Sunday, December 30, 2012

FAMILY STORIES & FOLKLORE

Share stories about the family lines. Stories passed down from old folks about times gone by are not only interesting but can be helpful when you are researching your family history. My mother often told stories from the days of the Civil War  that had been passed down to her when she was a young girl. Some of it didn't make sense to me at the time but it was helpful when I tried to make connections in the Gooch family many years later.
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A recently published book of interest to Callahan's ...

Cellachan



This is the story of Cellachan of Cashel, an actual 10th century Irish King of Munster and the first O'Callaghan. He fought many bloody and brutal battles to free his people from the grip of Viking oppression. Cellachan's great victories and achievements have lain silent and forgotten in history, but have now been brought to life in the pages of this one-of-a-kind book. Like all heroes of this world, he deserves to be remembered.

http://www.feedaread.com/books/Cellachan-9781784070182.aspx

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33 comments:

  1. There is still some mystery about the early life of James Hughes Callahan. It seems that his father owned a carriage manufacturing company in Georgia and he probably grew up working with his hands in that business. His military record lists him as a "mechanic" but I am not sure exactly what that means. I believe he was a skilled craftsman and was well educated - for that time.

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    1. Upon arriving in Texas, the Georgia volunteers he marched with joined up with Colonel Fannin. He was captured on March 22, 1836, with his commander Captain Ward and the other Georgians near the town of Goliad. Some of the prisoners were detailed to go to Victoria, to work on constructing a large barge. Callahan was one of them, which probably saved his life. Colonel Fannin and most of his men were shot by the Mexicans at the Goliad Massacre on Sunday, March 27, 1836. After hearing about it, Callahan somehow escaped from the Mexicans but as far as I know he did not see further service with the Texian Army.

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    2. For his service, the Republic of Texas gave him several land grants. He settled on a ranch near the town of Sequin. I first find him in the Ranger Service in 1838. He rode with Captain Jack Hays and others - sometimes serving as a lieutinant - on short term assignments, chasing bandits and Indians. He first saw service as a Captain in the Ranger Service in 1841. After that, he led several parties of minute men who were hastily called to service with the Rangers when there was trouble with the bandits and Indians. These service campaigns would sometimes last for several weeks and they would chase their prey for hundreds of miles across the desolate land of southwest Texas. The bandits were mostly Mexicans. With their Indian companions, they would almost always head for Mexico when they were chased by the Rangers. They knew the Rangers would not cross the Rio Grande to follow them into Mexico - so it was a safe haven for them.

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    3. That would all change in 1855, when Captain Callahan led a large party of Rangers across the Rio Grande to enter Mexico, in pursuit of bandits and Indians. Here is a clip about it from the Texas State Historical Society Handbook of Texas On Line:
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      CALLAHAN EXPEDITION. The Callahan Expedition occurred in October 1855, when James Hughes Callahan led a force of 111 men into Mexico near Piedras Negras, Coahuila. The announced purpose of the unauthorized invasion was to punish Lipan Apache Indians who reportedly had raided along the Texas frontier during the summer and fall of 1855, then returned to Mexico, where they were protected by the authorities. In fact, the expedition likely was an attempt by Texas slaveholders to regain fugitive slaves who had fled to northern Mexico and to prevent Mexican authorities from permitting runaway slaves to settle in their midst. On July 5, 1855, Governor Elisha M. Pease authorized Callahan to organize a force to punish marauding Indians, who reportedly had increased their raids that summer when 3,000 United States troops were moved from the Texas frontier to Kansas. Callahan mustered his force into service on July 20. As Texas citizens continued to appeal to Pease for defense against the Indian raids, Callahan and his men left Bandera Pass on September 18 headed for the Rio Grande.
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      Callahan's force crossed the Rio Grande and was ambushed about twenty miles inside Mexico. They were outnumbered and forced to withdraw. During the retreat, fires were set in the town of Piedras Negras to create a smoke screen to discourage Mexican Federales from entering the town. The fires got out of control and most of the structures in the little town were destroyed by fire. There were also reports that the Rangers plundered the town, which Callahan denied. They made it safely back to Texas but Callahan came under fire for it. It was not the first time that Texans had crossed the Rio Grande illegally while chasing bandits but it was the first time that an International Incident was caused by it. Callahan said that he had the full approval of the Governor of Texas to enter Mexico, and most Texans and many prominent people supported him, including Sam Houston and Rip Ford. No charges were ever brought against him but he was relieved of his responsibilities in the Ranger Service. Callahan would go to his grave defending his actions. We will probably never know what his real motives were - even today the story about it keeps changing - seems that people can't agree about how the story should be told. I personally believe he was right in doing what he did.

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  2. I just finished reading the book "TEXAS DEVILS: Rangers & Regulars on the Lower Rio Grande, 1846 - 1861" by Michael L. Collins. There is a chapter about James Hughes Callahan - the Callahan Expedition into Mexico in 1855. The book was interesting and it provides some good information about how things were in Texas between 1846 and 1861.

