another room.

Great excitement has been aroused in the vicinity of Fendley by the crime. Bloodhounds have been sent from this city.

That story must not have sat well with the sheriff.

Indianapolis Sunday Star, 5 Apr 1914:


Father Held for Slaying Wife and Three Children
Arkadelphia, Ark., April 5 - On the recommendation of the coroner's jury, Elihu Francis is held in jail here today, charged with the murder of his wife and three children, whose charred bodies were found yesterday in the ruins of their home near here. Francis declared his wife and children were murdered wiith an ax by an unidentified man who set fire to the house and fled.

Three neighbors, who rushed to the Francis home when they saw the flames, testifed they saw no one leaving the place. An ax bearing blood stains and which Francis said belonged to him was found in the ruins of the house.

Other news reports of the time say that Elihu was bound over for trial, but was then committed to the Arkansas State Hospital for Nervous Diseases, where he died of tuberculosis in 1916.

Elihu's niece, Ada Elizabeth Francis, married William Andrew Callaway, who was Joe's grand uncle.

So technically, no - we are not related to Elihu Francis.

But the story still begs a question that transcends any bloodline...

What on earth would cause a 24 year old man to murder his own wife and children?
dee_burris: (Default)
2010-11-27 07:50 pm

Church Record Sunday and a Black Sheep to boot?

Allen Mason Lowery Callaway. Mace, they called him.

It's the name of my great-great grandfather. He only lived to be 30 years old. He died in 1877.

One of my Callaway cousins and I puzzle over that.

We can't find his grave. What little is left of the written and oral Callaway family history does not include him.

Historic records about him are hard to come by.

We know from his marriage record that he lied about his age to marry my great-great grandmother, Mary C Dunn. They married on 8 Sep 1866 in Clark Co., AR. She was 17. He was 19, but lied about his age and said he was 28. (You had to be 21 to marry without your folks' permission then.)

They had a daughter in 1873, Julia Ann Callaway.

No record of any other children, and no tiny little graves in the DeGray Baptist Church Cemetery.

My cousin and I pondered that as we went through the cemetery *one more time* about a month ago.

Why didn't Julia Ann (who is buried there, along with both her husbands, her mother and her half-brother) mark her daddy's grave? Why didn't her mother, his widow?

And why was Julia Ann the only child of a couple married 11 years, in days long before reliable birth control?

My cousin and I think Mace must have been a bad boy.

His fellow parishoners at Bethel Union Baptist Church thought so. He made the conference meeting minutes on 11 Dec 1869. (Bethel Union Baptist Church later became DeGray Baptist Church.)

...There being charges prefered against brother Mason Calaway for immoral conduct, a committee consisting of brothers Jno B Smith and Harry Hasse was then appointed to see brother Calaway, and request him to come before the church at the next conference meeting and give satisfaction...

We don't know if the next conference meeting was when he appeared, but he did appear on 8 Jan 1870.

After divine service by the pastor, the church met in conference. Brother Mason Calaway came forward and made acknowledgement, was forgiven of his error, and restored to the fellowship of the church. The committee appointed to see brother Calaway were then discharged...

He is such a mystery...
dee_burris: (Default)
2010-11-14 11:10 am

Black Sheep Sunday: Charles E Chapin, the "Rose Man of Sing Sing"

Oh those Chapins, they are a mixed bag. Meet Charles E Chapin, sixth great grandson of The Puritan, Deacon Samuel Chapin.


No one knows for sure what happened to Charles, former city editor of New York's The Evening World, on 16 Sep 1918. That was the day he shot his wife, Nellie L (Beebe) Chapin, to death in their hotel suite at the Hotel Cumberland in New York City as she lay sleeping.

When he turned himself in to police on the day following the murder, he told them he had intended to also kill himself, but chickened out. Chronic money woes seemed to be at the source of his misery, and his wife had already hocked her jewelry to try and ease the troubled family finances.

The New York Tribune covered his plea agreement before NY Supreme Court Justice Weeks on 14 Jan 1919, during which Chapin pled guilty to murder in the second degree, and was sentenced to not less than 20 years hard labor and not more than life, with the possibility of death in the electric chair.

He was committed to Sing Sing Prison to serve his sentence. Charles Chapin was 60 years old at the time of his sentence. He died in Sing Sing of bronchial pneumonia on 13 Dec 1930.

I'm still looking for his grave - I understand that historian and author James McGrath Morris knows where it is.

ETA: I sent an email to James McGrath Morris, and he answered. Charles Chapin is buried in Glenwood Cemetery in Washington, DC.
dee_burris: (Default)
2010-11-07 09:38 am

Black Sheep Sunday: Jonathan Wilson Callaway, 1834-1894

Generally speaking, we love to love our Callaways.

But some of our male Callaways were a rowdy bunch, particularly in the early days of settling the various territories and towns where they lived.

