8/10/1826 – 2/5/1897
The following information was taken from “The Argent Castle”, the Newsletter of the Clan MacCallum/Malcolm Society. It is undated, but written by Robin Neill Lochnell Malcolm, D. L. Chief. While great reading, the accuracy of the information is unknown.
Duncan had married Ellen Guthrie (“of a Pennsylvania Revolutionary family”) and they had five children. The first two sons (born before 1820) left for the gold rush in California, arriving in San Francisco on the Ohio in 1851. They are named “D” and “M” on the passenger list; in 1852 word was received in Indiana that they were ill and Ellen sent younger son John Guthrie, who had graduated from the University of Indiana Law School and begun his practice, to bring his brothers home. By the time his ship arrived in 1854, he found both had died, but seeing the opportunities for legal work around Placerville, John G. decided to stay on.
Jane Stuart McCallum’s brother, John Guthrie, of course, had begun taking a leadership role in the development of the new state (California); in 1855 and 1860 was elected to the state Senate; helped frame the first constitution; as one of two electors at the time of Lincoln’s second inaugural, took the vote to Washington, D.C.; was Registrar of U.S. Land Office in Sacramento, moved to Oakland, where he brought cases against the railroads for price-gouging and land-grabbing. In search of a healthful climate for his consumptive son John G., he was led by Indians in Southern California to an oasis in the desert (land of “eternal sunshine and warm, healing waters”) where he purchases the land that later was developed by his daughter, Pearl, into the famous Palm Springs. He and his wife, Emily Freeman, an accomplished vocalist, had three sons, all of whom died young and unmarried, and two daughters, May and Pearl. May married a Dr. Forline and had two daughters; Pearl, who married Austin McManus, had no children.
Katherine Ainsworth has written the book, “The McCallum Saga — The Story of the Founding of Palm Springs”, copyright 1973, The Palm Springs Deser Museum, Palm Springs, California. Printed in the United States by Grant Dahlstrom/The Castle Press. Pasadena, California. The following is copied from the beginning of this fine work:
“WEARILY the two dust-covered men reined the tired/ heaving horses to a halt as their wagon rounded a bend and came to a rise in the rutted tracks midst the sand and boulders across which they had jolted for so many miles.
From this crest the two men looked out upon a wide stretch of the mysterious Colorado Desert — dreaded cauldron it had been proclaimed by those who feared its scorching heat. The swarthier of the two men stretched an arm and pointed out to his friend the long, rolling reaches of sand dunes flowing from the base of a lofty mountain. Then, turning slightly, his finger centered upon clusters of tall palms, sentinels of the canyons and the oasis which was their goal for the day.
Will Pablo, Indian guide and interpreter, was eager for his friend to reach the healing waters of the oasis. He urged the exhausted horses to press ahead. The surrey approached the waters, and the other man — tall, full-bearded John Guthrie McCallum — gazed about in wonder. He saw great beauty in the changing, glowing sunlight as it was reflected upon the rounded breasts of the sand dunes and each desert plant. He was astonished to see the myriad varieties of these plants and the profusion of desert growth, when his first cursory glance saw what appeared to be but vast empty wastes of harsh sun-bleached land.
As the wagon drew up to the delightful mineral water and a few brown-faced gentle Indians shyly came to extend a welcome, the sun suddenly, without any warning that the day was drawing to a close despite the early hour, plummeted behind the tall mountain peak. The entire area was cloaked in shadow and the long afternoon began. It was, thought the visitor, as though the mountain standing in such exalted arrogance relented of its pride and bent forward to envelop them in its embrace and cloak them in its cooling shade.
The sonorous words of Tennyson’s narrative poem. The Lotos-Eaters, came rushing back as he sat looking upward at the peaks now brushed by the rosy tints of the setting sun. He recalled the poem-story of those weary wanderers. The Lotos-Eaters, and repeated the lines in a hushed voice: “In the afternoon they came unto a land / In which it seemed always afternoon.”
He thought the words most appropriate and ever afterwards thought of this spot as being the “Land of the Afternoon.” In the poem Tennyson had described a land where the air was languid, palm trees waved in the breeze, and the people were dusky-hued and gentle. Again the man spoke aloud as he recalled the closing line of the poem which seemed to be especially applicable: “We will no longer roam.”