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    1. The book focuses a great deal of attention on Captain Rip Ford, who was known to be a friend and supporter of James Hughes Callahan. Ford also wanted to start another war with Mexico and forcibly occupy some of the regions of Mexico adjacent to Texas where Mexican bandits and hostile Indians were hiding out in between their raids into Texas to murder settlers and plunder.

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    2. The book is written with a slant that shows sympathy for the Tejano's (early Texans of Mexican descent) but I believe it is historically accurate. It also provides some interesting details about the activities of Col. Robert E. Lee when he was assigned to duty in Texas with the U.S. Army, before the start of the Civil War.

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  3. I am curious about what was going on in the life of James Hughes Callahan that made him stay out of Ranger Service during the Mexican War. I know he got married and was probably trying to settle down and start a family, but that was a very exciting time for an old adventurer and hell raiser, which he was. I find it hard to believe that he was content with running a store and being a rancher while all of that was going on around him. He seemed to drop out if sight after 1841 and we don't know of him doing anything "adventurous" until 1853, when he served as Chief Scout for the Michael Erskine cattle drive from southwest Texas to Los Angeles, California .

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    1. Around 1850, Callahan moved his family from his ranch in Guadalupe County to new land he homesteaded near the present day town of Blanco. He laid claim to thousands of acres along the Rio Blanco. He had apparently first sighted this new "promised land" when he was on one of his excursions - out chasing Indians. It was on the very edge of civilization.

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    2. There were several cattle drives from Texas to California before the Erskine cattle drive of 1853. There was a demand for red meat as the population of California rapidly increased after gold was found there in 1849.

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    3. Since Callahan was signed on as Chief Scout by Michael Erskine, it makes me wonder if he had made the trip to California with one of the earlier cattle drives.

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  4. By today's standards, James Hughes Callahan would be looked upon as being "uncivilized and barbaric". Maybe we need men like him now, to deal with some of the madness that is going on all over the U.S. - the mass shootings by crazed lunatics, the drive by shootings where innocent children are killed and the Mexican drug trade that is going on right under the noses of U.S. authorities, basically unchecked. Maybe we need to deal with these people the way Callahan would have done it back in his time. We can not judge him by the standards of our times - I really do not see where we have a great deal to be proud of.

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    1. Seems like we are putting the rights of the scum bags first. When they do these horrible crimes then they are not fit to share this planet with the rest of us.

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    2. Justice should be fast and it should not be a pleasant event for the bad guy. We can either execute them or fly them to the moon and drop them off but they have to go.

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    3. Our courts have become so obsessed with making sure the rights of the accused are not violated that they ignore the pain and suffering the crime caused for the victims and their loved ones, and how all of that is prolonged by dragging all all of this out.

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    4. In his time, a Captain in the Ranger Service had great powers - he was judge, jury and executioner. When an offender was caught, he would face a hearing comprised of a few citizens, some Rangers and the Ranger Captain. The charges would be read and any statements would be heard. The Ranger Captain would then make his decision and pass judgement. Some Ranger Service Captains preferred hanging the condemned people - but James Hughes Callahan liked to execute them by firing squad. The condemned person(s) would be taken a few miles out of town and ordered to dig their own shallow grave(s). The condemned person would then stand at the head of the grave, facing the firing squad, comprised of three or more men. The sentence would be carried out with little cermony - the condemned person would fall into his grave and it would be loosely covered with dirt and a few rocks. Most of the accused in those days were Mexicans and Callahan was probably thinking about the Goliad Massacre when he ordered them to be executed by firing squad.

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  5. GOOCH ANCESTRY: I believe it is certain that our Gooch family ancestry can be traced back to the Suffolk region of England in the 1400's. Some men with the Gooch surname migrated to Ireland in the 1500's and 1600's. Men with the Gooch surname were among the earliest settlers in early America in the 1600's, settling in New England, Virginia and Georgia.

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    1. The earliest Gooch ancestor that I can claim with certainty is William Martin Gooch, born about 1824 in South Carolina or Tennessee. He came to northeast Mississippi when he was a boy, with the rest of his family, before 1840. They settled on homestead land that had recently been vacated by the Chickasaw Indians, when they were forcibly moved out to reservations west of the Mississippi River. William Martin Gooch stayed in that area until the late 1880's and raised his children there. He then moved to Hunt County, Texas, along with his wife, Elizabeth Jane (Oliver) Gooch. They both died in Hunt County, Texas, near the town of Celeste - her death in 1914, his death in 1919. I am descended from their son, William Elijah Gooch, born 1851 in Mississippi - died 1929 in Ft. Worth, Tarrant County, Texas.

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    2. By family stories, William Martin Gooch was wounded in the early days of the Civil War when a cannon exploded. When they brought him home, he had bad powder burns on his face and his eyes were sealed shut. He was in severe pain. A Negro slave woman made up a salve made from plants and herbs she gathered in the woods nearby. When it was applied to his wounds, he started to get better right away. He recovered but I believe his eyesight was effected for the rest of his life. We know that the Battle of Shiloh was fought 40 miles away in Tennessee in April of 1862, but I can not prove that he was wounded there.