Especially the line of Callaway men who descended from John S T Callaway. Several of them settled their disputes with their fists, were arrested and found guilty of assault, and then went on to hold elected office (Sheriff) in their towns. Go figure - I guess people felt safe with a man who was good in a fistfight, as long as they weren't on the receiving end.

Jonathan Wilson Callaway was John S T's grandson. His parents were Jonathan Owsley Callaway and Emily Hemphill.

Jonathan first married Harriet Jane Beall, daughter of Asa B and Sarah Ann Beall, on 28 Jan 1858 in Clark Co., AR. She was 16 years old. Harriet died on 23 Apr 1859 in Clark Co. - I suspect in childbirth, but have not been able to substantiate that.

Then, he married Ann E Vickers, daughter of E R Vickers, in 1867 after the Civil War. They had three daughters, Lizzie Callaway, Mary E Callaway High, and Julia Estelle Callaway.

From Goodspeed's Biographical and Historical Memoirs of Central Arkansas, (publ. 1889) at page 427, the following:

He was appointed first lieutenant in Capt. Flanagin's Company (E), McIntosh's regiment, later being made commissary of subsistence in the regimental brigade and division. He was afterward assigned to duty as assistant to the chief of the bureau of subsistence for the Trans-Mississippi Department, with headquarters at Shreveport, La., and Marshall, Tex. His final surrender was made with the Confederate forces, at Shreveport, at the close of the war, in May, 1865, following which he walked the whole distance back to Arkadelphia.

After the war, Jonathan moved around a lot, always in connection with his business interests. He also had political aspirations, according to Goodspeed's narrative:

In October, 1865, Mr. Callaway embarked in the commission business at Camden, Ark., which he continued until 1872, a part of the time residing at New Orleans in connection with his business interests. In 1874 he was elected clerk of the State senate, and in 1876 received the nomination of the Democratic State Convention for clerk of the chancery court, to which position he was elected. Removing to Little Rock he held the office for five terms, or ten years, then voluntarily retiring, much to the regret of those whose interests he had so well and faithfully served. The year 1867 witnessed his marriage with Miss Annie Vickers, and to their union three children have been born: Lizzie, Mary and Estelle. Mr. Callaway occasionally acts as commissioner or receiver of the Pulaski Chancery Court, and is lending his valuable assistance in populating Arkansas with immigrants and developing the immense resources of the county and State. He enjoys a wide acquaintance and the respect and esteem of a host of friends.
Although Jonathan Callaway may have been universally respected and admired in his hometown of Arkadelphia, apparently not everyone thought so highly of him. An interesting news clipping from the Arkansas Gazette, dated 15 May 1884 about an item in the Arkansas Democrat:
"Mr. Callaway, candidate for chancery clerk, who now has 'nothing to say against the amendment,' once carried a pair of scissors in his pocket about the polls at Little Rock, and, while urging the negroes to vote against the measure, clipped 'for amendment' off the tickets, and palmed those bob-tailed tickets off on voters who could not read. Furthermore, his charges in the matter of the fees of his office are not above the severest criticism. Amendment men, honest Democrats of Sebastian county, what do you think about nominating this man?"

"I denounce the above statement of the Fort Smith Tribune and The Democrat as maliciously false in every item and essential particular and assert the belief that its author, E C Johnson, (as heretofore demonstrated) has not the manliness to submit the question of veracity here raised to any fair and honorable test. J W Callaway, May 15, 1884"

There was a response the next day in the Arkansas Gazette:
J W Callaway, in the Arkansas Democrat yesterday, denies that he 'clipped tickets,' and urged the negroes to vote against the amendment in the election of 1880. This adds to his list of infamies the additional one of a falsifier, as I will prove in due time. I will be in the city until 12 p.m. today (Friday) - longer if necessary. E C Johnson, Little Rock, May 16, 1884.

The "amendment" spoken of in both news items was one authored by William Meade Fishback, who became concerned with the issue of repudiation of Arkansas's debt. He believed that some of the state's debt was created by fraudulent means, and some was the result of Reconstruction. He argued that only "just" debt should be repaid. He introduced what is known as the "Fishback Amendment" to the state constitution, which prohibited the state authorities from paying the Holford bonds (results of Arkansas's prewar credit troubles), railroad aid and levee bonds (both challenged because the funds did not produce measurable results). Though the proposed amendment failed to pass in 1880, it was finally approved by voters in the 1884 general election, and adopted as the first amendment to the constitution in January 1885.

Kinda sounds like E C Johnson was calling Jonathan out to me...I never could find out if they actually dueled. But my guess is that Jonathan's "voluntary retirement" spoken of in Goodspeed's may have been connected with this "infamy" alleged by E C Johnson.

Jonathan Wilson Callaway died in Pulaski Co., AR in 1894.