John Guthrie McCallum felt an immediate affinity for the welcoming oasis. He knew instantly that this Palm Valley, as he called it in his mind, with the warmth and fragrant air and the healing waters was the place to which he must bring his family. Into this Palm Valley they would come.
And so it was that Palm Springs, as it would eventually become known, the gayest and sunniest spa on earth, was born of a double sorrow.
This settlement on the Colorado Desert, huddling at the foot of towering Mt. San Jacinto, began in the first place out of the anxiety of a widowed Indiana mother for her two sons in faraway San Francisco on the Pacific Shores at the time of the Gold Rush. It was to be culminated years later, by the desperate illness of that same woman’s grandson and the events growing out of it.
THE STORY OF PALM SPRINGS, California, began with the delivery of a letter to a widowed mother living in a small hamlet in Indiana.
The year was 1852. The name of that village was Vevay in Switzerland County.
Switzerland County, Indiana, on the banks of the brooding Ohio River which wound its way through towns with stately old homes, was founded in 1801 by a group of Swiss immigrants. They called the county seat Vevay (pronounced Vee-Vee) and planted vineyards in the rich yellow clay soil. These industrious Swiss became famous for their special wine.
It was not too long before wine-making in this region gave way to agriculture. A group of hardy, frugal Scotch families began a settlement on “Long Run” about 1817-18. They soon discovered that a bushel of potatoes would buy a gallon of wine and was far faster and easier to produce!
“Among those Scottish families were Neil McCallum/ Duncan McCallum, John McCallum, Donald Cowan, the Malcomsons, John Anderson and perhaps one or two other families not now recollected. They were what are known as ‘Seven(th) Day Baptists/ It was rather novel to the citizens, to travel up ‘Long Run’ on Saturday and see none of those people stirring about, and then passing on Sunday, to see every one able to do any work out in the clearing chopping, piling and burning brush and rolling logs.” So wrote Ferret Dufour in his account Swiss Settlement of Switzerland County.
Dufour continued, “The first steamboats of any considerable size that were navigating the Ohio River were built about the year 1819 to 1821. The Velocipede, General Green, Ploughboy, Highland Laddie and Eliza are the steamers of the early days now recollected by the writer. In 1823 the writer was two days and two nights on the trip from Vevay to Cincinnati on the Highland Laddie, a small boat owned by Duncan McCallum, one of the early Scotch settlers on ‘Long Run.
Was this Duncan McCallum the father of John Guthrie McCallum who was to found Palm Springs many years later? Fragmentary as the evidence is, there are sufficient clues available upon which we can rely and which tempts one to make such a conclusion.
Firstly, there was the repeated statement of J. G. McCallum himself. He was fond of telling that his father built and operated one of the first steamboats upon the Ohio River. In the year 1878 a biographical sketch of him was to appear in print which stated, “He (McCallum) is of American descent from revolutionary stock on his mother’s side, and of Scotch descent on that of his father, who owned and operated one of the first steamboats on the Ohio.”
The 1820 Census records, listed in Switzerland County, Indiana:
“McCollum, Duncan — foreign born/ farmer — Dependents: i w. male/
age 16-25 (probably himself), i w. female/ (wife) age 16-25, 2 w. males
If this is our family the two boys under ten might be the brothers who
eventually went off to California, and at this time, John Guthrie Mc Callum and his two sisters had not been born. The difference in spelling of the name was commonplace in those days.
John Guthrie McCallum was born in Vevay, Indiana, on August 10,
1826. According to the Indiana Gazetteer published that same year the
town was “situated on the north bank of the Ohio River, 100 miles by
water below Cincinnati, 18 above Madison, and 95 south-east from
Indianapolis. It contains,” continued the gazetteer, “about 100 hand-
some brick and frame dwelling houses, 400 inhabitants, 7 stores, 3
taverns, 3 lawyers, 3 physicians, and a printing office; there are also
several extensive vineyards in its immediate vicinity. . . /’ One of these
taverns was the Swiss Inn, built in 1823. It was the main meeting place
and attraction for visitors to the small community and is still standing
to this day.