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    3. By family folklore, my great grandfather, William Elijah Gooch, ran way from home when he was twelve years old in 1863 to serve as a Confederate Drummer Boy. It would be great if I could prove that but so far I can not.

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    4. I assume that William Martin Gooch served in the Confederate Army or the local militia they called the Home Guard. That part of the country was invaded by the Yankees after May of 1862 and the war years were very hard for the folks that lived there. Some of the women in the family passed down stories about forage raids by the Yankees during the Civil War - when large armies passed nearby. They also told stories about setting up campfires along the main road nearby after the Civil War was lost, to help comfort the beaten Confederate soldiers as they made their way back to their homes.

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    5. A story from my mother: During the War Between the States, a woman was left alone on a farm with several children. The oldest child was a girl of twelve and the youngest was a babe in arms. One day a band of Yankee foragers showed up. There were five of them, led by an old sergeant. The children were all frightened but still curious. The woman was terrified but tried to keep her composure, for the sake of the children. The children were huddled together just inside of the front door, watching. The woman met the old sergeant on the porch, with the baby in her arms. He told her that they were there to gather supplies for the main army that was passing nearby. He said they would take what they had to take but no one would be hurt. Almost in a whisper, he asked her if she could make something for his men to eat, since they had not ate in several days. The woman looked at the young soldiers and could not help feeling sorry for them. As the soldiers went about their business the woman and her daughter put together a quick dinner consisting of scrappy ham, beans, corn bread and some fresh vegetables. As an act of defiance the woman used dirty dishwater to make the corn bread, with some of it in the beans. The soldiers sat the table and ate their meal quietly, seeming to enjoy it. They were polite and there were no problems. They left quietly with the old sergeant doing all of the talking. They were going to take a milk cow but the old sergeant made them put it back in the barn. He said "Boys, we are here to wage war on men - not helpless women and children. There are children here and they need the milk from this cow worse than we do." The woman and her children watched them all ride away, taking many of their belongings with them. She felt deep sadness and was thankful that these young men were led by that old Yankee sergeant, who seemed like a kind and God fearing man.

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  6. PHILLIPS ANCESTRY: I believe it is certain that our Phillips family ancestry can be traced back to Wales in the 1500's. One of our early Phillips ancestors migrated to Ireland in the 1600's. We have roots in early America back to the early 1700's - when an early ancestor first landed in Pennsylvamia. Our ancestors then migrated to Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Alabama, Arkanses, Texas and the Indian Territory (Oklahoma).

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    1. My father was born in the Chickasaw Nation of the Indian Territory in the village of Wapanucka in 1896. He talked about an old Indian grandfather who came to visit when he was a boy. This old man did not like being indoors and he would take my father for walks in the woods. He sometimes had my father go to the barn to cut him a tobacco leaf, which he would roll up and chew on. My father said the old man ate it because he never saw him spit anything out. My father described him as looking like an old Indian, with braids in his hair. He was toothless and had a bad scar on one side of his face with a part of the ear missing. I am assuming that the old man my father described in his stories was Calvin Phillips but I have no proof for that. My father came to Texas with the rest of his family in the early 1900's. They settled in Comanche County.

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    2. When my father talked about his early boyhood days in Oklahoma, he always called it "the reservation".

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    3. Calvin Phillips is listed in old family records as being a Confederate Army veteran but I have not found proof of his service. It is possible that the scar on his face was caused by a wound \from the Civil War. It would be interesting to find out more about it.

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  7. OLIVER ANCESTRY: Elijah Oliver married Mary (Polly) Kuykendall around 1830 in Tennessee. Their daughter, Elizabeth Jane Oliver, married William Martin Gooch in Mississippi in 1849. They were my great great grandparents. Elijah Oliver owned a store (maybe more than one) and was a land speculator.

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    1. By family stories, Elijah Oliver came out of North Carolina in the early 1820's. He was poor and started out by trading simple items with the Indians, which were the predominent residents in Mississippi at the time. He got to know people and gradually built up his business. He earned a reputation for being honest. When he asked Mary Kuykendall to marry him - her parents were against it, saying that he was too poor. He made a vow to be a rich man someday. He opened his first store before 1840 and became very rich.

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  8. DAVIS ANCESTRY: My great great grandfather William Elijah Gooch married Sarah Elizabeth Jane Davis in Lee County, Mississippi in 1872. I do not have any information about her family line.

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  9. FANNIN ANCESTRY: My grandfather Jess Gooch married Bessie Fannin in Paris, Lamar County, Texas in 1901. I do not have any information about her family line.

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  10. CALLAHAN ANCESTRY: I believe our first Callahan ancestors arrived in America in the early 1700's, coming from Ireland. They came in through Pennsylvania but migrated on to North Carolina and Georgia, possibly South Carolina.

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  11. Corey Ray PhillipsMarch 28, 2013 at 9:16 PM

    Its good to see how far you have dug on our family history Uncle Dalton.

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