The Indiana Land Entries v. i, Cincinnati District, compiled by Mar-
garet R. Waters shows the following land purchases from the Federal
government by Duncan McCallum:
Page 69 Southeast, Section 18, township 2N, range 3W of the first Principal
Meridian, 12-11-1816 Northeast 31, same, 11-30-1819. Page 132 Southwest30,
2N, 2W of first Principal Meridian, 6-28-1815.
The first two pieces of land are in Craig township, Switzerland County,
and the third in Jefferson township, Switzerland County.
From the Records of the U. S. Census for Indiana for the year 1850 considerable information about the McCallum Family once again may be deduced. We find:
House Family Name Age Sex Oc. Birth
No. No. Ellen McCallum 52 F pen.
85 85 Jane McCallum 25 F 0.
John G. McCallum 24 M Lawyer Ind.
Elizabeth McCallum 20 F 0.
From the above, one may assume that the father, Duncan/ was dead, the two older sons had gone to the California Gold Fields, John G. was already practicing law, and the two sisters’ birthplaces being listed as Ohio, revealed that the family had traveled from one state to another, probably on the steamerHighland Laddie.
Vevay, in those days, must have been a place of enchantment for a young imaginative lad. On the wooded hills were vestiges of the ancient lookout stations used by the Indians before the white men came. Little boys could roam over these hills and hide in these mysterious places. Always there was the river for fishing, swimming and dreaming of far off places to where the steamers plied their way. The frequent trips on the father’s Highland Laddie to Cincinnati must have been exciting.
John McCallum attended school winters and during the hot summer days read every book he could lay his hands upon. Mostly he read the books around the house, and especially those about McCallum More, the head of the clan of McCallum. John’s relatives, like many other loyal Scotsmen, claimed kinship with this brave leader. Sir Walter Scott in his romantic, historical novel The Heart of Midlothian wrote: “When McCallum More’s heart does not warm to the Tartan, it will be as cold as death can make it.”
The carefree days of childhood were to be of short duration for John McCallum. His father died when the lad was six years old, leaving what he thought was a sufficient amount for his family’s comfort; but, after years of litigation, this competency was all lost, and the family was left to struggle on the modest farm. To help eke out an existence a steam saw mill was erected upon this piece of property. The children had to help operate this, so John went to work on the engine when he was about eight years old. He learned the trade of engineer, but having no aptitude for this line of work, he was never very successful at it.
Young John McCallum continued at his studies at the country school house in Vevay, and when he had completed the elementary grades he attended the County Seminary. When he was older, he obtained employment as an engineer and frugally managed to save enough money to go to Cincinnati to begin studying law. Finally he attended the Law De- partment of Indiana University and obtained his Bachelor of Law Degree from this institution in 1848. Soon after, he was licensed and began the practice of law in Indiana.
The following year Indiana, along with the entire nation, was astonished to learn of the marvelous discovery of gold in California. The gold fever struck the two older McCallum boys and they, with hundreds of others who dreamed of quick riches to be had for the taking, hurried off to that far place to strike it rich.
On February 25,1851, the steamer Ohio with Captain Haley in command sailed into San Francisco harbor. On its passenger list were two young men, D. McCallum and M. McCallum, who immediately upon debarking seemed to vanish. Days and months passed without a word being received from the two adventurers.
John McCallum, unswayed by the excitement of get-rich-quick schemes, steadfastly continued with his law practice in Indiana until the worried mother received a letter. The letter, which had been in transit for several weeks before it reached Vevay, was written by a family friend. It told of the epidemic which raged through the Gold Country and had struck down one of her sons.
The distraught mother, unable to leave home responsibilities, turned to John. She implored him to make the long journey to California to find his brothers and to urge them to return home. The young attorney closed out his law practice and yielding to his mother’s pleadings, started the long journey around the Horn to locate his brothers in California.”
This concludes Chapter 1. I dare not continue without further violating
the copyright laws. Katherine’s book does an excellent job of tying the events
that were taking place in John Guthrie McCallum’s life with the events
occurring in California and the nation at large. He had a significant
impact on the future of California.